Ten Tools That Made Me Thrive In 2014
Tell the truth. It’ not possible to do it by yourself. You need help. I’ll be the first to admit it. I need help. My wife helps me. My kids help. My assistants help. I need help to keep things running. I need help so that my brain doesn’t explode because it’s always thinking of new stuff. Yes, I have one of THOSE brains.
So, in order to make it through, I need help. I don’t want to just “make it”, I want to THRIVE. People are important, but I wouldn’t make it (not easily, at least) without some of the applications and tech tools that I’ve discovered or continued to use through out this year.
Let me open up my tool box a bit and share 10 of them.
Every time I do one of these lists, Evernote is in my list somewhere. I mentioned earlier that my brain is always thinking of new “stuff.” So, I need somewhere to keep it. I put my goals, to dos and all sorts of things in Evernote. (Here is a video of how I use Evernote to setup my goals) Now that iCloud allows sync, I sometimes use my Notes app to jot a quick note. But, if I want to organize it and search for it easily later, I need to put it in Evernote. As Evernote improves, it adds some neat features that makes it worth using for me, especially on Premium (which is only $45/yr). One of those features is Context. When I am writing a note, Context searches the web for articles, ideas and notes that are similar and makes those suggestions at the bottom of my note. There are at least a few times that I have been working on a meeting agenda or an idea when a life-saving Context reference pops up at the bottom of my note. It’s integration like this that keeps me on the Evernote bandwagon. I recommend Evernote BIG TIME.
[Tweet “Robert Kennedy III recommends that you use @Evernote to remember STUFF”]
Most of the people I know are on social media. There are different uses for different networks and while I have had a Facebook account for at least the last 4 years, I have only recently begun using it as a “business” tool. I’ve changed my rules for who I will and won’t accept. As I was changing my rules, though, something else happened. I began noticing that I was forming a few more serious relationships on LinkedIn and the conversations were a bit different there. They were more focused. I didn’t have to weed through as much to get to the point. Then, LinkedIn introduced the ability to create posts to go into the LinkedIn Pulse feed. I was hooked. I switched the majority of my social media attention to LinkedIn and it has already begun to produce “business” results that I had been seeking for a while on the other channels.
One of the things that I did in 2014 was begin a membership site. I had been hearing for quite some time that I needed to have one in order to grow a community and also be able to share value in a more accessible way. While many used Facebook groups as a component of their community, the next step was to have a membership area where your products and archived information can be made accessible to your community members. I tried different membership products like Kajabi, OptimizePress and others. While nothing was wrong with any of those, for me they were either more expensive than I wanted or more complex to set up than I needed at the time. I found Suzanne Thereisa’s software and it has made operating my membership site a cinch.
Controlling your social media can be a challenge. I have used and in some cases still continue to use tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Commun.it, EveryPost, Klout, etc. But, being consistent with blogging was a challenge. With CoSchedule, I am able to plan out my calendar right in the interface, schedule my social media posts as well as my blog posts and setup events if I choose, all from inside of my WordPress dashboard. This is great because I can time and theme my social media posts to match with my blog post. It’s much easier to see this in one screen instead of jumping back and forth.
5. Google Drive/Docs
There are a gazillion cloud storage and collaboration options. And, I’ve used quite a few like Box, Dropbox, Copy, Bitcasa, SugarSync, etc. But, the truth is, I use Google apps for my email and calendaring systems. The Google Drive option is already available to me as part of my plan and I also have Google Docs baked in. It just made sense to begin using what was there (and worked pretty well) instead of having ANOTHER application. I don’t know if you have ever worked simultaneously on a Google doc with your team but it is an amazing thing to watch the letters, words and edits being populated on your screen in real time. If you are not using it, give it a whirl. For $10/user/month, you get a minimum of 1TB of storage and that’s just for a 1 user company. More than 5 users gets you unlimited storage.
OK. I’m just adding this one in here but I honestly don’t know if it has allowed me to THRIVE just yet. I added it in because I’m excited about it. I easily created a few slide decks with HaikuDeck which is integrated with Slideshare and my LinkedIn profile views exploded. Guess what? Slideshare is integrated with LinkedIn. The reason that this is helpful for me is not only because of the profile views. I also have some content online now that I can easily share with people who attend my workshops or presentations. I can point them to my “cliff notes” version of some of my content. I have actually used Slideshare instead of Powerpoint or Keynote in a couple of my trainings. It has reinforced for me the idea of keeping slide content easy to consume. This will be on the 2015 wrap-up list.
I post quotes a lot and look for graphics to post online. I can get an assistant to do some of it for me or hire someone from Fiverr. But, I can also hop on Canva and whip up a quick graphic in less than 30 seconds. Here’s the cool part. Canva already has the proper dimensions set up for most social media posts, cover images, or other graphic types that might use. Canva is a time-saver. ridiculously easy and cost efficient. Many of the images for use are free and most others are $1. Can’t beat it.
An accounting system is probably a good practice for any business owner. I’ve used a lot of applications from the big boys like QuickBooks and Accountedge (MYOB) to other systems like Xero, Yendo and Freshbooks. But, I’ve been impressed by Wave Accounting. It’s ease of use and flexibility is amazing. It also integrates with Stripe for online payment processing. There are a lot of features that I could discuss here but it is best for you to check out Wave.
If you have an online business, run coaching groups, sell online products, or anything that involves you marketing in some way, you will have come across a squeeze page or landing page at some point. Not only do you need to have the landing page, you need to know whether or not the landing page is working for you…analytics. I mentioned OptimizePress above in the membership products area. OptimizePress does a really good job of creating LandingPages and squeeze pages. But the analytics are a bit tougher to check. I’ve also used LeadPages and absolutely loved their software because it made it ridiculously simple for me to build out a landing page and get it online. But, the only drawback for me was the limited design flexibility. Then I found Instapage. The Drag and drop interface makes it easy for me to alter the already good-looking templates provided and the analytics are just what I need. How many people are seeing the page, how many are clicking and converting. Simple. Just what I needed.
Every serious business needs a way to maintain relationships with it’s prospects, customers and contacts. This is not just for sales. This is also so that you can continue to provide great thoughts, content and valuable opportunities. For the last year plus, I have been using GetResponse to manage my email subscription list and it has been rock-solid. The ease of creating emails, the access to images, the ease of survey creation…these are winners for me.
I use other great tools such as WordPress (of course), List.ly, StumbleUpon, Clickbank, EasyWebinar, Google Hangouts, Amazon Kindle App and others. But, the 10 listed above have made a special IMPACT for me over the course of the year 2014.