The BEST Online Business Tools For 2021
I have soo many business owners that are part of this lovely Mindful Parenting Tribe, who have been asking me where I get some of my resources, so I thought I would share all my BEST BUSINESS TOOLS with you.You LOVE sharing your KNOWLEDGE! You have done your training, planned it all out, and are now all set to run your fabulous business, but suddenly you need to also know how to market your amazing classes, products and services!
Well, welcome to the world of being self-employed. You are now a marketing, accounts and business guru. Mmm, maybe not! The reality of leaping into this world is that we have to know so much in order just to get people to our classes, or in fact, even find out about us.
It does not need to be. I have been running a successful Wellbeing Centre as well as baby yoga and massage classes for nearly 16 years, I have been where you are.
It has changed so much over the last 5 years, the digital world has completely changed how any local business operates. Including not only how we run but more importantly how people actually find us. The last year has seen the digital world explode! From classes on zoom to coaches now offering full online courses, there is a space for you and your business in this marketplace. This is only going to grow. So get the right online business tools for 2021, to get your business where you want it to be - in front of your ideal client.
This is how marketing has changed for most of us small businesses. Where 16 years ago it was all about the flyers, posters, local magazines and groups. Now, no matter where you are you need some form of an online presence. I am not here to talk you through all the elements that it is possible to have online, but rather I thought I would share some simple tips and pointers of the great software and companies that work for me. All of which can make a difference to YOUR business.
I set up my Wellbeing Practice 17 years ago, quickly followed by my baby massage and baby yoga business (Buddha Buddies). I have a local base and wanted to get people to know about me and not only come to my classes, but also tell others about me too. When I set up my first website I was the only person in my area (for about 20 miles), so getting into search engines was pretty easy. Now, SEO is a minefield all of its own. My classes now run smoothly with the help of good systems and consistent marketing. All of which is online!
My online business has been a real labour of love during 2020, starting from just a passion to share more Mindful Parenting tools with the world, I am now speaking in rooms on Clubhouse, running zoom classes for corporate teams and launching new digital products! One thing I know - without the right tools, it would ALL have been much more difficult and hugely time consuming.
Learn about Marketing
First things first. Marketing is a huge topic! Where do you start? Well, my first recommendation would be to follow the amazing Claire Mitchell, over on her platform TGMB. She has literally doubled my profit! By following lots of her advice and tips and creating a proper marketing plan, I have not only increased my profit but also freed up more time to spend with my family. She currently has an awesome membership that includes; classes on pretty much every platform you will need, how to create your business vision and set clear marketing and business goals. It really is a one stop shop for all you will need to start and continue to grow.
You may not feel that you need a website. Perhaps you have such a strong following on Facebook or Instagram that you feel it is not worth the effort. I would disagree. I think that the majority of people looking for classes, courses, products and especially coaching will want to check out a website. It also provides the perfect platform to keep your timetables and events. I moved my Wordpress websites to a great hosting site called Siteground 3 years ago. Mainly because not only could I host upto 6 websites in one package, but also because they offered a migration service and you can also create an instant ‘copy’ of your site, which enables you to work on the copy and then push to live once your changes are made. This way you are never working on your live site, so (if like me) you end up deleting something vital, you can always revert back to the original version. This is great if you have Wordpress sites and the features and support make it a really great combo.
Type of Website
I have my Buddha Buddies website and my Wellbeing Centre website on Siteground with Wordpress. However, for this Mindful Parenting website I wanted a site that could grow with me. You know the plans, products, memberships, forums etc. I spent 6 months researching pretty much every platform and ended up with Simplero. I love it. Not only can it do everything I want, but it has the best online support I have EVER known. I don’t think I’ve waited more than 2 hours for a response to a question in 18 months! Usually with a helpful little video to show you what to do.
if you love the way this site works, then do check out there pricing. It has a great structure, so you can start with just a small investment until you are ready to add in more features.
WARNING - there is no such thing as ‘free’, in the website world. Understand now, you will need to spend some money on your website. It might seem that these sites that are just £9.99 a month are great but you work out the extras (email forwarding, hosting, membership add on etc) and multiply that by 3-4 years, you are now looking at hundreds of pounds. I know from experience that moving websites is a pretty painful experience, so take your time. Do your research and think of all the features you are planning to want.
Online Classes And Courses
If you are looking to develop more of an online class or courses business, then I think that of all the platforms out there I would once again still choose Simplero . I spent weeks researching which one did what, and my conclusion was that Simplero did it all, was the easiest to use and also has the best customer support I have ever come across!
Designing Your Own E-Books, Courses and More
I have spent many hours over the years, putting my designer hat on. Last year I was lucky to then find the amazing Amber Chalus from Biz Sister. To say that her work has saved me days, is not an exaggeration!
I have designed E-books, workbooks and Toolkits using her fab templates. You can see some of the work below. Buy them once, then edit in Canva and use again and again. She also has one of the most useful Facebook Groups for small businesses looking for help with design.
I use many different apps (one for another blog I think), but the ONE design tool you REALLY NEED is Canva. They have a great FREE version, which is perfect for getting started. The pro version gives you lots of extra's which you will need as you move along but the free one is still great.
You are building your client base up, people are coming back and also telling their friends too! Great, now how do you stay in touch? Facebook groups have their part to play but email is still the number one method of keeping in contact with everyone. On my Wordpress sites, I use Mailchimp, it is a great programme that allows you to make things as simple as you want or add in complex automation and chains of emails. It is so adaptable and unless you are going to have tens of thousands of names it is very cost-effective too. There is even a free plan, which is perfect for getting you up and running.
Facebook groups are a great way of really engaging with your audience. You may have heard that the recent changes to the Facebook algorithm have left pretty much all businesses with much lower engagement on their business pages. I still use my Facebook Business pages and although my numbers are small, I know that my posts are seen by my customers.
The love of creating lots of images can really start to get you down. Thinking of what to post, dates that are important and how to keep your brand the same. I love using the Social Media Sensation Bundle from Claire Mitchell, is is so well priced and you can edit every part of every image in Canva!
Buy once, use again and again! Perfect and it will save you hours over a year!
I am sure you know that when creating your social media posts, or website images that you cannot just pull images from google? You MUST either use copyright free photos and videos, or purchase images. I have found that the most cost effective way of doing that is to use a membership site. There are two that I would highly recommend, as not only do they cover images but also templates too;
Styled Stock Society
Gorgeous images and templates, as you can see from the image below!
The other lovely designer I use is Alicia from PixiStock, her images have a different vibe, so I like to mix them up!
As someone who loves to put out videos (and lets face it, you know they are a great way to connect), I have used lots of different software to add in subtitles. My favourite by far is Happy Scribe. There are better transcriptions out there, but the fact you can edit it, change the colour of your subtitles and pay monthly makes is a winner for me.
You can grab your own monthly plan HERE
Pinterest is a great platform to get your message and what you offer out there. The reach is global but you can also hone that into your local area. Also, if you blog or write articles for others it is the perfect way to share. It is such a visual search engine that for us in the Yoga & Mindfulness arena, we can really create eye-catching 'pins'.
Scheduling Social Media
The key to most of the social media is to have a plan, even if it is for a week and schedule your posts or pins. Whether you use Facebook, Intagram, Twitter or Pinterest. There are lots of scheduling tools out there. I use the integrated scheduling tool in Facebook to post to Facebook and Instagram. Keeping Tailwind for Pinterest, where I schedule at least a month at a time. Then I set up my Facebook page to automatically post to Twitter and also my home page on my website (helps keeps your content fresh).
Start scheduling, it will save you ALOT of time!
Putting it together
I know that you want to share your love of what you do. Do not let the 'business' side of things take over that passion. Keep things simple and automate whenever you can. It takes time and often some money to start but will keep your marketing and presence going. Continuity is the key. If you have a facebook page, make sure you post regularily. If you have a website make sure your class timetable is always up to date.
(there are affiliate links here, but you know that I only EVER recommend people and products that I use and love)
I wish you all the luck in the world - keep doing what you are doing. Share with passion and lets all work together to make this world a little brighter every day. I would love for you to connect with me. So do join the mailing list you can also grab the FREE AFFIRMATIONS, which I just know you are going to love!