People often ask me what tools I like to use as a leadership blogger, a non-profit entrepreneur and professional speaker. I need to deliver my creative best in the most efficient and leveraged way I can.
Never ones to be conventional my wife and I moved from Sydney to New York City with three kids, took The Leadership Coach LLC global, and launched Liberty Church in the heart of Manhattan. You could say that life is full!
So “these are a few of my favourite things” (insert musical moment here)… and they’re helping me build my influence without losing my sanity. In no particular order…
1. Sendpepper – Emailing My Posts
I wanted to have an opportunity to build a relationship with those who read my blog. By offering them the chance to subscribe by email, I can make sure they never miss a post (especially since I only write a few times a month). A friend recommended Sendpepper three years ago and I haven’t looked back.
My current database of 2500 people costs only $39.95 a month to email with customized templates that look just like my website. Plus I get access to a host of data about how my readers are interacting with the blog, and they are my most active audience for comments and sharing the content.
2. 123rf – Creative Images
Every post I share has an image that heads the article. A well chosen photo can add a lot, conveying my core idea in a different way or creating interest to read further. On the other hand I’ve seen great content on many blogs that is badly let down by poor quality, ill-fitting or cliché images that actually detract from the content.
While better known sites like istockphoto.com are great, I came across 123rf.com where royalty-free photos are a fraction of the cost. Admittedly the site also includes some lesser quality work but it’s rare for me to need to look elsewhere, and for a few dollars I can have a high-impact image to match the hard work I put into writing.
3. Hootsuite – Social Media Hub
Why jump back and forth between multiple Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts when I can post to all of them from one central hub? Hootsuite allows me to curate my messages for different social media platforms from a web browser or mobile app, both for my personal channels and for the enterprises I lead.
Better still, I can create customized streams to ensure I never miss posts from certain people… other streams where keywords that are important to me are captured (like every time some mentions “The Leadership Coach” in a tweet)… and I can schedule tweets or posts for a future time- handy when you do all your social media work in a blast but don’t want your followers trying to survive feast then famine.
4. Buffer – Sharing What I Read
It’s a simple app that makes sharing the online content I’m reading… well, simple. Buffer adds a button to your web browser so that when you see a post or page you want to share all you need to do is press a button and then some genius things happen. First it uses the social media channels you connected to automatically create a draft tweet or post that includes the title or page header and a shortened link.
But my favourite part is that it then drops your edited tweet into a predetermined posting schedule. I like to use Google Reader to follow about 40 blogs, but I don’t want to blow you all away with 10 articles in 10 minutes when I finally carve out a moment to catch up on reading. So I use Buffer to trickle feed my favourite stuff twice a day at times that lots of people like to read something interesting (well, something I thought was interesting at least).
5. WordPress – Website Platform
Let’s face it, WordPress has made having a quality website cheap or even free. I don’t need specialist knowledge to post my content, and there are thousands of plugins that add just about any feature I need from calendars to twitter feeds and social media sharing. In fact it’s so versatile that I find it hard to understand why more small businesses, ideators and entrepreneurs don’t use it and quit paying web developers to build them expensive websites that make their lives harder not easier.
6. Action Method – Staying Organized
The legends behind Behance and 99% blog produced a productivity app especially for creatives that I think is better suited to dynamic organisations than GTD tools. Action Method allows me to track, delegate and monitor a host of tasks with my team from my iPhone, iPad or desktop. I can sort them into projects, tag and colour code them, view in a range of ways, and get notifications any time someone accepts, changes or completes a project. These days if I want something done, I don’t send an email I assign a task and the system holds people accountable until it’s done. Accounts are inexpensive and they have huge non-profit discounts.
7. Woothemes – For Website Design
Last, but not least, though my love for WordPress is undying I wasn’t so excited about the free design templates. There’s no point in writing good content but then having people leave your site in the first few seconds because it’s badly designed. In stepped Woothemes.com with a collection of customizable themes that plug straight into your WordPress blog. For www.theleadershipcoach.com I used the “BusyBee” theme, but there are themes for everything from portfolios to magazines, and from blogs to sales sites. For as little as $70 you can make sure your site look clean, fresh and professional .
So there it is, the Wizard of Oz is an old man behind a curtain! Sorry if I burst your bubble- but this really isn’t rocket science folks.
And now the BIG question is… what do YOU like to use? I’d love your comments on the things that have made a difference, grown your platform or saved you time and money.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”