The Tools I Use to Run My Online Business
Are you spending 20% of your time that drives 80% of the results you are looking for?
In today’s post, I am sharing all the tools I use to run my online business. Whether you are just starting out or has been running your business for a while now and are looking to streamline your workflow?
My hope is that you will find one (or two) tools that help to do that so you can focus your time on work that matters most.
In all transparency, any links marked by an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. This means when you use my links, I may receive a small commission of the recommended product for any purchases you make. This is usually a flat fee or percentage commission. Any commission I earn comes at no additional cost to you and I would be grateful if you use my links as a way of saying thanks as I only share products that I use and love.
For creating an affordable and professional business email address
If you are running an online business using (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), I definitely encourage you to up-level your online presence with a professional business email address instead (e.g. email@example.com) to set yourself up for extra credibility with your audience.
Trust is everything when it comes to running your online business and it applies to the smallest thing, even your email address, makes a massive difference to set up a professional first impression online.
For organizing documents in one storage
I honestly have no idea how my online business will function without Google Drive. It literally houses all my business documents like business analytics reports, blog posts, online courses preparation work, clients’ homework, meeting notes and so on.
Not only I am able to keep all my documents organized in one cloud storage, but it also allows me to share a specific file or folder with a specific person.
Another feature I absolutely love is their offline mode. As I travel very often (2-3 times a month), I am able to write a blog post whilst I am on the plane for example, with their offline mode. #TimeSaver
For managing workflow in your inbox
If you find yourself spending too much time on administrative work like emails, I definitely encourage you to check out Streak. It is one of the BEST integrations you must install in your Gmail account if you have not already done so.
Whilst it comes with features like keeping track of your leads, setting up follow-up tasks, and managing your clients’ workflow etc. I mainly use the ‘Snippets’ and ‘Send Later’ features which honestly have been a game-changer for both myself and my online business!
The ‘Snippets’ feature allows you to create and save your email templates so you don’t have to write your email from scratch. This feature is immensely helpful for you if you find yourself writing the same email over and over again.
The ‘Send Later’ feature allows me to schedule emails in advance so it comes in really handy in an event say I will be out and about for the entire day, I can schedule my emails the day before to be pushed out on a specific date and time.
For managing your password
Storing and remembering your passwords can be nerve-wracking but it does not have to be.
There is actually a “funny” story behind how I became a customer of 1Password. So basically I chanced upon their website and signed up for a 30-day trial. The trial ended and I entirely forgot about it.
One day, I received an email notification that my card was actually charged for their annual plan which was inexpensive, amounting to $36 USD for 1 year.
But let me tell you, this is another game-changing tool because I have billions of password originally stored in my Google Sheets and I have always found it troublesome to open my Google Sheets, search for that one specific password etc.
If you have been using the manual method like I used to or often find yourself forgetting your passwords, 1Password will be your new best friend from today onwards. Not only it remembers ALL your password but it is also encrypted from end to end.
All you have to do is to set up 1 master password, set up all the other individual password once and that’s it. Next time, all you have to do is to log in to sites, key in your master password, and voilà. Sorted!
For tracking time
I don’t know about you but as an online business owner (a.k.a the ONLY superwoman), I wear multiple different hats, with billions of things on my never-ending to-do list.
Knowing I have many responsibilities weighing on my shoulders, I have to be extremely conscious of how I am spending my time. After reading The 4-Hour Work Week, I learned to focus on spending 20% of my time that drives 80% of the results I am looking for.
With Toggl, I am able to record and track how much time I spent on a specific task.
At the end of each work week, I will receive an automated compilated report sent straight to my inbox. Then I evaluate what are the tasks that could be streamlined or delegated or eliminated.
For scheduling your meetings seamlessly
“I’m available to meet this Thursday, 10:00 AM. How about you?”
“I’m sorry but can we meet on Wednesday instead?”
“My schedule for Wednesday is full. How about Tuesday?”
Alright, you get the drift. But does it sound familiar?
With Calendly, you can bid goodbye to the back-and-forth emails (those long email threads are an absolute nightmare) trying to find a suitable date and time that works for both parties.
I have been using Calendly for almost 2 years now and it honestly saves SO MUCH time for both myself and my clients.
The other person who receives the link simply has to pick a date and time that works best for them, enter their personal information, and your meeting is successfully scheduled!
For business accounting and bookkeeping
I recently switched from Wave to QuickBooks for a couple of reasons.
One being the website speed is so much quicker than Wave. Secondly, it includes an additional user for an accountant which I know will come in handy when I am ready to delegate this task at some point.
Category: Clients Management
For video communication with clients
One of the reasons why I can work from anywhere is because of the invention of video communication tool. In the line of my work, I often have a 1-1 call with my clients from all around the world.
And to me, the software not only has to be speedy but also reliable. Oh and trust me, I have tried several popular video communications tools but the ONE I am sticking for a long time is Zoom.
Their free plan allows you to have unlimited 1:1 meeting, 40 minutes limit on group meetings, unlimited number of meetings and so much more…
And the best part?
A participant does not have to create an account to join in your Zoom call which is often the smallest feature like this but plays such a strong impact on adding this extra convenience for your clients.
For booking clients and streamlining your online business
As a brand strategist myself, I know branding is an experience I deliver to my clients and HOW they going to feel when working with me.
Therefore, I prioritize in delivering a seamless and organized experience from onboarding to offboarding. Check out what my client had to say about my onboarding process with Dubsado:
With Dubsado, I am able to run my online business efficiently with their popular features:
- Lead management
- Payment processing
- Proposals and contracts
- Private client’s portal and project management
- Other automation tools and integrations
If you are on the fence of trying Dubsado after reaching your 3 clients limit, I have a promo code for you.
Simply enter seralodesign to enjoy 20% OFF your first month!
Category: Email Marketing Software
For creating and maintaining your email lists
As you know, building an email list is the way to go when trying to grow your online business (I.e. engaging with your audience, making sales etc.)
Currently, I am using MailChimp which, unfortunately, I will be converting to ConvertKit soon (Not a pun, I promise ha) but no seriously, MailChimp works just as fine but moving forward in 2019, I will be focusing more on creating opt-ins, content upgrades, and email sequences.
For that? I want to properly segment my email lists before it gets too crazy and ConvertKit seems to be the perfect email marketing software because it is designed especially for online service-based owners.
Which email marketing software are you using? MailChimp or ConvertKit?
Category: Social Media
For scheduling social media posts
If you do any sort of content creation for your online business, Later is a must.
Later allows you to visually plan your feed, auto-schedule your social media posts (no phone notifications required), store your hashtags in categorized groups, store your images in your media library etc.
One of the many things I love most about Later is their massive resources for social media tips on their blog and they are often quick to share their tips/strategies whenever Instagram rolls out a new feature.
For creating graphics and design
Running an online business means you need to create graphics for your website, social media, brand collateral etc.
Enter Adobe Creative Cloud.
I am currently subscribed to Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe InDesign. Each of these tools serves a different purpose within my business.
- Adobe Illustrator: For creating vector artwork like logo design and other graphics
- Adobe Photoshop: For simple editing photos and creating graphics templates
- Adobe InDesign: For creating heavy text brand collateral such as eBooks
For domains and web hosting
In order to build a website, you need to have a domain and web hosting. To put it simply in a human context, think of your domain as your “home address” and web hosting as your “internet rent”.
Bluehost offers a really affordable plan for as low as $3.95* a month with free domain, SSL included and the best bit? 1-click WordPress Install which makes installing your WP a breeze!
It is also #1 recommended web hosting by WordPress.org and I have always been impressed by their customer service via their support chat box.
For creating fully-customizable websites
In today’s digital age, a website is an important component to the success of your online business.
There are plenty of platforms to build your website on like Squarespace, Blogger, and Wix but the platform I use for Sera Lo Design is WordPress.
With WordPress, it allows you to fully-customize the website design with no limitations (I.e. no more looking like any other website using the same template), monetize your website, and you have FULL control over your website and online source data.
The best part of all, it is free!
For creative stock images
Stock photos are commonly known for being generic, non-humanizing factor, boring etc.
But not when it comes to MOYO Studio. In fact, they create premium styled photos for all creative entrepreneurs in mind. Inspired by nature and minimalism.
I am also excited to have teamed up with them to offer you an exclusive discount.
Simply enter SERALO upon checkout to enjoy 15% OFF their entire shop, including their membership plans.
Do you know any other amazing business tools I have not listed in this post? Share with me in the comments below as I always love trying new tools that help to streamline my business and workflow.
Let’s stay connected
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