Here are my favourite cloud app tech tools. These are the tools and outsourcing sites that have enabled me to grow my business, and work entirely online. As more and more of us are now working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought it would be a good time to share some tools that may help.
Also, if you are not currently working, or working reduced hours, you may have time to learn some new tools and applications that will help you to grow your business as we move to the next stage.
You can download the list and links here!
The ability to have a calendar set up where people can find a time that works for them, and my ability to determine when I’m available is pretty powerful. I am not a fan of having to communicate back and forth to find I time to meet with people and this takes that right out of the equation.
If you’ve had to schedule time online with any tech application or customer service, you’ve likely used this tool.
There’s even an option to create different events that you can allocate to different time slots for. For example, I offer free consultations, if I decided that were only available in the mornings I could block that time out for free consultations only. That then leaves me more time to be productive and have time available when works for me for different types of appointments.
You can find it here: https://calendly.com/
2. Text Expander
I pay for this app, and I absolutely love it. I hear about so many apps these days, I don’t have time to try them. I started using this one immediately!
You create a shortcut, then when that shortcut is typed in it instantly “expands” and inserts the lines of text linked to the shortcut.
It can be used for email subject lines, entire emails or even letters you use often. I use it for standard response emails to inquiries, then just add a couple personal touches and press send.
I also use it for my Calendly links. In the video I demonstrate how to use it so have a look, the possibilities are endless.
You can find it here: https://bit.ly/3altQI7
This one isn’t so much a timesaving app, but it is linked to my Calendly so I have included it here also. I use it to require clients to pay a deposit before they book time in my calendar.
I have a calendar link for Canadian dollars and another for US dollars.
The beauty of using Stripe to collect funds is that I can keep my US dollars in a US and deposit them into a separate account, and use them for USD bills, or transfer the funds when the exchange rate is favourable.
This step also helps with keeping boundaries, I won’t work with someone until the deposit it paid and it is clearly stated in my Calendly appointments that 24 hours notice is required for a cancellation, now, if someone cancels with less notice I already have the deposit in hand.
You can find it here: https://stripe.com/en-ca
Zapier connects a multitude of apps to each other and is extremely user friendly. A lot of apps I’ve found take a significant amount of time to get up and running, this one is different.
For some of the more complicated multi-step apps might require a monthly fee. Until I connected Stripe to QBO to create sales receipts for deposits, I used the free service.
You’ll see in the video a couple examples of the applications you can connect, and there are even more options.
You can find it here: https://zapier.com/app/dashboard
Zoom is a video conferencing application. I like Zoom the best, and not just because it’s free, but because it is the easiest online meeting app that I’ve found for people who are not necessarily tech savvy.
There are, of course, other options such as Skype, Skype for Business, GoToMeeting and BlueJeans. I have my zoom address included in my Calendly invitations. Calendly it sends out an automated reminder to download in advance, that way if there are any difficulties they can email me and it can all be sorted out before the scheduled meeting time.
Zoom also makes it easy to screen share for either party involved, making it easy to illustrate and aid in whatever ways necessary. It also means I can work with people all over the world.
You can find it here: https://zoom.us/
I find that Fiverr is a great place to outsource small and one-off tasks.
I’m not a graphic designer, and my Microsoft skills are rudimentary at best, and I’m not one to spend hours formatting PDF documents. For me, these are the types of tasks that are not good value for my time. If I need a form such as a credit card authorization or a giveaway checklist for my YouTube channel, I outsource it.
In doing so I’m rolling the dice on the quality that will be returned to me. If I’m unable to work with someone I’ve worked with before, or am starting a new project, I’ll often send it out to two or three people at the same time. With costs like $5 or $6 it’s worth it to have some options available. With a lot of people working in other regions, I can place an order and when I wake up in the morning it’ll all be done for me.
I find this works best for simple administrative tasks that don’t require a deep knowledge of your specific business. One thing to keep in mind, is I do not provide login information for any of my accounts. One exception I made was when I had to get a Mailchimp template designed. After it was completed, I made sure to go back and change my password to the account just to be safe.
You can find it here: http://www.fiverr.com/s2/8c6839fcb4
I find this app is a great option for ongoing work. I get to set an upper limit and work with the same person repeatedly. For example, I’ve been working with Oleg in Serbia for over two years to edit my YouTube videos. In fact, he probably edited this video.
You can find it here: https://www.upwork.com/
Canva is a design tool which allows the editing of photographs and logos, and then upload them in the right format for where they’re then going (be it Twitter, Facebook, YouTube wherever you need). I create all the thumbnails for my YouTube videos in Canva, and all the photos for my blog posts. It reduces the size of the photos so they’re easier to upload and so they don’t slow down the page as much as the full resolution photos that I directly download from Unsplash and Creative Commons. This is also where I go to find free stock photos, if you use a lot of photos in your work, it may be worth paying a subscription to be sure you don’t have all the same photos as everyone else. For myself, I don’t use an abundance of photos so the free version has been enough.
You can find it here: https://www.canva.com/
9. Unsplash and Creative Commons
Free Stock Photos
You can find it here: https://www.canva.com/ , https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/
This app surprised me with its simplicity of use. I put off using it, and now I question why I was so reluctant to begin with.
It reduces URLs to a little “bit”. What you do is, copy the web address you’d like reduced, paste it into Bitly and it will create a very short link for you to use instead.
I use it for links to my newsletter archives, QBO Pro Advisor page, YouTube download links, and my Rotessa PAD authorizations. And, if you include it in your Text Expalnder you don’t even need to look up the “bits” or remember them.
You can find it here: https://bitly.com/
If you haven’t thought it already, I’m sure at some point you’d wonder how I keep all the different passwords for all these different apps straight (and no, it’s not just using one password for everything).
I used to go crazy selecting forgot password and resetting them all the time, so I found a better way to keep all these straight.
Of course with passwords, security is key so for this one I did more research than I did with the other apps and I am completely satisfied with LastPass. It’s possibly even more secure than me trying to create and remember my own passwords as it creates very complex passwords.
It’s also possible to share access to specific sites with a person on your team. If I was working with a marketing person or my daughter, it’s an easy way to manage logins and access without having to send usernames and passwords individually.
Some other options are 1Password, Bitwarden, Dashlane and Keeper. Look at the options, and be sure you are satisfied with the security.
I have found LastPass to be a lifesaver.
You can find it here: https://www.lastpass.com/
While this may not be a timesaver per se I found having a separate Wi-Fi line for my business helps with boundary setting.
It’s an app in my phone and I can log out when I don’t want to be reached. It has voicemail, and can send and receive texts.
I have all the functionality of a second phone without the physical phone.
It has a cost of approximately $100 US per year, far less than a second phone would cost. It provides an 888 number so there are no long distance charges.
In fact, when I was volunteering in Nepal, I used this line to continue working and with all the tools above working for me as well, most people didn’t even realize I was not in Vancouver.
You can find it here: https://www.line2.com/if/c9300a4f938e441fb1c5219abc52f5f8
You can download the above list and all the links here.
Let me know your favourite!