Free Project Management Tools That Will Make Your Life Easier

Whether you’re starting your own small business or steadily growing your empire, managing your time and your projects can be difficult. And if you are just starting out, finding the right project management tools could prove costly. So we found a few to help you manage your time and your business. And they’re free!

Slack

As a communication tool, Slack is a great option. You can set up teams and invite others to join. Teams can have channels, through which they communicate with the everyone else in that channel. For example, the #marketing channel can discuss campaigns, share files or add URL’s to the chat. Team members can be part of multiple channels and they can chat to one another individually.

Slack can also integrate with Trello (see below) which is handy when it comes to team and project management. It comes with a mobile app as well, so you can manage everything on-the-go. You can see when team members are available or offline and type messages or call. Slack is a useful tool that keeps your communication easy and efficient.

Trello

Trello is more than just a TODO list. This handy tool allows you to create, share and contribute to projects, lists and well, anything that needs to get done. You can private boards for the things you need to remember, or share boards with others. This is great for personal organization. But Trello lets you take this organization to the next level.

You can create teams and add team members. Within each team you can set up different boards – think of them as project boards. Within each board you can add lists – ToDo, In Progress, Done – or whatever suits your purpose. Boards and lists can be dragged and dropped, so you can rearrange them to suit your needs.

Once you have your boards and lists set up, you can add cards to these. Cards can include checklists, descriptions, attachments and due dates. Team members can also comment on cards. Apart from being able to integrate with Slack (above), you can now also integrate Trello with Gmail. So you can add cards to Trello directly from your email.

TopTracker

Time management doesn’t work unless you know how much time you’re spending on each task. Or for that matter, how much time your team members are spending on their tasks. TopTracker is an app that records how much time your spend on each project. When you begin work on something, you can open the app, select the project and get to work. Forget to start the app? No problem – you can add in times manually as well.

Tracking your time means you can keep a record of how much time you spend on each task. But it also helps you stay focused – because you know you’re on the clock. It works on mobile as well, meaning you can keep track of things even when you’re not in the office. It’s a good addition to your project management tools, for yourself and for your team.

Wrapping up…

There are plenty of awesome project management tools available. But many of these come with features that you need to pay for, which makes it difficult for start ups and small businesses. With tools like Slack and Trello, you can stay on top of your team and your projects. Of course, these tools do have features that you can pay for, but you don’t need these to successfully manage your time.

Running your online business takes time. If you have a team, managing this takes even more time. So it helps to find tools and services that can help you grow your business without taking up any more of your time.

Featured image by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Marketing Email Tips You Can’t Do Without

Once you’ve got your Marketing Email list ready to go, you’ll need to start sending newsletters. Regular newsletters or marketing emails can improve your communication with your customers and help you build good relationships. The tips below will show you just what you need to do to create an awesome newsletter.

Marketing Emails Should Be Consistent

Whether you send once a week or once every two months, your newsletters should go out regularly. When someone signs up for a weekly mail or a monthly newsletter, that’s what they expect. They don’t want to wait three weeks for their weekly news, or conversely, get mails every week instead of once a month.

Regular communication also helps build your relationship and lets your customers know that you’re still around and still relevant.

Craft Your Subject Line Carefully

The first thing someone will see in your newsletter is your subject line. For Email Marketing to be successful, you need a good open rate (among other things). So your subject line has to entice people to open the newsletter.

To this end, subject lines should be relevant and interesting. HubSpot says your subject line should include “actionable language” such as verbs or something that implies action. Something like ‘Don’t Miss out on Opening Day Specials’ implies action: you want to make sure you buy items on Opening Day.

HubSpot also recommends creating relevance by personalizing your subject line. You can use the person’s name, but this tactic has been done before. Rather try segmenting your lists and using language that speaks to each groups’ location, gender, or age, for example. Most importantly, maintain relevance by ensuring that the subject line conforms to the body of the email. Don’t promise one thing and deliver something different.

Catchy subject lines are a great idea, but they first need to be clear. If someone doesn’t know what they’re going to get, they’re unlikely to open their email. So begin by writing a clear, interesting subject line. Then if you can, tweak it to make it catchy.

Preview text, the copy which appears after your subject line in the inbox, can also be used to your advantage. Use it to amplify the message of your subject line, or add something humorous here.

Write Compelling Copy

Once you’ve convinced someone to open your email, you now have to entice them to read it. Hopefully this will also result in click throughs to your site, thereby driving traffic and helping you convert this into revenue. This is why you need compelling copy.

Your choice of words is important. If you sound too much like spam, or you use over-exaggerated, too-enthusiastic marketing lingo, you’ll lose your readers. The same is true for copy that is boring. A conversational tone, with easy-to-read language should be your goal.

You also want to avoid overloading the newsletter with cluttered content. It’s easier to focus on one specific topic says HubSpot, and include a mix of educational and promotional content (with the emphasis being on educational). Use white space to help avoid the feeling of a cluttered newsletter.

Besides, your copy should offer a taste of your site’s content. Use compelling wording to entice your readers to click through to longer blogs and articles. This way you can keep the newsletter content short, sweet and to the point, while driving traffic to your site.

Remember to read through your copy! This applies to anything you write, whether for your newsletter or your site. Your content may include all the right keywords, but if your spelling, grammar and general language is poorly written, your readers won’t stick around for long.

Add a Call To Action

Email marketing can be used to inspire and motivate your readers to take action. But you need to tell them what action they need to take. This is where your CTA (Call To Action) comes in.

You can use a CTA to encourage people to buy your product or try out your service. But it’s also handy for building your social media following, or getting people to rate your service, or asking for a donation. The possibilities are many.

But your newsletter should only contain one main CTA – there can be others, but you should only really focus on one. Make your Call To Action clear, to-the-point and simple to do. Use links, use active language, and create a sense of urgency. OptinMonster says that people really do have FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – so use this to your advantage.

Make Use of Images Wisely

Visual aids can go a long way in helping you communicate with, and appeal to your subscribers. Images can brighten up your newsletters, draw attention to promotions or new articles, and help you get your message across without being too wordy.

But you need to practice caution. Too many images can be as distracting as text-heavy emails. Try to avoid adding clutter to your newsletters with lots of little images, and rather select just a few to convey your message.

Also remember that not everyone will download or open your images. So you need to include Alt Text (the text you see when an image doesn’t open) with your images. You also need to ensure that your email can be understood without having to see the image.

And Remember…

You need to give people the option to unsubscribe. Be sure to include an Unsubscribe button or link, and make it obvious. There is little more frustrating than searching for an Unsubscribe link that’s been hidden in complicated language in tiny print at the end of a very long email.

Finally, test your campaigns. Use an A/B split to find out what appeals more to your readers. See what works, and learn what doesn’t.

Using a marketing email is an effective way of communicating with your readers, and it’s essential for building your community. But everything from your subject line to your Call To Action needs to be carefully thought out, drafted and tested.

Featured Image by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Why You Need Regular Fresh Content on Your Site

Good quality, fresh content is no longer a luxury when it comes to online communication. There is a seemingly limitless amount of information readily available online, but when you’re trying to get noticed, this isn’t a good thing.

How do you stand out amongst the masses? How do you compete with the endless stream of information on the internet? One way to do this is to continually provide innovative, useful and fresh content.

Of course, your content needs to be good quality, while providing value to your readers. And this takes time. But if you can offer regular new (or updated) content that ticks all the boxes, then you’re bound to see your efforts pay off.

Fresh regular content improves site traffic and SEO

Fresh Content = Dynamic Web Presence

In today’s online environment, you need to stay relevant. If you don’t publish new content regularly, you immediately put yourself at a disadvantage. Your competitors will be posting new content and they’ll be doing whatever they can to engage their (and your) readers.

Consistent content can build brand awareness, says Inc.com, and you can use this to successfully market yourself across all channels. You may not be able to add new posts or pages every day, or even every week. But you do need to post regularly, so your readers will know when to expect something new.

The idea is to post fresh content, either new or updated, on a regular basis. Posting more often is good, but it takes time to deliver good quality, informative material. And when it comes to content, quality should come first. Not only should posts be useful and informative, but they also need to be well-written and readable. If not, your readers aren’t likely to stick around for very long.

Audience Building

Engaging your audience is a must. New content can keep your readers coming back for more. This builds loyalty and generates interest, which not only means you can retain your audience, but you can also build on it.

Your content needs to add value though. You cannot expect to build an audience without content that offers something unique, new or valuable in some way. Of course, this will depend on your focus, and on what your audience wants. But as long as you add value, your content can help build your following.

There are plenty of innovative ways to engage with your readers. Information can come in many forms – think videos, infographics, and visuals. For lengthy texts, why not create an infographic. This way you can share the visuals on your social networks and drive traffic back to your site for a longer read.

Inc.com points out that keeping your audience engaged can help you generate revenue through existing clients. This is simpler, and generally cheaper, than finding new customers. Of course, engaging content can also lead to more shares and comments, which in turn will help to build your readership.

Authority and Credibility

Publishing new and useful content on a regular basis sets you up as an authority on the topic and helps establish you as a credible source of information. This can further help to establish you or your business as an industry leader.

Innovative thinking can take this a step further. Not only will your audience see you as aa credible source of information, they’ll also see you as progressive and forward-thinking. Use your content to challenge and engage your readers.

Content and SEO

While we can’t know exactly what search engines look for in their ranking, we do have a good idea that fresh content is a factor. Posting regular content, or making updates, means that this content gets indexed. SEO SiteCheckup makes this point, saying that frequent indexing can help with your SEO.

Search engines aim to provide users with content that is useful and relevant, so consider when you are generating this content. Good quality, highly readable information will go a long way to helping your ranking. As will providing content that is of real value to your audience. Plus there is the added bonus of using more keywords.

Fresh content also allows you the opportunity to add links to other relevant pages on your site. More than this, it creates opportunities for others to link back to you. All of this improves your chances of converting traffic into sales, of increasing newsletter sign-ups, or of just improving your bounce rate.

SEO SiteCheckup recommends keeping content standards high and updating your site once a day, or at least two to three times a week. They add that website comments also count as updates, so search engines will index your site when you get new comments. You can also update your homepage or other existing content to help your SEO.

Wrapping up

Fresh new content is every bit as essential as a good product or service. Without it, you are at a disadvantage. With it, you can build and engage with your audience. You can stay relevant. You can establish yourself as an authority and innovative market leader. Plus you can improve your search engine ranking.

But remember, your content needs to offer value. Go for quality content that is easy to read, interesting and helpful. This can help you stand out above the competition.

Feature image by Rafal Jedrzejek on Unsplash