Oh if I had $1 for every bro that told me what his tools were!
If I see one more bro that flashes his very large microphone, in his face, with its phallic symbolism, I’ll vomit.
So I thought some feminine energy up in there would be just what the interwebs needed during the holidays!
As you head into 2022, here’s my list of some of our favorite tools, which massively improve my quality of life on the work front. Some of them are obviously very standard. There’s really no need to deviate from the set path on those.
And some others are pretty unusual, and impressive. You’ll like them if you don’t already use them!
Here’s a roundup of my ‘dirty dozen’ tools that I use pretty much every day, and would struggle to live without. No affiliates here at all. These are tried and tested by our team, and many are paid for.
Ubiquitous tools – virtual meetings and document sharing
Let’s start with some of the ones which are basic and non-negotiable in the hybrid workplace.
This tends to be the default for meetings for small businesses in particular. For connecting, for discoveries, for sales calls. I use Zoom – privacy issues notwithstanding – since way before the pandemic as do many consultants. Alternatives like Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are huge and I have both of those that I use when speaking to organizations that prefer them. I still tend to default to Zoom for a few reasons. One is that it’s a little bit easier – more people have it and it requires no special set up. And the second is their breakout rooms, and their webinar abilities. There are so many things you can do from a recording on Zoom to repurpose as your content. This is pretty key in our content marketing plans.
This is really a collection of tools. The Google universe. Starting with search. Pretty invaluable in our work. People pick different platforms and many may disagree with this. We stick with Google because it’s ubiquitous and all-encompassing. Google Drive to share files. Google Documents to make it easy to asynchronously work on writing and plans. A big draw for me is easy version control, which doesn’t involve back and forth, renaming files, and so forth.Google Sheets for our editorial calendars and tracking deliverables. (Though we do have Trello for project management, that tends to be more internal facing for our project managers and not all our clients want to use it. So sheets and docs it is!) You’ve got to pick a universe, and stick with it. I know there’s people who have Dropbox for sharing and Microsoft for other things. We find it easiest to keep it all in one place, and then use it across all of our clients and collaborators so that we’re minimizing the amount of clutter and the number of platforms that we’re opening and closing on our computers.
As podcasters we tend to rely heavily on visuals. They are pretty key to us maximizing the distribution of the amazing podcasts we create for ourselves and our clients. Here are some tools that make the job much easier for us. (And inject some levity into our marketing for people to have fun with.)
This is one of the largest marketplaces for GIFs. Pretty much any moment or emotion that you’re trying to visualize, there’s a GIF for it! As the writer of “The other EQ: How to kill boring marketing”, which is about levity, it would be remiss of me to not mention GIFs. They are a defining resource to put across personality a bit of emotion. There’s lots of people who frown upon GIFs. Ignore them. You’re heading into Web 3.0 now and if you’re not ready for avatars, begin with GIFs and emojis. We’ve had so much success using them for not just ourselves but also various clients including “the unsexy businesses” like legal and financial. While any old appropriate GIF would work, picking a theme and sticking within that theme for your GIFs is really effective. There are other platforms like Tenor. If you’re new to the GIF game, start with Giphy.
4. Kapwing (meme generator)
Kapwing’s claim to fame is their video captioning software. At the free level it’s pretty decent though it has some glitches. But the reason I like the tool is a feature within it called ‘meme generator’. If ever you are looking to visualize something in a funny way or hop on a trend for newsjacking, or to find ways to connect with people using humor, this tool is awesome. They have some trending topics but be aware that the trending topics stay for a while so if you’re tuning in and are a little bit late, you might want to skip it or reference your lateness to the party for further fun.
You would be hard pressed to find an option as good as Canva, which is ubiquitous and can perform an array of actions. Within Canva not only do you have the ability to create designs in different formats for social media and for various other platforms, and you also have the ability now to record your screen, make videos, and animate things. I’m a big fan of Canva and I’ve used it for years. We do have the paid version, but the free version is still pretty robust. As long as you are using it for one account. If you’re someone who handles designs for multiple clients or a freelancer, you might have some copyright issues if you use premium paid assets like images or music. That said, it’s really impressive. Tip: If you integrate it with your YouTube channel you would be able to use copyright music from the app. Canva is a woman-owned unicorn. The founder recently said she plans to give away her fortune to charity. She’s barely 30! We heart her!
Email and virtual presentations
While Canva now offers the ability to record your screen, that feature came out much later. I do tend to get entrenched in my ways, and my OG is Loom, which I continue to use. It allows you to record yourself, recording your screen, or a combination thereof. This is really helpful to avoid the number of meetings that you’re in. I use it to walk people through slides or to present a mind map. Not everything needs to be a meeting with multiple people! And as long as you’re keeping your recordings sharp, efficient, and respectful of people’s time, recordings can often replace a meeting with great efficiency. One of the challenges that I like to subject myself to (maybe not everyone is into this kind of extreme adrenalin, so use with caution) is that a while ago I downgraded my account to a free account. The paid one is about 10 dollars a month and less If you do it for a year. I downgraded my account because that means that I have to make sure that my recordings are under six minutes, and I think that’s a very effective way to hold myself to high standards as far as how I treat people’s time with respect.
How can we forget email? This one tool that many people think is douchey! It’s not cheap, considering that most email tools are pretty cheap. Superhuman is only available for Google Mail addresses at this point. I don’t think that’s changed. So you need a google email and this as a plugin. It costs $30 a month. That’s one reason people don’t like it. And also, they employ FOMO (fear of missing out) marketing. You need a referral into the program. There are a few reasons it really works for us and a few people who we’ve recommended it to. Number one is it has a very important function for today’s world – pre scheduling email for a specific time in your working day. While there are tools like Boomerang that can do this, Superhuman brings together a few features and that’s why I pay for it for myself and some of my team. The second key feature is advanced Read Receipts. It gives you much more analysis on how many times people have opened your email, and at what times. I find especially while doing prospecting and pipeline work that this is an effective tool to learn behaviors and qualify people. Say someone opened your email multiple times, it gives you the intel you need to follow up meaningfully. We probably will continue to key it even though many of the technological gurus have declared this a complete bullshit tool 😁 It also allows you to have prewritten snippets for often used sentences and much more. Note that this is for one-on-one instead of mass emails.
Proposals, pipelining, prospecting and billing
The next tool I want to talk about is a proposal tool that we’ve used for a few years. It allows you to build presentation-style proposals within their platform and then you’re able to send it to clients to approve. What I like about it (though it can be a glitchy tool, and has an annoying learning curve and costs $50 a month) is the credibility it lends. In the marketing space there’s a lot of freelancers, Fly By Night operators, and people listing themselves ‘agencies’ while out of a job. A tool like this helps us to set ourselves apart from the crowds who might not have the investment for quite so many pro tools. I wouldn’t suggest this is the first step in your sales process, because you do need to qualify your prospect and make sure that they are looking to buy in your space and pricing mode. Perhaps the way in which Proposify’s marketing is laid out, saying things like, ‘Have proposals approved in your sleep’ might be a bit of exaggeration; but that said it’s certainly something that we’ve kept In our arsenal because it’s effective especially when we’ve already had a discussion want to accelerate the process conversion.
If you are a Small Business or a freelancer, invoices are the bane of your existence! While a majority of the market talks about QuickBooks, and a lot of financial consultants are affiliated with QuickBooks, for us it was a simple matter of wanting to buy Canadian. FreshBooks does pretty much all the things that QuickBooks does, and they are a local brand, based in the Junction in Toronto. For us, that’s pretty important. It also means that we get super friendly service (which is pretty good to begin with). If you’re in the early stages of business and deciding what tool you want for invoicing, this is something we’d recommend. It’ll help your accountant to reconcile your books in tax season.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator – This is probably the most expensive tool in this suite. It’s certainly not something that everybody needs. Know this though: going forward, marketing has changed a significant amount. If you are sitting around waiting for just inbound leads which you gathered via opt-ins and paid advertising, I would advise that’s not going to be effective for very much longer. With that in mind, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which costs about 60-80 USD, depending on what level you need, allows you to find people to add to your network and start building demand with. You can set a lot of parameters around who you’re looking for. While I don’t do a whole lot of cold prospecting, what it does do for me is help me find our ideal client profile (ICP) and the people in that space whom I then follow and strike up those conversations, which might eventually lead to further connection.
10. LinkedIn Sales Navigator
This is probably the most expensive tool in this suite. It’s certainly not something that everybody needs. Know this though: going forward, marketing has changed a significant amount. If you are sitting around waiting for just inbound leads which you gathered via opt-ins and paid advertising, I would advise that’s not going to be effective for very much longer. With that in mind, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which costs about 60-80 USD, depending on what level you need, allows you to find people to add to your network and start building demand with. You can set a lot of parameters around who you’re looking for. While I don’t do a whole lot of cold prospecting, what it does do for me is help me find our ideal client profile (ICP) and the people in that space whom I then follow and strike up those conversations, which might eventually lead to further connection.
Podcasting support tools
We are a professional podcast agency, and we have a ton of tools specifically for the purpose. Those are not applicable to all people. On the mainstream level, all businesses can use these 2 podcast support tools!
On the music front, Spotify’s algorithm is way better IMO. It picks up your pace and music suggestions from it are pretty awesome. It’s certainly better than Apple Music which I had for years. Now, as a family, we settled resoundingly into Spotify for its UX and ability to connect to smart speakers. On the podcast front, it’s definitely the leader. You just have to take a look at the market headlines about Spotify and you’ll see where podcasting is going via their acquisitions and growth. Some things in particular that I find awesome with Spotify – The first is it will surface pretty decent shows for you, based on what you’re listening to. It has an actual ‘Podcast’ tab. And the second thing is to do with the actual listening process. It gives you a wider variety of speeds at which to listen – 1.1, 1.3, 1.4 and so forth. The second thing is it allows you to skip 15 seconds back and forth which means sometimes if a podcast is a little bit long-winded you can skip in 15 second increments, without missing a major point, versus Apple which allows you to go back 15 seconds but only allows you to go forward in 30 second increments. In 30 seconds you could miss a whole point in what someone’s talking about, that doesn’t work for me. Those are the user experience reasons why I prefer Spotify to listen for research and quality control for various podcasts.
This is perhaps my favourite, saved for last! I find it very, very useful especially as a podcaster and writer of material out of podcasting. There are many transcription tools on the market. Rev.com is probably the leader. We use them for a long time as well. What Otter has, which I appreciate, is a much more accurate recognition of speech patterns and it tends to work better across a variety of different accents and intonation, with less errors. Unless you want a lot of transcription, you may find that your needs are served with a free account. Even with our extensive podcast agency needs for multiple podcasts we have Have a plan which has over 6000 minutes of transcription and that costs about $8 and month. So even at the paid level, it’s pretty affordable. It offers a few extra tools if you’re a paid customer – you can add in the names of the speakers, which makes it much easier especially if you’re having material produced by internal/external writers using podcasts and videos. I’m a big fan of Otter as someone who does not have a typical American accent (a problem for many other Canadians as well). I would strongly recommended to Anyone
So that’s it.
That’s my dirty dozen daily tools.
Which ones do you use?
Tell me 🙂