Useful Tools to Save you Time


As a social media professional, I am always seeking ways to make more efficient use of my time.  I belong to a couple of forums and groups that often discuss free tools or low-cost options.  I would like to share a compiled list here with you:

  • Hootsuite – one of my faves – up to 5 social media accounts for free, up to 20 for $5.99 per month
  • If This Then That – will help you do just that with about 11 social platforms – ex. if [Twitter mention] then [thank them] – will work with Facebook pages.
  • Buffer – share your posts at a later time on any Twitter account or Facebook personal pages
  • Dreamstime – free photos for use in your materials – they also have photos for purchase.
  • DIIGO – similar to Dropbox for websites you want to save for later – lets you bookmark in a cloud favorites by keyword.  You can even highlight things, place sticky notes on pages and share it with connections.
  • FanTools – the free side lets you set up one Twitter and one Facebook page, upgrades available for planning, coupons and deals.
  • YouSendIt – sending large files through email is no longer a problem, use YouSendIt.  You upload, the receiver downloads.  You must stay under a size limit for it to remain free.
  • Morgue File – more free photos. Has a connection with Dreamstime.
  • CutePDF – makes pdf files for any of your printable documents for programs that don’t already convert them.
  • – screen sharing
  • Skype – video calling and screen sharing, have a group video conversation for a monthly fee.
  • IWOWWE – video email and conferencing.
  • MailChimp – e-newsletter system free up to 2000 emails
  • FreshBooks – on-line accounting, up to 3 clients for free, up to 25 clients $19.95 mos.
  • BeFunky – photo effects editor
  • Zoho – CRM on-line tool.
  • Gimp – photo editing software – you download it.  You don’t need Photoshop with this one.
  • Inkscape – modify vector art similar to Illustrator.
  • ClipArt – open clip art library
  • AVG – anti virus
  • Adobe Browser Lab for website testing
  • WeTransfer – for sending files
  • PrimoPDF is also free PDF converter
  • Hamster – another Free video converter
  • MyPictr – Avatar creator – for profile pictures on social networks – not sure if its up to date but you can manually change the px size
  • DaFont – Free Fonts
  • OpenOffice – The Free and Open Productivity Suite
  • LastPass – Online Password storage.
  • Malwarebytes – Don’t run windows without it – not free
  • Nitro PDF Reader – recently added thanks to SME club thread
  • Toggl – Time tracking, great when you are billing by project
  • Avast! – Anti-virus, some free, but all the bells and whistles cost
  • Audacity – Sound recording and editing
  • TeamViewer – Screen sharing and more.
  • Jing – screen capture. pro version for a small upgrade is no longer available.  Will have to switch to Snag-it or Camtasia.
  • FileZilla – FTP management
  • CCleaner – keep your hard drive clean and optimized
  • Synergy – use one mouse and keyboard to connect multiple computers (from Zoho)
  • Any Video Converter – convert any video, aptly named
  • Dropbox – store and share files online
  • Google Docs, Calendar, mail, keyword tools, alerts, analytics, insights for search – access docs that you share, share with others, check your calendar, multiple email accounts from you desktop, phone, or laptop, find what keywords you need to use, set up alerts for anything you want to track from the web and blogs, add analytics to your website and track traffic to your site, .
  • Evernote -remember everything, anywhere
  • Readitlater – don’t have time to read that article now, save it to readitlater.
  • SimpleNote – similar to Evernote, jot yourself a note anytime, anywhere
  • KeePass – another password compiler
  • Free Conference Call – teleconferencing line available 24/7. Each call accommodates 96 callers on an unlimited number of 6 hour free conference calls.
  • SuveyMonkey – free survey tool
  • Evite – free party planning tool
  • Producteev – task management app, helping to organize office days. It’s cross-platform, desktop and mobile.
  • AnyMeeting – web conference meetings
  • – link shortener and tracking
  • – add files to this on-line application and link it to your LinkedIn profile
  • Scribd – post your pdf files and documents to share on your social networks if you don’t want to post them on your website.
  • – create your own infographic
  • Get Listed – enter your business name and zip code.  The tool finds the location sites on which you are or aren’t listed.
  • Timeline Image Tool – helps you build custom tab images without needing design software.

What have I missed?  What do you like best?  What wouldn’t you use?


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LinkedIn Advanced Search

Use the LinkedIn Advanced Search function to help find your perfect client!LinkedIn

We all need new customers and clients. How do you find yours? Some people turn to LInkedIn, but are they really using it to the best of the platforms ability? I say you need to use the LinkedIn Advanced Search function to really make the platform worthwhile.

I took a few moments to create a how-to video that you can find along with all of my other how-to videos on YouTube or scattered throughout my blog posts.

Following are the basic steps of using the LinkedIn Advanced Search function:

  1. Enter a key word for the type of person you want to find.
  2. Add a couple of qualifying terms to reduce your search to a more manageable result.
  3. Filter on the left hand side to reduce the results. The best number is somewhere around 50-75 at a time.
    1. Geographic area – I use Greater Chicago Area most of the time, but it depends upon where you are located.
    2. Industry – pick the one that you want to target right now.
    3. Level of connection – 2nd degree is usually where you want to start. You can always search your 1st degree connections, but the 2nd degree ones broaden your market.
    4. Pick a former or current company(ies) on which you want to focus. This is not as necessary.
    5. If you want to really reduce the result number, click on the word ADVANCED next to the magnifying glass by the search box. In the LinkedIn advanced area, you can pick an area located in or near a specific zip code and filter by 10, 25, 35, 50 or 100 miles from that zip code.
  4. Save your search for future reference and so LinkedIn won’t charge you at the end of the month when you exhaust your searches. You can save three searches at one time. Change them as you need to do so.

Take a look at the video to see what I explained in the directions. Happy client hunting!

Building a Blog Post

Blog posts add umph to your website!

Let’s talk about websites, the key to a blog, and what they can really do for you.

  • Websites are your on-line brochure.
  • Websites hold your photo gallery.
  • A website is the hub of your online marketing.
  • All of your social media points back to your website (or a landing page).
  • Your website is the repository for your blog articles.key to a good blog

The key to a good blog is to write one. Regularly. Let’s talk a bit about search bots. When your website is new and you first publish it, the bots come and scour your site to see what you have out there. They check out the keywords and all of the goodies that you put out there to make it bright and shiny. They come back in about 30 days to see what other new shiny stuff you added. If you added several things, the bots reprogram to come back more quickly than the last time. If you didn’t they wait till maybe 45 days to come back. The more frequently you add new items to your website the more often the bots return ranking your higher in organic search results. The less often you add new items or changes to your website, the lower your ranking becomes until one day…

Whenever I build a website for someone, I typically use a WordPress platform. If I do that, I always include the Yoast SEO plug-in. Here are the tips I give to my clients when they write a blog post:

Make your blog heading a continuation of your title with the keyword in the beginning. Highlight the text and make it a heading 2 from the WYSIWIG bar.

Make sure to employ the “Press this” option offered so that when you read another person’s article, you can use the handy dandy tool to add a post to your blog and write your opinion on what you just read.

If you do that, make sure that you include a link to the original. Like this: You can read the whole article here. Highlight the word here, click on the chain link in the WYSIWIG bar and add the link to the original article – Ensure that it opens to a new window.

Write your thoughts. Include an image. There are many resources for free images. Don’t use any images from a website with a UK extension. One resources to check is Read about more options here.

Make sure to write 270 to 300 words. Complete the Yoast SEO boxes that appear below the blog post content frame.

Your keyword should be in your title, heading, meta data and body text.

Select the category on your website in which you want your post stored.

Add additional tags, especially if you have a tag cloud on your website. If you mention an organization or a searchable term, add the tag.

Last but not least, make sure to share your just finished post on your social media!

Let me know if I can assist you in any way.

Design, Build, Remodel your Social Media

Yes, I am comparing social media marketing to Design, Build, Remodel in Construction!

I know this sounds a bit crazy, but when you design, build, or remodel a home, you have to do the exact same things that you need to do when you want to update your social media.

Think of it this way, when you begin the process with a new home or a remodel on your existingRemodel plans home, you typically plan with a drawing or blueprint. You may work with an architect or at least a general contractor to help guide you through the process. If you are very brave, you may consider doing all of the planning and coordinating on your own. Perhaps you had a family member in the trades and feel like they will be able to guide you through the tougher spots. When it comes to the actual work, you will more than likely use a professional carpenter, electrician, or plumber along with the other trades to help you meet code on your remodel or new construction.

The same thing applies to your marketing, especially your social media. Here is what I would tell you. I am sure that you have a family member who is pretty adept at handling Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. They know what buttons to punch and how to make updates to your profile. But if you are going to remodel your business social media, do you really want to trust that aspect of your marketing to a person with no marketing background?

If you work with a professional – or general contractor, who is trained in that arena, wouldn’t you feel more confident that it is done right? Maybe your logo needs an overhaul, the design aspect of that should go to a graphic designer, who in turn works with the web designer or someone like me who would help you with your social media remodel or build. Making sure that your brand is carried throughout your marketing is just as important to achieve your company’s marketing goals as having the right pipe running through your home to carry the water or electricity to where you need it.

Let me help you with the Design, Build and Remodel of your social media. Let Creekwood Homes help you with the Design, Build and Remodel for your home!

Warm-up cold leads with LinkedIn 1-28-2016

How can you use LinkedIn to warm-up cold leads?

This workshop, geared to business people, will cover all of these items that will help you warm-up cold leads. We will cover:LinkedIn class warm-up cold leads

  • What you need in your profile to be found
  • How to include keywords in the right places to meet the search algorithms
  • How to share your subject matter expertise
  • Why a great picture is important
  • The correct way to invite people
  • How to keep communicate with your connections
  • How to use groups to your advantage
  • How to use search to warm-up your cold leads
  • What to do with your company page
  • How to stay on top of mind of your connections

All of this will be done in a class room setting. Bring your laptop. Start researching the keywords for your business if you don’t already know them. Come armed with your questions.

The Details

  • Date: January 28, 2016
  • Time: 9AM-12Noon
  • Place: Harper College Business Professional Center – 650 E Higgins Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60173 (Room to be determined) You will be emailed the day before the class with the room location.
  • What: Bring your laptop and questions. If you will need power, you may need to bring an extension cord or your power supply.
  • Cost: $40 per person class size is limited to 20 people

If you have questions about the class, please contact me by phone 708-822-2152 or email.

Ready to register for the workshop?

Registrant Name

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Great Customer Service 2015

Do you let people know when you receive great customer service?

Christmas 2015 is over and now the returns begin. While customer service should be great all year long in your business, there are times, when things are more hectic in your business, as in retail, that sometimes things may get overlooked.  Let me share a recent experience with you so that I can applaud two companies that went above and beyond in my opinion.

I ordered some personalized books from for my grandson’s first Christmas. I ordered them early enough for a timely arrival. I received a notification that the books had shipped, but couldn’t open the details to find out when they were coming exactly. Low and behold they arrived on December 17. Unfortunately, it was not a great result.

I was teaching a LinkedIn workshop, had an appointment and then a meeting. The dogs were in customer service for destroyed bookstheir space for the day which gives them access to the driveway. The truck pulled up to deliver the package. I am sure that our dogs were greeting them with their barks. During the season, UPS brings on extra helpers. The big black barking dogs may not have made the UPS helper or driver comfortable. A package tossed may have looked like a play toy. As you can see from the pictures, the results were not good.

After a very long day, I arrived home and was in tears looking at the results of what I thought would be a special present for my grandson’s first Christmas. I was heartsick that even if I ordered again they wouldn’t arrive in time to open on Christmas.

I waited until the next morning. First I called UPS. The first customer service person was great! I ended up having to make a couple of calls because I called before the claims department was open. While I was trying to explain what happened, I couldn’t control the tears. They told me that they would handle the claim with the shipper.

Next I had to wait for the customer service department to open at Put Me in the Story. When I spoke with them and tearfully explained that I wouldn’t have the present for my grandson’s first Christmas, they said they were placing a reprint order as we spoke. She couldn’t guarantee the books arrival, but they would replace them at no charge.

Guess what?!! The books arrived on the 22nd of December. I was home to receive the delivery and my grandson got to open his present on Christmas day.

That is what I call great customer service all the way around!!!