Behind the Scenes of My Business: Tools I Can’t Live Without

Most of Them are Free

As small business owners with packed schedules we need all the support we can get.

One way that can take the shape is to of outsource things that are not in our zone of genius. Read more on outsourcing here.

Another form of support comes from using online tools that help us maximize our time and productivity.

Here are some of my favorite tools, many of them are free.

These are resources that work well for me; I’m not saying they are the best or that they are what you should use.

But, there are so many options and sometimes that is a problem in itself because you can get overwhelmed and then can’t choose.

So if this post provides some guidance, direction, or an answer to just one question you have about how to move forward with your business then this will have served its purpose.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

In 2002 when I started my business I asked around for the best option and ACT was the answer. So that is what I started with and continue to use today. It’s paid.

Of course, there are many new options available today. Some of them are no cost.

And no matter what platform you choose, the key is to actually implement a system so you can stay in touch with your people.

For more on this check out my post, Why You Need to Keep Track of Your Tribe & How to Do It.

Ezine Provider

There are so many choices in this space and a provider for every need.

Fifteen years ago when I started my business there weren’t a lot of choices.

I’m thrilled that I recently left my old and unsatisfactory provider and am now a happy ConvertKit user. ConvertKit is a paid only service.

I’ve joined their affiliate program and it’s the first time I’ve done this because until now there wasn’t anything I wanted to promote.

If you decide that ConvertKit is a match for you, you’re welcome to use either link below. The affiliate link means I will get a commission from ConvertKit. ConvertKit Affiliate Link or ConverKit No Affiliate Link.

Planning & Productivity

Again, loads of fabulous options here and I choose to go with Asana, I’m using the free version.

This keeps track of all of my projects and things to do and offers many fun features. Plus it’s easy to use.

Website & Hosting

I’m a big WordPress fan and recommend it often.

It’s widely used and has an extremely supportive community around it. And it’s compatible with a majority of related services.

I’m using SiteGround for my website hosting, I recently switched to them. So far, so good.

Information Storage (Your Second Brain)

This one I seriously can’t live without. Evernote is how I am able to easily and quickly find anything I need in my business.

Trust me, the more you use it the more you will see its value. They have a free and paid version.

Find out more about it here.


As you’ve probably heard, video is where it’s at and where it’s going.

You can record videos and you can also broadcast live videos.

If you record videos you’ll probably want to edit them. I use Windows Movie Maker for Windows which is free. And if you’re using a MAC they offer iMovie for free.

For live broadcasts, I use Facebook Live. For more on video take a look here.

Writing & Idea Capture

Dragon Dictation is amazing, it is voice to text software that allows you to talk and it types. The app is free.

This is perfect for writing when you have a few minutes or capturing ideas on they fly. Get the details here.

Headline Creation and Analysis

I use all three of these headline analyzers for every headline I write: CoSchedule, Advanced Marking Institute, and SHARETHROUGH.

Occasionally I also use Portent’s Content Idea Generator which usually makes me laugh out loud and can stimulate creative ideas.

Graphic Design

Canva, oh how I love Canva. And it doesn’t cost a thing. And it’s not hard to use.

You can use it to create social media banners (they have all of the options and sizes all figured out for you).

They have ebook options (for your Valuable Free Giveaway) and presentation templates. And much more.

Social Media Management

I use the free version of Hootsuite. It does everything I need it to.

Social Media Images

I’m just getting started with the free Ripl app and love it. Videos get ranked higher than still images on most platforms so check it out.

The Word Swag app is not free, it’s $4.99 and it allows you to create beautiful, original images.


I don’t have one favorite here because I have used all of these for different reasons. They are all good so you can’t go wrong. They are: Survey Monkey, Typeform, Zoho, and Google Forms.

For more about how to create an effective survey, check out my post: How to Make a Survey that Will Grow Your Business.


I love Jing. You can make a photo or video screenshot. You can also add arrows and text.

Website Traffic Analysis

Google Analytics is beyond incredible and it is totally free.

I get that it can seem intimidating and trust me, once you see what it will tell you about your business it will all be worth it.

If you’re not a techy type, ask someone you know who is to set it up for you. You can thank me later. Get started with this support.

That’s my roundup. I’d love to hear about your favorite tools, please share them below in the comments section. And if you have questions, please ask.

© Stephanie Ward

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