Useful Tools to Save you Time

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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.
  • Join.me – 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
  • Bit.ly – link shortener and tracking
  • Box.net – 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.
  • Visual.ly – 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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One of the 70 percent

Are you one of the 70 percent of Technicians who started their own business?70 percent

Last week I wrote an article about the type of person who typically start their won business. It indicated that 70 percent of people who start their own business are a technician who may have gotten fed up with their old job or got laid off and decided they could start their own business. I happen to be one of those kind of people.

Here is a story that illustrates my point of working “on” your business not just in your business.

Today I met a potential client. He happens to be one of those 70 percent who is the technician. Over time, he has grown his business but still likes to tinker with doing the work. He met with me today because he wants to take his business to the next level. If he does that he needs to make sure that the social marketing that he is doing is going to be in place and functioning properly. He was working “on” his business.

Another example:

A business friend owns her own business. She is one of the 70 percent also. She hired someone to do her sales, but the person didn’t know the business as well as the owner does. Here is the next step – does the owner take herself out of the technician role to become the manager, as well as, the entrepreneur to be able to grow her business? The answer is YES! You can hire someone to do certain things to make your life easier, and eventually, you will be able to hire a salesperson that understands your business, but you need to be able to see the whole forest, not just the two or three trees that you are working on right now.

 

Entrepreneur, Manager, Technician

Which one are you an Entrepreneur, Manager, Technician?eMyth

In the book by Michael Gerber, the E-Myth Revisited, he talks about what type of business owner you are. There are three key roles each business person:

  • The Entrepreneur
  • The Manager
  • The Technician

70% of people who start their own business are considered the technician. They are the one who lives in the present, sees the work to be done, and requires a methodology.

If you the technician in your business, there is a good possibility that you will not find time to work “on” your business because you are always working “in” your business.

Some of the items to consider to help your business grow include culture, marketing, procedures, financial, and transitioning your business up or out.

Let’s look at one item in particular – KPI or Key Performance Indicators. For me personally, my KPI are billable hours. I need to bill a certain number of hours per day, week and month to be able to show improvement. I can look at my schedule to see how many hours I will bill, then I can offer other times to market or network, or work on my business. In another situation, one might have an ice cream business. Their KPI may be scoops per hour or day sold. If they are making more than their goal, they may need to call more staff in, or send someone home if they aren’t selling enough.

If you, as the technician, are always busy working “in” your business and not considering some of these other items, you may be working yourself “out” of business.

Thanks to Sybil Ege of the Elgin Small Business Development Center for hosting valuable workshops that inspire me as a business person and help me grow.

Is your Heart into Social Media?

Your brain may be, but is your Heart into Social Media?put your heart into social media

With Valentines Day fast approaching, I thought I would ask the question. So many of us understand the value of social media, but as we run our businesses, we may forget the importance of it.

So often, myself included, will put off writing that blog post, scheduling some posts, or sharing the image of an event where I am.

In our heads we know the facts and figures about using social media. We may know which platforms our customers use the most. We may focus on one platform over the other. But, are you doing it because you were told you should, or have you felt the benefit with your heart? Every once in awhile, I will run into someone that says, I read your post on…It makes me feel like everything that I have been doing is paying off. It makes my heart go pitter-pat.

How can you put your brain and your heart into social media?

Try the old stand-by habit building trick of posting something for 21 days. Make the effort to actually go to one of the platforms that you use for your business, find some content or create content to share. Do that for 21 days. Remember to ask questions and try to engage your audience. Do you need to boost a post on Facebook to gain some reaction? Maybe! Try it for a day or three to see if you earn better engagement.

You don’t need to spend hours each day, but try spending 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and then 10 minutes in the early evening. Those tend to be the times when most people are taking a look at their social channels.

Remember, it doesn’t take much to build a habit. Engage your brain into social media and I bet your heart will follow!

Time to write a post – Mind is Blank?

What do you do when your Mind is Blank and it is time for a blog article?Mind is Blank

I sat down at my desk this morning, looked at my calendar and realized that I was scheduled for my weekly blog post. I was thinking, my mind is blank, I was out of ideas, I didn’t have a clue what I was going to write 300 words about. Then a thought hit me – what sort of advice would I give someone if they said that their “Mind is blank!”

Here are a few tips you might want to try:

  1. Press This – Since I use WordPress for my website platform, they have a tool that you can add to your browser tool bar that allows you to add the link and title of a webpage or article you are reading to a draft post. This is a great tool, because all you have to do is write a sentence or two about what your thoughts were on the article and save it as a draft. You have the article for reference and you have the bullet points or sentences you wrote to remind you of the thoughts you need to flush out.
  2. Scoop-it – Use a service like Scoop-it, Reddit or Digg, to feed your solo brainstorming. Something might not be applicable for you at the moment, but if you save items in your “one-day” file, you will have content waiting for you.
  3. Series – Instead of writing one long article, turn your thoughts into a series of articles. Everyone loves a good top five or best 10 lists of items. Perhaps you may not want to stretch a top 5 of something out over 5 weeks, but in the interim, you may find other ideas from which you can create blog articles.
  4. Events – Do you promote events in your blog? What about the before AND the after. Did you just host a successful workshop or expo. Talk about it.
  5. Products – when was the last time you updated everyone on the benefits of a product or service that you offer? Writing a blog post refreshes your readers on the values and benefits AND it provides you something fresh to share in your newsletter and other social platforms.

I am sure that there are more suggestions that you can find that will help you find blog content when it is time for your next scheduled article. What can you think of to share with the other readers?

And I was worried about coming up with 300 words….

 

LinkedIn Hands-On Workshop January 29

Do you need some updates to your LinkedIn profile?LinkedIn Hands-On Workshop

Everyone needs to spend a few minutes on social media a few times a day. Does that include your LinkedIn profile? You bet it does. Making tweaks and knowing the right updates to make will help you show up better in search results.

Do you need to learn how to warm up cold leads?

Have a meeting coming up with someone you have never met? Trying to find some potential clients?  Find out more about the power of LinkedIn to help you find and warm-up leads.

This hands-on LinkedIn workshop is the place you want to be to help you use LinkedIn better. We will go over your profile to help you establish the best use of keywords to be found, how to invite new connections, how to track connections using the CRM function in LinkedIn, and how to use the search features in LinkedIn to your business’ benefit.

  • When: January 29, 2014 8AM-to 11AM Includes continental breakfast.
  • Where: Northern Kane County Chamber office 20 S. Grove, Carpentersville, IL 60110
  • What: Bring your laptop. This is limited to the first 20 people who sign-up.
  • How: Sign-up by linking here – if you sign up by December 31, you will save $5 on the $30 registration fee. Click here to sign up! Select the workshop option that applys, enter your name and you will be taken to PayPal, where you can pay by credit card or PayPal.