My Toolbox

I am often asked about the tools I use on a regular basis in my personal and professional life. This list is a peek into my world of tools and resources. Any of these listed I use on a regular basis and would recommend to you. (This list is updated as I make changes or adjustments.)

digital toolbox

Hosting and Domains

  • GoDaddy:  This is currently where all of my websites are hosted, including I Am Jenn. It is also from whom I purchase domains. I have a subscription to the Discount Domain Club, and it allows us to save bundles each year on all domains (.coms, .nets., .orgs., etc). If you are a domain hoarder purchase or own a number of domains, I highly recommend this option. (Use referral code wowjennper and get 35% off your order)

Web Browser

  • Chrome: This is my all-time browser of choice. It’s a cleaner page. I believe that it is overall faster than other options. I have my Chrome customized with apps and extensions that I use on a daily basis. With a click of a button, I can quickly make something happen. This alone saves me a lot of time throughout the day. 

Blogging

  • WordPress: At this point, there is no other platform that I would personally recommend to someone considering starting a blog. WordPress is a powerful platform, yet very easy to use. While there are thousands of themes available, I would encourage you to consider one from Studio Press, Theme Forest, or Elegant Themes. I have personally worked with many themes from these companies and have had great success.
  • Akismet: The plug-in helps to control spam. Without it, I can work myself to death monitoring spam comments. And my readers too will work themselves to death having to login every time to leave a comment.
  • Google Analytics: Used to track unique visitors, page views, bounce rate, and a number of other reports. If you are a blogger or business owner, you are probably familiar with GA. If you aren’t, I recommend signing up for a free account and getting familiar. It offers a wealth of information for you about your readers.
  • Yoast SEO: The Yoast SEO plugin helps to improve your site’s SEO on all needed aspects. An upgraded version is available; Yoast SEO Premium plugin (formerly known as WordPress SEO by Yoast Premium) will add even greater value to your site with its features. This plugin allows you to redirect old URLs to new ones.
  • LiveWriter – Jolanthe introduced me to this years ago, and I have never gone back. I have had a few minor issues, but after uninstalling/re-installing, I have been good to go. This is great for drafting blog posts, especially when traveling. It offers basic photo editing tools within the program. You can also save different text templates, which allows you to add repeat code to posts simply (i.e. signatures, affiliate links, etc.)

Social Media

  • Buffer: This is one of those tools that is too easy not to use. With the upgraded account (which I highly recommend), you can easily customize your schedule for each day of the week, add tweets, and you are off! You can add accounts from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn – and now even Pinterest!
  • HootSuite: I often use Hootsuite as my Twitter dashboard, especially during Twitter chats and parties. It can also currently be linked to your Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
  • Bit.lyThis is a great tool that allows you to shorten a long URL, share it, and then track the usage

Productivity

  • Google Calendar: And this is my brain online. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t happen. Sad but true. I have a master Google Calendar and share relevant tasks with anyone involved. This too is color coded based on the type of task. For example, phone calls and meetings are colored RED. As well as tagged to send a reminder text to my phone.
  • Freshbooks: This is my accounting software. For all the years I have been in business, I have been a fan of QuickBooks. The version of Quickbooks I own became pretty outdated, so I switched to the online version. It quickly became expensive. I was recommended Freshbooks by a friend, and have not looked back. It is clean and simple to use, and very affordable. Since my accountant and I are the only ones who would need access to all things financial for my company, I do not have the need for the Mighty Oak version.
  • Gmail: I have no idea how I ever functioned without all of the filters and whistles Gmail offers. I easily set up folders for clients and all-things-life projects. I too have filters galore in place so I never have to handle an email twice and the delete button remains my good friend. As it should for anyone. Regardless what email service you use.
  • Trello: This is a task management system I was introduced to a couple of years ago. Currently, I use this to track and assign detailed tasks for clients. Lists can be categorized, deadlines can be assigned, reminders can be emailed to my team members. Different boards can be shared with different groups of people (or an individual) under one account. (If you are just getting started with Trello, they have a great resource board.)
  • NotePad: This is my brain a lot of days. I even wrote about how I use it here. It’s my digital pen and paper, for everything from client notes to blog post ideas to “Don’t forget to pick up {my child} at {whatever o’clock}.”
  • Excel: All things in life should be color coded. And charted. And most {important} things in life I put into an excel spreadsheet. I took a class in college about how to use Excel to its fullest, and have been a fan since. It’s almost like my second language.

Photography and Videography

  • PhotoShop: It’s all the rave and it has earned its title. With all the bells and whistles needed for editing, it’s worth the investment if you are serious about photography.
  • Lightroom: Here’s where I am 100% honest with y’all: I have owned this product for a couple of years and have used it a maximum of twice. It’s fabulous and much easier to use than PhotoShop. But unfortunately, old habits die hard. Enough said.
  • PicMonkey: This is probably my most-often go-to program for quick and easy edits. I have the upgraded version that offers more fonts, filters and other options. For $33 a year, and considering I use it almost daily, I would say it’s well worth the investment.
  • Canva: This is another easy-to-use photo editor. It offers more templates than you will ever need, including the most current templates for your social media platforms. It allows you to upload your own images, but also gives you access to the Canva library – where you will find 1M+ stock images and illustrations – most for purchase for a nominal fee.
  • Pixabay – Offers 100s of 1000s of attribution-free images and illustrations from which to choose.
  • Splitshire – Offers beautiful, high-quality images with no copyright restrictions.

Read: Stock Photos for Bloggers

File Sharing

  • DropBox: I use this to share files with everyone – work and personal. I have this downloaded on all of my devices. DropBox is my answer to toting an external hard drive with me everywhere (which I still do with some files). DropBox is an especially great tool for current or ongoing projects. DropBox syncs automatically with all devices.
  • Google Docs: I am a big fan of Google Docs. When a shared document is edited, no saving is needed. All parties involved see only the updated version. This beats the heck out of emailing a document back and forth, only for someone (AKA me) to get confused about ‘which is the latest version.’

Email Management

  • RoblyIt’s the bomb. It’s designed and run by humans like every other email marketing service. But what sets Robly apart? Their top-notch customer service. Hands down. They have added features in recent months comparable with other big named competitors – such as auto-responders. They offer a couple of other unique features that help to add that much more value to your brand. Do I recommend Robly? You better believe it.
  • MadMimi: I use this service for a few clients and know many who use it as well. Overall, I am very pleased. It is very user friendly for anyone (drag and drop) and offers basic analytics. I too expect this company to add additional features in the near future.
  • WiseStamp: This is the tool I use for my signature for all of my email accounts. It is easily customized for each email address and has a professional look and feel. It also allows you to easily add apps to your signature.

Miscellaneous Tools I Use

  • Snipping Tool: I use this tool (often) for screen captures. It’s very simple to use
  • SnagIt: This program also offers a screen capture capability with a lot more tools than the Snipping Tool. While the Snipping Tool does all I need it to for screen captures, I purchased this program to create screen-casts.

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