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 contain 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.
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.
I use Gmail to manage all of my email -- the free version, not the paid one. I was constantly seeking a solution that would provide a number of email options to me that were only available to me in separate apps. Instead of having to piecemeal it together, and finally discovered Mixmax. With this app, I can 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 create a variety of email templates. Paid plan only.
Birdsend is a robust email marketing program that can track many types of data points in your email marketing. They offer an easy-to-use interface with a focus on delivering the message, not making it graphics heavy or pretty. Their autoresponder and tagging systems are thorough, and they are very quick to respond to any tech support needs. Paid plans only.
I use graphic daily in my marketing efforts. I used to use several programs to design what I needed, but now I use Canva Pro almost exclusively for all of my graphic design needs. They have an extensive library of images that can be added to designs, and a huge library of templates for almost every occasion. Best of all you can share your designs with other Canva users or with your team. Free and paid plans.
Reviews and Testimonials
I use and can highly recommend Endorsal. What I love about Endorsal is that you can send a special link to your clients or customers and they can preview their review or testimonial before sending it, and they can also publish it on your Facebook
Page and your Google My Business page. Endorsal gives you a great deal of leeway in choosing how to publish your reviews or testimonials on your website, as well. Paid plan only.
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'm loving its ease of use. Free and paid plans.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.