Here’s a collection of things that I have personally used that make my professional life easier and more productive.
I can often be found muttering to myself ‘geesh, I love technology’, because really, how great is it? That we can do our best work and have so many useful tools and programs to help us achieve great results and outcomes. Just so you know, I am an affiliate of Harpoon and Scrivener, which means that I get a minimal kickback if you purchase by clicking on the links below. I genuinely love and use these products, however, so feel free to ask any questions you have.
Harpoon is my “one stop shop” business running app. It invoices my clients (and sends automatic reminders should their payment be late), it stores all my clients’ data, helps me to budget and forecast my income and most importantly for me, it tracks my time so I can accurately keep track of how long it takes me to write something and if I am charging my clients correctly.
LiveChat is a plugin for my website that runs an automatic chat bot for anyone who visits. You can outsource to consultants but I prefer to be the one chatting to potential clients/site visitors, even if that means I miss out on some opportunities. Fortunately, I can access chat via both my phone and laptop and I am alerted as soon as someone has questions. This week, I had the opportunity to encourage someone to buy my book, book into my ecourse and let a potential client know about the extra services that I offer (we’d originally discussed some product brochures but he was also interested in getting some media releases written).
This is a great tool for anyone in a customer or client facing business that wants to add another layer to their customer service.
Boomerang for Gmail
Boomerang is an add on to your Gmail platform that performs a few handy actions including scheduling your email to be sent at a specified time, triggered reminders in XX number of days if the person hasn’t replied and has a tracking option to not only show you when someone has opened your email but what links they have clicked on in the email.
This is a handy instrument for those people working with less than desirable clients who claim to have never seen an invoice (thankfully I am yet to have one of those, touch wood).
So, we all struggle with being distracted by the internet. Anyone who says they don’t is probably lying or in a place with really bad WiFi. Sometimes you just need that extra kick up the butt and Freedom is just that. It blocks out the internet or designated apps or social media sites for a predetermined amount of time so you can explicitly focus on your task at hand. As a writer, this is such a key factor in being super efficient.
IFTTT – which stands for If This, Then That – is one of the most incredible automation tools of the new world. It is a collection of applets (conditional statements) that bring together your existing apps and online services using a myriad of “recipes” to basically make your life easier and make the absolute most of almost everything that exists in this glorious world of tech. For example, I have set up recipes to guide my iPhone to repost every one of my Instagram pics as native posts on Twitter (this saves the hassle of those ugly links that Insta sharing creates). I also get a message an hour before it rains, when I need to put sunscreen on and more.
It can even get you out of bad dates, automatically unlock your front door when you arrive home.
As an avid reader and collector of information, Pocket has been an app that I have used consistently for years, both in a professional and personal context. There’s always so much content (articles, videos, listicles, slideshows) floating about that there is barely enough time to read it all and the chances of you stumbling across an interesting link during a busy work day or just as you are about to fall asleep is highly likely. For these occasions you can simply send a link to Pocket and review later when you have half an hour to wait at a doctor’s appointment or are doing some research for a client.
I know I have mentioned it before but CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer [sic] is really a worthwhile tool, particularly in my line of business.
If you write a lot of longform stuff, such as ebooks or books or even courses, then you definitely need Scrivener. It has a simple yet effective visual layout that can help you see what you've written and what you need to write to finish the project. Plus it has handy features such as a project target counter and can help compile and format your book to sell it.
Would love to hear about your favourites!
How Scrivener looks:
The subject line is the first thing that people will see when it hits their inbox. According to Chadwick Martin Bailey, 64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line. Crafting the perfect subject line is an art form, a rewarding one, which can entice people to open the email and read the content. Your mission: to write an appealing subject line that will make people want to keep reading. The subject line is really worth investing time and energy into getting right. This is going to be the device that encourages people to open your email and read it (and then, hopefully, click on the call to action).
Most importantly, the subject line needs to indicate or foreshadow what is in the email and what the readers can expect to get out of it. Be sure not to misrepresent your email’s content. Much like a headline the subject line will need to have a great hook in it. Give specific reasons why someone should open the email (as that one hundred per cent the aim of a great subject line). Which sounds more specific?
The answer is 2. Number one is too vague and number three is too "salesy". Remember: it’s much more effective if you tell your readership what the email contains, rather than give them the “sell”.
Just like headlines, you might want to employ one of the psychological techniques in your subject line (as long as you adhere to the other success principles):
Although there has been some preliminary research into how many words affect the open rate of an email, there seems to be no consistent number of words that prove best practice when it comes to wheedling opens. An older study from Adestra suggests that subject lines fewer than ten characters long had an open rate of 58%.
This is more of a personal opinion than professional opinion but I detest the sight of an emoji in a subject line, no matter the industry or brand. It cheapens the look and detracts from the offer or information. This may not always be the case for your target demographic, however, so it is best to do some thorough research and understanding of your target demographic groups (my book has more details about those groups) to know how to directly speak to them. If you’re communicating B2B I would strongly recommend not using emojis in your subject lines or email body copy. World Emoji Day on 17 July might be the only exception to this rule.
Most email platforms have something called A/B split testing. This is the ability to send your email to your mailing list with two or three minor changes, so you can ascertain which gets more of a response. It’s worth your time to try A/B split testing for subject lines. Don’t just guess what people will respond to – test the waters! These test results will be useful for the next time you send out an email campaign and you’ll be able to see whether your email list responds better to questions or giveaways or rewards or whatever you decide to test!
Craft the language to be personal (not at the expense of professionalism though). You may also like to include the recipient’s name in the subject line. Mailchimp discovered that including your company name in the subject line increased open rates. For example, Jones the Writer really wants you to learn about this today…
So how many people should be opening your emails? How do you know if your subject lines are doing well? Although it is industry dependent, Mailchimp purports that between 15% and 29% of your entire mailing list opening your emails are standard. Check out where your industry lies here.
Here are a few industries that most of my audience fall within. These figures are up to date as at 1 February 2017.
Technically it is both correct if you capitalise the first letter of every word (known as title case) but my grammatical preference is to only capitalise the first letter of the first word (known as sentence case). I find it is easier read and promotes a flow that the eyes can follow easily. As with any great writing, avoid excessive capitalisation and overuse of syntax (keep the exclamation marks away). Read more about grammar for blog posts here.
In a nutshell
Keep the subject line copy very clear, medium to short in length, professional and as a precursor to what the email contains. As with most copywriting, it’s better to aim for brevity and clarity over and above being to creatively “clever”. Although it may seem a little on the conservative side, it’s better to opt for something that works.
'64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line.'
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Facebook's algorithm has changed again recently and here's what you need to know in a nutshell.
Facebook’s latest algorithm changes mean that posts with more authenticity and that are more genuine will be favoured.
If you’re asking for likes, shares and comments, Facebook will basically say ‘pfft to you’. And if you spread too much "fake news" you’ll be penalised by the higher power that is Facebook. And the more people hide your posts, the more Facebook will realise what you’re sharing is basically… well… crap and will be reluctant to put you front and centre on the stage that is the Facebook newsfeed.
A handy article to read more here. And if you want to know how much a social media marketer is really worth, check out the breakdown on this page (scroll halfway down).