Updated: Aug 19, 2019
If you’re running a business, you know protecting your time is the only way to produce your best work.
The only problem is...
Running a biz feels like you're juggling more hats than the Mad-Hatter and hopping up and down on one foot to boot.
Now, I've always been a 'why work hard, when you can work smart' kinda girl, so I'm all about anything and everything that takes a little something off my plate.
I’ve spent the last few years testing and putting systems in place, so I can focus my energy on the tasks that lead to growth. There aren't really any shortcuts to doing the work, but here's what I use to help get me through the workday when I'm eyeballs deep in a project.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links, which means I’ll earn a commission if you decide to use these products. I only recommend brands I love and have used in my business.
Tools for Building Your Platform
Do you use quizzes to grow your list? If you’re thinking about testing out a new lead magnet, quizzes are the way to go. They’re a lot more fun for your audience than your standard PDF freebie opt-in so they attract tons more people.
Not only can you generate leads with your quizzes, but the real benefit is personalization. When you use a quiz opt-in, you can automatically segment your list and hyper-target your email marketing. The more targeted your marketing is, the better conversions you’ll see.
And I don’t think there’s any software out there that creates better quizzes than Interact. It takes no time to set up a quiz (and nobody wants to spend forever creating a lead magnet). You can easily add your own branding to the quiz.
Plus, they have a cool templates feature with quiz templates that are organized in order of their conversion ability. So, if you don’t want to build a quiz from scratch you can use one of Interact’s templates based on how well it converts. All you have to do is pop in your information.
Looking for a funnel built out for your quiz? Click here.
They’re my favorite resource for stock imagery. I love their minimalist aesthetic, and their photos are gorgeous.
Plus, they’re a company that is not only doing good, but they stand for something seriously cool. MOYO Studio gives back a percentage of their profits to mental health research funds.
I can probably guess what you’re thinking, but hear me out. People love to hate on Wix, but I believe that it’s the most underrated platform on the internet. (And anyone who bashes it will have a fight to pick with me)
Wix gets a lot of flack on its SEO capabilities but I’m here to tell you it’s unjustified. When my specialty was outdoor copywriting? I ranked #1 for the term and the team behind Wix is always updating the platform’s SEO tools.
Their websites are super customizable, incredibly easy to use, and you get amazing access to stock photos through the platform because they have a partnership with Shutterstock. Basically, you get access to images that other people are paying for.
The only drawback to using Wix is there are some specific Wordpress plugins that won’t work. However, they always have a workaround.
I know how to code. But as a business owner, there’s never a moment where I’m not juggling a million tasks on my plate at once. I don’t need to spend my time making huge changes to my website and Wix makes this part uber flexible without having to dig into code.
Beyond that, it’s affordable and I’ve never had it crash. Wix automatically creates a mobile-responsive website for you — which is a must-have in 2019 if you want to rank well in Google.
Clearbit Connect is perfect for copywriters or anyone who does outreach or cold pitching. It’s simple. Basically, you plug in the name of the company you want to reach out to… and this tool will provide you with nearly every email in the company.
You get their marketing departments, VPs, and CEOs. This includes a list of all the emails, full names, and links to their social profiles. I have the free version — you get 100 emails per month and that’s more enough for me. But if you need more, there’s also the option to upgrade and it’s inexpensive.
In truth, I don’t do much cold pitching anymore, but I used this every day for the first 3-4 months when I started my business to generate leads.
If you haven’t already heard, Loom is the greatest. You can install their free Chrome extension and record a video right from your desktop (with or without screen sharing).
It’s an excellent way to cut down on the number of back and forth emails with my clients and it adds a nice human touch to online work. Personally, I use it to present client work. This has been really beneficial for both my clients and me.
How so? Instead of just sending a Google Doc, I pop the work into our Drive and record a Loom video of me talking them through it. Then I can explain why there are certain things in there, the specific areas I want them to focus on when they’re giving feedback, and exactly what feedback I’m looking for.
This is a win-win for both of us because it saves time by cutting down on the number of edits and scheduling meetings.
Social media is tricky, isn't it? Not only is posting content time-consuming, but every platform moves fast and you have to keep up with the changes to stay relevant.
The good news is Tailwind eliminates both of these problems. If you haven't heard of it yet, Tailwind is an automation tool for driving traffic to your website via Pinterest marketing. You can schedule an entire month's worth of content in just a few minutes.
And when you join Tailwind, they help guide you through the entire process step-by-step. There are video tutorials that break it all down, but the tutorials I really love are the emails you're sent each week. They share content that helps you stay up-to-date, learn as you go, and make the most of out the tool.
Tools for Making Money
First of all, I’m probably Better Proposals biggest advocate. It’s $20 per month and they’re infinitely better than Proposify… the end result is beautiful! Even better, there’s zero design work required.
They do some sort of software magic. Let’s say someone decides to download my proposal as a PDF — it generates this beautiful PDF. And another cool feature is that you can see exactly how many seconds someone spent looking at their pricing page.
You’ll know if they’re hung up on the price or the timeline, so when you have the follow-up call with them, you’re going in knowing there are hesitations that you can address as you chat.
Above all, I like that I can take payments directly from my proposal. As soon as a client signs off, they get an invoice for 50% and it goes straight to Stripe. You don’t have to pay those pesky fees.
I would expect software like this to be complicated, but it only took me an hour to set up.
It's super easy to use, which is really nice. I link my Stripe account to it so everything is automated. All of my apps are all talking to each other and everything is happening in the background.
For instance, my invoices are sent automatically. I’m using the Hubspot CRM right now. And with Zapier, whenever a client signs a proposal, a new deal is created in Hubspot and a new project pops up in Asana. It’s all automated… AKA huge timesaver.
Get on the AppSumo list now. I mean it. You get crazy, crazy good deals. I’m talking about getting software that’s worth thousands of dollars for a $49. It’s not the best if you have an urgent need for something, since you never really know when deals are going to pop up.
But for example, if you know you’re going to want to step up your social media game this year, then it makes sense to subscribe and keep an eye on out for social media schedulers or content generation tools to help.
Tools to Get Shit Done
If you’re not using Boomerang yet, you need to be. I use it ALL the time. It’s an email extension that lets you schedule out emails. So, if I’m working on a project at a crazy time like 1am, my clients don’t need to know. I can set the email to arrive at the start of business — I don’t have to send them right away.
In addition to that, Boomerang has a nudge feature which is super helpful. If I’ve forgotten about an email and haven’t replied to it, the software bumps it to the top of inbox after two days… which is handy because I do accidentally miss emails.
And I have the Pro plan which runs me $14.99/month, but there’s also a free option that lets you schedule up to 10 emails per month, so you’ll definitely want to try it out.
OneTab is an amazing Chrome extension. When you’re 20 tabs deep doing research, OneTab lets you save all of those tabs into one and come back to it later. And I feel like I have a million tabs open whenever I’m on my laptop. So if I want to take a break, it’s like I’ve created a file for each client and those links are all saved under it.
I flipping adore Acuity. I’ve tried other calendar options but I just didn’t like them as much. (Plus, as a copywriter, I love their micro-copy and the sassy notes they send you.)
Here’s why Acuity rules. It’s beautiful, user-friendly, and integrates with Google Calendar. I really appreciate that it shows you appointments in your own time zone but your clients see it in their timezone.
Besides, their calendar can integrate with a lot of programs like Hubspot, Zoom, and a bunch of email service providers. It’s only $10 per month, which is super affordable. And what’s more, you can easily upsell as people check out on your calendar. For example, if someone is booking a strategy session with me, they have the opportunity to book a follow-up session at a reduced rate. Acuity makes the entire scheduling process seamless.
This one is more of a self-care/help-me-stay-sane/not-pull-my-hair-out/not-have-a-breakdown-in-Whole-Foods tool but I had to mention it. Whenever you open a new tab Momentum will tell you the time, weather, and it asks you what’s your one big task today.
It makes you get your shit done, thanks to the balance mode that shuts everything down at 5:30pm. In general, it’s really helpful to stay mindful of the hours you’re working. It’s a soothing alternative to having oodles of tabs open because they show you these pretty picture in the background. I’m a big fan.
Mailtrack is totally straightforward — their Gmail extension lets you know when someone has opened the email and not replied.
Then I’m not left wondering if the recipient got my email (And anything that keeps my brain from spiraling is a plus in my book). Mailtrack helps me know if I need to follow up, or whether or not they just missed it.