BizSmart Tool Kit

When I get asked, "What do you use in your business?", I routinely refer people to this page to view the list of tools and apps I use to increase my productivity and grow my business.

Please Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, some of these tools may be my affiliate link, which means I may receive compensation for referrals as their "thank you" for sending you their way. However, you have the "Donna Guarantee" with every purchase, because I only write about those things with which I have experience and/or use myself.

CRM System

I've played around with a number of customer relationship management systems. I find most to be bulky, hard to use,or just simply unwieldy. Then I was introduced to 17Hats and customer relationship management just became easier. You can manage all of your contacts in this platform, in addition to tracking time, sending invoices, creating individual client portals, and creating contracts and quotes that can be sent for electronic signature. Paid plan only

Email Inbox

I use Gmail to manage all of my email -- the free version, not the paid one. Over time, I had discovered a number of tools that let me do things that Gmail didn't offer, like the ability to create stylized email signatures that I can change based on the email address I'm using; send an email at a later date or a specific time; see who has opened any email that I have sent and how many times it was opened; and ability to create a variety of email templates.I was constantly seeking a solution that would provide all of this to me, instead of having to piecemeal it together, and finally discovered Mixmax. The app offers a number of other benefits that I haven't had occasion to use. The downside of this app is that it doesn't play well with other Gmail apps, but the pros of usage definitely outweigh the cons.Paid plan only.

Email Marketing

I recently discovered this newly launched email marketing platform, Birdsend, from a friend, and while they are still working out the kinks, it has all the hallmarks of a very strong program that can track many types of data points in your email marketing. My three main issues with the system are that it doesn't support HMTL imports into broadcasts, it doesn't integrate with Thrive Architect (my landing page building platform) and it's difficult to change the look of an opt-in form without being able to code HTML. However, I've contacted their tech support on each of these issues and have been assured that all are on the drawing board for a near-future update. Considering that I'm saving $300/year, I can live with these shortcomings!

To Do List

I've gone back and forth over the years with productivity and to-do apps ranging from standalone software to online systems to paper and pencil. Currently I'm using Yanado. This is a Gmail plugin and you can manage all of your to-dos inside of Gmail. The program allows you to make an email into a task, as well as simply add a task to the list. I've used similar programs inside of Gmail previously, but they either conflicted with MixMax (see below) or they took an email "hostage" to a task and you could only see the email as a part of the task rather than being able to see it in your inbox. I'm loving its ease of use.  Free and paid plans. 

Website Backup

BlogVault makes backing up a WordPress site a snap! Once you install the plugin, Blog Vault goes to work to back up your site immediately. And, you can check the validity of the backup by doing a test restore to make sure that your blog is restored perfectly. The only thing that Blog Vault doesn't save is backups of your blog from another service. In the backup process, Blog Vault records only the changes made to the site, which minimizes your site load, and it offers a list of backup versions from which to choose. You can also download individual files from specific days. Paid plans only.

Website Hosting

After experiencing numerous problems with my previous website host. I was introduced to Siteground Hosting.  I've had stellar customer support from them (they have sent a tech support person to chat almost instantly every time I have used the support chat), and all of my sites seem to load quickly. If you switch, grab the 3-year deal to get the reduced pricing for as long as possible.

Website Security

Bored hackers are just sitting around waiting to hack into the next website. I've had sites hacked and infected with malware and so I have a couple of WordPress security plugins installed. When my site was infected several years ago, I had to pay my hosting company to have the malware removed.  The company that I use for my site backup, BlogVault, recently offered a new anti-malware service, Malcare,that provides early malware detection and acts on it before any damage is done. Best of all, it doesn't bog down your server in the process! Paid plans.

Writing

I write pretty well, but after a certain period of time, I can no longer see the mistakes in my writing. That's why I purchased Grammarly to be my second set of eyes and ears. Grammarly catches punctuation, spelling, word usage and sentence construction mistakes. I highly encourage you to get a paid plan, as you need that to install the Grammarly app into Microsoft Word. If you get on their email list, you'll get notice of their periodic sales, which usually save you a great deal of money on your first year of service.Free and paid plans.
 

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