Best Tools and Tricks For Running an Online Business While Working

tools and tricks onlineI still work full time.  I know – I haven’t made the leap to self employment yet.  But with that being said, side hustling is tough.  And it requires some skills and tools that traditional entrepreneurs don’t have to deal with.

Let me back up a second.  If you didn’t realize it – I run 5 websites (including all the social media jazz and stuff), write for two major publications, freelance write for some other publications, have a wife, raise my son, and work full time 40-50 hours per week.  It overwhelms me a bit writing that, but here I am, at 10pm at night, writing again.

The truth is, I love to write, and I love online business.  I have multiple sites because I get bored focusing on one thing and need to mix it up a bit.  But all of this takes a strategy and tools.

Let me share with you a bit on how I balance it, and some of the tricks and tools I use.

 

The Tricks For Running Multiple Side Businesses

First, I want to start off with the tricks that I use to run multiple side businesses while working full time.  You may be thinking, man, he must be spending a ton of time at work doing this.  In truth, my employer blocks all outside internet for security.  As a result, the only outside access I have at work is my smartphone – and I really can’t do a whole on on it during the day.

But I do have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Outsource

The first thing that I do is outsource as much of the work as I can.  I really try to focus on what I’m best at (and needed for), and that is content.  I do all the content on my main sties – writing it and coming up with ideas.  If a writer does help out, it’s always published under their name or under “Guest”.  If it’s me, it’s me.  I also write all the content I outsource.  But, there are a ton of things that I can outsource.  For example, I can outsource the scheduling of posts, the creating of the artwork for posts, the social media aspect of posts, and more.  I can also outsource the advertising, the dealing with customers, and a lot of the business and marketing stuff.  I’m also looking at outsourcing some of the launch sequence and building of the marketing funnel for some upcoming product releases.  There is a lot that others can do better and more efficient than me, especially since I work full time.

Automate

Next,  automate as much as possible.  I will talk about it more in the tools below, but I automate a lot of my social media – at least the general scheduling of it – using the Blog Post Marketing Plan I created.  I also try to automate the idea creation process as much as possible by repurposing content from my real life.  Finally, I get a lot of the same emails, so I have setup auto-text replies that I use that I can quickly reply with on keystroke.  For other questions, I answer with a blog post so that I can direct all future inquiries to that post.  You won’t believe how much of a time saver that is.

 

The Must Have Tools For Online Business

In order to leverage these tactics, I use a lot of tools to make it happen.  Some are basic, some aren’t so much.  Plus, I will mention that this setup is subject to change, so unless you’re reading this on day 1, I may be trying out or experimenting with something different.  Here’s a brain dump of what I use:

Gmail: I’d be lost without Gmail.  I currently use Google Apps, which is great because it let’s me have all of the various email addresses I use for my sites filter into one single email box.  Then, if I reply, it is smart enough to know to send it back from that address.  I like this setup better than forwarding because it looks cleaner.  Also, I could delegate out my inbox if I wanted to someone else in my organization.

iPhone: Like I mentioned earlier, I can’t access any Internet at work.  So, my only connection to the outside world during the day is my iPhone.  I use it mainly to check email, but also to follow up on social media.  I like to reply and have conversations if possible, and I do that through my iPhone.

Skype: I love Skype – it’s the key way I chat with my designer and a couple members of my team.  It’s also great for interviews.  For my Millionaire Investor series, I use Skype + Call Recorder to have the call and record it.  It frees me up from writing notes and instead lets me have a conversation with my guest.

Evernote: My life is in Evernote.  I use it to keep track of my notes at work and for my websites.  I have created a notebook for each site, and I jot down ideas I have for posts, projects, courses, products, and more.  Anytime an idea hits me, I bust open my Evernote and jot it down.  Then, as I craft my editorial calendar, I look at my topic ideas list in Evernote and put together a bunch of cohesive ideas.

Text Expander: I was a little leery on buying Text Exapander, since it is a paid program that doesn’t do a whole lot – it simply lets you use a shortcut to paste a whole bunch of text into something.  However, it’s now one of the key tools I use daily.  I use it for canned email responses (especially for advertisers), and for sending out mass emails that need to be more personalized.  This is a great tool that has been worth the investment.

Calendar: If it’s not on the calendar, it’s probably not getting done.  If you would have said this to me 3 years ago, I wouldn’t have understood what you meant.  Now, with working on so many projects, online and offline, I have to use my calendar to get things done.  I’m also working to have my assistant help curate my calendar more this year.

Google Drive: Over 2 years ago I started moving as much as I could to the cloud, since I worked remotely a lot of the time.  I would say I only spend 20% of my online time at my desktop – the rest is on my iPhone or iPad.  This required me to have a place where I could always access my documents, especially important ones that I use almost daily.  This led to me Google Drive, which is great for online cloud storage.

Quickbooks Online: Along with my cloud storage, I use Quickbooks Online to handle the business finances.  Once again, because I’m working all over the place, it was getting difficult to keep track of what vendors I needed to invoice, an who had paid what.  Now that I’m using Quickbooks Online, I can do that from anywhere!

Ontraport: This year I switched from Aweber to Ontraport for my email list.  Aweber is great, but it didn’t have enough tools for me to do what I really wanted to do, which was conditional targeting based on user actions.  Plus, it didn’t always integrate nice on my site.  Now, I use this in combination with Lead Pages, to gather email addresses and other contact information.  Now, when a user takes an action, I can send them a tailored response to match that action.

CoSchedule: Another tool I switched to this year was CoSchedule.  When it comes to automating, this is what I use for my editorial calendar so that I can automate the publishing of my posts, as well as the scheduling of my social media.  You can read my review of CoSchedule here.

HootSuite: I still use HootSuite for my interactions on social media, especially Twitter.  I also use HootSuite to allow my assistant to use my other social media accounts as needed.  HootSuite has a great setup that lets you give access to others without having to give up your passwords.

Asana: Another tools that I just started using again is Asana.  This is my task management system that I’m using to keep track of my various projects – especially when it comes to my paid courses and projects.  It helps me keep everything in order, and once again, it’s free to use.

Elance: I love Elance for small projects, and I find a lot of people for odd jobs using Elance.  I’ve found people that help write, help with research, and even help consult on projects.  Elance is great because in hours you can have 10+ people apply for your project, that are all typically pretty well qualified.

Virtual Staff Finder: I’m also a fan of Virtual Staff Finders.  If you’re looking for a virtual assistant, this is a great service that can connect you with some top notch virtual assistants.  If you’re looking for a permanent team member for your business, start here, and then use my Virtual Assistant Guide to get your started.

Fiverr: Finally, there’s Fiverr.  I use this almost monthly for finding really small jobs.  Lately, I’ve been using Fiverr to have icons created or other small graphics.  I’m terrible at graphic design, but for $5 you can’t beat the price.

 

Now you know what tools and tricks I’m using – what do you use?  Anything different that you just love?

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Comments

  1. Excellent list. On, TextExpander … yes it’s a paid software, but don’t you feel like a productivity ninja when you use it?

    I just use the free Chrome plugin version, and it’s awesome! I feel like such a baller … I’m like, all these suckers typing out stuff letter-by-letter. Pssh.

    Hope all is well!

  2. Excellent post, Robert!
    Same for me. I guess I am out of the world if my Gmail and Skype are not functioning well. Gmail serves as my gateway in keeping formal conversation with other people around the wold. With Skype, I mainly use for chatting, doing video calls etc. However, I find Skype a bit distracting especially if you’ve joined several groups and they are doing endless chats. All you can do to make sure you are not tempted to join the conversation is to mute the group and focus on your work.
    By the way, I just read this blog (I guess this was posted recently) on how to become a Skype ninja. I guess this will help others, too, on what to do to make tricks on Skype.
    http://biz30.timedoctor.com/how-to-become-a-skype-ninja/

  3. I so agree with you. I don’t have online business but I guess those tools and tricks really do help you a lot. Keep it up.!

  4. Thank you for sharing your list. I am going to have to check out Ontraport. It is a big jump in price from the tool you have used before, so it must really make a big difference in your business.

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