Best of the Year: Our Top 8 Tools to Improve Your Business & Branding
Are you looking for time management tips? Are you in need of a solid CRM platform? Is your inbox out of control and you are overwhelmed by email inbox organization? We’ve got your back! In celebration of the end of the year, we are happy to announce our top ten business and branding tools of 2017. Whether you’re a creative business owner or a professional on a team of inspired colleagues, we hope that this list* of resources helps your company work better, connect deeply, and shine brighter in 2018.
*We’ve included some special links to discounts and promotions for these services or products. If you sign up with these links you’ll get major savings if you use our affiliate links below.
Manage Your Client Projects
We were looking for an efficient cloud-based platform we could use to track client projects, send invoices and monitor payments, and easily communicate with our clients. We looked all over for the right platform and Dubsado checked practically every box on our list of needs. We love that it’s a family-owned business (a husband and wife team whose toddler named the biz!), that they have stellar customer service, and that they are always rolling out new bells and whistles. They also have a robust library of plug and play templates for virtually all service-based entrepreneurs. You can set up intake forms, client feedback forms, canned emails, and more!
It’s seriously upped our professional game! Dubsado ensures that our client’s experience is stress-free and easy. Each of our clients gets set up with a password-protected client portal where they can access design files, review notes, make payments, and track the progress of their project. If you’re a service-based business, and you’re looking for a way to streamline your biz, check out Dubsado.
Get 20% off when you sign up here and use the code: iluvl&f
Manage Your Email Inbox
If you haven’t yet heard of Boomerang, then YOU ARE WELCOME! We love, love, love this tool. It’s like having a virtual assistant that you don’t have to pay (we love VAs, though!), and it takes care of many of your email needs. Want to sit down and reply to that work email but it’s midnight, and you don’t want to send out an email at midnight? Great, no worries. Schedule it to be sent out at another time. Want to get back to an important email but afraid you might forget about it? Not a problem. Set up a reminder to have it come back to you! You can even set up follow-up reminders to hit you back when an email you sent goes unread after a certain amount of time. It’s a life-saver! Enjoy the holy Boomerang!
3. Inbox Pause
A feature of Boomerang for Gmail, this tool is pretty amazing, freeing, and just-what-we-need to break away from the cycle of constant interruption that is our inbox.
This free little widget will put all incoming messages on hold (until a later time when we’re more able to devote energy to reading and responding to emails). Inbox Pause makes it easy to work on a project without being distracted EVERY NANOSECOND. If you have an inbox, you’ll love trying out this tool!
Manage Your Calendar
This is for you if you’re tired of the back and forth of emailing with clients or colleagues asking, “How does next Wednesday work for you?” There are a lot (and I mean a heck of a lot) of calendar-syncing software programs out there. We researched them all and finally went with Acuity because of a few reasons. We love the clean and super user-friendly interface for business and client. It embeds our calendar right on our website for a seamless booking experience for the client, it’s completely customizable to match our branding, it allows you to send out automated emails, and it’s linkable to Google calendar, social media, and more! We also love how easy it is to set up coupon codes for packages or products, and you can even collect payments for paid appointments. They have a few options for plans, all of which are affordable.
Manage Your Writing
Even if you’re “not a writer” you find yourself writing a ton, I’m sure. Chances are, you write emails, social media posts, newsletters, contracts, proposals, applications, and even some blog posts. Grammarly takes the guesswork out of writing. It’s a valuable tool to increase confidence and productivity! Think of it as your English major buddy who loves to save you time by catching time-consuming writing errors. With less time spent on proofreading, you’ll have more time to focus on the core of your message. The truth is, it’s easier to get your message out when you’re not worried about comma placement and sentence structure.
6. Google Chat
There’s not a whole lot to say about this tool. Callie lives in Atlanta, and Shelly lives on an island off of WA state. Thanks to the magic of G chat, we can easily stay in constant contact with one another without even interrupting our workflow. Plus, their little emojis are hilariously weird and endearing. If you’ve got a team of collaborators across any distance (or even across a room?), you can talk it all over using Gchat.
Manage Your Links
7. Link Tree
#linkinbio. When you’re managing your Instagram account posting a link can be a challenge. It requires uploading a new link to your IG bio each time you need to post a new URL? What if a reader wants to access a link from an older post? That’s where Link Tree come in, thankfully. Link Tree lets you post one bio link in your IG profile. That one URL acts as a landing page for all of your IG followers. There they can choose from a list of your links. Link Tree helps your followers discover all of your recent content from multiple destinations. You can send followers anywhere: blog posts, published articles, your online store, booking link, RSVP link for events, your portfolio, and more. It’s super easy to manage, and you can just paste in new URLs, then drag and drop the links to reorder in your tree.
Manage Your Billable Hours
If you’re a freelancer or a contractor, you’ll love Toggl because it makes tracking your hours spent on a project easy as pie. You can categorize your clients and projects and track your time using the app or the browser extension. Note: There is also a time-tracking feature in Dubsado that connects to an invoice-sending widget but Callie’s been using Toggl for a while now, so we don’t currently use that feature in Dubsado.
We hope these tools help you streamline your work in 2018! What’s on your list of your top tools of 2017? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.