Toolkit of Awesomeness

This list of everything and everyone I use is often updated as its my own repository and I find it useful to have everything in one place. I hope you find it useful – if there is an area you would like to see more resources for – just shout! *I am adding a few things every day and compiling the list from my scraps of paper, sticky notes, Evernote notes, favourites bar and a host of places – checking for dead links and updated apps etc so keep checking back. 

Disclosure: Some of the following links are affiliate links to books and gadgets that I hold dear to my heart. All are things I own, use and love or I wouldn’t recommend them. I do get a small kickback if you buy through these links, but you WILL NOT incur any additional cost… If you purchase through an affiliate links – its really appreciated.

Having said that – please please please don’t spend money on products unless you feel that you really need them.  

That advice applies to life in general. 😉

Rebecca x

* Affiliate links will be marked – all amazon links are affiliate.

Branding & Graphic Design - Creating Beautiful Things

All HAIL – Project ThankU – Design Studio! It wipes the floor out from under Canva and Co.. its a knock out winner! For a small monthly sum you can create awesome work from templates and images provided for FREE. No more $1 a time with Canva etc.. I can’t wax lyrical enough about Project ThankU – try it out – even if just for one month – the Facebook group and support that goes with it is worth the money alone.

Canva – Free Graphic Design Tool

PicMonkey  – Free Graphic Design Tool – fabulous for making PNG files with transparent backgrounds and resizing images.

Recite  – Turns a quote into a masterpiece – I prefer Canva/Picmonkey but for speed this suffices.

Coolor.co  – Colour discovery website (provides HEX, RGB and other colour codes) fantastic for branding or designing your next room theme. I LOVE THIS SITE!

Hipster Logo Generator – Creates logos with ease.. Hipster Logos obviously..

Dafont – a font database which will make you lose hours and hours of your day once you get sucked into it – so many fonts…

Google Fonts – Free fonts optimised to use on websites.

Font Face Ninja – Chrome / Safari Extension to find what font a site uses.

 

Video and Photography

Screenflow – Screen Recording and Video editing tool I use. Nice and simple, loads of tutorials on youtube as well. iMovie comes free with Apple devices – so you could use that instead.

Look at Camtasia as well – works on PCs.

Audio Jungle – royalty free audio files from $1. I use them in videos in intros / outros and over segueways.

Splasheo.com – animated video effects for lower thirds, intros, outros and segueways.  

 

Website & Plugins - making beautiful things happen on your website

Needless to say – I use and worship WordPress. After a bumpy start it has grown on me to the point I am obsessed with it. No matter what you use security is crucial so make sure you have a back up schedule and that your security is watertight. I am not using all of these at the moment – but they are all ones I have used in the past or currently use.

WordPress.org – This is what I use and adore to create my websites. Small learning curve but wow.. once you get it.. It’s fabulous.

Elegant Themes – Wordpress Themes – I use the Divi one, and several of their plugins for email/social media. (Affiliate Link)

LeadPages – of the the more popular packages for making landing and squeeze pages – this can be done without such packages I must say – but I feel the analytics, tools and templates are rather enticing.

BlueHost – Web Hosts. I’m with these for several of my websites and no problems other than finding out they don’t host .co.uk based websites – I re-direct mine to Bluehost – sounds complicated – isn’t that bad really. Lets say I make full use of the instant chat feature. 😉 Quite cheap and I got a free domain credit and a few other goodies when they had a sale on. Plugins

SumoMe – A toolkit of treasures for your website. List building and all sorts. 🙂 So many different things  – a must have for beginners.

Google Calendar – takes your selected Google Calendar and displays the events as a calendar grid or list on a page, post or widget. Love this!

Editorial Calendar – Makes it possible to see all your posts and drag and drop them to manage your blog. I love it. 🙂

OnePress Social Locker – Helps increase social media presence by asking visitors “to pay” for your content with a tweet, plus one, or a like.

Tweet This – Tweet This offers easily embedded, stylish tweetable content boxes in your posts and pages.Get visitors sharing easily on Twitter and increase your reach. Winner winner chicken dinner.

SEO by Yoast – Plugin to optimise your wordpress site for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) I use and love it.

Monarch – Social Sharing Plugin that comes with the Elegant Themes Package

Bloom – Email opt in plugin – has some lovely styles and quite customisable – another one that comes with the Elegant Themes package.

PopUp Alley – I use the free version to create a simple ‘exit intent’ pop up.

Google Fonts –  allows you to easily add fonts from the Google Font Directory to your WordPress theme.

What Would Seth Godin Do – Shows a custom welcome message to new visitors – and a different one to returning visitors.

Digg Digg – Social Share Plugin. When looking at these consider if you want folks to like or share your content.

Wordfence – a free security and performance plugin that makes your site faster and more secure. I have upgraded to the paid version. I think this and Backup Buddy or something similar are essential tools. Security and Backups – if nothing else make sure these aspects are covered.

Pretty Link – Allows you to shrink, cloak, track, organise, share and test all of your links on your own domain and server.

BackUp Buddy – Backs up your wordpress site – strongly recommend getting something that does the job before you have an accident and lose everything!

Amazon Link – enables you to put Amazon product links, images and bespoke templates into your site’s Pages, Posts, Widgets and Templates. Its what I am using to put my gadget and book lists on this page.

Google Analytics by Yoast – Track your site easily with the latest tracking codes and lots of added data for search result pages and error pages.

Limit Login Attempts – Limit rate of login attempts, including by way of cookies, for each IP (protection against hacker attempts).

UK Cookie Consent – OMG – this was the best find ever – Simple plug-in to help compliance with the UK interpretation of the EU regulations regarding usage of website cookies.

Meal Planner Pro Recipes – not one I use – but one I found for a client and they love. I love it as well! I often contemplate writing recipes just so I can install and use it. Definitely one to check out. 

Co-Schedule – allows you to schedule social media and blog posts with an editorial calendar across many social media/blog platforms. You can schedule tweets and posts promoting your content ahead of time as you’re publishing your post. Has a not well publicised cheap price plan – check out the ‘Blog Start Plan’.

Scheduling tools - let your clients book with ease.

Me personally J’adore vCita *affiliate link. It plays nicely with my google calendar, it takes bookings for my services and consultation calls, it takes money through paypal nice and smoothly. It texts and emails me to tell me when someone has booked.. I can share documents with my clients, keep a file on them and notes…  All these settings are flexible and can be tweaked. I can set how much notice of meetings I want, how far in advance people can see and book. I can do all this and more. A beautiful popup easily installed on my website. 🙂 The link is an affiliate one – it knocks off a few dollars from my monthly bill.

What else would I use?

Acuity is the one that keeps me contemplating moving over. Im staying with vita as its all embedded.. but at the moment Acuity is the No. #1 contender.

Calendly – nice little tool but doesn’t take payments. It has a free level if you only need to offer 1 style/level. Looks pretty and does what it says on the tin. What more could you want?

Social Media, Blogging and Writing.

Co-Schedule – allows you to schedule social media and blog posts with an editorial calendar across many social media/blog platforms. You can schedule tweets and posts promoting your content ahead of time as you’re publishing your post. Has a not well publicised cheap price plan – check out the ‘Blog Start Plan’.

Grammerly – better than your phone/mother/word processing package at finding grammar mistakes. Something I should use more often…

Hemmingway – another app for checking your grammar but in a lovely clear concise colour coded manner. Not so much a spellchecker as a style checker.

ClickToTweet – allows you to embed an app on your wordpress site or in blogs/emails etc – showing special shortened links that will let the reader tweet a selected phrase you have written. Free account available – but to track and get further analysis you need an upgraded account – accounts are only a few dollars per month.

Words-To-Use – word reference tool that can help you write about anything. Unlike a thesaurus, which groups words by their meaning, they group subject-related words. Confused? Just go take a look.. when your brains gone dead or that word ‘on the tip of your tongue’ isn’t forthcoming – this may help.

Scrivener – I grew up on Microsoft Word, I eloped with Pages (Mac) but I have a secret all consuming love affair with Scrivener. It took some getting used to but if writing an actual book or large piece of work this is my go to hunka hunk burning love. I have had to watch a video or two to get the hang of it but it does everything I want. Finally somewhere to brain dump, map out and build up my work rather than just a single ‘storey’ document. 

Productivity / Systems - keeping you and everything else ship shape.

f.lux – Now this one – I didn’t know where to put him.. So he’s in the productivity camp for now. f.lux makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. It’s even possible that you’re staying up too late because of your computer. You could use f.lux because it makes you sleep better, or you could just use it just because it makes your computer look better. In short it’s awesome.

Google Drive – Get access to files anywhere through secure cloud storage and file backup for your photos, videos, files and more.

Google Docs – free editing and styling tools to help you easily format text and paragraphs.

Evernote – Electronic Workspace that can be used for so many systems/processes. I use it to save all my clippings from web sites, smash together ideas and as a general swipe file for my brain clutter.

Asana – Fabulous for systems and working with others. I use it as my business hub.

Trello – Easy to use drag and drop list organiser.

Bullet Journal – This is a paper based system for those of you who just cant go electronic. It’s a calander, planner, index, record and so much more. Tweak it to suit you.

Plaaan – Printable, customisable free planners – awesome for planning out launches and mapping out projects.

RealTime Board – Online Whiteboard – fabulous for working alone or with others. 🙂

Slack –  A platform for team communication: everything in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go.

Wunderlist – Fabulous to-do list organiser that works well for personal and professional.

Dropbox – free cloud storage. 🙂

Boomerang – sends emails at the time you specify – so your clients will never know you were working at 3am.

Yanado – task management inside Gmail

17 Hats – business overview system – everything from managing systems, time tracking, invoicing clients to taking payments.

Ontraport – an all-in-one automation platform to start, systemise and scale their business.

RescueTime – are you a naughty little procrastinator? RescueTime works in the background on your computer, monitors what you get up to, shows you in a pretty simple manner and then allows you to block certain websites (Facebook.. youtube…) between certain hours to help keep you productive and on track.

Planning - the world will be your oyster with these babies.

Kumu – a web based visualisation platform that gives you the tools to track and visualise relationships.

Trello – Easy to use drag and drop list organiser brilliant for planning and mapping ideas out.

Plaaan – Printable, customisable free planners – awesome for planning out launches and mapping out projects.

RealTime Board – Online Whiteboard – fabulous for working alone or with others. 🙂

WorldTimeBuddy – fabulous little site that lets you add multiple timezones and using a sliding timescale you can check the time in multiple zones at once! Useful as a World Clock, online meeting scheduler and has widgets you can embed on your webpage so people can check your event times in their own timezone. Very swish!

Marketing / PR - Show us how you can shine shine shine...

Boost Business Awards – over 2.5K business awards listed by area/county and industry field. Fabulous resource you can use to get some much needed publicity.. and shiny awards.. #bling.

NUJ Freelance Directory – massive free to access listing of media based freelancers.  It includes reporters, communists, writers, editors, sub-editors, designers, illustrators, photographers, broadcasters, scriptwriters, web designers, translators, trainers and researchers – and more – working in over 30 countries, primarily for publications in the UK and Ireland.

Journalism.co.uk – find a freelancer, take a course, learn shizzle.. 

Security - Identity, Plagiarism, safety.. the lot. #staysafe

Its a sad fact that we face more and more security risks each year.

Copyscape – a protection against plagiarism – well… after the fact. Check no one has copied your website contact using this nifty site. Many people have found their sales page and course content copied using this gadget.

UKCS – the UK Copy Service (advice site much more helpful and easy to understand and navigate than the government one. Pfft). This site doesn’t have a sample ‘take down’ notice but it lists the various types of copyright, your rights, how to protect yourself, evidence to collect, things to try to resolve issues etc. Note this is for the UK and US/AUS etc rules may differ,

Money Matters. A lot. So heres to tracking, getting and watching the stuff...

I love me some money. Moula. Dosh. Wonga. But getting it, feeling worthy of it and managing it doesn’t always come naturally. I’ve been in some sticky financial situations and I’m currently undergoing massive mindset changes to try and get a healthier money outlook.

My favourite things so far.. FreeAgent – this is a UK based software I use to keep track of my accounts, link in with my banking, and tell me exactly how much self assessment tax I will need to pay – it all but fills the forms in for me. Its easy to add Payroll to it, suitable for limited companies as well and integrates nicely with a host of other packages from payment apps to customer relationship and project management apps – I have tried so many on the market – but this one I love. This is an affiliate link – use it and we both get 10% off. No tie ins and you leave when you want to.

 

Get Organised - Life, Inbox and beyond

I am not by nature an organised person – but I hate things being cluttered and disorganised. I love systems and processes… but it is a continuous process in achieving and keeping things orderly – both in my head, at work and home.  

These are some of my favourite recommendations.

Philofaxy – print your own filofax pages! I love this. 🙂 Fabulous free resource with good instructions and links to hole punches available on Amazon.

Daily Greatness – Business Planner (they also have fitness and yoga planners and a fabulous journal). The Business Planner is AHH-Mazing! It covers financial and organisational planning, weekly and monthly check ups on your progress and goals. I spent 5 months searching for the perfect planner – nearly resorted to making my own but lets face it – I couldn’t be arsed. And then this baby came along. Check em out. The link is an affiliate one – it gives you 5% off and it gives me 15% commission. Just keeping it honest!

Others that I really liked were Passion Planner and Kikki Ks planners – I was going to use the Day Designer printable in (mostly free!) a Kikki K or nice Filofax style folder.

 

Learning - keep the grey cells turning

To say I am a passionate advocator of life long learning is like wondering if the Pope is a little bit Catholic. YES. I home educate, take every course I can and love love love leaning new things / skills or facts and figures. My top faves are…

MOOC List – MOOC (Massive Open Online College) is a list of free mini courses provided by Univerities and Colleges around the world. This is the moo holy grail of free learning opportunities. From astrophysics to business practice, money management to french and everything in-between.

Coursera – Free online classes from 80+ top universities & organisations.

Khan Academy – Free courses.

Skillshare – Free courses and projects.

Codeacademy – Learn to Code – Free!

Inspirational Leaders - and how to be the best in your field.

These are folks I look up to – who’s work stands out and ethos shines. Some I’ve followed for decades and have constantly proven themselves – others are new people that I gave fallen for.

Nadia Finer – Nadia is my business coach and I love her. She’s awesome and I really really don’t want to share her.. but I will. I’m in her Actionista Academy and it’s well worth taking a look.

Denise Duffield Thomas – Money Mindset Guru. Hilarious mofo money guru.

Kimra Luna – a pixie like goddess who specialises in online business strategy.

Guy Kawasaki – all round business guru – fabulous with social media and business strategy.

Nikki Elledge Brown – Wow. I love this lady – a copy writing training queen. A communication stylist.

Carrie Green – a true English Rose. She runs an online hub to empowering women around the world and help them build successful businesses and live a life they love.  

 

Mindset, wellbeing and mindfulness

Over the years I’ve really struggled with chronic depression and other long term health issues that suck the life outta me. I started fighting back viciously in 2014 – and whilst I will still say I am not a woo woo affirmations in the mirror kinda gal… changing my mindset, my approach to life and really getting to know myself rather than being a people pleaser and trying to live my life to please others – has made massive changes in me. These changes helped me in business and I hand on heart believe that to be successful – to truly build a great business – heal thyself first. Other than counselling and hypnotherapy heres what I have dipped into…  

 

Gadgets I recommend

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