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Computer screen showing software tools and desk showing busy working tools (note pad, etc)Ahhhhh, technology. It's a blessing when you have the right combinations and a curse when you don't. It's taken me a fair few years to get this combination working for me but now that I have it, I'd never go back.

So what do I use?

Well, I get asked this question all the time, so here we go - a blog that explains it all!
 
Just in case you're wondering, I'm not an affiliate for any of these products, which means that I'm not making any money by telling you about them - I just believe in them and they're working wonders for me - so please get in touch if you want any more info on how and why they work so well for me!

Let's start with the most important thing, the hardware.

First things first, I'm an Apple girl through and through. Windows kills me. I just can't do it.

I had to use it for years when I was in the corporate world but the first chance I had to ditch it and move across, I did it and never looked back.

I have a MacBook, (with a large, non-Apple monitor so I can have two large screens to work from), an iPad (lightweight, awesome for meetings and taking notes on the run), and an iPhone (my right hand man/device - don't know what I'd do without it) and I can't rave highly enough about them.
 
They're always synced, virus free, intuitive and easy to use.
 
I taught my 65+ year old parents how to use them and after struggling with Windows products for years they've taken to them like ducks to water. My dad is now the Google master and Skypes me on a regular basis. I tell you. Nothing short of a miracle. (Yes yes, I realise Skype is a Microsoft product, it's one of the few I actually can deal with!)

Right. Now down to the software that I use on all these devices.

Communications and Staying Organised

  • Gmail: email and calendar, all in one. It captures all my email addresses so I don't have to be in and out of different platforms and again, it doesn't matter what device I'm on, they're synced across the lot of them. So easy to use, and as I'm a Mac girl, so easy to work with!
  • Calendly: synced to my gmail calendar and embedded into my website, so so so easy for clients to book meetings with me. No more phone tag or email tennis, I just send them to a page on my website, that automatically syncs to my gmail calendar - so - I never have to worry again about trying to find a spot for a client - they do the finding for me, and always at a time that suits me! The upgraded version of Calendly is awesome as it allows you to have different appointment lengths available, and you can set automatic reminders, ask your clients questions before they book in, the functionality is awesome! Check out my booking page here to see it in action.
  • Skype: for all my client calls - video or audio, depending on the situation and the connection available!
  • Asana: my to do list, on steroids, synced everywhere. I love it. No more email tennis or lost communications. It's an easy to use project management tool for normal people. Awesome! I have different 'projects' like 'editorial calendar', 'to do list', 'business planning', and I have different team members (my web developer, my designer, my digital marketing strategist) invited into the project so that we can share what's going on in all the various aspects of my business. Every 'task' is sortable, you can assign people to it if it's their responsibility, we can set due dates and archive tasks that are finished. Every task update is emailed too, so I'm always on top of what's going on with my team - and the thread automatically updates when you 'reply' to an email - so all the information is kept in one place - no more trying to find that illusive email! I also use it with a NFP Organisation I'm the Vice President for - and it has really helped us work together as a team, with our document storage and keeping everyone in the loop regarding all communications. Highly recommended tool for any small-medium sized business!
  • Evernote: where I store all my tech manuals, blog drafts, client notes and inspirations. Sort of like an old fashioned filing system for ideas I don't want to lose, and notes that I need to keep on client activities. It's easily searchable, expandable, and syncs across all my devices so I can access the information wherever I am. Brilliant.

Content Creation

  • PowerPoint: for creating the slides that back my videos. Check out this video to see what I mean (fast forward to the 1 minute 20 mark if you want to see the presentation in action!) Yes, yes, another Microsoft product, but it's an oldie and a goodie.
  • Prezi: an awesome alternative to Powerpoint if you want something really interactive. Check this blog post out to see it in action.
  •  iPhone 6: to record the video. All the videos on my site have been taken with an iPhone 6, on a tripod - simple!
  • iMovie: to edit the videos.
  • Screenflow: to capture the powerpoint presentations that I embed into my videos.
  • WordPress: to create this website on, which is also the platform for my course
  • Beaver Builder: the plugin that allows me to create beautiful pages - I struggled with coding for 2 years before my amazing developer showed me this plug in - horrific name, but the functionality is AMAZING - allows me to create forms that link to Mailchimp, or directly to email, change the background of sections of the pages, create columns, all in a drag and drop interface - no need to buy fancy lead page or webinar software - it does it all for yoU! Check out the 4 PILLARS page to see its capabilities - simply gorgeous!
  • YouTube: to host all my videos, and to stream my webinars from.

There are about 5856465 plugins that I use on my website so I won't go into all of them here but if you'd like to know which ones I use on my site for specific functions, leave a comment in the thread below and I'll add them in!

Social Media

Something I've been dabbling in for a little while, and have just hired a Digital Marketing Strategist to help me figure out. Currently I'm using:

  • Facebook: for the forums, the communities and the general abundance of support that comes from being in groups of like minded people. Don't know what I'd do without it! It's the community forum for my 4 PILLARS Course, and I also have a public community where the 12 Day Challenge takes place on a regular basis called Create Real Change - join us if you feel so called! We're a community of likeminded change makers who regularly discuss education and training tips and tricks to getting a more engaged and motivated group of learners
  • YouTube: I have a channel, and it's where all my videos are hosted.
  • LinkedIn: more for professional referrals, I'm yet to get stuck into the community side of things there.
  • Twitter: I'm a non-tweeter who doesn't really understand this land of hashtags and @ symbols - it's my mission this year to understand and start using it more often!
  • Instagram: have only just started.... I'm getting there....

Advice for people starting out

There's never been more apps, plug ins, software and hardware choices out there - so be gentle on yourself!
 
Find businesses that operate along the same lines as what the vision for your business is, and reach out! Ask for help! So many of us have had horror stories that we wouldn't want anyone else to go through - so - ask for advice on which platforms, apps, devices and plugins are the best for your specific requirements.
 
When all else fails, hire someone who has been where you're wanting to go - and exploit them and their knowledge - priceless really when compared to wandering around clueless in the sea of digital options that await you! I don't know what I'd do without my developer, Michelle Millichip - she's a tech genius who always knows the solution to the problem that I'm having!

Any more questions?

Hope this has helped - if you have any other questions about this article, please ask in the comments section below!

Guest blog article written by Maria Doyle. For more tips and to learn how to Create Quality Learning Experiences for your audience head over to her website.