Tools We Love: Gmail’s Canned Responses

Tools We Love: Gmail's Canned Responses

Tools We Love: Gmail's Canned Responses

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us! Today’s tool we love: Gmail’s Canned Responses!

We did a quick search on One Woman Shop and were shocked to find out that we’ve only mentioned one of our favorite tools — Gmail’s Canned Responses — exactly once in the past several years. (Hey, with 46 pages of blog content, we can’t remember every single thing we write.)

So, this post is a long time coming, though we do talk about Canned Responses in The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook. File this topic under “things that are second nature to us but new to many other people.” (We bet you have plenty of those things too, even if you’re not aware of them.)

A quick overview: Canned Responses are a Gmail Labs feature (Labs = “a testing ground for experimental features that aren’t quite ready for primetime”) that allow you to save templates for the emails that you send often. Think: answers to FAQs, your client onboarding process, or step-by-step instructions.

Hands-down, the biggest benefit of enabling Canned Responses is saving yourself time. But we’ve recently uncovered another big benefit: Using Canned Responses can help you remove some of the emotion when you need to deliver negative news, like an application rejection or sponsorship request.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Go to the Settings wheel on the top right of your Gmail account
  2. Select Settings
  3. Go to Labs
  4. Enable Canned Responses
  5. Hit Save and your inbox will refresh
  6. Next time you compose an email, hit the bottom right-hand arrow in the new message to see (or save) a Canned Response

Here’s what it looks like:

Tools We Love: Gmail's Canned Responses

Voila — the next time someone asks about your contributor guidelines or how your pricing works, you can reply with just a few clicks! Of course, we highly recommend adding a personal touch to every email — but this gives you a solid base from which to work.

Here’s your challenge from One Woman Shop: Every time you send an email over the course of the next week, ask yourself “Will I likely send this same email again?” If so, save that shit as a Canned Response right away. (Pardon our French — we get amped up when it comes to saving time.)

Tools We Love: PopupAlly

Tools We Love: PopupAlly

Tools We Love: PopupAlly from Nathalie Lussier

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us! Today’s tool we love: PopupAlly!

Which email marketing platform to choose. The best social media platform for business owners. Which planner to use at the beginning of each year. And…whether or not to use a pop-up. These are just a few of the things that cause great debate amongst solo business owners around the world. (And…the types of things that make us think, “You know you’re a solopreneur when…”)

Installing a pop-up has dramatically increased our conversion rate for email sign ups. Want proof? As we mention in Building Your Online Community, we credit the combination of a pop-up (installed 5/19/2014) and our opt-in freebie (promoted 6/1/2014) with this little increase in our subscribers:

email list growth chart with popupally

And given that our email list is one of our top sources of sales, collaborations, and more, we’ve found it to be worth the risk of potentially irritating a minor subset of our website visitors in order to best serve our community.

Our weapon of choice? PopupAlly from Nathalie Lussier (who you might recognize from 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs) and her husband, Robin, who together make up the AmbitionAlly team.

Some of our favorite things about PopupAlly

  • The free version is extremely robust, but there’s a paid upgrade if you need more
  • You can choose between an exit-intent pop-up (it triggers when a website visitor is about to leave the site) and a time delayed pop-up
  • It syncs with popular email marketing platforms, like Mailchimp, Aweber, and yes, ConvertKit
  • It’s super easy to customize the look of your pop-up so that it reflects your brand
  • You can create two pop-ups with the free version, which means you can have both an overall pop-up, as well as a targeted one (we did this on our 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs page to increase downloads of our Road to Solopreneur Success ebook)
  • You can split test two different pop-ups to track conversion rate (only with the pro version)
  • The AmbitionAlly website is chockful of best practices for pop-ups. In fact, we would wager a bet that you can find the answer to any question you have about PopUpAlly or pop-ups

Limitations + drawbacks

To be honest? As of right now, we can’t think of any limitations of PopupAlly, so we’ll just say this: The biggest “problem” is that we can’t do absolutely everything we’d like to do with the free version. But, as fellow business owners, we really can’t complain about a company providing an awesome free version and then trying to upsell to a paid version. More power to ‘em for roping us in so effectively and making us loyal fans!

How to get started with PopupAlly

Even for those self-proclaimed “tech-illiterate” solopreneurs, we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be up and running with a pop up in no time when you use PopupAlly pro. (We can say this, because we might just be those people…)

PS — In case you were wondering, we also like to riff on our favorite email marketing apps, social media platforms, and planners.

PPS — A popup is just one of the tools we use to build our online community. Want more tried-and-true methods? Click below.

Building Your Online Community

Just a head’s up: As you might’ve guessed, we are affiliates of PopupAlly — we promote the platform because we love it!

Tools We Love: SendOwl

Manage product sales and affiliate programs with Send Owl

sell your products and manage affiliate programs with SendOwl

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us! Today’s tool we love: SendOwl!

If you’re like many of the business owners in our community, you probably offer some kind of paid product that you’re looking to sell online.

Us too! As we prepped for the launch of The Solopreneur Success Bundle, we knew we wanted a robust e-commerce platform that would allow us to 1) handle both payment and delivery of our digital download, and 2) manage our affiliate program (we were so thrilled to sign up over 70 amazing affiliates, who actively promoted the Solopreneur Success Bundle throughout the 5 days that it was for sale).

We asked around about a few options (Gumroad, DPD: Digital Product Delivery, and Selz all came up several times), but we opted to go with SendOwl and couldn’t be happier. We’re now using it to manage delivery of The One Woman Shop Bundle and our other current products.

A few SendOwl features we love:

  • Discount codes: We use specific codes for our fantastic members, to track the success of specific Facebook Ads, and more.
  • Upsell feature: This requires upgrading to the second tier of the monthly plan, but it allows us to automate the upselling process. An example: Someone goes to buy The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook and they’re encouraged to upgrade to the whole One Woman Shop Bundle instead. (Because…why not?)
  • Integration with MailChimp (and pretty much every other email marketing platform. Yes, including ConvertKit!): When an individual purchases any of our products, they are automatically added to the appropriate email list or tag, which means we can send them follow-up emails specific to that product.
  • Easy affiliate management: Want to offer different affiliates different commission rates, like we did when we offered Solopreneur Success Bundle contributors a 50% commission, instead of the standard 30% rate? Easy to do with SendOwl. Want to only enlist affiliates for certain products, but not others? Same. Want to see which of your affiliates is kicking the most ass, so that you can reward her accordingly? Easy.
  • Order tracking + reporting: If you want to see when you’re making the most sales, how many orders were started but not completed, and your conversion rate (based on the number of orders completed vs. the number of times the page was reviewed), SendOwl’s got you covered.
  • Google Analytics integration: With a huge launch like The Solopreneur Success Bundle, tracking our conversions was critical. We didn’t get as far into the Google Analytics integration feature as we would have liked, but knowing it’s there for this year’s Bundle is reassuring.
  • Stellar service: So far, we’ve been very satisfied with their responsive customer service and very complete Help Center. Seriously, we know what we’re talking about here — we did some desperate 11th hour (literally, 11pm) searching of it the night before the Bundle launched.

Limitations + drawbacks

No product is perfect, so SendOwl has to have limitations, right?

Obviously, we would have preferred to use the Upsell feature (mentioned above) without upgrading our plan, but it takes money to make money, friends.

Another slight limitation: We would love to be able to upload materials, like graphics and pre-written social media content, for our affiliates directly to SendOwl to save them a step when they want to promote us — which is always, of course 😉 Our workaround: Create a Google Doc with all of the assets and link it within an auto-responder on MailChimp. They sign up as affiliates, get added to the corresponding list, and get kicked this email with everything they need. Boom. #welovesystems

How to get started with SendOwl

  1. Head to SendOwl and create an account by clicking “Sign up” in the upper righthand corner.
  2. Choose a pricing plan: Basic ($9 USD per month) might be for you if you don’t need to manage an affiliate program, but otherwise, the Standard ($15 USD) is probably the right fit. If you plan to sell subscriptions or would like to offer upsells, opt for the $24 USD per month plan (like we do). No matter which plan you choose, you get a free, 30-day trial.
  3. Head over to the Help Center for instructions on every single step of the process.

Questions about SendOwl? Hit us up in the comments below! Have a tool you love for selling + affiliate management? We’d love to hear that, too!

Just a head’s up: As you might’ve guessed, we are affiliates of SendOwl — we promote the platform because we love it!

3 Ways Trello Can Organize Your Solopreneur Biz

3 Ways Trello Can Organize Your Solopreneur Biz

3 Ways Trello Can Organize Your Solopreneur Biz

It takes so many tools to organize your business. You have an editorial calendar, project roadmaps, to-do lists, contact lists…and those are just the things you’ve used today.

It seems to be everyone’s dream to have one tool to rule them all. And while I can’t promise you that, I can tell you how to get a lot closer.

The key is to use tools that are super flexible, enough that you can adapt them for any use. The best tool I’ve found for that? Trello.

What is Trello?

Trello is a project management platform with a very visual layout. It’s designed to follow the Kanban method, which in this context means a visualized layout of your workflow. I know it sounds boring, but Trello makes it simple.

At its simplest, Kanban lays out three workflow stages: to do, doing, and done. They’re usually laid out in that order from left to right, and you move cards to the right as they progress.

Realistically, your processes are probably more complex than just three steps.

But because Trello is also amazingly flexible, you don’t have to use it just for Kanban. There are a ton of integrations, including IFTTT and Zapier, meaning you can easily work it into your current processes wherever it makes sense.

Trello is made up of boards, lists, and cards. A board would be for an entire project. Within that, there are several lists, and you can think of cards as items or to-dos on those lists. You can drag and drop cards from one list to another, and archive them when they’re completed.

Types of Trello boards

I’ve found that most boards fall into one of three broad categories. Each of them work best for different products and working styles, so you can choose whatever grooves with you and customize it to your heart’s desire.

1. Traditional Kanban

Trello Kanban

A lot of boards will follow the traditional Kanban style of laying out your workflow visually — that to do, doing, and done process covered above. You can create one list for each step of your process. As a project moves along, you can drag and drop those cards to the right, from one board to another. (Moving to the right is a great feeling.)

What it works best for: When the most important thing to keep track of is something’s progress, like to-do lists, tracking freelance projects, planning content creation, and more.

2. Topical lists

Trello topical

Trello’s also great for organizing big projects, when the thought of creating and managing a spreadsheet for it gives you a migraine. With something like launching a product or a “master ideas list,” a single column for tasks to do may not be enough.

Organizing your board by topical lists, instead of one list for each stage of your process, lets you break things down a bit further than “things to do.”

It has a different, cleaner view and can be easier to deal with than a spreadsheet. You can drag and drop tasks to reorganize your plans, view your project in multiple ways, and search and filter the data much easier — a simple search bar instead of knowledge of Excel formulas and tricks.

Spreadsheets are meant for data, not to-do lists.

Use Trello to organize huge lists by creating a board and breaking it down by sublists and cards, laying it out, and filtering as you please (more on this later).

What it works best for: Big, “monster lists” like idea buckets, product launch plans, business roadmaps, contact lists, and other large projects.

3. Calendar-based

Trello board template: editorial calendar

By turning on the free calendar power-up, you can view a calendar of your Trello cards based on due date. It’s great as a kind of hybrid board, for when you’d like to have the visual Kanban view but still need a traditional calendar.

You can toggle between the two as much as you want, drag and drop on the calendar to rearrange due dates, and look at your projects from a second angle.

What it works best for: To-do lists with hard due dates, editorial calendars, tracking individual project due dates.

Tips for Trello pros

Once you’ve gotten the basics down and can lay out a project, you can think about getting fancy to make Trello even more fun.

  • Browse real-life examples. Trello’s Inspiration page has a ton of examples submitted by users. You’ll walk away with a ton of ideas for ways to organize your business.
  • Use all the features. You only need the basic structure of a Trello board to get the job done. But you can use descriptions, attachments, labels, due dates, checklists, and integrations to add more detail to your projects and filter your to-dos.
  • Collaborate. Plan projects with clients, customers, or partners by creating a group board where you all can assign each other cards, comment back and forth, and make collaboration easy.
  • Keep an “FYI” card on every board. Always create one card that stays on the board forever, with information on how the board works. Maintenance will be easier — especially when you’re collaborating — if you lay out the board’s purpose and processes.
  • Use templates. Creating templates for card descriptions and checklists that you can copy later will save time updating the board and ensure long-term consistency for you organization freaks like me.

“Move it to the right”

Trello can be anything you want it to be, so it’s worth giving it a shot. Whether you want a cleaner spreadsheet or more visual to-do list, there’s a board for that.

Get started!

Sign up to grab 3 free Trello board templates to copy + customize for your biz.

We <3 you, but please know that you can subscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Tools We Love: Edgar

Tools We Love: Edgar social media scheduling

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us!

Meet Edgar. He’s an octopus who just so happens to be a social media wizard. (Really, it’s a social media curation + scheduling app that allows you to automate your social updates like no other third party app out there.) It currently supports Twitter, Facebook personal profiles, Groups, and Page, and LinkedIn. And it just so happens it’s branded with an octopus full of personality.

Edgar seems to come up in any and every conversation I have about digital marketing — because he’s just that good.

What Edgar is

Created by the LKR team, Edgar is, in their words, “the only app that stops social media updates from going to waste.” Tall task, wouldn’t you say? Well, he lives up to it.

Here’s how it (he) works: you create content and add it into your back end library in Edgar, organizing it by category. Once you’ve built a library of updates, you create posting schedules on a nifty calendar for each account you’ve set up. At the times you’ve specified, Edgar will choose an update from the designated category and post it to your account(s).

Here’s how that looks:

1. I have several categories set up in my library.

Meet Edgar - categories

2. I create a schedule for each account I’ve linked up with Edgar.

Meet Edgar: schedule

3. Edgar pulls the needed updates from your library and creates a queue.

Meet Edgar: queue

It’s genius, yeah? Edgar effectively automates your social media — but leaves you in control. You create the categories, determine the schedule, and have the ability to view the queue days in advance and swap updates as needed.

That’s the basic gist of Edgar’s functionality. Here are some nitty gritty details that make him even more awesome:

Take advantage of the ‘Use Once’ category. Sure, most of the content you’ll load into Edgar will be evergreen content or content that has a decent lifespan (since that is the point of revolving it, after all). But not everything you want to post should be repeated. No worries — just choose the default “Use Once” category, and Edgar will know not to go back to that particular update once it’s been used.

Batch upload with import functionality. If you’re a Google Doc addict like some of us (ahem, Cristina and I here at OWS), you like to collaborate via shared documents before finalizing anything. Fret not: you can draft those social media updates in a spreadsheet and use the Import button to bring them all in at once.

Take a break. Let’s say you’re going on vacation or just want to go dark for a while. Or perhaps you want all of your social content to point to something like a launch (like we did for Building Your Online Community!). There’s a handy “Pause Queue” button that freezes Edgar and his revolving content and makes it ridiculously easy to pick up right where you left off when you’re ready.

Add photos. Edgar doesn’t just support plain text updates. With a handy “Add Image” button for each new update you add, you have the ability to easily enhance your post.

See how you’re doing. Edgar’s got a built-in statistics dashboard that’ll give you a quick glimpse at how each of your posts are performing. After all, social media requires strategy — and strategy requires metrics to benchmark yourself on.

Those are just some of the features — the fun doesn’t stop there.

The most grateful octopus you ever did meet

There are different perceptions on what good customer service is, but I think every user of Edgar can agree: Team Edgar nails it. Beyond easy email access to the Edgar pros, the team also runs an “Edgar HQ” Facebook Group where there’s a fair share of learning and celebrating going on. The best part of all this access? The team is incredibly receptive to requests for upgrades to their own application. In less than a year since launch (I’ve been a user since day 1!), I’ve seen countless changes made based directly on user requests — a true testament to caring about your customers.

Okay, okay. I’ve got one last thing to gush about. You see, Edgar is just downright grateful to have you as a user — and it shows. I was glowing a bit the day this came in the mail: his response to my Facebook post about him. What a guy! (The back had my post printed out with hearts surrounding it, and a note that “Edgar loves you, too!”)

Meet Edgar: love note

Things to keep in mind

Naturally, nobody’s perfect — even this little guy. A few things to keep in mind as you consider the use of Edgar:

1. He’s not exactly a cheap date. It’s up to you to weigh both the time he’ll save you in streamlining your social media as well as the benefit of having a consistent presence with the price tag. There are two account levels: $49/month for up to 10 accounts and 1,000 stored updates, and $99 for up to 25 accounts and 5,000 stored updates. On the fence? Request an invitation (average wait time is 24 hours or less!) and give a 30-day trial period a go.

2. He’s not the be-all, end-all. Like most things, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. When it comes to social media monitoring and engagement, automation is fantastic to keep things consistent, but checking in live on a regular basis to respond to and interact with others is paramount to an honest, successful social strategy. For that, we layer on Hootsuite and the native Twitter app, as needed. (And TweetChat for our monthly #OWSchat, of course!)

What Edgar means for social media

For a solopreneur running the rat race of serving clients, creating new revenue streams, and handling all the day-to-day happenings of running a One Woman Shop, Edgar means a stress-free approach to social media management and consistency in your social media marketing.

Oh — and it means for the first time ever, you can call an octopus your friend.

Tools We Love: Feedly

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us!

The online world can be overwhelming. Each day, we discover or are introduced to at least one new blog or website that we vow to keep tabs on, because we know it can serve as a resource for bettering our businesses or personal lives.

So it doesn’t take long to become overloaded, keeping at least 15 tabs open in a Chrome browser at all times, and having 10-15 newsletters flood your inbox per day. Sustainable? Not if you want to stay sane.

RSS feeds to the rescue

There’s an answer to the overwhelm: using an RSS feed reader. Back in the day (okay, just last year), the answer likely would’ve been Google Reader, but once Google nixed that service — to the panic of many-a-solopreneur — a knight in shining armor took its place: Feedly.

What is Feedly?

Feedly, founded in 2008, is a news aggregator application where you can search for the news sites, online magazines, and blogs that you don’t want to miss a beat of.

It’s ridiculously simple to add new content to your Feedly — simply paste the URL of the website or blog and Feedly will locate it, or you can use its search function and find the source by name. Once you’ve loaded your must-follow sites into Feedly, organization is easy. For the Type-A personalities out there (heck, I’m one of them!), being able to organize and sort by categories is a dream come true.

When it comes time to view and read, not only does Feedly easily aggregate updates, but it does so cleanly, with three options for viewing.

Titles View:

Feedly Titles View

Magazine View:

Feedly - Magazine View

Cards View:

Feedly - Cards View

Personally, I use the Titles View most frequently, but each of the views are clean and intuitive, and the options are easy to toggle between.

How to use Feedly

While Feedly provides an in-depth tutorial on the mechanics of using the site, what One Woman Shop solopreneurs really need to know is how it can be used to better their productivity and business. Here are three ways it can do just that:

1. Content marketing + social media: By following news, your favorite blogs, or inspirational resources, your Feedly becomes a goldmine of posts to share via your social outlets and garner ideas from for your own content marketing and blogging. You can even share directly from Feedly, though I don’t often use this option, as I prefer to generate my own bit.ly links for tracking purposes.

2. Create a content library: Use Feedly’s “Save For Later” option to easily bookmark posts that you want to keep track of. This comes especially in handy if you’re a common curator of posts like One Woman Shop’s Weekly Finds.

3. Curate content + resources for clients: As a blogger and ghostwriter for several different companies, I find my Feedly invaluable to aggregating news, trends, and resources for each company I write for. I work with clients to find the best sources, do research on my own, then load them into a new category in Feedly. When it comes time to brainstorm topic ideas or find resources for posts, I have one place to go.

4. Consistent learning + updates: By cataloguing the news and blogs you want to keep track of most, you’re guaranteeing educational reading and consistent updates on your industry. It’s yet another way to satiate the need for perpetual learning, and a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on around your online space.

Feedly on the go

For the on-the-go solopreneur, there’s the free app for both iPhone and Android. And we promise you this — the mobile app is just as good as the desktop version.

Even the Google Reader fanatics agree — Feedly is an amazing tool, with a clean design, and an intuitive app to help you keep up on news and blogs from anywhere. It’s certainly our go-to, and after one day of set up, we’re confident you’ll find it to be yours, too.

Resources and Tools for Digital Nomads

It’s Location Independence Week here on One Woman Shop! Join us as we chat with digital nomads and provide you with resources to jumpstart your location independent life. Want more resources via email? Sign up for our location independence interest list!

We’re back with a list of resources and tools for digital nomads. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good jumping off point. If you have anything to add, don’t hesitate to email us!

For learning and getting inspired:

For meeting other digital nomads:

For air travel:

    • Flightfox: “Flightfox is a marketplace of flight experts. [They] use custom built tools and ongoing research to help you travel farther and wider for less.”
    • Skyscanner: browse for flights, hotels and cars via price and location
    • KAYAK Explore: see where you can go for how much

For accommodations:

    • TravelPony: to find steeply discounted hotel rooms
    • Airbnb: a community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique spaces around the world through mobile phones or the internet
    • Couchsurfing: a site for connecting with individuals who host you for free
    • Hotel Tonight: for finding a last minute hotel room
    • Agoda: for discount hotel deals

For budgeting and travel hacking:

    • Trail Wallet: easy travel expense tracker for iPhone
    • Mint: free web-based personal financial management service
    • Chase Sapphire card: a highly recommended card for earning airfare miles
    • Travel Hacking Cartel: a private paid service to help you travel hack (like earning frequent flier miles without flying)

For packing:

    • Rimowa: for sturdy but lightweight luggage
    • Skross: for international adaptors
    • Scottevest: for jackets and vests designed especially for travel
    • Pocketknife
    • Waterproof backpack

For finding paid and volunteer gigs:

    • Working Nomads: curated delivery of remote jobs
    • FlexJobs: a paid service for finding telecommuting jobs
    • HelpX: find places to volunteer in exchange food and accommodation; includes farms, homestays, B&Bs, hostels, and more
    • WWOOF: find volunteer opportunities on organic farms worldwide

For finding office space and coworking spaces globally:

    • Regus: 2000 locations worldwide of executive suites, office space, virtual offices
    • ShareDesk: a global coworking space finder

For running your business online:

    • XCom Global: international MiFi hotspot
    • Tools We Love: a list of tools that One Woman Shop uses every day
    • Asana: a free project management tool
    • Google Drive: an easy way to store, access, and share files via your Google account
    • Dropbox: a cloud-based storage area your files
    • Focus@Will: provides “attention amplifying” music channels
    • ScheduleOnce: appointment scheduling software
    • SaneBox: an email management tool that lets you filter your messages based on importance

For miscellaneous things:

    • HappyCow: for finding vegetarian-friendly restaurants

This post contains affiliate links. As always, we only promote products that we think you will find useful. 

Tools We Love: Click to Tweet

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us!

File this one under “yet another tool that we use almost every day.” Click to Tweet is a super handy free (with a premium option) tool that lets you create pre-drafted tweets and share them with other people. The benefit? You control the message and you save the other person time- only they do is click Send. Sounds like a win-win to us!

Just like FollowerWonk, Click to Tweet can be a really valuable tool even if you’re not crazy about Twitter.

Here’s the gist, direct from Click to Tweet (cue The Jackson Five)…

    1. Write the message that you want others to share in the box
    2. Click the “Generate New Link” button to create a custom link
    3. Share the link and track the activity of each link over time

Where to include Click to Tweets:

    • Blog posts
    • Email signature
    • Emails (both personal ones and ones to your email list)
    • Powerpoint slides
    • Twitter (not gonna lie, just thought of this one- ha!)

Some ideas for when to use Click to Tweet:

    • If you’re launching a new website or product: we provided pre-drafted tweets to all OWS ambassadors and contributors before our launch. We also used CTT when we launched our solo business calendar recently!
    • If you’re doing a speaking gig: include the Click to Tweet on the first page of your slides to encourage attendees to share that they’re there- this is great for personal and professional branding. Be sure to include your Twitter handle and the event hashtag, if applicable. We recommend plugging your Click to Tweet link into Bit.ly and editing it to make it short and memorable
    • Within your blog posts: create tweets based around the most important points in your post, hyperlink key phrases with the CTT link, and include a little note that lets readers know they can click to tweet the message
    • When you interview anyone on your site: just conducted an interview on your blog or podcast? Email the person with a pre-drafted tweet and ask them to send it to their followers- one of the main benefits of interviews is cross-promotion anyway, right?
    • If you’re promoting a charity: remember when we went to Honduras with Habitat and held a Pay What It’s Worth sale to fundraise? We included a little message and a pre-drafted tweet in our email signature for several months before the trip

And a bonus: if you look below, you’ll notice a box with a pre-drafted tweet, ready for you to send out to all of your followers. See what we did there? So meta 🙂 We use the Click to Tweet WordPress plugin to create these stylish and prominent little boxes.

grow your community online

Tools We Love: EchoSign

Welcome to Tools We Love, where we highlight some of the tools that make us more efficient, productive, and effective in our businesses. Have a tool that you want to share with the community? Email us!

You get a contract from your new contractor emailed to you, so you print it (after buying new ink for your printer), sign it, and then struggle to upload it with your scanner, right?

No more! It’s no surprise that we love all things digital but if you’re still managing paperwork and contracts the old-fashioned way, we’ve got a tool that’s going to save you a bunch of time.

Adobe’s EchoSign is a way to easily collect electronic signatures (also known as e-signatures)- which are legally binding, if you’re wondering. A free account lets you collect 5 e-signatures every month.

Just visit the EchoSign website, click Get Started in the upper righthand corner, create an account (or sign in using your Google account), and get to saving time!

Some of our favorite features of EchoSign:

    • It links with your Google Drive account, so you can create a document in Drive, add signature areas, and send it using EchoSign
    • There are several pre-loaded forms that you can send, including I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification), W-4 (IRS Employee Withholding Allowance 2014), and W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number)
    • The ability to send documents to multiple people for their signatures
    • A back-up copy of the signed document is filed away in your EchoSign account for safe-keeping

When to use it:

    • When onboarding an intern
    • When hiring any service provider (designer, developer, social media manager, etc)
    • When confirming a speaking gig
    • When beginning work with a new client (we know you use a contract every time, right? If not, check out Small Business Bodyguard ASAP!)
If for any reason you’re not feeling EchoSign, we recommend trying out these alternatives:

Disclosure: The Small Business Bodyguard link is an affiliate link. We will receive a commission on any sales made through this link. 

3 Time-Saving WordPress Plugins

WordPress has always been my top choice when it comes to blogging. I love to be able to customize my blog to look however I want and have complete control over everything. I also love the variety of features and options that WordPress has, especially with their vast amount of plugins.

Some of my favorite plugins are ones that make my blogging life easier and even increase my productivity. So today, I thought I’d share my top three plugins that save me quite a bit of time and help me get more done!

Broken Link Checker

No one has time to go through every post and page on their blog to verify that all of the links are still accurate. In addition, no one wants a reader to come across a post from a few years ago, try to click through the various links or videos within the post, and find out that none of them exist anymore- not to mention that these missing links are bad for SEO. Broken Link Checker solves both problems! Once the plugin is installed, it searches for missing images and broken links on a regular basis. Once it finds them, it notifies you that there’s an issue in the dashboard and you’re able to edit it. Really easy, really valuable.

Editorial Calendar

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t provide an easy-to-use overview of your posts that allows you to see what’s coming up in the next few weeks or months. But the Editorial Calendar plugin does! Not only can you see when posts are scheduled to post (along with drafts and pending posts) within a monthly calendar overview, but you can also drag and drop posts if you’d like to change their posting date. Want to change the time, title, or tags? You can do that right in the calendar grid with the Quick Edit feature. Whether you have a co-authored blog or a single author blog, this simple plugin is a must for anyone who posts regularly.

Duplicate Post

If you post regular features (think: link roundupsinterviews, or a blog series), Duplicate Post is a must-have plugin. It allows you to clone a post or a page and keeps all of the information within it, including tags and categories. You can also set the options to copy only certain aspects of the post or page, too. It’s a huge time-saver if you have regular features on your blog.

What plugins would you recommend for increasing productivity?

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