Please note: this blog post is not about getting more blog traffic or more sales. It is about the tools needed to run a successful blogging business.
If you’ve been in the online blogging business for a while, can you remember the excitement of setting up, when you first looked in to some of the amazing pieces of software out there that you could choose from?
Every week, companies who have done a lot of research in to how to make life easier for online entrepreneurs launch new kit to streamline our business processes, make life easier through improved administration, and offer free trials for great new innovations that promise to make us work smarter, not harder.
You can get advanced To Do lists, calendars, meeting schedulers, project management forums, document storage solutions, graphics optimisers, plug-ins, add-ons, widgets and password managers. You can access comprehensive CRM facilities, article spinners, and knowledge management tools. It’s all good stuff, right?
But what happens if you suddenly find that you’ve become so swamped in subscriptions and sign-ups that you’re finding it difficult to navigate through all the communications to actually get any work done?
Take a look at your e-mail inbox right now.
How many promotional mails have you got from all the different software firms that you hold accounts with?
And how many of these firms have passed on your details to other prospective sellers, realising that they’re on to a good thing?
When you get to a point where you’re sifting through fifty or so e-mails at the beginning of each working day, trying to whittle down the list to identify the one or two real messages from clients or colleagues, it could be time to consider paring down.
I’ve trialled hundreds of different tools over the years, and one thing I’ve realised is that you only really need to select four or five great applications to help your business run smoothly and keep track of all of your activities. Any more than that, and you’re running the risk of getting so bogged down in applications designed to improve your business, that they actually prove to be detrimental to you getting any real work done.
So, I’ve listed the top five application types that I think every sensible online business owner needs.
Check out the list, add in your own, and then go back to your desk and see what you can get rid of to save you time, expense and space in your working day…
A Project Management application
Whether you are a highly organised individual, or the sort of person who can never quite keep up with all the different projects you have on the go each day, a single, robust app to support your activities is always a good bet. Choose software that lets you decide how much functionality you need, and discount the rest.
If you find yourself logging in each day and spending most of your time crossing things off, assigning tasks or counting minutes against work, your system could be ruling you instead of the other way around. Applications like Dooster, Clarizen and EasyProjects all have a great level of functionality and can help keep you on track.
A password storer
As we sign up to more and more offers and sites online, it can be harder to remember all your passwords than it is to keep on track of relatives’ birthdays! A sound and secure password storage mechanism like RoboForm saves time every day by automatically storing your log-in details, letting you populate online forms with a click, and prompts you to change your passwords periodically to stay secure from hackers online.
The most critical piece of software you could ever buy is an online storage solution, that sweeps your PC each day, identifies any documents that have been added in or changed, and makes safe and secure cloud-based copies. Potentially saving you thousands in terms of lost work, if you don’t have a reliable and easy to use back-up in place right now, I’d really recommend you do some research and make an investment.
Every small business owner knows keeping on top of finances is a pain, but there are some great accounting platforms out there that take the headache away for you. Look in to Sage, QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Online BookKeeping ( formally OutRight) or similar to find the best solution for your business, and streamline your invoicing, outgoings and expenses to make life easier when it comes to submitting the dreaded tax return.
If you’re based from home, having a sound facility for keeping in touch with people, sharing documents and assigning tasks can be a critical part of your ongoing business activities. Look in to some of the more popular collaboration software such as Google Docs, Vyew, Basecamp and others to find an intuitive, easy to share platform that lets you work on projects with colleagues safely and securely online. Back this up with Skype or a similar conference facility, and you’re all set to reap the rewards of your very own virtual office environment.
If your list of tools and applications for business administration is running over the basic five, it could be worth taking some time to see how you can pare down and streamline all your subscriptions.
Save yourself time and cash by working out what your key business needs are, and make sure you don’t exceed these fundamental requirements. Your wallet, inbox and diary will thank you for it!
What tools do you use to make your blogging business a success?
Please share your views in the comments below.