HOW TO… Use apps to help business – PART 1

Time for the next instalment of my new business savvy ‘How To’ posts for 2017! Something that has helped me so much in keeping up my habits and staying productive the majority of the time is helpful apps and websites. There are so so many out there and I know it can be incredibly daunting when you google what you want and it seems like there are a bazillion options out there. So I thought I would just share with you the ones that I use. I haven’t tried them all so I wouldn’t like to tell you that these are 100% the absolute best options out there but they are all free at least and very user friendly. They’ve helped me a lot so with any luck they might help a few of you out too. As I’ve wrote this I’ve realised just how much there is to say so I’m going to break it down into two parts, so stay tuned for Part 2!

1. 30/30 App

My latest discovery and currently my favourite thing! This app is a task manager you can use on your phone or tablet. I just got an iPad mini and so I’ve been using it on that always propped up beside me on my desk. If you read my recent post How To… Be A Go-Getter you will have read how I’ve found timing my tasks a really great way to stay productive. Well I decided to take that to the next level this month and discovered the perfect app for the job. It’s very simple and straight forward which is what I love. You basically create a list of tasks which you can re-order, colour code, and most importantly assign a time limit to complete each task within. Tasks can be auto-looped, so say it’s a task you need to do everyday such as ‘Post on Instagram’ it will always be pushed back to the end of the list unless you choose to delete it. There is always a ‘break task’ which cannot be removed as the idea is if you are working solidly on each task you should take short breaks too to remain focused. I use it for my food and drink breaks and just move it around throughout the day. I love the colours and large scale interface too. Try it out, I can’t recommend it enough!

 

2. Tweetdeck

This one is for scheduling tweets on Twitter. I’ve been using it for some time now and it’s yet to let me down. There are loads of platforms out there for scheduling tweets on and although some have more complex features, I prefer the simplicity of Tweetdeck. I often find when something’s more complex it takes longer to use and isn’t always efficient. For example, I think another platform I trialled first would never actually post my images properly when I scheduled a post, but would rather post a link to it which for me makes a big impact as my business is obviously very visually based.

What I like to do is schedule every morning straight after my breakfast break on 30/30 to go to Tweetdeck and plan a few posts for that day. It means that I can make sure to post regularly, at optimum times and post during certain Twitter hashtag hours too which are usually in the evening when I know I’ll be too busy to be posting live. You can also choose which of these vertical menus shown above appear in your homepage so retweeting and replying is made easy all from one page.

 

3. IFTTT

AKA If This Then That. Following on from what I said about it being important that my images are posted visibly on Twitter in order to gain attention I used to find it so frustrating that sharing my Instagram posts to Twitter would only share a link and not the actual image! I don’t know about you, but if a post doesn’t have a picture attached to it, it’s unlikely I’ll bother reading it. I’m very visually minded, that’s why I love the colours and little symbols that come attached to the tasks on 30/30. (Sorry I’ll try to stop confessing my undying love for 30/30.)

If This Then That has ‘Applets’ which are basically little formulas that automatically integrate different social media platforms for you in simple ways so you don’t even have to think about it. So I love that with the middle Applet shown below, now every Instagram post will automatically be posted as a photo to my Twitter! I love IFTTT so much purely just for the fact it can do this and think that EVERYONE should be implementing this feature because it just makes so much sense.

 

4. Mailchimp

You may have heard of this one, they’re pretty well known but they have good reason to be. As they put it, Mailchimp helps you “Send better email. Sell more stuff.” It’s a platform for sending out email campaigns with multiple features all the while remaining very straight forward to use. I send out a monthly newsletter and occasionally the odd special offer or festive greetings email which I honestly have no idea how I would go about doing without Mailchimp.

You can save different mailing lists on it and create limitless html email campaigns without really needing to have any technical knowledge. The email builder lets you add images, text and buttons and rearrange them all just by dragging and dropping. You can schedule when your email will be sent out and send yourself a test version first to check it looks right. Once sent you can then see reports of how many people have opened and clicked your email and all the rest of it. There is an option for a paid account but the free version gives you a great deal of capabilities that you really don’t need the paid features if you’re just starting out.

That’s it for Part 1! Follow my blog or join my mailing list via the links on the right-hand side of the page to keep updated with future posts and of course, Part 2 of this feature! Next time I’m going to delve a bit more into how I’ve built my websites as this is something people often ask me about.