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As an online business owner, there are tons of things that you need to do on a daily basis—sometimes too much for just one person to handle. In an ideal world we would all be able to afford help, but if you can’t afford to hire help just yet, then automation is the way to go. There are a huge number of tools and apps out there that will help you save time in your business. I’m going to tell you about six online business tools I swear by that save me time (and my sanity!) every month.
What can you automate?
To save time in your business, you can automate your blog content, email newsletters, and social media posts. This means that you’ll free up time to work on new projects while also still keeping important tasks ticking over.
One thing you can schedule is your blog posts. My blog is set up on the WordPress platform. In WordPress, you can schedule your blog posts weeks or months in advance. One time-saving hack I find really useful for my blog is following my Blog Post Checklist to make sure I don’t forget any of the necessary tasks when I’m writing and publishing a new post. It reminds me to research keywords, interlink my posts, add heading tags, etc. This saves me time because I don’t have to keep going back into WordPress to edit the post every time I remember something I forgot.
You can download my Blog Post Checklist here!
One of the main things you can automate is posting on social media. No one has time to spend all day, every day on social media. Luckily there are tons of schedulers you can use so you don’t have to.
It might take you an hour or two one evening to schedule everything, but then all of your social media is done for the week. Having all your posts go out automatically will save you a ton of time, and it means that you won’t skip a day when you don’t feel like it.
Regardless of whether you’re just starting an online business, or you’ve been in business for years, having a social media marketing strategy should be an essential part of your business plan. (If you want to know what else you should put in your business plan, check out this post!)
When I first started my proofreading and copyediting business, I set up my social media accounts straight away. But then I just let them sit there.
If you want to build a successful online business, you need to be visible to potential clients. And social media is the best way to make yourself visible.
So I set myself a goal of sorting out my social media marketing strategy once and for all!
I started with Twitter. Twitter is one of my favorite social media platforms because the posts are short and to the point. But I was never consistent with posting there, so I was getting very few views on my website. (If you want to follow me on Twitter, click here 😊)
Related Content: 3 Reasons Why Editors Should Tweet
So how have I upped my Twitter game?
It’s a four-step process. Sounds like a lot of work, but it actually saves me time and ensures that I post every day. If I didn’t do this, I would skip more days than I post.
I really want to share how a few FREE tools and some paid tools can help you be more productive and have a more efficient social media marketing process.
Step 1: It’s important that you don’t only share your own content on social media. You need to come across as helpful, not salesy.
But finding other people’s content that aligns with your message can be time-consuming. You can automate the gathering of other people’s content by using a news aggregator app like Feedly.
I use Feedly to curate content from other bloggers/online business owners that I find interesting and want to share with my followers. With Feedly, you can follow your favorite bloggers so that their latest blog posts show up on your feed automatically.
Step 2: Once I find an article I want to share through Feedly, I click on the Hootsuite Chrome browser extension I have downloaded, and it allows me to schedule the article to be published on Twitter. You can schedule up to 30 posts with Hootsuite’s free plan. The $19 a month plan gives you unlimited scheduling!
Step 3: This next step stops me from wasting time creating tweets that no one is reading because they’re not eye-catching. Before I schedule any of my own posts to Twitter, I use CoSchedule’s Social Message Optimizer to make sure that the message is clickable. This tool will tell you what the optimum number of characters is, how many hashtags you should use, and if you need to throw in a few emojis.
It’s possibly my favorite tool because I used to really struggle to write the captions for my social media posts. It’s not just for Twitter. You can also optimize your posts for Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+. Seriously, if you struggle to write catchy social media posts, try it!
They also have a Headline Analyzer that helps you come up with clickable headlines for your blog posts. Game changer!
Step 4: I use Buffer to schedule my own blog posts to be published on Twitter. Buffer has a free plan that allows you to schedule up to 10 posts at a time. I really wish it was more, but until I can afford to upgrade, it will have to do! The $15 a month plan lets you schedule up to 100 posts at a time per social media platform. Currently, Buffer works with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. It automatically shortens your URL link saving you valuable characters for your message.
I also supplement the personal tweets I send through Buffer with random manual tweets about books I’m reading, things I’m doing, etc. Just to show I’m a real person!
I won’t go into detail here about how you can get set up with these tools. Angie Gensler has an AMAZING post about that (including video tutorials!).
Make sure that you continue to engage with your followers on social media. You need to show that there is someone behind your account, not just a machine.
I’m putting Pinterest in a separate category to social media because Pinterest is first and foremost a search engine. People go on Pinterest to find ideas on what to cook, how to decorate their home, how to plan their travels, etc. They don’t really use it as a place to engage with other people.
Pinterest is the main driver of traffic for most content creators. It can be hard to keep up with pinning on a regular basis though.
To make sure that I’m consistent, I set up an account with Tailwind and semi-automated my Pinterest strategy. I was using BoardBooster until it closed down, so I’m still very new to Tailwind. So many bloggers have great things to say about it though, so I have high hopes for it. I’ll report back and let you know how I get on. Watch this space!
If you want to give Tailwind a go, then sign up for a free trial. You get 100 pins with the free trial!
When I say that I semi-automated my Pinterest strategy, I still manually pin as well.
The manual pinning strategy I use comes from a book called Pinteresting Strategies. Carly, the author, believes that Pinterest rewards people who actually use the site rather than just using schedulers to pin. After implementing the tips in the book, my page views have more than doubled with most of my traffic coming from Pinterest. This strategy allowed Carly to grow her page views from 0–200K! Imagine if you had 200K page views a month! If you don’t have the budget yet to use social media schedules, Carly’s manual pinning strategy is solid.
You can also schedule emails or set up an autoresponder that automatically sends out a series of emails once someone signs up. I use ConvertKit to automatically send out a welcome series of emails to new subscribers before they go on to receive my weekly email. ConvertKit makes it so easy to collect email addresses from your subscribers, set up your welcome series, deliver your opt-in incentives, and send regular emails to your list.
I started with MailChimp but just found it much more difficult to figure out, so I only actually started sending emails to my subscribers once I got set up with ConvertKit.
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So there you have all the online business tools I’m currently using to save time. Can you recommend any other tools? I’m willing to give anything that will save me time and allow me to focus on more important things a go!
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