Ep 118 | Tools We Can't Live Without
In today’s episode, I share with you the tools we can’t live without. These are tools that our organization has been using for our project management, website management, legal stuff, graphic design, communication, and marketing. Tube in to find out more!
What You'll Learn:
- Project management tools
- Time management tools
- Website management tools
- Graphic design tools
- Communication tools
- Affiliate marketing tools
- Email service tools
Want to skip ahead? Here are some key takeaways
[05:39] Project management tools
[08:34] Website and legal tools
[11:56] Graphic design tools
[15:56] Video creation tools
[24:05] Affiliate marketing tools
Your Online Genius*
Creative Suite by Adobe
*this page contains affiliate links. That means if you chose to purchase through these links we may receive a small commission. We are only affiliates of programs that we ourselves use.
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Hey, everybody, welcome to another episode of the Digital Marketing Therapy podcast. My name is Sami Bedell-Mulhern and I'm your host for these wonderful episodes. And so thankful that you're here joining me today.
We did an episode way back with Episode 17, where I talked about some of the tools that we can't live without in our business. And I'm talking about the kind of software set the tech stack that we use. And I realized it's been a while since we've done that, and some of the episodes and some of the tools that we use are the same a lot of them are. But then we've got some new ones that we've added to the mix. And so I just wanted to share how we kind of keep our team moving, how we stay productive, how we promote some of the things that we're doing, how we manage some of the things that we're doing. In case you're looking for something similar, I do have to make a little disclaimer that we are affiliates for some of the programs that you'll hear about here. But if you head on over to the show notes at thefirstclick.net/podcast, you can check that all out. We'll have all the links to all these software as well as some of the information around them.
So I just wanted to share kind of what tools we can't live without how we're managing them and what we use them for. I know that when I see a company doing something really cool, I'm always, you know, curious, how do they do that. And I understand that in the nonprofit space, some of these might not be relevant to you. However, I know that we encourage you guys all the time to think about your business. Or think about your nonprofit as a business not as a nonprofit, not for profit. And to really kind of think outside the box when it comes to keeping people engaged with your organization and keeping people coming back and creating some fun experiences for them. So I wanted to share these all with you in case some of them pick your interest or get you thinking creatively about some fun things that you can do and kind of how we are using these to do some fun things ourselves. Okay?
So before we jump into all of my favorite tools, this episode is brought to you by our private Facebook community, you can join us at facebook.com/groups/firstclick. We have great conversations there, I share additional tips, resources, and tools inside of that group. And just a lot of nonprofits that are trying to do the same thing you are. Grow their business or grow their organization online, get more visibility for the causes that you are supporting and working towards, and find new ways to hit those fundraising goals. So that's what we're here to do. And that's the place to join us. So facebook.com/groupsthefirst click. But for now, let's get into the episode.
[INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Badel Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.
So being a digitally run business with team members all over the place, as I'm recording this, we have myself who's currently kind of all over the place, but by the time you listen to this, we'll be fully settled in our new home in Minnesota. We have Berkley who is our web developer, graphic designer, and podcast editor. He is in the process of moving but lives on the west coast. And we have a virtual assistant team that helps us with all sorts of things. And they are located in Houston, Texas. And we are definitely planning on adding to our team this year. And the beauty of it is we are kind of all over the place into different time zones. And we can all still work really well together. Having these tools that I'm going to talk about really, really helps with that.
We also have a smaller team. And I like it that way. I don't have goals to have a huge, massive team for my business. And so some of these tools also help us automate, help us keep things moving forward and keep us working together. So that we don't have to work so hard and that we can maximize our effectiveness, our time, all of those things, right.
So you're gonna hear a combination of tools today, and I'm excited, I'm excited for you to hear from you kind of what is more kind of what jumped out at you, what tools you didn't think you were out there, what tools maybe you're going to be implementing with your team. I also want to put a disclaimer here before I jump into any of them that you don't need to add any of these if your team is functioning great if you're working well. If you're, you know the flow is good and you've got a great organization, don't feel the -need to add something because that can add more work. Also, don't add tools that serve the goals of what you're trying to accomplish, right? So some of the tools that you're going to hear about today are promotional based. And if you're not trying to do those things, then don't have that tool just because we're using it doesn't mean you need to.
So with that like I mentioned Episode 17, we did this same thing. And I shared I think, like 10 tools and a couple But well, 11 tools and a couple bonuses. So I'm going to go through those categories again, and kind of share which ones we are still using, which ones we've changed from and kind of why maybe we have done that. Okay. So the first thing on my list is always project management, how do we keep track of goals? How do we keep track of projects that we're doing all the things, and the tool that we use for that is ClickUp.
And that has been true for quite some time. I'm in love with it, we are working on using it a little bit more and integrating more of the features. But I really like that it kind of combines a bunch of tools into one. So it has chat functionality. It has task management. It has goal setting. So you can set different campaigns for your organization and say, Okay, well, you know, we want this goal to hit this much. Here's the tasks that are assigned to that. And you guys can kind of celebrate together, the tasks that you've accomplished and the dollars that have gone towards that goal. So I think ClickUp is a great tool.It allows me to add images and spreadsheets and all the things so ClickUp is really our project management of choice and has been. So that is something that has not changed.
Um, from a time tracking standpoint, we love toggle. And that has not changed, we still use toggle. And this is helpful so that all of our team members can track their time, let us know what clients they're doing work for. So I know how to invoice out at the end of the month, but also for different projects. So even within my business, like I can track how much time we're spending on podcast stuff. I can track how much time we're spending on different campaigns that we're putting out there or, you know, programs that we have. So we can really think about what is the cost of these different programs? And how are we best promoting them? Are we making money off of them? Are our fundraising campaigns actually generating money, or are we spending more time on staff and fun, to get them up the door? So toggle is a great one. That's toggle.
And I should note that toggle and click up both have great free plans. So they're not something that can be costly. And they both have great web apps and phone apps that you can use in order to take it with you wherever you go. So if you're at a meeting, whatever you can kind of have your team track your time. And we will probably go into another one. I will go into another full on time tracking, I like to do it about once a quarter. I like to pick a quieter month, I like to pick a busier month. And I literally will track every single activity that I do. And I don't have to share it with anyone you can have private time tracking, which is great. And then you can share other projects with your whole team. So you can run reports. But I like to once a quarter kind of see where I'm spending my time so that I can figure out you know how that lines up with the goals that we have for the business and where maybe I as the leader of the company need to be switching it up and putting my time in different places. So toggle, that's our time tracking, that has not changed.
Now, the next section is all about websites. And again, this has not changed for us either. So we are big fans of WordPress. We build every client site on WordPress. And you know, that's definitely something we recommend to a lot of our clients as well. It just gives you flexibility. I really like that it's open-source. So there's so many options. It can be overwhelming with all literate plugins. But really, if you build your site on WordPress, it might take you a little bit more time at the beginning. But it's something that you won't have to redo. You might change some design things and whatnot, but the website can grow with you as you go.
And because of that same philosophy we specifically use Divi, which is a theme by Elegant Themes. It's one of the top themes out there. We love that we can customize it for every single one of our clients regardless of their industry or their cause. It is really easy for us to transfer over to clients because it's a drag and drop visual builder because you can edit text directly in there, it's really easy to add images. So Divi is definitely our go-to and we do have an episode. Oh, we probably need to redo that one to Episode 12 where we talk about why we love Divi. But they have come out with so many more features since then, so I might need to redo that one as well. That's a great reminder.
And then because we host or because we use WordPress, we have to have a hosting company.
Host though, where you purchase your domain is like you know where your website lives, right? Like, that's where what people type in, in order to access your website, your hosting is what keeps the content up, what lets people see your website. And so we choose siteground for that we love it. It's not crazy expensive, they have great speed optimization and website optimization features, they have lots of different things like your SSL certificate, all of that good stuff. So we recommend siteground. And that's what we use for all of our hosting.
Okay. Number six that we did on the last episode was all about graphic design. And so we are using a couple of different things. So we are still using Canva. I love Canva if you're not a graphic designer, it's a great place to get templates to and from everything from social media, to your business cards to your flyers and all the things right. It's wonderful, and they have great print service. It's really fast. It's great quality. So we really love Canva if you need to just get things done. Now, if you have a team, and people that are a little bit more tech-savvy and able to help you out, we also use the Creative Suite by Adobe. In fact, I use Canva, sometimes for small stuff. But Berkley, who I mentioned earlier, all of his stuff is exclusively on Adobe Creative Suite. I am currently recording this podcast in Adobe Audition, which is the recording software inside the Creative Suite. So when I record the intros and outros when I record solo episodes, it's all done in Adobe Audition which is part of that. So you know, it's great, it's not crazy expensive.
And I'm going to sneak a tool in here called TechSoup, which is a website. So I encourage you as a nonprofit if you're not already to register there, because it lists a lot of the software sets and programs and all that that nonprofits can get out of discount. So TechSoup is great for that. And I know Adobe has a program within TechSoup. So check that out. But Adobe Suite had like Photoshop and Illustrator, and you can do movies, and they have all sorts of features. So it's great. So I use Canva, when I want to just get something done quickly. But when we are really going through a campaign, we want things to be really perfect. Everything is done then in Adobe Suite. So that's our graphic design.
For email service, we personally are still on ConvertKit. And email is. So this is different from your Microsoft Office or Google or whatever. And again, going back to TechSoup. I know as a nonprofit, you get Google workplace, which is what it's now called, it might be G Suite, whatever you were used to. But it's now called Google workplace. You get that for free as a nonprofit. And I highly recommend checking that out as your standard email. But ConvertKit is what we use for our email service provider. And so that's how we send out our broadcast like our newsletters or our you know, emails that we want to send out to larger groups of people. We really like ConvertKit. It’s not the cheapest, it's not the most expensive again, I would first take a look at the CRM or the donor database that you're using. They might have an email broadcast tool that you can utilize. But if they don't ConvertKit, it's a great option. We also really love Active Campaign if that's something that you might want to look into.
But really the reason why we love these is the automation is so easy to create. We also really recommend an email program that allows you to pay for people once. So there's some email service providers out there where you pay by the list. So if you have multiple people on multiple lists, you're paying for them more than once, right? We only want to pay for people once. And so that's what I love about ConvertKit and Active Campaign. So definitely check those out. And if you're not doing email marketing, that's a whole nother conversation that you will have to reach out to me. It is, I think, one of the most important things you can do inside of your organization if you're doing it right. So check out ConvertKit and check out Active Campaign. There's lots of them out there.
But yes, I definitely recommend that. We talked about password tracking in the last one, I think you guys probably have your own thing down there. So I'm not going to spend time on that. Um, okay, so video tutorials. So there's a couple of things that we're doing with that. And video tutorials for us can be a couple of things. It can be sending clients information on how to utilize their website. It could be sending you quick little screen shares of things. For not having like, you know, here's how you utilize this product. Or here's, you know, how you create this or whatever.
We also think that nonprofits can be using tools like this to send great little videos. Like hey, here's how you access where you find your donations on our website, or here's, you know, a great, I wanted to walk you through where on the website, you can find this information. So things like that can be great, we use loom for that, which is beautiful. We also have, I know, people that use loom to kind of walk through some bigger contracts. So if you have major gifts, and you need to walk through the specifics of like, Okay, this is what you've agreed to, this is what we are agreeing to this is you know, what is going to happen, when the donation is completed, this is how you are going to transfer stocks, whatever that may be, if you have some more specific long things, and you can't meet in person to put these things together. Loom is a great way to do a screen share. And it can show you a little picture in the corner. So you can still be personal and kind of walk them through in a video style. We also use them as Thank you just to say, Hey, thank you for joining this program. We're so excited to have you here. yada yada yada, yada, yada.
Um, the other program that we're starting to use for that is called Video Ask. And we're using video ask, we're going to start to test using video ask as a portal for people inside of our membership. Our membership hasn't launched yet. But um, in the fall when we open up our membership, it's kind of a way, sorry, if that was probably loud, as a way for members to ask us questions. So they can go in, they can either leave us a video audio or a text question and we can respond to them in a timely fashion. So we're kind of using it, we're gonna test it as a customer service type thing. You could use it as a way for donors or website video visitors to ask you questions, and then you can respond back to them with either video, text or audio, which is great. So that's a new tool that we're using within the video tutorials section as a way to kind of make it more conversational and more engaging.
So the next tool that we talked about in the last episode was how we stream to Facebook. And currently we are not using the tool we were using before and we are using zoom. So we use zoom to stream to Facebook, although more often now we're actually holding our calls in we're not actually streaming. So we'll either go live in Facebook directly or live on Instagram directly and then for Facebook, or I'm sorry for our trainings and things like that we will do just straight-up zoom calls and then record them and put them in the back end of our portal which I should mention we use lifter LMS for our back end portal or learning or where all our courses and what not. So if you are somebody that creates a lot of content, has some courses that are paid or free, whatever, maybe you have resources for the people you serve in order to give them access to things or anything that needs to be gated or locked or not available to the public. We use lifter LMS for that. There's a lot of easier programs out there that you can use if you want but that's what we use and love.
But yes, so first for streaming and for projects and workshops and all that stuff. We are still a zoom company. It's just easy. And we use it almost daily. We use it to record podcasts. We use it for our live q&a. I also use it for tutorials now. So if we have somebody that needs support and training, we record those, they get the recordings, if you participate in our office hours, so our digital marketing therapy sessions, which are 30-minute sessions, those are recorded, those are held via zoom, and then you get the recording. So it's just a way that we contribute to just continue to communicate with people, especially because we have clients all over the country, you probably have donors all over the country, it's just a way for us to not have to use a bunch of tools. Zoom does a lot of that for us.
Okay, so we talked last time about slack as a communication tool, but we still don't want to use slack right now. We use all of that and click up. So I think communication is super important. As we continue to build out our businesses and decide where it's going to go. What's it going to look like now that we're opening up? Are we bringing all of our staff back? Are we putting them, you know, allowing them to come in staggered shifts, like how do we still communicate? I really love what ClickUp has done and their features and their benefits and their upgrades. So check that out. Because it's great to be able to have a full on chat inside of specific projects, as opposed to looking for things in all of the different places.
That is definitely it. I can't, I mean, it's super important. And I love it, I love being able to them. So then on the team communication interaction, one of the other things that we're testing out and starting to work with, and granted, we are not using this super regularly, but we're trying to get there is team flow HQ. And what this is, is a virtual workspace. So you set it up. So it looks like whatever office it is that you want. And then people can be there. You can see your whole team live, it's kind of like maybe your company's using Microsoft Teams. So you can see when people are in there, you can see when they've left you can see what they're working on. You can have conference rooms where it's way easier to share audio and video and screen share. I don't know about you, but it's frustrating when you're trying to just get something done real quick. And you either have to hop on the phone, or you email and you're waiting for the email to come back or you're like, hey, send me a quick zoom link so you can get together. What I love about this, as long as you're in each other's bubble, you can, you know, share video and audio without disrupting everybody else and kind of get those things tackled head on.
So we're starting to play with Team flow HQ, they also have a great free option. Um, the other thing that I didn't mention last time, which is a tool that we have been using for a long time, which is super important to us is Acuity scheduling. So what I love about this is, if we're, you know, reaching out to people to be guests on our podcast, they can just click the link, fill out everything we need, and schedule time with us there based on the availability that we've set. Or if we're doing free 15 minute consultations, you know, clients can find that on our website or customers and they can just book that time with us.
And so, as development professionals, you know, if you are still doing a lot of your calls with zoom, or you are still reaching out to a lot of folks and virtually having this opportunity where you're not going back and forth and say well what time works for you can you meet them or even if you're doing in-person meetings, these are great because they can just book time on your calendar, you can create forms, so that they can give you basic information. There's all sorts of things you can do. We love acuity, it's been a game-changer for us, you do have to make sure you stay on top of your calendar and block things off. So mine syncs with my Google Calendar. So I just blocked things off. When I know I'm going to be out of town or if I know I'm not available so that people can't book that time but you can select you know the availability that you have. So that's a great way to automate and make things super easy.
Some other new tools that we're starting to use. So we use affiliate WP and that's how we track our affiliate marketing. And what an affiliate is, is somebody who sells our products on our behalf.
And I don't know how well this would be used in the nonprofit space, but you know, you could anyway. They sell our products on our behalf and they get a cut of the money. So it runs reports for me every month so I know who to pay out and what to pay them out and allows me to give them access to creative artwork that they can use for promotion and all sorts of things. So if that's something that fits in your business model, I know for a fact it's not okay to pay out people for bringing in a donor or things like that. But something worth looking into if that fits into some sort, of course, model or even if you want to track people in a way that allows them to get credit in some way, shape, or form for people that they bring into the mix. Whether it's enrollment. Whether it's donations, what have you, but affiliate WP is what we use for that, you do need to be on WordPress website for that to work.
From the standpoint of donation pages, we really, really, really, really, really, really love having your donation page embedded on your website. So it looks like it's a part of your website. And for that we've been using WP. They're coming out with new features all the time, it's really sleek, it's simple, and they have lots of options. So we definitely recommend that. Check that out. But normally, most software that you're using, as long as you're not just doing PayPal, we'll give you the option. So take a look at it and check it out. And really, I encourage you to do that, because it just makes it a better experience for your donors. And we see an increase in conversions all the time.
Okay, I have two more tools for you. And one is called Postal. So you've got your donors, and they're great, you know, obviously you want to say thank you or maybe you have just done a great donor initial donor meeting and you want to send them something fun, or you want to send people out birthday coffee, whatever it might be. We're starting to use postal here. Well, by the time this is live, we will be using postal. So I'm super excited about it. But basically what it is is a marketplace. So you can set up things that happen automatically. So you can link it to your CRM or you automatically link to certain ones, but you can also use Zapier, which is a tool I didn't mention but Zapier is a great tool.
We use HubSpot for our CRM, they've synced to HubSpot. So you know, somebody comes into HubSpot as a certain category or a certain type of lead or what have you, it will automatically sync to postal and postal will send them what I've designated. So we are going to start sending our new clients, you know, their choice of marketing books that we love to help them with their journey, you know, we're going to start sending people coffee on their birthdays, they have everything from like Starbucks gift cards to like, you know, really expensive bottles of wine to, you know, fun office, things like notebooks and whatnot to I mean, they have everything. You can even customize your own swag. So we love that we can automate. And we can also do one offs, we love that it can manage our budgets, and we can make sure we're staying in line there. We love that different teams can have different permissions and an opportunity to send things out. So I highly recommend checking that out. We're so excited to work with them on just how we say thank you and how we support and give resources to our clients and how we make them feel special and loved. So check that out.
And then the last one that I want to talk about is Patreon. So we've been doing this podcast, gosh, for a long time. And this is Episode 118. And it's not stopping we're loving it, this is one of my favorite things to create. So we decided that we wanted to uplevel that experience for our listeners, and Patreon is a great opportunity to do that. And there's lots of nonprofits that are using Patreon in great and unique ways. So basically, the platform is free to use, they charge you a percentage of your income, but it's really doable, they process all the funds for you and all that good stuff. Um, and then we're giving away different perks. So you know, you patrons can pay monthly, and, or annually. And then with that each month, they get special bonuses depending on the level that they participate in. So it can be a fun way for nonprofits that are thinking about creating their monthly donor programs to kind of get started and figure out what works, what doesn't, all those kinds of things. But Patreon is a new tool that we're using, it's not a new tool, it's been out there for a long time, you probably have if you have followed some up and coming musicians, they've probably had a Patreon account, as they tried to get more support and kind of raise funds for their craft. So it's really a platform built for creators who are looking to get more visibility and get some support as they, you know, go down the road of being creators. So I'm thinking of if you know, if you're a performing arts center, or if you're like a museum, right early, you know, different levels of patrons might get early access to different works, or they might get busy behind the scenes as you guys are installing new exhibits.
If you're a kids program, maybe they're getting different monthly activities for free that they can do at home. Maybe they're getting an hour of after-school care for free. I mean, you really just the sky's the limit. You can be super creative. I'm not going to tell you yet. Well. By the time you're listening to this, this will be live. I have to say recording podcasts so much earlier now and I will do an episode on how we're batching content because it's so much different than how it used to be. And I'm so excited about it. But you can go to thefirstclick.net/patreon. Check out our account and see the kind of perks that we're offering within our podcast. I'm super excited about it, I'm not going to list them here. Because odds are, they'll change from what's in my head until we actually go live. Has anybody been there before? And yes, I'm all for throwing that out there. What we're doing because it kind of holds us accountable, but we are putting the final touches on it, it's going to be good. But head on over tothefirstclick.net/patreon, you'll be able to see what ours looks like. And then also, while you're there, you can search around and take a look at what other organizations are doing and get inspired.
So that is it. That is a lot of the tools that we are using right now. And it's a few more than what we had way back in Episode 17. And most of them are the same, which I think is a good reminder to keep your stack small and add one thing at a time. And the CRM that is out there. And the databases that are out there for nonprofits are so good that before you really think about adding some of these tools that I'm talking about, figure out if your software does that first. Because a lot of times when you bundle multiple or add additional services and tools to your existing software, it's way cheaper and way quicker to onboard than it is if you are adding a bunch of new things to your system. Okay.
So hit me up, let me know, which is your favorite tool that we talked about? Which one are you so excited to use? And if you're having questions about specific ones, and you want to know kind of how you might be able to utilize this or what the costs are or whatever hit me up, you can do that. firstname.lastname@example.org or in the private Facebook community that we have our nonprofit organizations at thefirstclick.net/groups/thefirstclick.
I hope you'll subscribe wherever you listen to so you don't miss out on a single episode. I am so thankful that you're here. leave us a review if you can. so others can learn more about what we do here and how we support you. We've got some good stuff coming up this year. You guys, I'm so excited. I thank you and appreciate you and I'll see you in the next one.