The Tools That Helped Me Generate Thousands of Dollars in Online Sales


August 07, 2017

 

Starting an online business can be difficult.
Finding the tools to help you doesn’t need to be.
Here is a list of online tools that I can't live without.

Top Three Must Haves

Before you dive deep into my review of online tools have a look at the top three that I find most essential. I'm choosing Shopify, Google Drive, and Mail Chimp because without them, I WOULD NOT have been able to start my own business. Why? Because they are the "tool box" that houses all the other fancy shiny equipment. Without a place to organize all your essential tools, how would you be able to find the Philips head when you actually need it?

SHOPIFY!

This is my #1 buddy. Shopify provides everything you need to build an online business. It covers all bases from creating a beautiful website to selling online, you're even reading a Shopify generated blog post. WOOP WOOP! My favorite function of Shopify is the “abandoned checkout” function. They have a pre-populated email that links back to your users cart. You click one button and Shopify sends an email to encourage your “almost” customer to come back and purchase. That email includes pictures and prices of the products they left behind. So nice!

Google Drive

This app is like a huge freight container which shelves and labels all of your content. Remember filing cabinets? Me neither. I just use this. Upload old family albums, product photos, books, movies, songs, projects and documents. Google Drive keeps everything, big or small, in one virtual folder that you and your collaborators can access at anytime, and only people who have keys can get access to it. Yes please.

MailChimp

Email smarter, not harder. The absolute have-to-have tool for email marketing. Send one email to a large database with only one click. Filter tools allow you to re-target those people who didn’t open your last campaign and re-send them an email. Also, lists and segments make your campaigns much more focused and therefore more effective.
Let’s say I want to send a reminder email to my database about a sale going on, however I don’t want to send it to people who have already purchased within the last two months. Connect MailChimp to Shopify, and they automatically sync customers and their purchase data to MailChimp. Batta bing, no human process of elimination needed and people who have already purchased aren’t bugged by my emails. This tool alone has generated hundreds of dollars in sales with just a few automated emails. 

 

 Now onto the shiny wrenches and sharp chisels.  

Instagram Automation Bots

Schedugram

An AWESOME, but not free, tool that helps you schedule out your Instagram posts in advance. It’s great because you can customize a “queue” that corresponds with your most optimal time of day for Instagram engagement. You can get this information through your Instagram Insights function. I like to add all of my workable photos to the “drafts” section, then add my captions, #hashtags, and user tags, then add it to the Qeue that i’ve set up. It takes away the everyday stress of thinking about posting. It’s so relieving.

Instagress.com

This is an Instagram automation bot that reaches out to other Instagram users through comments, likes, and follows. I’ve noticed that these bots are considered taboo in some circles, and others find them to be brand building gold (as I did). For instance, our Instagress bot by chance found an editor at one of the largest online tech publications and liked a couple of his posts. It ended up in an article feature and hundreds of dollars worth of sales.

Unfortunately, this service was canceled :( 

So I did a trial of two other Instagram bot services. Here are my thoughts: 

1. Gramista

This was the first Instagress replacement that I tried. I actually just got whim of this similar service and signed up for it. They give you a 12 hour free trial. Customization is limited in terms of telling the bot who to target. You can only do this by entering hashtags and locations, which is a bummer. Once it was turned on though, it worked immediately and I saw a huge rise in engagement getting over 1,000 likes on one photo. The boost worked REALLY FAST, which scares me a bit. Because of the lack of customization, I have to unfortunately gather that these weren't relevant users. 

The service is $89.99 for 90 days which seems a little steep. I don’t think I will be paying them anytime soon.

2. InstaZood 

Thanks to a good review from Sheri of Flowers and Freckles I decided this would be my Trial #2. Why not?

Definitely the more “janky” of the two and difficult to initially use. Also the presence of simple spelling errors is ALWAYS a red flag for me. This trial lasts for 3 days which is much more to my liking than just a meager 12 hours. After setting up your account it’s time to configure your settings and tell Instazood bot what you would like it to do. On this platform you have many different options to target specific users, locations, hashtags, or most importantly the followers of other users (this function directly correlates with reaching relevant users who are likely to be interested in Fairystring, very important!). 

Unlike Gramista, InstaZood was relatively slow. And by slow I mean for the first few hours it didn’t do anything. While the learning curve was relatively steeper in comparison to Gramista, from what I’ve read, I’m hoping to get more targeted engagement from this bot. We’ll see how it goes.

*DISCLAIMER: keep in mind all of these tools require access by outside sites. The more you give access out, the more Instagram marks your page with red flags. Ultimately this could mean your account could be shut down or suspended without explanation. Do your research and figure out which tools work best for you.  

 

 

Online Collaboration

Slack

The chat app that will save your sanity. Have a big team? Lots of complicated ideas and topics? Keep everyone organized in one straightforward platform. Ellis Hamburger, of "TheVerge.com" attests that slack is the replacement to email. It’s so effective, Hamburger claims, that he hasn’t sent an email in over four years. Oh yea, it’s that good.

Organization & Storage

Evernote

From slack, to web bookmarks, emails, notes, texts, photo albums, recipe books, it gets very difficult to keep that spider web of information organized. Now you can, in one consolidated place. Jeff Haden of Inc. argues that Evernote is the best available platform to sync notes through all devices and search what you have previously written. Notebooks separate your content into categories. The web clipper allows to you bring whatever it is you see online into your Evernote notebooks. Try putting everything in it that you want to hang on to. The more you add, the more useful Evernote becomes.

Kick Ass Outreach

Mailroom

For their month of “launch” they sent daily emails straight to your inbox providing priceless tips on how to get journalists to write about your business or startup. Everyday for a month they sent a journalist straight to my inbox and tips on how to approach them. However, I sent countless emails not only to them and the journalists and never received anything back. Because I subscribed early to their service, I received a 50% discount to access their database of 13,000 journalists around the world. I receive access in a few weeks. We will see how it goes. I really like this service but the hopefulness of a positive outcome is iffy.

Google Translate Chrome Plugin

Moving to a different country can be difficult. Especially when you want to assimilate into the culture and search for group meetings and events to attend. How do you gather information about where your potentially new friends are hiding when the entire page is in German? Well, thanks to google with the click of a button, any page is immediately translated into english.

This extension was extremely useful in terms of outreach and exposure. I've been looking for "women in tech" groups to join but most of their landing pages are in German. Because I'm starting my new business in a country where I don't speak the language I find this extension to be extremely useful. I googled "google translate chrome plugin+saved my life" because I figured this feature has literally done so more than once. Didn't find anything. 

Never Ending Treasures

Product Hunt

An entrepreneurs endless treasure chest of helpful business tools. Need I say more?

My Boyfriend

Okay I take back what I said about Shopify earlier, this is my #1 buddy. 
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Let me know what you think of these online tools in the comments section below. If you have any suggestions for me please use the contact page. I would love to hear what other websites or apps that you have found helpful in starting your own online business! 
Cheers! 
LULU


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