If you’re like me you like tools; online tools, offline tools, iPhone tools, widgets, apps, and whatevs. Actually, if you’re any type of an online business designer I’m sure you like tools. Tools are what makes our lives easier. Both professionally and personally.
Now, just so we’re on the same page … this isn’t simply yet another lame list post. The tools that follow really are my 12 favorite ones EVER. I use them every day, sometimes even multiple times a day.
Let’s just go straight down to business.
This is where all my masterplans are born. FreeMind is a great mind mapping tool (I’ve been talking about mind mapping not so long ago so don’t forget to check it out).
The tool is free, easy to use, and doesn’t use much of your computer’s resources. Mind mapping is the superior way of planning. This is #1 on this list not without a reason. I truly don’t know what my work would look like without this one single tool.
2. Remember The Milk
Visit: Remember The Milk
Playful name, isn’t it? But the tool is actually really valuable. Basically, it’s an online to-do list. However, it does have some cool features, like: multiple lists, tags, scheduling, priorities, mobile apps support, and more.
Most importantly, it is exceptionally easy to use. Creating and then working with a RTM to-do list is actually pretty enjoyable, and you can do it from anywhere. Plus of course, the tool is free. You just need to sign up for an account.
Just to give you some alternatives, I’ve put together a large comparison of the top 5 productivity tools out there (including RTM).
3. Google Reader
Visit: Google Reader
[Update. Google Reader will soon be offline and I'm currently looking for a substitution.]
Google Reader is where I get my news. It’s my news stand and my TV combined in one place, accessible from anywhere. Well, basically, it’s just an RSS reader, but it’s all about how you use a tool not what it actually is.
I’m subscribed to 448 different feeds at the time of writing this. Of course, I don’t keep track of all of them at once because I’d have to do nothing else in a day, but you can be sure that if an important piece of news pops out I’ll notice it.
Actually, I don’t believe that there’s any other way of keeping up with different blogs than by subscribing to their RSS feeds. Who has the time to visit each blog individually?
4. Google Calendar
Visit: Google Calendar
Google is quite good at creating great tools. Calendar is yet another great project of theirs. The idea is simple. It’s basically just an online calendar where you can put some notes and set them to given dates and hours. You can also subscribe to some existing calendars not to miss any important events. Like the NFL calendar, for example.
Even though the idea is simple Google did a great job at implementing it. That’s why it’s one of the most important tools for me and thousands of other people worldwide.
5. Synchronize It!
Visit: Synchronize It!
I’m pretty positive you didn’t see this one coming. Synchronize It! is a tool for synchronizing files on different drives, or to put it in plain English – it’s a backing-up tool.
It’s very easy to use. You just have to choose two directories you want to synchronize and hit the play button.
If you don’t see the value yet, let me just say that backing up is one of the most important activities you have to do in your online business. Yes … I mean it!
The day your hard drive fails can be the day your business ends. But if you’re serious about backing up your data that day will never come.
I don’t always have the time to read whatever interesting pops up in my Google Reader, and that is why I use Pocket.
At this point it’s no longer surprising that the simplest tools often turn out to be the most useful. It’s the same story with Pocket. Whenever you stumble upon something worth reading later you just press the Pocket button and it puts this thing on your reading list. When you have some time you can go to your reading list and catch up on the things waiting there.
The tool works as a web browser plugin, but you can also get versions for iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android, and other devices.
This one is obvious, but I needed to include it here anyway. WordPress is the easiest and cheapest solution for anyone who wants to launch any kind of website. Period.
Low budget solutions is what online business designers are looking for round the clock. And WordPress is not only the cheapest solution, it’s the best.
There are myriads of plugins and themes available to adjust your site to fit your needs 100%. No matter what online business you’re building, you can be sure that WordPress will be able to handle it.
8. Windows Live Writer
Visit: Windows Live Writer
Writing content is a mandatory element when running a website. Your opinion may be different, but don’t ever think that people will visit your site just to see what you’re offering. If you want to attract anybody you need content. Content that will give the readers a reason to visit.
Windows Live Writer is what makes publishing content on WordPress sites exceptionally simple. Basically, it’s a remote publishing software. It connects to your WordPress site and publishes a post. But it’s a lot faster, and a lot friendlier environment. Also, you can use it to post to multiple blogs, and you can write your posts offline, and only connect to the internet when sending the posts.
Lastly, unlike most Microsoft tools it is free.
Since we’re talking about writing I have to mention Penzu. It is an online journal tool. I said it many times and I’m going to say it again: writing a journal is a superior way of improving your writing skills.
Penzu is an easy to use tool that provides you with a friendly environment to write your journal entries and have them organized into a neat catalog. If you decide to sign up for a pro account you can customize your entries even further and include things like photos and other rich media.
10. Market Samurai
Visit: Market Samurai
This is the ultimate online marketer’s tool. There, I said it. Even though I had to pay $97 to get it I still think that it was one of the best spend $97 ever. Some of the things it can help you with: market research, keyword research, competition analysis, content searching, finding backlink opportunities, and more.
Actually, I already did an extensive Market Samurai review a while ago, so feel free to check it out.
11. Google Analytics
Visit: Google Analytics
One final Google tool on the list. I’m sure it’s not surprising for you to see it here. Google Analytics is free, powerful, and easy to use.
If you have a website, and if you’re an online business designer then there’s no other more cost effective solution for you to know what’s going on on your site, in terms of traffic and raw data.
I’m sure I don’t need to pitch Google Analytics to you because you already know what it is. The only reason why you might not be using it already is that you think that it’s too difficult to set up. Actually, it isn’t. It just takes a couple of minutes, and various tutorials provided by Google themselves guide you through the whole process.
This is the final tool on this list, and first Twitter tool at the same time. Twitter itself can be a little time consuming and difficult to follow at some times. There’s a lot going on there especially if you’re following a lot of people.
On the other hand, going to Twitter to publish a tweet is not the most time effective approach either. This is where Buffer comes into play.
The main idea behind the tool is simple. It’s basically a buffer for tweets. It lets you schedule your tweets to be posted in the future. This makes sense if you like to take care of your tweets all at once and have them scheduled for the whole week, for example.
What Buffer also provides are some analytics tools. You can monitor things like: your reach, number of clicks your tweets receive, number of re-tweets, mentions, and favorites.
This concludes the list of my 12 favorite tools ever. I’m curious to know what your favorite tools are. What’s on your list of can’t-live-without tools in terms of online business?