When Karen and I started Nine Media, we knew what we wanted to offer – amazing courses and consultancy that helped clients in their media relations – and how we wanted to do it, but the day-to-day practical issues of running a business were new to us.
The internet had made our ambitions possible – we could set up our company, work from anyplace at any time without the overheads of a permanent office space – but there were certain ‘essentials’ we had to discover ourselves. For instance, how could we save and share all our work remotely? How could we keep our list of clients safe? How should we communicate with our audience? And what’s the best way of managing the admin of running courses and taking payments?
Now, in our second year, and having made loads of mistakes along the way, we’ve found the four – free to set up – internet tools that have made running our business a much easier and simple process…
If there’s more than one of you, it’s essential to find a way of sharing data that doesn’t involve emailing each other thousands of new documents each day (not that we ever tried this, cough). Now, there are loads of cloud-sharing storage systems, but we found Dropbox.com to be by far the easiest. Having set it up on both our laptops, both Karen and I can work and edit documents, add new data, and generally manage all the important info we need in one place. Best of all, only we are able to access this, ensuring privacy, and we can see immediately when new documents are updated or added.
Keeping all your contacts on an Excel list is useful enough, but when it comes to sending out communications, we felt just a simple email didn’t look slick enough. So we signed up to Mailchimp.com, which not only enables you to save all your lists in one place (thereby adding backup), but send out professionally designed ‘campaigns’ to them, as often as you like. It’s ridiculously easy to learn how to design up a smart-looking newsletter, and is now invaluable to our communications.
Selling tickets for our media training workshops is a big part of what we do – and take it from us, chasing clients for unpaid invoices and working out who’s paid what is NOT the most enjoyable or effective way to spend your time. So we started using Eventbrite – a self-service online ticketing platform that enables you to manage your event and sales online. You can also promote your event through social media like Facebook and Twitter. Eventbrite charge a fee of 2.5% on your final ticket sales, but this is a small price to pay for, essentially, a supremely useful admin and money management tool.
Doesn’t the image at the top of this email look pretty? Thank you. We love writing our blog (and we’ve even been nominated for an award for it), but all too often we’ve struggled to find a free, decent image to run alongside it. Now, thanks to our friends at Talented Ladies Club, we’ve learned about Canva.com, a simple graphic design website that allows you to create stylish-looking images for your social media sites. Again, it’s free to sign up and only charges you $1 if you use any of their paid-for elements (but there are plenty of free ones, too, like the one we created above). Happy designing days!