Just saying the word technology scares many people and the thought of technology tools can send one into a panic! But in this article we will focus on the basics. Even though I’ve taken a deep dive into using technology, recording a number of music albums, I still look to simplify my use of the tools.
With my overall aim of simplifying my life and working more remotely between appearing in both live and virtual events, I want the tools that I keep in my virtual toolbox to work seamlessly. Of course, that doesn’t always happen, but for the most part I’ve tested them quite thoroughly!
As we look forward to a new year, and who hasn’t with the year we’ve just been through in 2020, I will share some of the basic technology tools that I use constantly. I’ll also give a couple tips that may help you apply them. I look for technology tools where I can apply automation to free up my time. I will put links within this episode to some of my favorites.
Technology Tool 1: Email Platform
This is a basic standard I feel every small business needs. There are many email platforms available from Constant Contact, MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, Convertkit and many others. I use AWeber. For years I used the GoDaddy newsletter format until they didn’t provide the type of connection I needed for my membership platform.
One thing that worked quite nicely when I transferred email platforms was that I could download all my previous articles. Although now, I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a writer and don’t even refer to them! Since most platforms are similar, and have free levels with a small list, I encourage you to start now!
Choose a template and start writing! Even if you just have an update or two, try it out. You should also be able to send a preview to yourself. Check every link. You can do this with the preview. There are also content creators who will create content for you. But I encourage you to use your own voice, then hire an editor or someone to format emails if needed.
Technology Tool 2: Canva
Canva has expanded the ability to create easy and quick graphics for many entrepreneurs. As one who used Photoshop for years, I have loved this simple tool. It’s easy to use and they keep adding new features that were very difficult for the novice to use on a platform like Photoshop. One of those features is the background removal tool, with just the click of a button.
Anyone who has removed background from a photo on another program like Photoshop understands the value of this tool! Also, there are many templates included in Canva, including specific ones for social media sites and PowerPoint presentations. You can also create a custom sized graphic with transparent background, or even a booklet. (see accompanying booklet for Halftime Success Summit)
I had a free account for years and recently upgraded to the pro level and it has been well-worth it. I’ve created multiple PDF downloads for my events, many PDF lead magnets and even a yearly calendar. Most realize that a program like Canva does have limitations, but it’s a great option. Many professional graphic designers will be on Photoshop or a program like Adobe Illustrator.
Technology Tool 3: Social Media Scheduler
Using a virtual assistant to schedule much of your social media becomes much easier with a scheduler like Buffer. I have a basic Buffer account where I can schedule memes and posts on all my main social media sites except my personal Facebook page. You can only schedule posts on your public or group pages where you are administrator.
There are many platforms similar to Buffer, including Hubspot and others. It is usually free to start and even continue with a limited number of posts and accounts.
Technology Tool 4: WordPress Website Theme
I have multiple websites as I’ve written musicals and have both speaking and music areas of my business. When first creating my DJWorksMusic website, I hired a small company for thousands of dollars to create it using .html. As I expanded to create my other websites, I learned how to use a program called Dreamweaver, also using .html. It was fairly technical and had quite a steep learning curve.
When WordPress came along with the .php format, letting you immediately edit pages, I switched over and it became so much easier! I did hire some of the tech work to make that actual switch, which was extremely helpful and what I suggest for many. Most anyone can do simple edits on their own website with a good theme. One of my favorites is Thrive Themes, along with Thrive Architect.
Even though there are some challenges, it is a wonderful platform where I can use ready-made professional templates, not only for web pages but for my online courses. There are other similar platforms, as Elementor but I’ve found Thrive Themes to work extremely well for me where I can edit any page anywhere at any time. With maintaining five websites, I can make immediate updates and am not paying steep developer fees.
Technology Tool 5: ZOOM
In 2020 ZOOM has become a household word. I’m assuming most are familiar with this online technology tool, although I’ve also learned not to assume anything! You may be familiar with the tool and even used it, but not maximized its use. There are so many possibilities to expand your reach, your communication and even your products by even using the free version.
I only had the completely free version when I created the Halftime Success Summit. I interviewed 14 amazing women, all on ZOOM, then edited the side-by-side video I had saved on one of my hard drives. Since I work with Final Cut Pro video editing software, I was able to do my own editing, but there are free tools available for editing and you can also hire this job out. (which I would suggest if you are challenged in this area! It’s labor-intensive!) Two helpful videos: Creating an Online Course & Master Class Using ZOOM and How B2B Businesses can use ZOOM Video to Work Remotely.
Technology Tool 6: Membership Platform & LMS (optional)
I have used a program called Digital Access Pass for a number of years and love it. (DAP) This software platform has grown exponentially, even expanding to now include a Learning Management System (online learning) and quizzes. With DAP, I can create forms for all my free lead magnets, webinars and online courses.
DAP is a WordPress plugin and if you’d rather have your online courses off-site, there are many options including Kajabi, Thinkific, Teachable and others. Be prepared for monthly fees, whether or not you sell any products. Whatever you decide, I advise you to pay whatever it takes to obtain great customer service. It doesn’t matter what platform you use, there’s still a learning curve.
You will hear many varying opinions this time of year. I suggest you don’t let yourself be overwhelmed. See what is working for you right now, then add one small thing at a time. Taking little steps that are focused and solid will get you where you want to go. Read Atomic Habits by James Clear.
For more resources and ideas, check out my Resource Page. On this page are many links that will help you check out even more products. Most products are tools that I have used or presently use. Enjoy and remember, technology should end up freeing you up, not tying you down!
If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning