There’s so many tools and resources online to help you run and manage every single part of your online business.  There are social media scheduling apps, project management apps, email marketing software systems, client relationship management software, and the list goes on.

It’s tempting to succumb to Shiny Object Syndrome and want to try every digital system available to see which ones you’ll enjoy using and will help you streamline your business.  But to give you a head start, I’ve compiled this list of my favourite tools and systems.  These will help you build your site, organise your business’ information, and design your pretty social media graphics.  You’re welcome.

1-grid*:  I buy all my domains here (I have more than one.  When I have a good idea, I buy the name).  I also host my website with them and they’re an excellent hosting company.  They’re always helpful on the phone and I’ve never had any issues.  Also, their call waiting music is really groovy.

WordPress.org:  The open-source, free platform that runs 28% of websites online today.  It’s an incredibly powerful content management system, and works beautifully when you choose your theme well.

Divi*:  It’s both a theme and a website builder.  It’s my favourite tool for website design.  The drag-and-drop builder helps me to create custom-designed websites that are free from templates.  So I’m able to use the same software to build websites that look completely different to each other.  What’s also fantastic about Divi is that they released a Visual Builder in 2016.  This allows you to drag items around, edit text and resize the space between items all on the front-end of your site – with zero coding necessary.  If you want to dive into the code and customise even more areas of your site, Divi allows you to do that too.

Elegant Themes*:  Divi is made by Elegant Themes.  But this company does so much more than just make awesome themes.  They make awesome plugins too.  Their plugins cater for those important extra functions on your site, for example, sharing pages of your website and blog posts to social media with one click, and creating email opt-in forms.  They also make the Divi Builder plugin, which allows you to drag and drop elements of your site to redesign the look of your website’s pages – all with your existing theme.  These plugins work with Divi (obviously), and they work with all the other themes they create.  The plugins also work on WordPress in general.  You need an Elegant Themes account to download the plugins.

MailerLite*:  The only email marketing service you’ll need to create opt-in forms, design landing pages, manage your email list, and talk to the correct segments of your list.  Stop relying on the cheeky chimp to send high-impact emails to your subscribers.  Unlock the power of MailerLite for your email marketing.

Trello*:  Organise all your business info with Trello.  Having 5 notebooks with business information and notes from important client meetings is one way to ensure that you’re consistently working in a state of chaos and frazzled hot mess-ness.  Once you digitise that stuff, you’ll always have it available via the mobile app that works beautifully on your phone and tablet.  Trello is also great to document the processes that you follow on a regular basis.  Running a business is all about repeated processes – and once you have those steps saved in a checklist, you will never miss an important part of your workflow.  I wrote about how I use Trello in my business in a blog post.

Google Drive/Dropbox:  Save your documents in the cloud and you won’t be victim to a hard drive explosion.  I recommend having 2 backups – one on a physical hard drive, and one in the cloud.  Run backups regularly so that all your data is up to date.

Calendly:  Emailing potential clients back and forth about scheduling an appointment often leads to long (and confusing) email threads.  Use Calendly to create a custom link that you share with people who would like to book an appointment with you.  You decide which hours of the day are open for appointments, as well as the duration of those appointments.  When someone books a slot in your diary, you receive an email with all the details of that appointment, and the same details are synced to your Google Calendar.  I wrote about using Calendly for business in a blog post.

Loom*:  This is a free screen recording tool.  It’s exactly what you need if you’re creating a tutorial or walking a team member through a step-by-step process.  You can share your videos through Facebook, Twitter and Gmail, as well as embed them on your website.  The free Google Chrome extension allows you to record videos in a few clicks without having to open and run a software programme in the background.

Toggl:  A task timer.  I’ve written about tracking time spent working on tasks with Toggl in a blog post, but had to mention it here because I use this timer almost every day.  It includes reporting in the free plan, so you don’t even need to pay for important information that you can use to improve your business.

Creative Market*:  This is my one-stop online marketplace for every design asset I need for projects.  This platform provides a space for graphic designers and photographers to sell the products they create.  You can find everything from fonts to patterns, stock photographs to WordPress themes, wedding invitation templates to watercolour floral illustrations.

RGB to Hex code finder:  This is Google’s tool that appears in Google’s search results page.  You can use this to convert RGB to Hex or Hex to RGB – just type the code of the colour you have into the correct text field and it’ll give you the corresponding code in the other colour system.

Hex code to RGB finder:  This is such a lovely site, and works the same way the Google tool does.  You can type your colour code into the correct text field, and it’ll give you the colour code in the other system.

Colour code finder:  This is an excellent resource.  You input one colour code into the site, and it will give you the codes for the same colour in the other systems you need for virtually any application:  RGB, HSL, HSB, CMYK, Hex and websafe colours.

Canva:  If you’re creating images for social media or blog posts, Canva is the place to do it.  The free system has all of the tools you’d need to create and download high-quality images.  If you’d like to add fonts that aren’t in their library and create a brand resources kit (that includes your logo, brand colours and brand fonts), their paid membership is perfect for that – and it’s inexpensive, which is perfect for the small business’ budget.

Buffer:  One of the scheduling tools I use to handle my content.  Buffer links to all the social platforms I use (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn), and it gives me a calendar-grid view of the month ahead, which is a big plus.  Plans start at $10 a month, so they’re affordable even for small businesses.

Later*:  I use Later specifically for Instagram.  This is a scheduling tool with a few nifty extra features.  If you would like to preview your Instagram posts in a grid layout before they’re published, then this is the tool to use.  Later also allows you to drag posts around on the grid if you’d like to create a pattern or a structure with your images.  This helps you achieve a coherent look to your feed, and strengthens your brand image.

Linktr.ee:  Instagram’s policy is to give every account one clickable link – the one in your bio just under your profile photo.  Linktree allows you to expand the function of that link.  You create a Linktree account, and they’ll give you a unique URL (link) that you copy and paste into your Instagram bio.  In Linktree, you create buttons that direct to pages on your website (or other social media platforms).  You can add as many buttons as you’d like, and you can change the order in which they appear on your Linktree page.  This effectively gives you more than one link in your Instagram bio.

* Indicates affiliate link.  If you choose to sign up for these systems using my affiliate link, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.  Some of the affiliate programmes don’t pay any commission, but instead add a few extra features to the package I make use of now.  Basically, you’re helping me to fund all the tea and continue to use the systems I need to keep my business running beautifully.

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