How B2B Buyers Shop for SaaS Tools

How B2B Buyers Shop for SaaS Tools

The more you know about your buyer and the steps they take before making a purchase, the better right? Then you’ll likely find it useful to read this story about how I found the best email marketing product for my latest client.

The Problem: Client Needed A New Email Marketing SaaS Product

I was asked by a client to help them improve their email marketing efforts. They have several thousand members on their email list but have put very little effort into using email to meet their business goals.

They were interested in the ability to easily segment sends based on existing data in addition to anything else the tool could collect to help them segment with even more specificity.

Since I had done similar work at Inbound.org I was approached for help. Today email marketing tools can segment based on a wide variety of information:

  • Pages visited
  • Number of visits
  • Past event attendance
  • Profile information
  • Source visited from
  • Last visit by date, and more.

The client’s situation was such that they already had Act-on. It could handle some of what they wanted to do, but the cost was around $2,000 a month and other important features were missing.

Having analyzed and used hundreds of tools over the years, I knew the features here were introductory at best.

The user experience was poor, it was difficult to navigate, and the analytics reports didn’t offer adequate email reporting.

Additionally, they had heard about other tools they could use with more advanced features for segmentation, any they wanted to know what would work for their budget, and hopes for a more sophisticated email strategy.

The Contenders: HubSpot, Autopilot, Act-on, and Hatchbuck

From our discussion, I had two tools they wanted me to research, one of which was HubSpot. They wanted to know if they should make the jump to HubSpot for the site, email, reporting, etc. It’s a major product with many features and it integrates with several tools.

I decided to investigate whether HubSpot would be the right fit because the client had mentioned it multiple times and wondered if they should migrate to the all in one solution. I already have an extensive history of using HubSpot with many clients so I decided to check this first.

I also knew the introductory price for the main package started at $800 a month, and the client seemed comfortable with that. I also knew the email feature was packed with advanced options for segmentation. It seemed like an obvious win.

But, when I went to HubSpot’s site I realized the tool would be at least $2,200 a month due to the size of the client’s list. I then checked the client’s website to see what technology it was run on.

They were already using WordPress, and as I actually prefer that over HubSpot’s content management system, so I began to doubt whether it was the best solution unless we could only get those advanced segmentation email features there.

Improve Your User Experience By Understanding Their Needs

Investigating Autopilot for Email Marketing

I had actually heard of Autopilot before, so when the client mentioned the tool, I put it on the short list to research.

At first, I realized the price was close to $700 a month, or $1200 a month with A/B testing, it sounded close to HubSpot until I realized their price was $2,200 for the current list size. Now, $700-$1200 wasn’t too high.

I had signed up for a free trial to see what the tool does and didn’t ‘get’ it from the onboarding. I’ll be honest, I’m very particular about onboarding and I want it to be extremely easy for me to get started.

Looking back there wasn’t anything awful about their onboarding, I just didn’t enjoy it.

I’ll give you a free analysis of your onboarding, here.

I got a short list of emails from the client and uploaded it to Autopilot to test the platform. I started a journey, which is their name for workflow, and began designing a simple email send for the client.

Within a few minutes, I realized it was very simple to segment the main list, build journeys, schedule emails, etc. Many of the features are very similar to HubSpot’s email features, with several options to segment your list. What I liked, even more, was that Autopilot offered a 30-day trial.

I could only send 100 emails but in this case, I didn’t need to send any I just needed to see if it would work for the client. So after a couple of attempts with the tool, I realized this was a great contender for the client’s needs.

Side Note: While I didn’t love Autopilot’s onboarding I enjoyed their free trial and thought it was a perfect example of when and how companies should use free trials. They allow a user to design an entire journey that includes multiple email sends based on actions, time, visits, etc.

 

 

By only allowing 100 emails to be sent they give users a taste of deliverability without giving free access to excessive usage that can cost the company a lot of money.

Could Hatchbuck Be The Right Tool?

There was another company I researched during this time. I googled “email marketing segmentation” and this company showed as a comparable tool to HubSpot, in the ads section.

They market themselves as a lower cost HubSpot option, and their pricing starts under $100 a month so I was surprised that I would need a demo and walkthrough to even SEE the software.

Very disappointing. From a marketing point of view, I think they should at least let people set up a free account to see what if any features work the way I need them to. From a SaaS business point of view, I found it crazy such a low-cost product makes you work with sales on a demo before you can use it.

I emailed their support to see if they had a demo account because I had very specific needs, and if this could work for my client it would save them a lot of money. I told them I did not want or need a demo with a salesperson because I had specific needs and I spelled them out.

I needed a tool that allowed me to work from one database of leads to segment the leads into smaller lists, to be able to segment based on pages visited, actions taken on the account, scheduled emails, etc. I got a response to watch a recorded demo and that, of course, I could segment my leads into smaller lists, but nothing in regards to the specifics about how leads could be segmented.

I felt I had clearly wasted my time investigating their company if I couldn’t get an answer to my questions. At that point, I went back to work on a trial project in Autopilot for the client. A couple of business days later I was sent an email from Hatchbuck pointing out that I hadn’t yet watched their demo and they were following up to see if I was still interested.

Now, I know sales can be pushy, but to actually point out that they were ‘Big Brothering’ me?! And in all fairness I found their demo on Youtube before I contacted them, it didn’t answer my question, I didn’t need to watch it again.

The Tool That Meets My Client’s Requirements

As you can probably tell, I chose to go with Autopilot. It’s a very powerful tool for email marketing and I was happily surprised that it was incredibly easy to use once I put in some effort. I still think they could use a little help with onboarding. I do want to point out that the search was never about price alone. Had I suggested to the client that HubSpot would be best for their needs, I know they would have taken my recommendation.

How SaaS Companies Can Use This Experience to Grow

What I think SaaS companies need to understand from this is how I researched each product. I went to each site as someone ready to buy, and ready to spend a lot of money in doing so. I wanted to know what worked, how it worked, if it did what my client needed, and what the price would be. Here is a quick track of how everything unfolded:

  • Client emailed about email marketing needs
  • Discussion with client about needs and current solution
  • Investigated current solution to see what was missing
  • Investigated 2 tools the client was interested in using
    • Looked at price
    • Analyzed features and compared to needs
  • Investigated 1 additional tool found through search/ads
    • Contacted
    • Watched demo video
  • Proceeded with trial at lowest cost/best features company
  • Presented trial project and tool of choice to client

Why is all of this important to your SaaS company? The more you understand your buyer’s motivations and needs, the better you can deliver a solution that works for them.

Today people know that one email tool can work very differently from another, so we try multiple tools to see what we like, what awesome features there are, and what has a price that is comfortable. Especially in the marketing world, SaaS companies need to meet industry expectations.

Additionally, the SaaS world isn’t a place that can easily ignore their competitors. I understand companies that don’t want to give their competitors a lot of thought because they are too busy innovating, but when you don’t know what your competitor is up to you can’t be sure you have the best options for your target market.

So pay attention to what other tools are doing, keep new technologies and features in mind, and give prospects (like me) the information, time, and path to success with your tool.

Are You Optimizing Sales Opportunities?

7 Elements of A Successful Marketplace or Community

7 Elements of A Successful Marketplace or Community

You have a website where people come together. You might not think of it as a community because users don’t interact in forums and discussions, but make no mistake, if you are providing the place for buyers and sellers/renters/etc to come together it is a community.

I’m talking about sites like eBay, Outdoorsy, Airbnb, Inbound.org, Cloudpeeps, Remote.com, Uber, Upwork, and many more dual sided marketplaces. There are hundreds of them, and more are started every day.

I’ve seen several that have the innovation to offer a great marketplace, but fall short and the world loses the opportunity to grow from them.

There are a variety of reasons why this happens so I won’t assume that it is only about how sites work with members. But I’m going to share my experience in hopes it helps founders build more successful platforms.

Offer A Better Outcome Than Any Competitor

You are competing with Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist and virtually anyone can offer anything on these sites for free and reach thousands of others, so you have to offer a better option.

You have to be one of these options:

  • Better
  • Faster
  • Easier
  • Lucrative
  • Effortless
  • Personalized

How does eBay do this? They have millions of users, it feels certain that if I put a popular item on eBay someone will be searching for it, and they will find it. They have the categories and intuitive search that directly connects my product with people who want to buy.

Getting Sellers For Your Market

It is often easier to get sellers than it is to find buyers because they are happy to list on a site where someone else is working to get the ad in front of likely buyers. But this is only when they know the site exists. Additionally, this needs to be very easy, think of how Airbnb made it easy to post listings on Craigslist in addition to having them on Airbnb.

What you can do is find related ads on Facebook and Craigslist and message them to let them know you have buyers on your site. Be sure to follow terms of service when messaging.

Getting Buyers For Your Market

Why would a buyer come to your site? They can easily search for similar items on their favorite sites. So your marketplace needs to offer something better, it needs to have cheaper options, it needs to offer them a discount for trying the market, it needs to have a wider selection, offer protections for the purchase, etc.

Need Help Getting Members & Keeping Them Happy?

Make Members Feel Important to Real People

This goes beyond a sales call after someone signs up for a software, it goes beyond an automated email saying how happy you are they joined. People want interaction with people.

At Inbound.org people liked me because I responded to their comments, I went out of my way to talk to them and I often asked for their thoughts.

I wasn’t a bot that was fake and made them feel like someone was pretending to care. I was a real person taking a minute of my day to say Hello, I care that you are here and I want you to know that.

How can you do this efficiently? You can hire people for $10 an hour to send personal messages. You can easily set up your company email to work with Groove, and possibly integrate other tools so that there is an efficient way for people to email members and say:

Hello Greg, I just saw that you posted your RV on our site for rent. I noticed you didn’t post many pictures, can I help you with that? I’m available on the site in chat right now to assist…

A Tool To Help- With a tool like Intercom you can easily integrate chat messaging with people and start conversations. Intercom has in-app messaging as well, that will initiate conversations with visitors. If you need help with these, please contact me, I will get you set up.

Nurture Both Sides of the Marketplace

You have to spend time building both sides of the market. You can’t just provide things to buy if you don’t have people who will buy, and you can’t just have people with money and no products to buy.

Marketing/Business efforts need to be split and that can be a new and difficult obstacle for your team. You are doing double the work.

For example: Cloudpeeps is a relatively new site for contractors to get work with cool companies who pay decent rates, etc. As a ‘peep’ I can see 10-15 jobs that are available and I often see marketing efforts for people to join and find work.

I rarely see anything for companies to join or buy a package to offer work. Perhaps they have a sales team for this, but it’s something that needs to be considered to keep the jobs coming in.

Personal experience: When I worked at Inbound the job board needed both jobs listed and people applying. If jobs didn’t get applicants we couldn’t convince them to pay to post for jobs in the future, and if people couldn’t find positions they could apply for, they wouldn’t visit again.

I would seek out companies with job positions on their sites and ask them to add their job to our site (usually for free the first time). Then, I would advertise the position on social media and in email newsletters, as well as seeking out people in our community that were listed as open to opportunities.

Grow Both Sides of Your Marketplace With A Free Analysis

Help People Get Quick Wins

 

We live in a NOW economy, people want results now, they want money now, they don’t want to wait to see what will happen. Basically, they don’t want to take the time to figure out how they can be successful on your site, they just want the success.

They don’t want to wade through onboarding that annoys them, they want a thoughtful wizard that concisely explains what is going on, what it means to them, and what they need to provide.

Make your platform stupid simple to use. Make it easy to understand what’s going on, and constantly test your interface with new users to see what their feedback is.

Chameleon is one option for improving the onboarding experience. They offer an easy-to-use template that allows you to optimize the process.

For example, eBay sometimes offers money for items without making users wait for a sale. This is a great approach to helping people be quickly successful. Image how Upwork could use this to help people who want to hire RIGHT NOW.

In your marketplace, this means helping people sell quickly and helping buyers find items quickly.

For job sites or other communities, it means helping people making connections with new people quickly, such as getting an interview or getting expert advice.

Stay In Touch & Build A Relationship

 

One of the easiest ways to stay in touch is email. And you should definitely use it. But let’s talk about how often your users need to hear from you because a lot of companies go overboard and write EVERY SINGLE DAY when it isn’t necessary.

Certainly, if the person is listing their RV for rent, they don’t need to come back often, and if a family goes on vacation 2x a summer they don’t need weekly emails after renting an RV on Outdoorsy.

Your industry and the customer’s needs should indicate the best schedule for the contact. I recommend 1x a month at the minimum, and weekly at max unless you are offering a course that requires daily notifications.

Again, Intercom has the functionality to see all of your customer-facing messages in one platform. Consider using their service for a full view of your messaging efforts.

For marketplaces, here are some ideas for messaging both sides of the market.

Emails for Marketplace Sellers:

  • Tips for Selling: How to take better pictures, How to write the best descriptions.
  • Tips for managing rentals of vehicles, RVs, home, rooms: Adding amenities, Buying products in bulk for stock, Getting someone to clean in between rentals.
  • Tips for pricing their rentals: What the average charge is per room or sleeping/seating space in a vehicle in their area, What the average charge is for the age of the home, vehicle.
  • Tips for getting reviews: Sending follow up emails, leaving notes at the residence, being available for communication.

Emails for Marketplace Buyers:

  • Seasonal Vacations: It’s summer here are the hottest destinations, Spring break reservations, Offseason destinations. Winter vacations.
  • Saving for vacations, where to take kids on vacation, where you can take pets on vacation.
  • Camping with kids, seniors, or pets.
  • Promotions for off season sales.

For job sites, here are a few ideas that will help with messaging your users:

Companies who post jobs:

  • Tips for going through applications
  • Underused features on your platform
  • Tips for hiring local or remote
  • Ways to lower turnover
  • How to improve onboarding
  • How recruiters can help
  • Other places to promote job ads

Applicants applying for jobs:

  • Similar positions just posted
  • Lists of other job boards
  • Free dashboard to see all applications through your platform
  • Jobs in your area that are open
  • Remote jobs all over the country in an industry
  • Articles about how to write cover letters
  • Articles for better interviewing

Help Visitors Become Users

More than anything, your members are the most important part of your marketplace. Listen to them, make them feel important, make them feel heard, and do your best to make them successful. If you need help, send me a message http://mary-green.com/start

5 Ways Content Brings In Paid Users

5 Ways Content Brings In Paid Users

Even though a startup can have hundreds to thousands of free and beta users, there is no guarantee any of them pay. And realistically, you need to generate revenue, at some point.

There are many ways to get out there and find your first paid users, one of the most common is Facebook ads.

But, not every startup wants to rack up the bill that comes with FB ads, and quite frankly many can’t. So, here are multiple ways content will help you get paid users. And, if you can write yourself this will be a lot easier on your finances.

Be The Linchpin/ Necessity of Success

No matter what your product or solution offers, you want to create a piece of content that positions it as the linchpin to success. For example, if you own a CRM product, you’ll want to position your product as the solution that brought a team together, that solidified sales and made sure nothing got lost in the shuffle.

Your post might talk about a realtor office in L.A. that was always dropping potential sales, with realtors who often missed important phone calls, and texts went to the wrong buyer and messed up a potential deal, other mistakes. Then you’ll explain how your tool saved the agency from their mess.

You were able to get them set up on your program, with smartphone access, and a simple set up so easy a 65-year-old about-to-retire grandma could do it. After the setup, and brief training, everything was on schedule, no one got the wrong messages, realtors always had pertinent information, and the agency was able to increase sales 15% in just 2 months.

Of course, you’ll want this story to be real, unfabricated, so you’ll need someone as a case study. Be sure to leverage that opportunity when it comes along. And use the case study as a blog post, the story that centers around how successful people will be with your product will receive more exposure this way.

Live example; blog post for 5,000 shots a day.

Go Deep Niche For Revenue Results

It’s common for a content marketer to write general blog posts. They want to appeal to the mass audience, get the biggest bang for the buck, and impress the company they represent.

Of course, this means appealing to a lot of people that simply aren’t part of the startup’s audience. So while viral posts reach a lot of individuals, few of them will be funneled into sales.

On the other hand, deeply niche articles produce leads that are ready to buy, eager to learn more, and at the perfect stage of the buyer’s journey.

As an example, a company called Processd is a SaaS platform that allows businesses to keep track of their processes, what should be done by who and when in a dashboard where they can easily be edited and used. The tool is free to set up the first few processes, so people can use it without paying unless they become a heavy user.

How can Processd get paid users?

By targeting small niches of companies who need this software. Small startups that need to keep track of their employee onboarding, teams that have high turnover and want to jump the learning curve, or teams that have a highly specific compliance process such as government, security, or even HR teams.

By drilling down, Processd could write about:

  • employee onboarding for HR teams
  • safety clearance processes
  • technology failure processes for tech companies

While these pieces might seem boring or off topic for a lot of people, they are so niche they will immediately show the value to readers who need this solution.

For example: Slack with developers

Stay In Touch With Potential Customers

Every piece of content stands on its own as an opportunity to make an impression or get attention for your company. When you write a blog post, or a new email you have something to share, a way to reach out and say “Hey, I thought of you, hope you find this useful.” For this reason, using content as a means of staying in touch will help you generate paid users.

Think of tools like Craigslist, Facebook, Remember the Milk, these are all products that just about anyone uses, meaning millions of people are your target market. By staying in touch through email, you will be front of mind when the need for your product arises.

You’ll need to stay relevant in the messages you do send. Emails have to provide value. You can do this by sharing articles you find online- curation, but a lot of companies do this. What you want to do is find something very specific and segment your list accordingly. Do people like

What you want to do is find something very specific and segment your list accordingly. Do people like humorous content? Do they want tips on parenting? How about life hacks? Whatever it is, it has to be interesting.

Show Massive Value & Results Anyone Can Achieve

If you guaranteed results of $10,000 for each $1 invested into using your product how many people would sign up?

EVERYONE!

Now just make the promise to the right people who can achieve these results.

This does mean you have to get specific about who you are helping but don’t go running scared at that idea. It’s not difficult, you can easily send people to different landing pages based on what they do, but you should have headlines and benefits that motivate people to take action based on their needs.

Let’s say you sell a lot of contracts to realtors and they are almost a third of your users. You want to make sure your site talks to them, but you are also nervous that you’ll scare others away.

However, you also know that you help realtors increase their sales by 33% within the first two months. Guess what? That’s impressive to everyone, not just realtors. Now you have a better headline.

Get User Generated Content Will Increase Revenue

Now it’s time to get the help of the paid users you already have. You want to hear their stories of success. We aren’t just interested in their increased revenue; people want to hear about how people use tools creatively.

  • How exactly did they avoid headaches at work?
  • What was the conversation they had with their boss when they were able to close more sales?

Collect these stories, and get the rights from your users to publish the stories on your site. Videos will improve conversions at the highest rate, testimonials with images are next, and quotes after that. Put these on your site, in your case studies, and in front of your potential buyers ASAP.

Conclusion

Content can and should produce measurable results in terms of revenue. These are just 5 ways you can make this happen. Let’s talk about your content marketing goals and make a plan to achieve them, contact me now.

Conversion Analysis To Increase Leads- Up Automation

Conversion Analysis To Increase Leads- Up Automation

I’m back with a new conversion analysis for Up Automation. While this company is not a SaaS, they help their clients by putting SaaS products to work for them, hence the automation. Let’s have a look at UA. 

Like many companies, Up Automation has created a website that portrays what they want to share about themselves with their visitors.

This is very common; I would say 80% or more of the sites I visit have similar messages. It’s perfectly natural since we all want to tell people how great our company is and what we can do for them. 

Unfortunately, the visitor is also ‘me’ oriented and wants to understand how you are going to help them. So there is a bit of a disconnect between what the messaging on the site is doing, and what we want it to do; help people understand how you can help them. Keep this in mind when performing your own conversion analysis.

I always start with the headline, here: We take you from tech hell to tech heaven by automating the systems that help keep your small business in motion. 

As an aside here, I want to point out that when I land on the site, I’m confused about where to read first. Since there appears to be two big sections of text, I would suggest choosing one major headline and making the other text smaller as to not confuse or overwhelm the visitor.

“We take you from tech hell to tech heaven by automating the systems that help keep your small business in motion.”

Let’s take this headline apart.

‘We’ to start a sentence puts the company as the most important aspect here, it isn’t about me the reader it’s about the company. That might seem to pick too much, but this is how you are starting your conversation with the person, and you want to drill down when you are doing a conversion analysis.

‘tech hell’ what exactly is tech hell? Am I in tech hell? How do I know?

‘tech heaven’ same thoughts; what is this suppose to mean to the visitor? This phrase causes more confusion.

‘automating the systems’ now this starts to help me understand what’s going on, automation is supposed to help me, and make my life easier, that’s good.

‘keep your small business in motion’ I want my business to be in motion, but now what?

From the reader’s point of view, the headline leaves a lot of questions. So, I jump to the next section of text to help me get some answers (if I’m still interested and not too confused).

‘Are you stuck in TECH HELL?’ To be honest, I don’t know what tech hell is. Perhaps it refers to the overwhelming feeling I get from managing all of these tools and trying to understand what is going on???

‘Discover the secret weapon that coaches, authors, and speakers are using to go from TECH HELL to TECH HEAVEN in 90 days or less.’ Arguably, this is the headline of the site, after three tries I’ve found it. It finally explains to me what this company is trying to do for me, FINALLY.

Still not sure how I feel about TECH HELL and TECH HEAVEN, it seems like too much, especially since it is mentioned 3x now.

Call to Action:

‘Free yourself from tech hell now’ I like that this is a different/unique CTA, but I’m still caught up in the tech hell bit, I believe there is another way to address the feelings readers are experiencing without coining this term.

Overall, my conversion analysis of this site suggests it needs help. It needs copy that is focused on explaining the benefits of working with Up Automation to the visitor. Let’s give it a shot.

Up Automation Conversion Analysis Makeover

You’ll see here that I’ve turned the beginning of the homepage into basically a landing page. My goal is to grab the reader’s attention with the information that means the most to them and encourages them to take action.

Like it or not, this is the most seen section of your website, it must lead visitors to take action.

I started by changing the preheadline, I’m not entirely sure it is necessary but since it is part of the design I left it for now. This sentence ‘Say Goodby to Frustrating Technology Challenges.’ is about setting the tone.

Next, I dig into the main headline of the site. This is a super important aspect of your site, it is the line that every visitor will read, and it leads them to stay on the site or leave.

I admit this isn’t the best headline it could be. I usually do 5-10 hours of research into the company, industry, and client before rewriting a headline, this was written after an hour.

‘Start embracing the opportunity of digital marketing with the hassle of technology.’ This statement is saying you (the reader) can use digital marketing and you don’t have to deal with all of the crap that comes along with technology.

I like this because it doesn’t leave any questions about Tech Hell or Tech Heaven, it uses words the reader understands; embracing and hassle.

The subheadline is the next section of the site; it should further explain what your company does, leaving no question as to how the buyer will benefit from working with you. (Yes, I realize I spelled technology wrong in the photo.)

I included a bit about the target market (coaches, authors, and speakers) and eluded to how the buyer can focus on their business because that is one of the benefits of working with a company like Up Automation.

Then, I got specific with how they won’t have to deal with technology, by not needing to understand it.

Knowing the company, industry, and buyer on a deeper level would allow me to write even better copy for the Up Automation homepage, but this is a good start to bring the message back to being about the reader vs. the company.

Finally, we finish with the CTA (call to action).

I noticed that when I clicked on the original CTA, it was connected to a Calendly account to allow people to schedule an appointment.

Generally, visitors expect to be taken to another page of your website, usually a landing page to fill out a form, so I was surprised to be taken off site for the CTA.

For this reason, I changed the CTA to ‘Schedule your free consult now!’ It accurately sets up expectations for when someone clicks on it.

Conclusion

Like many companies, the message on the Up Automation website is about what the company can do, not what the buyer needs to hear to make a purchasing decision. Further, it would be beneficial to keep the reader’s experience in mind when designing your site and writing copy.

Get your own conversion analysis by ordering here, or subscribe anywhere on this site www.mary-green.com and get access to my homepage checklist to improve conversions 20% or more.

My Favorite Freelance Marketing Tools

My Favorite Freelance Marketing Tools

Every now and then I like to put out a post of my favorite tools. It gives me a place to reference tools if I change devices or want to share with others. Enjoy!

Paid Freelance Marketing Tools I Use

Buffer $- I happily pay for Buffer every year because I use it to share to Twitter and Linkedin.

Quuu $- I paid $25 for a lifetime subscription through AppSumo, best $25 spend ever. Curates content for your Twitter & Linkedin, or whatever social media accounts you want.

Quuu Promote $- Pay to have one of your articles shared on the Quuu network, there are thousands of members, and probably a hundred categories, you can’t beat the cost per click for sharing here.

Dropbox $- I pay for personal photos to be uploaded to my Dropbox, but I use it for business, too. I choose Dropbox because I’ve tried many others, and the speed is better with Dropbox. Can’t sit around all day waiting for uploads.

Lastpass $- $12 a year and I don’t have to remember my passwords. I can see my passwords when I’m out and about, on the app, and my husband can use my accounts on our other computers.

Nimble– I tried at least 20 CRMs when coming back to freelancing. I wanted to make sure I stayed in touch with the right people, could see email from within the CRM, could keep track of work, could add tasks, and could get data from social. $25 a month.

Staying Connected

Franz– Cool tool for Macs, you can add all of your messengers and they are in one tool on your computer. It works by bringing in each messenger through the web version, so it’s similar to a browser, but it’s a lot nicer than scattered programs, and it unifies your notifications.

Slack– I have my own channel, some pretty cool people are there, and I get free advice from other experts, what could be better?

Hip Chat– Use it for work, one of the companies I’ve recently joined uses HipChat.

Zoom– Video chats with the team. Use it through multiple companies because I’m remote!

Skype– Yes, I can’t believe people still use this either. But they do, and for vide0 (ick) meetings. Otherwise I leave it off because it makes my computer run slower than any other program I’ve ever tried.

Hangouts– People use this for video too, but it’s free, has chat and works seemlessly with Google Calendar.

Calendar Google– Because eventually we are all run by the clock and this is the most used calendar I’ve ever come across.

Organization & Task Management

Trello– Keep my thoughts organized, brainstorm. Work with a company who takes all of their guest blogging through Trello, so I follow that board as well.

Asana– Once I figured out the best way to use Asana, I can’t leave. I will never leave. Even when the company I work for the most right now uses another tool, I am using Asana for freelance writing and Home tasks.

Basecamp– It’s a nice tool, keeps you organized. One thing I don’t like when compared to Asana, is every time you want to look at something else (a task, discussion, etc) you have to load a new page. Time consuming.

Workflowy– For braindumps, make all the lists you want, so easy to use and there’s an app for your phone.

Writing & Data

Google Docs– Even when I try to use another program like Quip or Draft no one else uses them and I have to revert to G docs. I don’t love it, but it gets the job done, and it’s free (well, except the data Google collects about me, but who’s counting that?).

Sortmylist– Whenever I need to clean up, or sort a list quickly, this is my go-to tool. It adds numbers, cleans white space, and keeps a cache of what you’ve sorted unless you erase it.

Quip– My preferred way to write, use spreadsheets, and keep track of documents. G docs has an awful organizational system, Quip has a beautiful organizational system. If they just imported all of your G docs files, I could see a lot of people moving over.

Thesaurus.com– For copywriting and freelance writing.

Google Spreadsheets– I love the data sorting, making pretty graphs, and abililty to use spreadsheets for everything. Hack- once you name a spreadsheet, it goes in your history and you can just start typing the name to pull it back up. So easy.

Communities

Quibb- Usually startup news, but loads of smart people are active here. I follow Nir Eyal and look at whatever is on the home page.

Twitter– I don’t follow a lot of people, so I try to keep up with those I do follow. I also follow some great lists.

Medium– Love the stories and points of view you don’t find anywhere else. Wish I didn’t have to see sports related articles ever on Medium, 🙁

Linkedin- Been very active here. Once you find great people to connect with, and follow, like Ian Lurie, it’s a great platform to get news and network.

Facebook– Some of my friends from past clients are active in a chat group, so I visit with them there. Otherwise I only use it for personal relationships. I have secret settings for everyone I know professionally that I set on Facebook, it allows me to accept people as friends even if I don’t know them well, yet keep my personal info private. *Don’t be offended if we are friends there, or not, I have kids, have to be careful.

Inbound– Yes, I used to work here. I love the community, meet a lot of people here, and the networking opportunities are insane!!

Reddit– Joined some of the marketing subreddits, to start network there, especially after reading about how Sol Orwell turned his involvement on Reddit into a 7 figure business.

Chrome Extensions

Colorzilla– Chrome extension that shows me the hex color of any point in my browser. I’ve used it for years, and while I’m not a designer it comes in handy for using on Canva and other sites.

Awesome Screenshot– Take screenshots in your browser, and edit them. Or, take images you already have and edit them, save them, and upload to share.

MixMax (Email)- I had issues with HubSpot’s tool that tracked emails, so I got this. I love it, it lets me add templates, groups, tracking, and has a lot of other features. I like that it works with your calendar to easily set up meetings. You can only use it in Gmail though. Most will appreciate that it integrates with Giphy.

One Tab– Chrome extension, collapses all or some of your tabs, to save you memory as you work through them. Easy to open the tabs back up.

Twitcher– Easily switch from one Twitter profile to another, through a drop down list. Super easy.

Buzzsumo– I use this to see what other great content is available on a topic before I write about it. Others use it to find great content to read and share. Love the tool. I use the extension to see how many shares a post has, when I want to pitch content promotion for someone.

Datanyze– Find anyone’s email address for free with Insider (ext), this is awesome for cold emailing.

Grammarly (Writing)- If you write and don’t want to look like an idiot, use Grammarly. Yes, others are nice, but this is the best I’ve found for what it corrects.

Zest (Reading)- A chrome extension where you can share GREAT (only the best is accepted) marketing content. I find a lot of phenomenal content here.

Highly.co (Reading)- Highlight what you read online, in Pocket too. Finally!!

Email

Unrollme & Roll ups- Using Gmail you can unsubscribe to hundreds of newsletters and publications at once, it’s awesome. For those you want to keep, you can add to a rollup and the news comes in one email for each rollup.

Paying & Finance Applications

Paypal– I use this to get paid for a lot of gigs, it’s easy since it works with my bank account and a debit card. I hate the fees though. It’s nice that a lot of companies are starting to use Gusto so people can get paid right in their bank account.

Bill– Two of my clients use this to pay, it’s nice because there are no fees and it goes directly to my bank account. Their invoices suck, and the interface is pretty confusing.

Freshbooks– My preferred way to send invoices. I have a free account still since I don’t want to pay $120 a year, doesn’t that seem like a lot, to send 5–6 invoices a month?

Credit Karma– Buying a house, watching every little thing that happens on my credit. Learn how to improve your credit here, too, updates your scores from 2 bureaus once a week.

Credit Sesame– Updates your score once a month and sends a bazillion emails, but I like that it explains what the break down of your score is, the percentages of what matters, etc.

Reading Tools

Blinkest– $60 a year to get loads of non-fiction books summarized for you to read in 15 minutes or so. I love this service.

TED– I like to expand my mind by watching videos of experts sharing their passion and new ideas. Brene Brown is here, Simon Sinek, and many others.

Kindle Cloud– Reading from my computer. I use the app on my phone. You can’t go wrong with the option to try the first chapter of nearly every book for free.

Notes- On my phone and Macbook air. Love how easy it stays updated.

Pocket– Whenever I want to check a link later, I use Pocket. I get to read from my phone, etc. I even put things in pocket specifically to read them without all of the distractions of a website. Some websites are really wide, too, and that makes it hard to read, not so on Pocket.

Feedly– To stay on top of all of the blogs I need to read. There are many, many, many blogs.

Devices- Computer, Tablets, Phone

iPhone- 6 plus, soon to be 7 plus once it’s available, 64 GB.

iPad- 2, regular size, nothing special, but nice to read on.

Macbook air- best computer I’ve ever had. Light, fast, enough space, and a mac, nothing better. (OK, so the screen is a little small, but the resolution makes it just fine).

Apple watch- it’s nice to have for a few things.

I’m an Apple addict. 🙂 apple.com/store

My Own Site

WordPress– My website is on WordPress, I don’t that will ever change, it’s my favorite platform.

Favorite plugin- Elementor, a page builder. I love it more than Visual Baker. It’s free and works amazingly well. The user interface is perfect.

Site5– For hosting

Entertainment At Work

Pandora– Because 80’s rock keeps me awake when my mind wants to sleep. I am NOT a morning person.

Youtube– I use this when I have a specific artist or song in mind and I know I like the video. Other times I use it to watch funny moments from The Office or Parks and Rec.

Coffitivity– I work at home, and we homeschool, we have thin walls, you can see where this is going. It’s loud here ALL OF THE TIME. I hate phone calls because of it, and I’m quick on the mute button. So to drown out some of the noise, this works really well. Also FREE!!

Miscellaneous

Product Hunt– Addicted. It’s not just the daily lists of products either, I use this to search for any tool I need. I wish I could search from my browser.

Smile at Amazon– Shop at Amazon and some of the proceeds get donated. You choose the charity that gets your proceeds. I’m all for animals, so I think it goes to the ASPCA.

I’ll try to update as I change tools. Looking forward to what you like about my list in the comments.