Digital Marketing Tools of the Trade
Some of the digital marketing tools I use are:
Google Analytics has the essentials for measuring and reporting website user data.
There used to be a keyword search tool - Keyword Planner - in Google's offerings, but now you would need to sign up for an AdWords account first. Google Trends is a simple and quick way to find keyword search popularity. Another way is to install Chrome toolbar extensions (see Chrome Toolbar Extensions section below) that analyse web pages and suggest keywords, or even show a list of a website's most commonly used keywords. If your website is built on a CMS like WordPress, there are several good plugin options for assisting basic SEO.
Social Media Management
Buffer is great for scheduling posts for any specific time, and includes the major social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. It is an affordable and simple alternative to Hootesuite. Apps like these are consistently changing features and pricing plans, so it's worth time researching what works best for your needs and budget.
Designing, Video Editing and Image Editing
Adobe Creative Suite and Creative Cloud are the tools of trade for many designers, creatives and marketers. The four most useful applications in my work are Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and Acrobat. Premiere is good for video editing.
Email Newsletter Subscription and Email Campaigns
Mailchimp is one of the most popular options for email marketing on a budget, but there are other options available depending on business needs. SendInBlue is another useful option for email marketing, offering WordPress integration via their plugin. Please read the section on Email Marketing
Writing and Editing Code
For coding or analysing code, there are many code editors out there that make things really efficient. Visual Studio Code is reliable. Brackets and Sublime Text are also powerful coding tools. I also suggest testing code with W3C validators for testing HTML, CSS, and Web Accessibility, and reading about new HTML5 tags.
Tools for Everything Else
For general document storage my go to is Google Drive. It has a larger amount of space than DropBox, and once signed in to Google, I can access a lot of apps that I use for other tasks. Flickr is a good choice for image storage, as they allow a massive 1TB for each account (signed up with Yahoo).
I currently use Evernote, but now they are limiting the free account to a maximum of two devices and there is no way to safely create or edit notes on mobile devices when offline on a basic plan (as I found out writing content for this site while offline, and all the paragraphs of text disappearing after a sync request fail). Besides, taking notes is a personal preference. You could just as easily use Google Keep, or other mobile based apps.
There are at least two objectives for using apps to assist work processes. The first is for the freelancer to find information quickly and organise tasks. The second is to have a communication and collaboration channel clients and/or team members are able to join and see what you're working on, share files and comment. Some people prefer relatively familiar channels like email, sms and phone calls. If you are more familiar working with apps, consider what your preferences are and the way that best suits you to effectively organise and complete tasks. Clients may not be so familiar with your preferred apps, so consider using a channel that both you and the client are happy to use. Check with them first and gauge whether it will work or not. Some ideas for where to start are task flow management apps like Trello or Asana, or take it a step towards Kanban boards with apps like Kanbanchi which integrates with Google Drive. You might also like to explore the possibility of Skype or Slack as communication and file sharing channels.
Chrome Toolbar Extensions
I recommend Nimbus Screenshot and Screencast, SEO & Website Analysis by WooRank, Open SEO Stats, and ExpressCurate for WordPress (requires WordPress plugin).
Plugins are a personal preference, but here are a few that are the supporting foundation to most WordPress installs:
- Import and Migrate
- Email Campaigns - a plugin for your chosen app
- Publishing Tools
- Image Sliders and effects
- Social Links and Sharing
- Custom Fields
- Quick fix plugins
You can setup website backups using other methods, but it makes sense to have a backup plugin you can send the backup to an email address or cloud storage. If you have an ecommerce site, although you would use SSL on your payment pages, you might also like to consider the entire site if there are sensitive personal information transactions, as well as a security plugin. Importing and migrating is best left to people like myself with experience. We can use database files and/or plugins to help this process.
Form plugins are required for creating contact forms (unless you desire to write php code) and some of the most popular are Contact Form 7 and Gravity Forms. Whatever email campaign software you decide to sign up to, make sure there is an updated plugin available for WordPress. Most of the popular app companies have associated WordPress plugins. When you have signed up to Google Analytics or Bing or others, you can simply add your details to the plugin. Be careful if you already added a file, because there can be conflicts if there are multiple files containing analytics scripts in your FTP folder. SEO plugins are based on the content - the keywords and meta descriptions for each of your pages and posts. They can be helpful in writing tips and hints.
Publishing tools that assist in uploading content or publishing to other apps, can be a great time-saver. Consider plugins that autopublish to social media, or plugins like ExpressCurate (see Chrome Toolbar Extensions) that you can easily compile a post and schedule publishing time. Sometimes simple is best and despite current trends, a basic hover, parallax or slide effect is often appreciated by users to enhance their enjoyment of and experience using your website. Social links and sharing are mandatory if you have set up the accounts and are ready to start publishing content to them. Most themes should already have these as options in the header and/or widgets. With free themes, however, often a plugin and/or some coding is required.
Custom Fields are not essential, they just make some things easier to replicate. An example created by the website development agency used by my employer, Fashion Club Wear, is a list of fields with Name, URL, and image. When adding a new link, I just have to click on Add Row, enter the details and update the page. The result is a grid of images that have a name and links to a secure payment URL. I decided to add quick fix plugins to the list above, because when developing websites, sometimes it is a lot quicker to add a plugin than to go into the mySQL database or cPanel to find the part to overwrite with child theme files, or do your head in searching Google for answers. Some of these are based on common problems and troubleshooting, such as permalinks, redirects, comments, and 'glitches'.
There are other plugins I didn't add to the list of the supporting foundation. These are more for customising content for your market, or building upon the foundation. Plugins from H5P or OpinionStage handle interactive content - opinions, quizzes, surveys, information - for marketing or learning. eCommerce, popups, CTA's, visual editors, language, post customisation, restricted content, logins, multimedia enhancement, site search and many more plugins could be added to increase the functionality of your site.
With any plugin, check the author/developer, how many installs it has and the date of the most recent update, as a first step to be more confident it won' be junk. Test each plugin by installing and seeing if there are any issues, or it doesn't work as expected despite correct settings. Sometimes there could be known issues with the plugin, or incompatibility with your version of WordPress and/or your theme. If you need to uninstall a plugin, it is useful to remove any instance of usage from your website, such as widgets. Then deactivate, followed by deleting all files.
There are so many apps available, but usually at a monthly cost. I like using Adobe apps, but there is a free drawing app I came across and used a while ago. draw.io is a basic online drawing tool mainly marketed for flowcharts and diagrams, but it works as a good sketchpad for wireframing ideas.
If you're serious about multi-track recording, but have a budget somewhere about $0.00 left for software after purchasing mics and an interface (which often come with light versions of software), there are few options to choose from. I have only begun using Reaper, but already like it a lot. It is a 60-day trial period during which you can export your recordings. Otherwise there is Audacity or Presonus One. For serious work, you need to familiarise yourself with the audio setup and settings for your computer. I don't mind Macs and Apple products. However, I built my computer for the purpose of it being mainly used for audio and image editing. I enjoy the flexibility of deciding what hardware and software I want to use or experiment with. I like Android phones for their simple operation and ability to access a familiar folder/file system. On the Android, I've discovered BandLab recently, and must admit it's pretty cool for making phone quality (depending on hardware and condition of phone) sketch recordings under 6 minutes.