My Essential Small Biz Tools - Spring 2023 Edition

With today's technology, there are so many tools and systems out there that can help make our lives so much easier. But with so many options come the questions of “which ones are the best? Which do I use?” My take is: use what works for you! Try out different options and see what fits you best. Here, I’m going to share what tools I use to make my business run. This is a comprehensive list, meaning that I’m not leaving anything out. No secrets! I’m covering everything from project management to SEO resources and telling you exactly how I use them. I hope that you can take some of these resources to adapt to your own needs - whether they’re business-related or not. And keep reading until the end for some bonuses!

 

Graphics & Design: Canva (+ Cricut Design Space)

Canva is my go-to design app. I use it for Instagram posts and stories, Etsy and Shopify graphics (banners, product listings, etc.), and making printables. I also created my logo on there and use it to design any marketing materials I need! They have awesome templates and font options, and so much more. It’s super easy to use, so I think that anyone of any design level can utilize it. I do use the paid version because I feel like it’s worth it as a small business that uses it heavily, but there is a free version that can give you everything you need to! Now you may be wondering - where does the Cricut Design Space aspect come in? I have a Cricut Maker and some of the designs and graphics from my products come from Cricut Design Space, BUT there’s no way to save designs to use offline. So, my work-around is to screenshot my design on Cricut Design Space and upload it to a design in Canva, using the background remover tool to get rid of any unneeded space. I use this method specifically for some of my sublimation designs.

 

General Organization, Business & Project Management: Notion

I love love LOVE Notion. I use this baby for all sorts of aspects of my life - from keeping track of books I’ve read/want to read to finances to, of course, business. Notion is completely free and is an amazing tool for organizing just about anything. It’s essentially your own giant personal database that you can customize however you want to (mostly). Some of the key business things that I use it for are content planning, product ideas and development, and note-taking for business learning and development. I take notes on any meetings I have, tutorials and classes I take, and research and learning that I do. It’s my hub for all things business-related! Now, I have heard that Notion is a bit complicated for some, and I will admit that there can be a learning curve. Notion does have some templates to help you get started, but if you’d like to start out with a simpler project management system, you can try Trello! I used to use Trello religiously for many of my college years, and at one point I used a combination of Trello and Notion - Trello for big overviews of project and Notion for bigger projects that need more detailed diving into. So if you want to start a bit simpler, try out Trello!

 

Email, Browser, & Browser Management: Gmail/Chrome + Workona

I think most of us use Chrome at this point, right? That’s the only browser that I use for both personal and business life. I think one of the essential things to do when you first start a business is to get a separate business email. That way, you can easily separate business and personal. Use that email to sign up for all your necessary services and get all your business mail sent there. The cool thing about creating a separate Gmail/Google account that a lot of people don’t know about is that you can have a Chrome profile dedicated to that account. That means that literally everything can stay with that account only, allowing for completely separate windows, settings, and password databases for your personal and business accounts. The crucial extension I use with Chrome is called Workona. This is another tool I use both personally and professionally. It’s essentially a tab management site/extension. You can create different “workspaces” for your various tasks. For example, I have all my keyword and SEO-related tabs open in one workspace and operational (selling and shipping platforms) open in another. You can easily pin Workona to your tabs bar and switch back and forth between workspaces without having to close anything. You can also keep resources, notes, and tasks associated with each workspace.

 

Customer & Email Management: Klayvio

You may or may not have heard of Klayvio (I hadn’t before I started using it). It’s an app that can integrate with your website - in my case, Shopify. It manages my customer information, newsletter and SMS subscribers, and website pop-ups and sign-up forms. With Klayvio, I can automate emails (welcome emails, order confirmations, etc.), design, schedule, and send out my newsletters (which includes segmentation), and keep track of analytical data. The analytics I’m referring to are, for example, how many emails have been sent out, what the open-rate is for each email type, who my repeat customers are, how many sales can be attributed to Klayvio-related marketing, etc. I feel like it’s decently simple to use, and once you get the hang of it, you’re able to fly through the tasks you need to do with it.

 

Collaboration & Research: Google Drive & Google Drive Apps

Google Drive is the easiest platform for collaboration with other businesses, small business coaches, and anyone you may be working with to run your business. I use it to work on documents with others, making heavy utilization of the comment feature on Google Docs. I also use it to keep running lists of things. For example, I use a Google Doc to keep a list of quotes for my Motivational Monday posts and a Google Sheets doc to do research on Keywords for optimizing my SEO. It’s free, simple, and easy to use.

 

File Management: OneDrive

You may be wondering why I have 2 file management systems - Google Drive and OneDrive. And the simple answer is that they have totally different purposes for me. I utilize OneDrive for any files that I download to my computer, financial documents, anything I need to upload to another platform, product photos, things I need to print, and files I’ll need to use more long-term. As opposed to keeping things on my computer itself, I use OneDrive as my management system since it’s cloud-based. OneDrive is also completely free - just use your regular business email to sign up.

 

Keywords & SEO: Marmalead, Everbee, AnswerThePublic, Semrush, & Keyword.io

Now, I know you’re probably looking at this going “wow, that’s a lot”. But trust me, all of these have very specific purposes and features, making them tools I love. Marmalead and Everbee are SEO tools specifically for Etsy, but AnswerThePublic, Semrush, and Keyword.io can be used for anything.

Marmalead

Marmalead is great for looking up keywords and their prevalence among listings, the competition associated with those keywords, other relevant searches, and discovering if your keywords are longtail keywords or not. It also analyzes your listings for SEO optimization, and I find that overall, the site is really comprehensive for Etsy. It’s my favorite keyword and SEO tool for Etsy.

Everbee

Everbee is a web app that integrates right into Etsy, and I find that it’s better for measuring your direct competition - as in, other sellers. You can look up keywords and see the top listings that come up. By looking at those listings, you can see the price of the item, the average monthly sales, how long the listing has been up, and other information. While you’re on Etsy, you can click the little Everbee icon on a listing and get it analyzed right on the page. Everbee has lots of other features, but those are the ones I use the most. There is a paid version that includes a lot more information, and there are some ways to get around the paid roadblock, but I only use the free version.

AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is a really cool site! If you type in keywords on the site, it will show you the top Google searches and questions people ask related to the keyword. This can be a great tool for product development, keywords, and even blog ideas! There is a paid and free version, but I find that if you’re strategic with your searches and stretch out your research over time, you don’t necessarily need the paid version.

Semrush

Semrush is also pretty cool. It’s a great tool if you have your own website or a Shopify store. It can analyze your website for SEO and keywords as well as competitor sites. It can also help you with coming up with keywords and related phrases that you can incorporate into your site through Alt Text, page metadata, and organically on the website pages themselves. There are so many other things that Semrush can do, and I can’t even possibly cover or explain them all (I haven’t even used all the features myself because there are so many!). So you’ll just have to play around with it and see if it works for you and your business!

Keyword.io

Keyword.io is a tool specifically for coming up with longtail keywords - those longer words and phrases people type into search engines. It shows you related searches so that you can integrate those things into your website.

 

Seller Tools: Etsy, Shopify, Shippo, & Shuttle

I think we’ve all heard of Etsy and Shopify. Those are the two platforms that I sell through. As a matter of fact, you’re reading this blog on Shopify right now! Etsy is great because it has its own user database, people who are coming to Etsy already looking to buy. Whereas with Shopify, you have to really work hard to optimize your SEO for Google and other databases, put extra umph into marketing and social media, and get direct traffic. What I do like about Shopify over Etsy is the immense difference in flexibility. You can customize the look and feel of your site, purchase your own domain (like I did), and have nearly complete control over your selling platform. Shippo is a site that integrates into Etsy, Shopify, and other selling platforms to help streamline your shipping process. Shippo offers discounted rates on shipping from multiple companies. Once you link your shop, it will automatically pull orders directly from your site for you to process and purchase and print labels from. It will also automatically update the shipping information on your selling platform so that customers have the updated info. Finally, Shuttle is a Shopify app that helps sync Etsy and Shopify together. It can import and export listings from one platform to another and sync up reviews and orders. If you prefer to process every order through Shopify, Shuttle can also allow you to do that. There is a paid version that I think is worth upgrading to as you grow, but it’s fine to start out with the free version too.

 

Bonus Tools: Learning, Growth, & Business Support/Development

Congrats! You finally made it to the end of this long, but hopefully informative post!

My first bonus tool is less of a tool and more of a resource. It’s Daisy Made’s Magnetic Makers group. It’s a group of entrepreneurs, mostly solopreneurs, that all support each other. We have workshops from experts and coffee chats, and it’s really just a great space to get feedback as a small business. You get access to all the past workshop recordings and classes when you join too! At first, I was a little skeptical and nervous about joining a group that’s paid, but that skepticism quickly went away after I joined the group. Everyone is super responsive, and I think that you get so much more value out of it than the $38 monthly membership is set for. I have received such incredible advice and support there, and I think it’s one of the greatest decisions I’ve made for my small business. If you’re interested in joining, you can sign up using my affiliate link: https://barbee--daisymade.thrivecart.com/magnetic-makers-membership-2/

My second resource is Michaela Fong’s Etsy Success Academy. This is a comprehensive course to setting up your Etsy shop, Etsy SEO, identifying your ideal customer, product development, and so much more. It comes with modules that Michaela teaches as well as an entire workbook to help you along. It’s another paid resource, but I have found that it’s worth it, especially if you’re just starting out.

Finally, don’t. underestimate. the Esty. Seller. Handbook. If you haven’t taken a look through it, drop everything right now and go do that. I mean it. I have spent literal days going through the handbook and taking notes, and let me tell you - it was some of the greatest time spent towards the betterment of my business. The amount of stuff you learn is just astounding, and Etsy gives it to you FOR FREE. There are so many topics that I can’t even cover them all. And the great part is that most of the information you can find on there doesn’t even apply to just Etsy. For example, you can take information about product photos and SEO to any platform and anything you do.

Thanks for reading my blog! Do you use any of these tools? Is there anything you feel like I missed or that I should try out? Do you like this kind of content and want more? Questions? Drop it in the comments!

Ta-ta for now!

-Simone

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