If you’re like me— a scrappy solopreneur always looking for inexpensive ways to make her life a little easier —then this blog post is 100% for you.
If you’re not a solopreneur (that’s someone who owns and runs a business on their own), but you use technology to write, post on social media, or do any other sort of work, this blog post will still be very helpful to you.
Over my few years working as a freelancer, I’ve tried and tested quite a few types of software to help me work more efficiently. The following are just nine tools that I use personally and happily recommend.
Google is the shit. There’s really no other way of describing the free and nuanced set of tools Google offers.
Gmail is free and easy to use. Google Drive is 15 GB of free cloud storage space. Google Docs offers the capability of creating and collaborating on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms. Then, of course, there are features like Google Calendar, Hangouts, and Google + for business.
If you’re not somehow already using Google for work, you’re truly missing out, my friend. Get on the Google train.
My fave thing about Google: You can create, collaborate, and store all of your work in one place.
What Google needs work on: It can get cumbersome to access certain documents when you have to switch between multiple Google accounts.
I’ve tried so many different social media scheduling tools— HootSuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer, Apphi, Later, Sprout Social, Tailwind —but none rival the robustness of Iconosquare.
It has the capability to draft and schedule Instagram and Pinterest posts easily. I don’t use Pinterest but I’ve been searching for a stellar Instagram scheduling tool for ages. I think I’ve finally found it.
Autoposting on Instagram through Iconosquare is now available so there’s no need to be glued to your phone all day waiting for reminders to post. The analytics on Iconosquare is superior to any social media management app I’ve worked with. The depth and insight of the analytics are truly impressive.
Iconosquare isn’t a free tool, although they do offer a 14-day free trial. I pay about $175 per year for my Iconosquare account, and while the other aforementioned tools are free and post to more platforms, they aren’t as user-friendly or insightful.
My fave thing about Iconosquare: You can autopost or choose to schedule Instagram posts yourself with ease.
This is the layman’s Adobe. With Canva, even your technologically challenged parents can make awesome graphics. You can drag and drop your design elements, upload photos, and choose from many different design sizes. For example, there are square designs for Instagram, but also 8 ½” by 11” sizes for creating a letter or a flyer.
The paid version of Canva has a resize feature so rather than recreating a piece of work in different dimensions, you can create a resized copy with just the push of a button.
The free version offers so much that it’s silly not to consider using if you’re a solopreneur producing content. If you want to check on some of the cool things you can create with Canva, check out my Instagram for some examples.
My fave thing about Canva: You can create basically any graphic from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
What Canva needs to work on: There’s no basic black line. All of the lines are decorative and fluffed up.
Who wouldn’t want a free email marketing automation? MailChimp makes building email lists, creating, and scheduling email campaigns easy. You can have up to 2,000 subscribers before you have to start paying for a subscription to Mailchimp.
They also offer a new landing page creation tool. It’s user-friendly, but there are still a lot of bugs and missing features that make it an inferior landing page tool.
My fave thing about Mailchimp: The ability to create automated campaigns for free that easily trackable.
What Mailchimp needs to work on: The landing page creation tool.
I’m surprised to learn how many people aren’t aware that WordPress is not just a platform for blogs, but it can also be used to build a website. In fact, about a quarter of the internet is powered by WordPress.
I, too, built my website using WordPress and am pleased with that choice. It was easy to create my site and easy to make changes as needed. Plus there are loads of themes and plugins to explore and customize your site.
My fave thing about WordPress: It simplifies web management.
What WordPress needs to work on: Compatibility with Google Docs (when you copy-paste content from a Google Doc, the formatting does not transfer to WordPress).
Okay, seriously, if you don’t have Grammarly you need to go download the extension right now. Grammarly is an editing tool that will change your life. You can go to the app and copy-paste in the text that you want to be edited, or you can use the extension and let Grammarly politely point out your grammar mistakes before you hit send on emails, social media posts, etc.
This is the easiest and simplest way to become a better digital communicator. With Grammarly, there are no more excuses for grammar mistakes.
My fave thing about Grammarly: It edits not just your professional work, but your everyday communications.
What Grammarly needs to work on: The extension is not compatible with Google Docs so you’re forced to copy-paste text directly to the Grammarly app, which does not retain original formatting.
As a writer, or as someone who ever produces written content, this tool is super helpful in generating content.
With the Co-Schedule tool, you can plug in a headline and it will give you a score based on search engine algorithms and other factors. This tool can really help you get an idea of a quality headline, and improve on your not-so-great headlines.
My fave thing about Co-Schedule: The tool doesn’t just tell you if it’s a good headline or not, it educates you why.
What Co-Schedule needs to work on: Making more nuanced suggestions to improve headlines.
Portent’s Content Idea Generator is similar to the Co-Schedule tool but more helpful in situations where you have writer’s block and need an inspiring title to work from. Some of the suggestions are pretty goofy, but hey, it gets the mental gears turning.
My fave thing about Portent’s tool: It gets the brain juices flowing.
What Portent needs to work on: Making the tool more useful than just stimulating creativity.
If you’re the kind of person who works best at night and has found herself sending work emails at weird hours of the day, this is the tool for you.
Boomerang is a Chrome extension that allows you to schedule emails to be sent, get read receipts, and send follow up reminders when someone hasn’t responded to your email.
This tool really helps you manage your inbox, and it helps you not appear unprofessional by sending an email at 2 am that you don’t want to forget to send.
My fave thing about Boomerang: It automates email processes so I don’t forget about important communications.
What Boomerang needs to work on: It would be awesome if Boomerang could spread its services across other messaging platforms.
Do You Have a Digital Tool You’re in Love With?
Us scrappy solopreneurs gotta stick together and share our resources! Do you have a favorite tool? Share it with me! It can be a website, an app, or service you use to run your business that’s either free or inexpensive.