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recommended toolsAs online business owners, it’s easy to drown in a sea of options when it comes to utilizing all the different tools out there to streamline your biz.

I’ve been around the online biz block a few times. I’ve sold everything from handmade jewelry, supplies, and personalized stationery, digital products and ebooks on Etsy and other online avenues since 2011. Here are my favorite tools, apps, systems and resources that I simply could not live without!

Resources noted with * are affiliate links. I will get a small commission if you make a purchase via this link. Please know that I do not recommend anything I don’t wholeheartedly support and find valuable!

Marketing

ConvertKitConvertKit* – In 2017, I made the leap from my previous email service to ConvertKit. I could go on about CK and email marketing all day, but the best thing to know about CK is their super special abilities to automate your emails and tag subscribers. Wanna set up to where new subscribers automatically get a special series of welcome emails? Or customers automatically get a coupon code to encourage repeat buys? Use CK’s automation for this. Want to send an email to just those who bought a certain item? Or to everyone EXCEPT those who bought this item? Use CK’s awesome tagging ability for this. The possibilities are endless, and CK allows you to save time, set up awesome sales funnels, and best of all – NOT ANNOY YOUR SUBSCRIBERS!

CK recently released a FREE plan – I highly recommend getting started right here.

MailerLite* – This is a great middle ground email service. It has many of the advanced functionality of something like CK, but it’s a lot more affordable.  

Interact – Interact is a super cool platform that allows users to build interactive quizzes, polls, and giveaways. You can utilize these tolls to gather email leads, provide value to potential customers through personalized quiz results, and much more. I’ve gone tons of tips and ideas for how to use quizzes to grow your biz right here.

ManyChat – ManyChat is my recommended messenger bot tool for Facebook. You can do everything you need with just the free version of ManyChat. If you are unfamiliar with FB bots, you can have people “subscribe” to your bot just like they do with an email list. These days they are likely getting even more visibility that email inboxes. Broadcast messages about sales & events, set up automated responses, and more. You can even link up ManyChat with your own website and help answer customer questions there.

Canva* – After using Photoshop for many years, I’ve come to love the simplicity of Canva. Canva Pro actually offers all the advanced functions that I need in PS, but with a much easier interface for this non-designer-business owner! Canva can easily remove backgrounds, create GIFs and animations, and I love starting with their polished templates.

Social Media Scheduling

I’m all about scheduling my social media. As much social media as possible actually. The more my business has grown, the more time I’ve spent in the black hole that is Facebook/IG/Pinterest, and I’ve (very, very) slowly learned that in order to actually be productive, I need to schedule some of that social media time. I do this with the help of three very awesome tools.

Tailwind* – Tailwind is what I swear by for scheduling my pins to Pinterest. It’s super economical and I don’t have to spend time pinning all day! I love the visual queue of my scheduled pins so I can make sure I’m pinning a good mix of self-promotional pins AND other people’s awesome content. It uses special analyzers (that’s my official term) to tell me the best times/days to pin for max exposure. My two favorite features – 1) creating “board groups” to schedule to multiple boards all at once, and 2) the interval feature that allows me to schedule the same pin over a longer span of time, rather than pinning the same thing to 10 boards right at once.

schedule view in my tailwind

I now also use Tailwind to schedule & automatically post my Instagram posts as well! Two birds, one stone. Bam!

SmarterQueue* – SmarterQueue is what I use for all things Facebook scheduling, although you can also use it for Twitter, IG, Pinterest, and more. I spent many years using FB’s internal scheduler, which is just fine, but now I am SO in love with SQ and it’s time-saving features. SQ allows me to mark posts as “evergreen” – which means it will post those over and over again (with an interval in between of course) for all of eternity if I want. It also allows me to schedule to FB groups and not just pages, which is helpful for the Accounting Accountability Club. I love all three of my schedulers, but SQ is probably the one that saves me the most time.

Organization/Productivity

Asana – Asana is my to do list holy grail. I have the rest of my business year planned out in Asana. You can organize your tasks my project, you can color code, you can check things off, you can move things around with dragging and dropping, it’s all amazing. Without Asana I would wake up and not know what I needed to do that day. I love that you have the option to organize your projects and tasks in a traditional to do list format, or in board format for more visual projects. Best of all it’s free!

Tyme – I spent the past few years complaining that my business growth suffered because there weren’t enough hours in the day. Working from home with two littles under foot was really putting a cramp in my style. A few months ago, I decided to start using a time tracking app to see how much time I really was working each week, and the results were really eye-opening. Tyme is the app I use for this. It’s color coded, easy to set up and very user-friendly. If you’re trying to hold yourself more accountable, then try out a time-tracking app like Tyme.

Tyme for time tracking

Evernote* – This is my note-taking app of choice. It syncs across my laptop, phone, and tablet so I can access it anytime I have an idea. You can basically sort things into notes in different notebooks. You can add clips, files, and screenshots easily, and you can share with other users. Asana is what I use for my to do’s, and Evernote is what I use to “brain dump” my content into for blog posts, lesson content, and more.

IFTTT and Zapier – These two apps allow you to connect various systems and automate. You can use IFTTT to automatically post your IG posts to your FB page for example. Or you could set up Zapier to automatically send an email when you get a form submission on your site. There are tons of possibilities with both, and they are both free. I use these tools to automate and save tons of time.

Courses, Memberships, and Education

I am somewhat of a course junkie. So I’ll try and narrow it down to just a few…

Free Masterclass for Etsy Sellers – The Four Part Process of Unlocking the Unique Power of Etsy* – This free training is presented by experienced hand maker + Etsy shop owner Danielle. Her business, Merriweather Council, is your one-stop shop for learning how to build your Etsy shop the right way.

Craft Industry Alliance* – This membership is like nothing else offered to the crafty community right now. The CIA provides educational resources, exclusive member discounts, and craft industry news for a low monthly fee.

Shop School* – If you are looking for start-to-finish help getting set up and selling on Shopify, the Shop School is for you! This course walks you through building, launching, and optimizing an e-commerce shop on Shopify.

 

Product Photography School* – This course is great for physical product sellers who are looking to up their photography game. Polished product photos are KEY to making sales online, and this course will walk you through how to take & edit great photos all using your smartphone!

 

CreativeLive courses* – Some of the biggest names and smartest ladies in the creative industry are teaching high quality courses on CreativeLive. If you catch them when they’re live or streaming you can watch for free. My personal favorite is Tara Gentile’s Market, Sell, and Launch Your Next Big Thing course, but there are also courses on product photography, Etsy shop SEO, building a successful biz blog, creating passive income streams, and more to grow your biz.