I know how overwhelming it can be to grow your online brand. There are probably a million things on your mind, big or small. Automate the small stuff. Scratch that. Automate as much as you can, make your workflow convenient for yourself, and be productive.
Over the course of running several websites, I’ve realized how exponentially easier it is once you have an established system up and running. Of course, it takes a bit more thought and time to build a workflow system upfront, but once you have it up and running, it is an absolute life saver. You simply set it and forget it!
If you’re starting out, you’re likely working on this solo. The introverted part of me loves solo work because I can do it at my own pace (and I’m generally a very efficient person and works faster than the average person I know), but that doesn’t mean I love every aspect of “blogging.” Twitter needs you to be present 10x a day to promote your content. In a 140-character world, it moves at a much faster pace than Facebook, where you can write paragraphs. Still, that doesn’t beat Instagram, where people judge you the way they judge a book by its cover. One bad photo, no likes, and you are at the bottom of someone’s news feed forever.
Ha, kidding. I’m generally not that bitter of a person at all.
If you think you’d be more happy listening to the audio recording of this article, just click play below.
My point is, I can either focus on creating content, refining my email marketing strategy, and engaging my peeps. Or I can try to remember to tweet exactly at 1:40pm every day because my analytics tell me that’s when the majority of my audience is on Twitter. I love actual engagement, replying to comments, but generally, one small tweet doesn’t make a huge peak in website traffic or email subscriber.
Okay, rant done.
I thought I’ll share with you which programs and software I use to simplify and automate my workflow.
# 1 Canva
What it does: Canva is a graphic design cloud software that provides pre-made templates to empower quick and beautiful designs for people without Photoshop experience. Its free version allows you to do a lot already, but for only $10/month, you get to store your brand’s visual arsenal everywhere you go. This includes and is not limited to your brand fonts, colors and much much more. If you’re a solopreneur, imagine how much easier it is to not have to copy and paste the HTML color codes each time you create a new pin for your blog post?
How it saves my life: I’d much rather focus on my content and email marketing strategy than to have to remember the exact specs and sizes for my Pinterest or Twitter graphics. With Canva’s templates, it’s really a game of plug-n-play where you insert your own brand colors, fonts, and messaging. I can create a new pin in less than five minutes without having to wonder if the design is something I like.
Where you should focus more of your time on instead: I’ve written an entire post on why your blog post headline is the gateway to driving raving fans. Instead of focusing on the tiny details of sizing and perfecting a graphic, you should really be spending more time on the copy and message of your graphic. For example, if you’re creating a new pin to promote your blog post, you should be spending 80% of your time crafting a clickable headline that converts and only 20% putting the graphic together.
Of course, pretty graphics contribute to your conversions too, but my point is, once you’ve decided on your brand colors, fonts, and graphic styles, each new pin you create won’t be that different from your previous one.
#2 Co-schedule Headline Analyzer (CHA)
What it does: Co-schedule’s Headline Analyzer is exactly what it says it does. It helps you analyze whether or not your headline is emotional and powerful enough. It gives you a breakdown of the perfect length for a headline as well as the emotional and power words in your headlines.
How it saves my life: Although there’s a traffic headline formula I follow, I don’t use that formula for every single type of blog post I write. When I want to confirm how powerful and emotional my headline is, I copy and paste it into CHA. I usually aim for a score of at least in the 70’s, but ideally in the 80’s.
Where you should focus more of your time on instead: This simple piece of software is really easy and quick to use. With CHA, you don’t have to ask a friend or second guess whether your headline meets the criteria. I also like to tweak a few words here and there to see if it will generate a higher score.
What it does: Buffer is social media scheduling tool that allows you to track your analytics, most optimal post times, and tweet potentials. It comes with an editorial calendar for a bird’s eye view as well as a graphic design tool (like Canva) to help you make social media graphics easily. It’s built-in shortlinks and Chrome extension makes it super easy to add other blogger’s content to your social media queue.
How it saves my life: I used Buffer for a few months when I first started Talence and honestly, I loved everything about it, especially how fast the user interface operates. It has excellent tiny features that you didn’t realize made your life easier until you didn’t have access to them anymore. The only reason I switched from Buffer to Post Planner is that I was so bored of having to re-schedule my posts every week. I hate routine work. You can read more about that below.
#4 Post Planner
What it does: Post Planner is a social media scheduling tool for increasing audience engagement and promoting your blog posts on autopilot. And I know you’re probably thinking: another one of those. And before you roll your eyes at me, let me tell you how Post Planner and Buffer are different. Imagine you spent four hours writing a blog post and you only promoted once on Twitter or Facebook. The likelihood that someone has seen it is, well I hate to break it to you, but not very likely. On average, our engagement rates are about 2-3% on a popular tweet. So what about the other 98-99% of people? They’ll never know your post exists.
How it saves my life: I never heard of raves for Post Planner like I do for Hootsuite and Buffer, but when I was so exhausted and tired of having to re-schedule of scheduling posts to Buffer each Sunday, I knew it was time to look for alternatives. At the time, I knew Meet Edgar existed, but just wasn’t willing to invest $49/month for a social media tool. If it was hosting for an e-course product or website, I would’ve considered it.
The ultimate feature that drove my decision to jump from Buffer to Post Planner is it’s “recycle” tool. What this feature does is that with the click of one button, your tweet will be recycled back in your social media publishing queue and be published again. This tool is very important if you’re creating a lot of evergreen posts. Because your article will still be relevant 1-2 years down the line, you want to promote month after month after month.
Where you should focus more of your time on instead: Remember, the basic social media scheduling tool only helps you schedule your tweets. This means you still have to go into their system each week to add it to your queue. And eventually, you’ll realize scheduling is also repetitive. Because let’s face it, we really want to re-promote a post we spent hours working on and it takes hours to source a ton of new and good content that’s happening within our niche.
With Post Planner or Edgar, you don’t have to do this. If you want to re-promote something, you can do it with a click of a “recycle” button or you can add it to your library, respectively. And this is true automation. You “set it and forget it.”
Post Planner vs. Meet Edgar. Which is better? Edgar is definitely more advanced and their software is built to automate your social media. I’ve been playing and using a free trial of Meet Edgar lately and it helps you randomize your social media postings automatically. In Post Planner, when you recycle a tweet, it goes back to your queue and publishes in a linear format.
Disclaimer: Post Planner is the only tool listed here that isn’t free, but comes at an affordable price of $10/month.
What it does: When I talk to bloggers, I always feel like Boardbooster doesn’t get enough love. I know sometimes we are geared more towards using a single social media tool that caters to all our social media outlets. After all, if one tool can help me schedule all of my social media, why would I want to use five different ones? Here’s why.
Every outlet is a little different and has their own nuances. For example, you can use Buffer to promote your Facebook posts, tweets, and pins. But, Boardbooster is only used for scheduling, looping, and sourcing pins for Pinterest users. Which software do you think is more optimal and catered for Pinterest users?
How it saves my life: Like Twitter, I never believe that people will see my pins the first time and this could be for a number of the following reasons:
1. They didn’t see it when it was scheduled to publish. As simple as that.
2. They didn’t have that problem and therefore, didn’t need your blog post at that time.
3. They wanted to read your article but was tired after reading another article. They forgot to pin it to their board to read for later. If you don’t promote it again, they’ll never find it again.
4. They didn’t realize your topic is important to them. On average, people need to be exposed to something seven times before they take action.
And for these reasons, I make sure my pins run on automation. Here’s how I use Boardbooster:
- I schedule my pins from my secret boards to public boards.
- The ultimate secret weapon in driving traffic to a new website is to join several high converting group boards.
- I loop my pins so they re-promote themselves on automation after a month or two. Most people are likely to have missed your posts on the first two promotions. After all, no one is waiting on the Internet to see when you’re publishing a post, especially if you have a new blog.
Where you should focus more of your time on instead: Now automating Pinterest has had a huge return for Talence, especially in the last month. Because Pinterest is less of a social media outlet (When was the last time you commented on Pinterest?) and more of a search engine, it’s really effective in driving organic traffic.
Think about it, are you more likely to click on a post when you’re desperately searching for a solution or when someone else is promoting it in your face? Of course, when you’re searching for it right? When you are searching for a solution, it’s something you know you need. When someone is promoting it, it’s more of a nice to have, but you may or may not need.
What it does: Mailerlite is probably just another email marketing software, but between Mailchimp and Mailerlite, don’t choose Mailchimp. I switched to Mailerlite and have since not regretted. It does everything Mailchimp does better and does much more for the price of much less. It offers beautiful and customizable landing pages and lead boxes for free. Built-in analytics to track your highest performing forms so you know what’s working well, what’s not, and what to tweak and improve.
And if you think you’re one of those people who doesn’t need an email list or email marketing strategy, think, “why are you spending all your time, money, and effort on driving traffic and leads to your website if you can’t directly reach out and communicate with these people after their initial contact with your brand?”
How it saves my life: I’ve tried Mailchimp and hated it. For the months I was on Mailchimp, I never emailed my subscribers because the platform was just not fun to use. I’ve even abandoned SumoMe’s welcome mat and pop ups because Mailerlite does them better with more options for customization.
My “Resources” page is one of the most visited pages on my site (there goes my secret) and for the longest time, I didn’t know how to include a lead box to collect emails. I know Leadpages is a great tool many bloggers use, but quite frankly, I didn’t want to incur those costs for the average designs it came with. I quit using pop ups for Talence for a few months now because I thought they were annoying every time I visited my own site. I was fooling around with the idea of Mailerlite’s pop up forms again one day and learned that I can just have the pop up appear on just any one specific page!
So yes! I added an automatic pop up to my “Resources” page and now every time new readers visit the page, the pop up will only appear on that page. If you’re wondering, my “Resources” page is password protected under WordPress, but I was unable to add a form to collect emails prior. I’ve always had other opt-in forms around my website, but having it elsewhere isn’t as effective as having it on the page people want access to.
Where you should focus more of your time on instead: Conversions and the content journey is really important to me. While traffic and email lists are important, I like to know that the people I’m trying to help are getting a good experience from me.
Using the “resources” page as an example, with Mailerlite’s stats I get to see how many people have visited that page and how many people have signed up. If 100 people click on the page and only 10 people sign up, I’ll be wondering if I’m attracting the wrong audience. Is my opt-in offer not relevant enough? Is the headline not compelling enough? Or is the color of the opt-in box isn’t optimal for conversions? You can have lots of page views, but if these people aren’t joining your tribe, it’s not helping you build your brand either.
#6 Google Sheets
What it does: There’s nothing new about Google Sheets, but it amazes me how many people are so unorganized about the little details. Sure, no one wants to remember the little things like email addresses and links, but it’s also very important to have an organized database of contacts. When you’re growing your online presence, you can’t really do it all yourself, solopreneur or not.
Whether you’re reaching out to bloggers to join Pinterest group boards or to guest post, you’ll need a strategy. You can’t contact everyone and expect a yes. At the same time, you want to make sure that for every influencer you contact, they get the respect they deserve. One of the biggest and easiest mistakes I see bloggers and other biz owners make when they contact me is that they addressed me by the wrong name! Yes, even when it’s on my about page and it’s not something that requires a treasure map to find.
How it saves my life: You really don’t need some kind of expensive software to keep track of your contacts and influencer relationships, but you also want a way to track which influencers respond to your emails. If they respond to you once, they are likely to respond to you again.
For every type of campaign, I have a different contact sheet that lists this info:
- Blogger’s name
- Email address
- Link to their website/main social media channel
- Niche or main expertise?
- What about them stands out most to you?
This way even if you end up sending the same email to everyone on your campaign list to gauge their interest for collaboration, you’re still calling them by their name. The bottom line: a spreadsheet will help you organize your contacts so you won’t mess up the blogger with a different email address other than their own.
Where you should focus more of your time on instead: I like to highlight any blogger who emails me back and says yes to the collaboration. This quickly lets me see how effective my campaign was. The highlighted ones are also people I can reach back out to for future collaboration because they’re considered “warm” relationships now.
What tools do you use to make your workload easier and increase your productivity? Do share below!