Sequins & Things started in 2013 as a hobby and, back then, turning this hobby into a business was the furthest thing from my mind. I was working as a nurse and I literally knew nothing [I cannot emphasize that enough. I was so clueless] about marketing, PR, branding, mutually beneficial partnerships, or accounting. At my first blogging conference, I remember one of the speakers referencing the term ‘ROI’ and everyone around me seemed to be totally IN on this terminology. I was like ‘wait … what is that?‘ *googles ROI* Ohhh, return on investment. *face palm* Duh, Haley. So, the fact that Sequins & Things did end up becoming a business and my livelihood [all of which is secondary to the fact that it’s my passion] is more shocking to me than anyone else, if I’m being really honest. It has been a learning experience every. single. day.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through this journey has been that time is my biggest asset and my most valuable resource. We only have so much time in a day to get things done and, when you’re a small business with limited means and limited hands on deck, it’s up to you to really nurture the time you have and use it as efficiently as possible. I’ll be honest … there have been many days that have left me feeling completely defeated because ‘there just wasn’t enough time to get it all done’. But, over time and with experience, I’ve found some amazing app’s and programs that have helped shave off some time to get more things that need to get done.
Obviously, adding to the team is always something people think will alleviate some of the workload but, no matter what industry you’re in, you want to work on process efficiency before automatically opting for that added expense. SO, if you’re a blogger or small business owner, I thought I could help y’all out by sharing some of the app’s and programs that Justine, my assistant and Sequins & Things’ lifeblood, and I use throughout the week to keep things running smoothly …. as long as their isn’t a hurricane hurdling toward us 😉
• CO-SCHEDULE: This program offers its users a digital marketing calendar that also offers social media scheduling, work flow management and analytics. I use it as an editorial calendar. It’s super easy to use because it integrates seamlessly into my WordPress account so I can open new posts, schedule them, rearrange posts if need be, assign tasks to Justine and vice versa, and so much more. Justine and I have set up ‘to do list’ templates for each type of post that I usually create and we each have assigned tasks for those posts so the expectation of each of us is clear and easy to follow. We have found that this is the best way for us to work on posts together without having to text each other with questions constantly. There is a free trial if you’d like to give it a try and there are packages you can purchase that you can choose from if you like it and find that it will help your company, as well.
• TRELLO: Right now, my web designer, developer and I are using this program to keep everything organized for my new site design that will be launched later this year. It’s allowed me to easily stay up to date on developments in that project as well as submit the information my designer and developer need from me without having to get out of the program to then go into my email and send an email. Everything can be submitted in the Trello program and it notifies the person that a certain form has been updated.
Justine and I are thinking about using this in the future for planning travel, as there are a lot of moving parts to keep up with in the planning process, however, before investing in a package, we want to play around with a little more from an administrative aspect. We’ve heard of Asana as being a respectable project management program out there that might be a great option to look into. If you have any experience with Asana and Trello, and have a preference, let us know! We’d love to hear that feedback!
• DROPBOX: Dropbox is a file sharing program that was actually the first program I ever used to aid in blog post production. I have created quite a few folders, like PHOTOGRAPHY, TRAVEL, etc. that house other mini folders that hold documents that I need to easily access like edited photos from my photography team, documents I need to easily access for travel, or forms I need to sign. If you dig in your email for ‘that one email’ with your reservation information, or whatever, you need to consider opening a Dropbox account. It has saved me a lot of time and fprevented many headaches, I can assure you!
• WUNDERLIST: Justine has been a huge fan of Wunderlist for quite some time now. It allows her to keep track of her daily to-do list, as well as weekly and monthly repeating tasks. It’s easy for her to access her to-do’s back and forth from her laptop to iPhone throughout the day and she finally got me to start using it myself. Historically, this isn’t the easiest way for ME to keep up with tasks but it has really helped hold me accountable and on top of things that need to get done without me forgetting!
PHOTO EDITING + SOCIAL MEDIA PLANNING
• VSCO: This is the first app that I open unedited photos in to start the photo editing process. There are a few others that I use, like Snapseed for example, that I have plans to share in more detail in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!
• PLANOLY: This used to be called Planogram before they rebranded last year. I use Planoly to coordinate and schedule photos to later be posted to my Instagram feed! I can organize the images to
• SNAGIT: I use Snagit to pull product images from a website to then use them in a style board. The program allows me to remove backgrounds from product images and then do whatever I’d like with them. I also use this program to create other text graphics throughout S&T. I never had enough patience to figure out how to use Photoshop to do these things and I felt like Snagit was a super easy program to learn how to use, plus it’s only about $60 a year, I believe. For as much as I use it, that’s seriously nothing!
• EVERNOTE: Evernote is one of my favorite applications to use to take notes and write blog posts, particularly when I don’t have internet. A lot of the blog posts that I write on my international flights start in an Evernote. You can make ‘booklets’ to keep all the notes pertaining to a particular topic in one place, so I have a ‘Blog Posts’ notebook, a ‘Collaborations’ notebook, a ‘Travel’ notebook, etc. You can download it to your computer or phone and they’ll sync up so all of your notes stay up to date and you can continue them where you left off no matter what device you’re using to update it.
• BOOMERANG FOR GMAIL: Email scheduling is really helpful for corresponding with S&T partners in Europe and other international destinations. Boomerang allows us to write an email and schedule it to be sent later, at a time of our choosing. The email lands in their inbox at an appropriate time of the work day where they’re most likely to read and respond to it, even if it’s the middle of the night in Florida! Boomerang also reminds you when an email you sent has gone un-responded to, and helps you draft emails that will most likely get responded to.
OTHER GREAT APPS
• STARBUCKS: I mean …. who doesn’t need fuel to use all of the above to get through the workday?? 😉 Plus you can use the stars you accumulate from drink purchases to get free drinks every so often! Winning!
• APPLE CALENDAR: To manage my schedule and to time block tasks, I use iCal. I have multiple calendars, like SOCIAL, BLOG, CALLS, EVENTS, etc. so that everything is color coordinated and I can see everything easily. You can also add in travel times to help you account for empty spaces between appointments. You can invite people to events and also share calendars with other people, too. Justine shares most of my calendars with me so she can add things that she schedules and / or leave me notes that I can reference. For example, when I have a flight on my calendar, she’ll leave me my reservation reference number in the NOTES of the event so that I don’t have to dig through my email for it.
• SPOTIFY & APPLE PODCASTS: Working from home can be challenging but if I have a good playlist on or a fun podcast on in the background to listen to … I’m a little bit more motivated to get things done! Spotify is free but I pay $10 / month so I can stream songs on my phone without restriction. Apple podcasts are free!
• LAST PASS : This program has been a lifesaver for me over the past year as I’ve taken extra measure to ensure that I diversify passwords across all of the websites that I have accounts with. This ensures the utmost security of your information so I highly encourage you use this program to keep them all straight. It divides all of the different websites into categories so they’re easy to find, but there’s also a search bar to make things super simple.
• AMAZON ECHO: I love using my Echo Dot to listen to music, put a grocery list together, change the temperature in my apartment with Nest, and more that I haven’t quite figured out yet! And being able to say “Hey Alexa, what’s the weather like this afternoon” and plan out photography shoots definitely helps me check that task off the list without having to look at my phone. Lord knows I need to look at that thing less!
• MILE IQ: This app is amazing for tracking and sorting vehicle mileage, whether it’s for business or personal reasons. This helps immensely when tax season rolls around!
• HUBDOC: Speaking of taxes, my accountant and I use Hubdoc as a ‘hub’ for all of my financial ‘doc’uments for her to reference to easily track my expenses and income.
I hope this post was helpful for anyone looking to make better use of their time! Have I missed a program that you use at work that has been life-changing?? Please leave it in the comment section below and let me know what you use it for! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by today, y’all! xo.