Running your online business takes a lot of time and energy. There are always a million things on your to-do list, and keeping on top of it all can be tricky.
We don’t all have the budgets to outsource or hire people to help, but luckily there are hundreds of softwares and programs designed to make the lives of entrepreneurs easier.
Whether you need to save time on social media or find a simplified way to make graphics for your online business, there’s a tool for that.
I’ve rounded up some of my favorite time saving, life simplifying tools, but I’d also love to hear what programs you love to use in the comments.
As your business grows, you’ll reach a point where there’s so much to keep track of that you can’t just store everything in your head.
Having all of your ideas, plans, and processes in one place can help you keep your sanity and use that brain space for more pressing projects.
Here are my favorite planning tools:
Here at Teachable, we use Asana to schedule projects and due dates. Asana is great for solopreneurs, but if you have a team you can also invite them to join your account so you can see what everyone is getting done in real time.
I love Asana for its calendar view, because it helps us get a sense for what our editorial calendar is going to look like and we’re able to plan ahead as a team.
Asana also has a checklist view where all of your tasks are just listed in chronological order so you can check them off as you go.
How course creators can use Asana
If you’re a course creator, use Asana to set up deadlines for different milestones you want to meet in your course creation process.
You can also use the calendar to visualize what your launch will look like and see what you need to accomplish day by day.
Another great organization program is Trello. I’ve just recently started using it myself for my own side business, and I’ve been really impressed thus far. I don’t think that it’s necessary by any means to have both Asana and Trello, it just depends on how you visualize things.
Trello is project management program that allows you to create “boards” for different projects you might be working on.
For example, you can have a board for your blog, another for your course, and a third for your email list. On each board you’d create “sticky notes” with different tasks and workflows.
It sounds complicated, so here’s a visual representation that I think is easier to digest:
Trello also integrates with Zapier (a program we’ll be talking about later in the post!) and that integration helps you take Trello from being a pretty good organization system to the only organization system you really need.
How course creators can use Trello
Use Trello to set up every step of your course creation process. We all have slightly different systems when it comes to creating our courses, but your board might look something like this:
Creating an online course, especially if it’s your first, can be an intimidating process. Visually breaking it up into easier to handle tasks makes it seem a lot easier and also can help you budget your time.
I don’t know about you, but I can spend hours on social media every day trying to engage with my audience, gain more influence, and just scroll to see what everyone is up to.
It might be fun, but it’s not a great use of time. Social media is there to help you build authority and connect with your target audience, but it can do more harm than good if you’re wasting your precious time using it ineffectively.
Instagram is the strictest when it comes to third party apps, so be careful with what you use. The two I’ve mentioned both have the Instagram seal of approval.
Driving traffic from Instagram is tricky because you can’t put clickable links in your image captions, and unless you have 10,000 followers you can’t drive traffic from your stories, either.
Instead, you get one link that you’re able to put in your bio. That can really limit what you share, and you have to be choosy with which page on your site is the most valuable to drive traffic to.
Unless you utilize Link Tree. Link Tree is essentially a webpage you send traffic to where you can link to as many other websites as you’d like.
You can create a free Link Tree profile, set up links within Link Tree, and then put your Link Tree as the link in your bio.
How course creators can use Link Tree
The simplest way to use Link Tree is to add your top converting web pages into your Link Tree profile. You can add a link to your sales page, a valuable blog post with a lead magnet, and any recent blog posts you may have mentioned in pictures you’ve posted.
Whenever you post a new image, make sure to include a call to action that encourages people to click through to the link in your bio.
Later is a program that allows you to plan and schedule your Instagram pictures. You can upload your pictures into Later with your desktop or phone, rearrange and schedule the images as you see fit, and then when it’s time to post you’ll get a push notification from Later.
How course creators can use Later
Even if it only takes 10 minutes a day, posting to Instagram can break your concentration and workflow when you’re focused on more important tasks. By scheduling your Instagram posts in advance you’re just two clicks away from posting and then you can get back to work.
When it comes to scheduled content, there is more on Twitter than any other social media platform. With so many scheduling tools, it’s easy to set up your Twitter to run on autopilot and then forget about it. Here are our favorite scheduling programs.
Edgar is the Twitter scheduling tool we use here at Teachable. It helps keep your content evergreen so you don’t have to constantly be creating and recreating new posts.
Instead, you load your tweets into Edgar, and it’s smartfeed cycles through them, posting them again once enough time has passed.
With that said, we are still sure to give our feed some TLC every few weeks and add fresh tweets in and remove less relevant ones, but Edgar saves us hours of time.
How course creators can use Edgar
Edgar is essentially a great time saver. You can load in dozens (or in our case, hundreds) of tweets sending traffic to your highest converting pages.
If you can get just four people to click through to one of your automated tweets and sign up for your lead magnet, that’s 1,000 new people on your email list each year.
Facebook is the classic social media site that it feels like everyone still uses, so it’s important to maintain an active page if you’re looking to drive traffic.
Facebook’s native scheduler
Facebook is great because unlike other social media sites, they’ve got their own native scheduler you can use to get ahead.
I am in charge of Teachable's Facebook page, and I try to keep ours scheduled thirty days in advance so I only have to think about it twice a month.
How course creators can use Facebook’s scheduler
Dedicate a day of you week or the beginning of the month to batching all of your Facebook posts. I use the native scheduler on Facebook and copy and paste every status we post into a Google Doc so we can recycle evergreen posts in the future.
If you want to use a third party scheduler, a lot of people really love Hootsuite. What’s great about Hootsuite, too, is that it works for a number of social media sites. You can do all of you scheduling on Hootsuite and make it your one stop shop.
How course creators can use Hootsuite
Take a day to schedule dozens of posts into Hootsuite that you can recycle through in the future, too. You’re also able to schedule to Hootsuite while you browse the web with their Chrome extension.
Pinterest is a great platform for driving traffic to your website, and if you can keep your account active, the traffic comes fairly passively. Luckily, there are programs that exist that keep your account active for you so you can devote your time to more pressing things.
Boardbooster has a number of services, but their most valuable is their pin looping. With Boardbooster, you can select any boards that have pins you’d like looped, and select how many times you want each board to be pinned to each day.
Looping is when Boardbooster takes a pin that you’ve already pinned and repins it to the same board. This keeps your old content fresh and constantly being seen.
How course creators can use Boardbooster
Course creators should use Boardbooster to keep their Pinterest accounts active and their own pins at the top of their boards. Boardbooster allows your account to run largely on autopilot, going in once or twice a month to add fresh pins to the mix.
Tailwind allows you to download a browser extension that can revolutionize the way you use Pinterest. The extension allows you to go to any board and click all of the pins you’d like to schedule to be posted onto your own boards. This keeps your Pinterest account active and saves you loads of time.
How course creators can use Tailwind
In addition to keeping your boards active, Tailwind also lets members join “Tailwind Tribes” where you can team up with others in your niche to pin each other’s content. This helps you reach an even larger audience.
Having to keep track of the financial side of things with your online business is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you’re making money, but if you’re new to entrepreneurship or finance, it can be a curse because it gets complicated to navigate.
Luckily, there are apps and programs that help you figure out the financial side of being a business owner.
Smart Receipts is an app that lets you turn your phone into a digital records keeping file. You can take pictures of business receipts and organize and store them in one simple place. You can track expenses, generate reports, and share your files seamlessly.
How course creators can use Smart Receipts
Business expenses can help you a ton during tax time, so it’s important to track them. Keeping tabs on every dime you spend to grow your online business can mean owing less at the end of the year. Use Smart Receipts to keep everything in one place so when tax season rolls around you’re not scrambling.
MileIQ is a lot like Smart Receipts, but instead of tracking expenses you’re tracking mileage. Any traveling that you do for your business can be expensed at the end of the year if you keep great records. Whether you’re going to meet a client or driving to a video shoot, those miles can knock off what you owe at the end of the year.
How course creators can use MileIQ
Whenever you get in the car to travel somewhere for business, turn on your GPS and MileIQ and your travel will automatically be recorded. At the end of the year, check the app to see how many business miles you traveled and add that to your tax deductions.
Automation is a busy course creator’s best friend. You want to get as much done in as little time as possible so you can work smarter, not harder.
Automation tools help you automatically accomplish the tasks that you’d otherwise spend time doing manually.
Zapier is a tool that connects all of you other favorite online tools allowing them to work seamlessly together. You can connect two or more apps to automate repetitive tasks without having to be a programming genius or hire a developer.
You can create zaps that automatically publish your new blog posts to Facebook, or download email attachments to your Dropbox, or add new lead magnet sign ups to your email list.
How course creators can use Zapier
Zapier integrates with Teachable so you can have total control of your Teachable school. Whether you want to add new sign ups to your marketing list or log new Teachable sales as rows on your Google Spreadsheet, Zapier can do that.
IFTTT is a program that’s name stands for “If this then that.” IFTTT is very similar to Zapier in that it helps you connect the programs that you’re already using in your online business. You create “recipes” that trigger after something happens.
How course creators can use IFTTT
IFTTT is a great program, but from what I’ve found their integrations are less robust that Zapier’s. If you’re choosing between the two, go with Zapier, if you’ve already settled on IFTTT, this site can help you get started.
Chances are, you’ll need some sort of graphics to compliment your online business. Unless you’re really into graphic design or photo editing, we wouldn’t recommend shelling out hundreds of dollars for Adobe Suite, instead try out one of these programs.
A Color Story
A Color Story is an app developed by bloggers to make photo editing super simple. They have filters you can use to automatically beautify your images, but if you like to get more technical you can also play around with curves, levels, and more.
A Color Story is great for editing pictures you’ve taken on your phone, and can deliver professional quality editing from your cell phone. These are great pictures to use on your social media or marketing material.
How course creators can use A Color Story
A Color Story is great if you’re looking to create beautiful imagery for your online course by yourself. You can save your editing steps and apply them to every image you edit so you can create cohesive branding, too.
Canva is my go-to program if I need to create graphics with my images. Canva has professionally designed templates so all you have to do is plug in your images and desired text.
How course creators can use Canva
Canva is great for creating marketing material and social media content. You can create beautiful graphics to tweet announcing a sale, or create flow charts to include in blog posts. Even if you’re not handy when it comes to design, Canva makes it easy.
Most course creators opt to have at least a small video component to their online course. If you’re in that boat, editing can be a bit tricky if you’ve never done it before.
There are plenty of programs that make it easy, you just have to make sure you choose the right one. Chances are, you won’t want to start with Final Cut Pro if you’re new to video editing, but one of these will likely be perfect.
iMovie is available on both Macs and as an app on your apple devices. iMovie is my favorite editing program because it’s relatively easy to get the hang of. There definitely is a learning curve, but it’s not too intimidating.
Beyond that, you can create video that truly looks professional without having to invest a ton into production. iMovie is free on your Mac, and $10 for your apple phone or ipad.
How course creators can use iMovie
iMovie makes cutting clips together and adding overlays super simple. You can create course videos with video of yourself, slides, and image overlays by clicking and dragging clips and graphics arounds.
There are also tools like the “minimize background noise” that helps improve your sound quality even if you don’t have a $200 microphone at your disposal.
FiLMiC Pro is another editing app you can use from your phone with the added element of allowing you to record video from the app, too. This is great for course creators on the go, or someone who doesn’t necessarily want to slave away at their laptop all day every day. FiLMiC Pro boasts beating out programs that cost thousands of dollars in blind user testing, too.
How course creators can use FiLMiC Pro
FiLMiC Pro offers variable speed zoom, audio gain control, variable frame rates up to 240fps and full manual control over focus, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, tint and color temperature giving you more control than you may even need.
You can shoot and edit your entire course using FiLMiC Pro alone.
What are your “can’t live without them” tools that you use in your online business? Let us know in the comments!