Since I run my business mainly online, I have a list of my go-to apps and tools that I use regularly to better organize and streamline my processes and systems. I’ve been getting more and more questions about tools and apps preferences so I thought I would do a round-up of the online software I use as a coach and entrepreneur. Although I do recommend doing your research to see what is the best fit for you, ultimately most apps are super similar so as long as you choose one to test it out and incorporate it, you can always switch or upgrade down the road because your needs will change.
5 Free Apps
Trello is like an online pin board that is visual and versatile. Before using Trello, I would use a paper planner to write down a huge list of tasks and to-dos, and post-it notes to keep track of what I need to get done. The problem was that I was wasting time writing and re-writing my projects and it didn’t capture everything that I needed to do. So, I began using Trello as a project management system, weekly/daily to-do lists, digital marketing content planner and calendar, and keep track of my business systems and CRM. Trello includes boards, lists, and cards that you can add due dates, delegate to team members, select files, and categorize. I keep finding new ways to use it, and so far, am loving it!
Evernote is an oldie but goodie and is a notebook for your computer. I mainly use it for 3 reasons: 1. I keep a notebook for each coaching client, and take notes of each session to keep track of what we talked about and their progress 2. a notebook for to write each blog post, then I can copy and paste it when it’s time to post 3. to take notes during any course or program I may be taking. It’s a great app to keep track of longer form things like writings, lists, and recipes. I use Trello for short and sweet and repeatable processes, and Evernote to keep my actual work.
Hootsuite & Later
Social media marketing is essential for an online business. I typically like to create content in bulk and use an app like Hootsuite to schedule my posts. The free version only allows for 3 platforms, so I use it for my LinkedIn page, Facebook business page, and Facebook group, Authentic Brand Leaders. I use Later for Instagram. What I liked about Hootsuite was its ability to schedule among multiple platforms and track analytics.
Google has a suite of apps that’s similar to the Microsoft one. I use Google Drive with my clients by creating a shared folder for each client to share documents, resources, and the recordings of each session. So, it’s similar to Dropbox in that way I can share docs from my computer with my clients. Google Drive also has Google Docs (like Word) and Google Sheets (like Excel) that is shared online and collaborative in nature.
When I was using gmail for my email, Boomerang was a helpful add-on that allows you to write emails to be scheduled to send out later. This was helpful if I was answering emails after business hours and wanted to send it out the following morning. Also, you could track an email, and if the recipient hasn’t responded in X amount of days, the email will “boomerang” back into your inbox as a reminder to send a follow up email. Now that I use the Mail app on my Mac, I found a similar add-on called Mail Butler. The free version gives you limited actions per month, but it also has the capabilities to schedule emails, get follow-up reminders, undo a sent message within 10 seconds of sending, and track to see if you recipient received your email.
5 Paid Apps (& Free Counterparts)
Email marketing is another important part of staying connected to prospects, fans, and clients and to provide value and share my services. When I started my business, I used the free version of Mailchimp which is an AWESOME app to get started, but as I grew my list and had multiple free resources to offer, I made the switch to Convertkit about a month ago. The main difference is that Mailchimp is list-based while Convertkit is subscriber based, meaning that it counts each person as one person regardless if they’re on multiple lists. Also, Convertkit has the ability to create follow-up email sequence and drip content for course so there’s a whole lot of automation features that are pretty awesome.
I researched and tried a few different calendar scheduling apps like Calendly and even Satori, but ended up sticking with Acuity because of its comprehensive features and affordable price. I love it because it’s beautifully designed, easy to use, and gives me the available to set my coaching hours and my clients the flexibility to schedule their appointments by type. It also automatically syncs with Google calendar, integrates with Zoom and Convertkit, and has the ability to take payments, create questionnaires, and small agreements as well. Their customer service is really helpful and friendly as well!
When I first started, I used Skype to host my coaching calls. However, I was experiencing a lot of connectivity issues so I switched over to Zoom conferencing. I pay about $10/month (or less if you do an annual plan) and have the ability to record my sessions so my clients can refer back to our conversation if needed. I’ve also used it to record video interviews as a guest, as a webinar/live call platform, and for group coaching calls because it hosts multiple people in a more reliable platform than Skype and Google Hangout. It does offer a free version as well, but only limits your calls to 40 minutes.
Illustrator / Canva
Confession: I use Adobe Illustrator to create my graphics. It’s apart of the Adobe Creative Suite and it has a been steep learning curve to use. So, I recommend using something free and simple like Canva to create graphics if you’re getting started. But since I already knew how to use it, I prefer to use Illustrator because I keep templates for all of my blog post images and social media graphics.
Squarespace / Wordpress
Every online business needs a comprehensive web site as a store front. I used Wordpress for many years during my blogging days but it got to a point where every time I updated the theme, a plug-in, or my server Blue Host, it would slow down my site or something would stop working because with Wordpress, all the parts work separately. So I switched over to Squarespace a few months ago and love it! I’m not super tech savvy (although I pretend I am) so Squarespace worked much better for my skill set and needs because it includes beautifully designed, easy-to-use templates so I can use focus on creating content. It doesn’t integrate that easily with Convertkit but I’ve figured out some hacks to make it work.
So, that’s my comprehensive list of must-use apps that I use for my coaching and my business. The moral of the story is: there are a ton of free and easy to use apps that were perfect for me when I got started in business. But as I grew and my needs were more complex, I upgraded to software that has saved me time and sanity, and I hope that this list helps you do that too! What tools and apps do you love to use? Let me know if the comments below, or share it with a friend!