My top 5 tools that help me with my business

As small business owners, we all have preferences on tools or apps to use that help us do our work more efficiently, and I am certainly no different. However, with so many to choose from, some of which do similar things, it can be a case of trial and error finding ones that work for you.  

Here are some of my go-to favourites that I regularly use to help me in the day to day running of my business: 

1. Canva – For creating graphics

(available on desktop and iOs and android)

If you haven’t heard of or used Canva, then where have you been hiding! When using social media for your business, they say that alongside having good quality professional images, it is also great to have cohesive graphics which are on-brand to help your post stand out. Canva is a brilliant resource to help with this with lots of great features and is what I use to create the majority of my graphics for both myself and my clients.  

I use the PRO account, which is well worth paying for as you can use premium stock photos, videos, audio, and graphics. You can also magically resize your designs, upload custom fonts for your brand and create a brand kit.

You can use Canva to create anything from your social media posts to presentations and documents. It has a wide range of suggested templates, or you can choose to create your own from scratch.

Whilst there is the option to create a logo within Canva, I would highly recommend only doing this as a temporary measure and being very careful which elements you use as Canva has strict terms about this. If you are looking for something more permanent, then I would look at investing in the help of a Graphic Designer or using different software. It is worth noting that Canva only creates raster images rather than vector images meaning the quality and resolution can easily be lost from your graphics should you try and scale them bigger elsewhere. It is also something to watch out for should you wish to get anything printed.          
If you would like further help exploring what Canva offers, check out their Tutorials which you can watch and play around with at your own pace. Alternatively, if you are still struggling, get in touch with me at hello@marciejdesigns.uk to see how I can help.

2. Trello – To help with managing projects

(available on desktop and iOs and android)

Now hands up, despite having had a Trello account for a few years now, it is only recently that I have started to utilise it, although I’m probably still not using it to its full potential!

So what can you use it for?

Whether you are a part of a team or working for yourself, Trello is a great way to manage projects and organise tasks/lists. I now use it to help plan my captions for social media. It can take a bit of time to set your board up the way you like it but, it is worth doing so.  

I have mine set up with all my content pillar topics as headings, then have ideas on what to post on the cards underneath. These cards can be easily moved around, have checklists added to them, have due dates assigned or have attachments added. I also like to colour code mine with labels meaning I can easily see which ones I’ve done or need finished.  

There is no right or wrong way to use Trello, so you can set it up the best way that works for you, plus the possibilities for what you use it for are endless. So whether you are an organisational freak anyhow or would like to get more organised, you can use it for personal reasons or just like me to help with aspects of your business.  
I’d recommend looking at their website and signing up for a FREE account here to see everything they have to offer.

3. Planoly – A scheduling tool

(available on desktop and iOs and android)

There are so many scheduling tools available that can help you post content to your social media channels. I have tried a few of them, some of which was a close match; however, I have always found my way back to planoly. I find it very user friendly and love to use it to plan how my posts will appear on my Instagram grid. You can also use it to post to Pinterest.     

Although planoly has a FREE plan, I opted to pay for the solo plan. This plan had more features that suited my needs which include:

  • Allowing unlimited upload photos for one of your linked social profiles 
  • Videos 
  • Gifs 
  • Advanced analytics for Instagram
  • comment inbox (for your 15 latest posts)
  • Option to share to Facebook
  • Option to share to Twitter
  • Auto-post 1st comment
  • Best time to post suggestions
  • Quick schedule
  • Image filters 

Other features I like to use are being able to tag other users and add a location. There is also the option to create different categories of hashtags that you can then use on your posts though I prefer to use another tool for this feature.

4. Tagpie – for storing and using groups of hashtags

(available on iOs and android)

If storing groups of hashtags on your phone or wherever you like to refer to them isn’t working for you, then this paid-for app is brilliant! 

Unlike the group of hashtags feature within planoly, this app enables you to select hashtags from various categories rather than just one group. As well as counting the hashtags for you, you can set a limit for how many hashtags you select. I find this so much easier than working it out manually, and it also helps make sure you don’t get carried away.   

Using Tagpie is easy once you have added all your categories/hashtags. Find the group you need or search for a specific hashtag, select the hashtags you want to use and then copy them to where you would like to use them. 

Useful features with Tagpie include:

  •  It recognises if you have used a duplicate hashtag and won’t include it when sharing (although you can use the same hashtag across different categories)
  •  Random tag selection
  • Free hashtag bundles to download (currently business, social, motivational and wellbeing) 
  • The ability to import or export your tags and categories elsewhere   

I have found it so helpful, plus the developers are always looking at ways to improve its features. I also believe they are looking to develop it so it will be possible to use on desktop too but don’t quote me on that!   

5. Grammarly – Online grammar checker

If (like me) you aren’t great with spelling or grammar and can’t afford a copywriter, then you will love Grammarly! 

Whether you are working on an email, document or social media, Grammarly will be there looking over your shoulder to help you get the words right. It highlights any issues with your writing and gives suggestions as part of the free plan on spelling, grammar, punctuation and conciseness.

Your virtual assistant will also calculate how your clarity, engagement and delivery is allowing you to improve before hitting the send button.

Premium features include:

  • Clarity-focused sentence rewrites  
  • Tone adjustments
  • Plagiarism detection
  • Word choice
  • Formality level
  • Fluency
  • Other advanced suggestions

**Please note all of my above recommendations are based on my personal experience only, and I have no affiliate link to them, nor have I been approached by the businesses to do a review.    

If you would like to learn more about how I can support your small business, then take a look at my services here.

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