6 useful productivity and blogging tools for small business

When your budget is tight or you are managing your marketing yourself, any tools that can help improve your productivity or increase engagement with your blog posts can be beneficial.

Below are the top 6 free tools that I work with on a daily basis for different client needs.

Productivity

  1. Toggl – Take your timesheets to the next level

As my business starts to grow I am moving on from a timesheet approach to tracking time that I spend on different activities and clients using Toggl.   Toggl is a simple to use, free time-tracker tool that also provides reports as and when needed.

It means that I can ensure that my precious part-time working hours are well-spent.  I also have a record of how much time various activities require on a regular basis.  This can help me when preparing quotes for customers so that I can be accurate in budgeting.

Update – Lewis from The Freelance Effect has shared his blog with me which is a step-by-step review to using Toggl so will be of use if you plan to start using it!

  1. Buffer – social scheduling covering LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Facebook

I use this tool for my own accounts as well as those of my clients for scheduling social media posts. I also love the Pablo extension which has a range of free images which can be customised for my needs or you can upload your own and edit with logos, quotes etc.

Once the posts have been published you can also go back and view analytics on engagement at a basic level.    By scheduling batches of social media messages in advance it allows us to be active on multiple platforms but still have time free to focus on core business activities.

  1. Later – Instagram scheduling

As I’m using the free Buffer version, I also use Later for my Instagram scheduling.  I probably will combine them at some point but for now I’m happy to keep them separate as I do use the platforms differently.

Recently, Instagram updated its platform so it is now possible to auto-publish to your account, rather than get a notification on your smartphone to post.

Blogging tools

  1. Co-schedule headline analyser

I love this tool, it really does what it says on the tin, by helping ensure the title of your blog will get more opens and ultimately engagement.  The teacher’s pet in me loves getting a score of over 70 and a smiley face!

As an example, for this blog post I started out with the basic topic “B2B blogging and social media tools” which scored 44 points and used the headline analyser to refine it to “Useful social media tools for small business” which got a whopping 71 points!  On review I didn’t feel this accurately reflected the content of the blog so have compromised on the title above –  a score of 64 so not too bad!

  1. Yoast – SEO optimising

A well-known plugin for WordPress, Yoast is great to help you ensure you have your SEO basics in place on your blog post and also to edit the post for readability.  I find this is a great last sense check before posting a blog.  A “virtual” second set of eyes so to speak.

  1. Hubspot blog content idea generator

As a copy-writer myself I find it quite easy to come up with blog ideas for my clients, less so for myself!

However, you may feel a little stuck or perhaps further down your blogging journey and have already covered why you started your business and key trends in your industry.  This little generator can help spark your next great idea to think about what your customers might want to read about and what ties into your own usps.

I hope you have found this round up of tools useful!  Most of the companies I have recommended also have great blogs of their own that you can follow for further marketing tips.  I will share some good articles on my Twitter feed over the next few days so be sure to follow me.

If you are a small business owner or marketer and feel that you would like some additional marketing support to help kick-start your activities and bring more customers to your website, then I would love to hear from you.

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