If you're like me, you probably feel crazy amounts of overwhelm when trying to figure out which apps or online tools will actually help you run your business. And not just "run"... like hamster-wheel-run without ever getting anywhere. But run in the way that has you doing LAPS around your goals efficiently making progress, better utilizing your time, and keeping things organized.
There are lots of options out there, good ones too! But if you had to ask me which were my favorite, which made the biggest difference? It'd come down to a top 5.
I'm super pumped to share these with you! These are apps that I have implemented on my own over the last 6 years of running my business(es) that I truly could not function without. They aren't listed in any particular order of favorites, it's just the top 5 in general. Let's dive in!
#1: AISLE PLANNER
Okay so I lied. I do have a favorite... and Aisle Planner has been that for YEARS. When it comes to project management in the events industry, Aisle Planner takes the cake. Especially for wedding planners and for any other vendors using it as an up-sell potential within your offers.
WHY I LOVE IT: It's one place to house ALL THE THINGS for each client. Think, Google Drive on event steroids. I personally use it for all of my contracts, my lead/inquiry management (moving a "new" lead through the sales pipeline to "booked"), project management (a customized profile for each couple we book, they get a login and so do we), they have a guest list manager in there, a design studio, vendor management of contracts, contacts, and invoices, timeline creation (I have my own templates added so I don't have to recreate the wheel each time), a notes section, and the list goes on. It's simple and easy to use!
UP-SELL POTENTIAL: Even if you're not a wedding planner, Aisle Planner is an excellent tool to manage your sales, contracts, and clients. But also, it's a huge incentive to get your couples to book you and up-sell access to this planning platform through YOU. It's a differentiator. If you're a florist and you offer an online space for your couples to do all their wedding planning for an additional cost, you're not just making more money. You're providing even better service to your couples. You're taking care of them in a way that lots of other vendors won't.
For this app, because I've built such a trusted relationship with them the past 5 years, they have partnered with me to extend a discount to you guys! Click here or use my code: Becca25 to get 25% off your first THREE months of membership!
When it comes to social media scheduling I have had the hardest time finding the perfect fit. And in full transparency, I still haven't. Planoly is by far the best I have found and I love it for a lot of reasons. But it still doesn't do everything I'd like it to if I'm being picky. Lemme break it down...
WHY I LOVE IT: If you have a business account on Instagram, you can set up auto-post and it'll automatically post at the time you schedule it. Plus you can prepare the location, add tags, and the first comment (where I use strategic hashtags). This is HUGE! Of course, you need to be active inside of Instagram for example, prior to the post and for at least the first 15 mins after it goes live for your engagement to battle the algorithm... but that's a blog post for another day.
I also totally dig the layout inside both the desktop and mobile versions. It's pretty, simple, and easy to see how your feed is going to look after your scheduled content posts. Plus the library of photos isn't confusing either. (Which isn't the case inside of other content scheduling apps).
THINGS I WISH IT DID BETTER: There are a handful of things that if I'm being completely honest I do wish were different with Planoly. But they aren't too painful clearly because I still choose to use it for my content scheduling! Just want to paint the full picture. Here are a few things I'd change if I could:
I wish the "link in bio" feature allowed for more details like the version Tailwind has. It's super limiting on the amount of characters you can use, you can't link photos, and it's not very customizable. Irritating, but not the end of the world.
I wish auto-post was compatible with personal or creator Instagram accounts.
Sometimes, randomly, it won't post when scheduled. Or the first comment with our researched hashtags will just... disappear. It's not often that it happens, but when it does... oooo I get so frustrated!
Overall - Planoly is the best out there IMO. And trust me, I've tried them ALL. One day, maybe I'll develop an app that fixes my few issues ;)
Oh email marketing... how I wish I had started you almost 6 years ago when I first launched.
I am embarrassed to say that I didn't start building my email list until about 4 years into my business. DUMB. Learn from my mistakes, friend.
The bottom line is that we do not own Instagram. We do not own Facebook. We do not own any other social platform that we may or may not have a following on. So what happens if Instagram decides to shut down, like... forever. Then *POOF*, your audience shuts down with it.
That is why having an email list is so important. YOU OWN IT.
Flodesk is simple, pretty as all heck, and easy to manage. I love that you can upload all of your branding elements, save templates, and "favorite" past creations to keep things cohesive and eliminate starting from scratch with each new email or landing page you create. Personally, I've tried other email marketing tools and they don't even come close to comparing. Yes, even the one you likely know most about.
Don't wait - start that email list TODAY. And give Flodesk a try, I can guarantee you'll love it.
Voxer allows me to communicate in a quick, organized manner with my clients. Think walk-talkie communication meets texting meets email threads!
We all know we need separation from work and personal life. But when you're in constant communication with your clients within SO MANY different places housed on your phone - which you also use for personal reasons - it becomes easy to be accessible to them 24/7. Never allowing you to unplug. And leaving you hunting through endless DMs, texts, email threads, voicemails, etc to figure out the decisions you made together or remember the details of your last call.
We should not be expected to do this. EVER. You deserve a life. You SHOULD unplug and be unavailable. At the same time, you should also be able to pick back up when it's an appropriate designated working time (see my IGTV mini-training on my calendar blocking strategy and time management tips here!) in one spot.
Enter... VOXER! It's the best. Plus it's free! Yes they have a pro version you can upgrade to, but at the end of the day I've been getting by with the free version. Depends on your needs/preferences.
This app is a small business owner's godsend. It's where I create all of my original content, marketing collateral, and training materials. We're talking Instagram story slides, quote posts, flyers, freebie downloads, program PDF's, training presentations, worksheets.... EVERYTHING.
I got away with using the free version of Canva for the first 4 years of running my business. Seriously. Then I had kids and wanted to upgrade to the pro version to take advantage of the branding elements. Inside the pro version you're able to upload all your branding details to have them readily available as you create. No more searching hex-codes or uploading fonts each time. For me that became worth it once my time wasn't only being structured around myself!
There are tons of apps out there. At the end of the day you need to figure out the ones that are right for you and your business. So I hope this helps get you on the right path to efficiency!
Here's a quick reference list for some honorable mentions:
Trello - a large project productivity management tool. Breakdown the giant to-do list into bite sized chunks. (I use the free version!)
Evernote - An electronic notebook essentially. This is where I list out hashtags to use, office or event supply needs, memos to myself, brain-dumps in the middle of the night, etc. You can sync it to your computer and add there as well! (I use the free version!)
Loom - I use this for recording my trainings. I can pull up a presentation I've made in Canva and record myself, video or audio only, presenting it. Great for online course creation and trainings!
Kajabi - I don't have it yet, which is why it's not in my top 5, but it's on the trajectory for my business by summer 2021. Once I have it, I have a feeling it'll jump up and be tied with Aisle Planner for the #1 spot... stay tuned!
For Aisle Planner, Flodesk, and Planoly, I partner with affiliate platforms where commission may be earned based on clicks and or purchases, and I would love it if you decided to use the links above! Affiliate links help business owners like me to fund the free content that we provide on our blogs.