Running a freelance business online is hard.  One of the things that I realised early on is how may different hats you have to wear to keep things running smoothly.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a solopreneur or a small freelance agency, as a business owner you have to wear ALL of the hats.  Otherwise your business grinds to a halt.

Sure you can outsource some of the tasks to specialists, but in the early days of a business, it can be difficult to afford the right help.  As a result many freelancers turn to tools as a more affordable alternative to help keep them sane.

There are tools available to help you complete all of the main tasks in your business including project management, invoicing, sales, graphic design, email, social media, contracts and so many more.

As an early stage entrepreneur it’s common to get shiny object syndrome, where you become obsessed with trying the latest tool to come onto the market.  Often this can take your focus away from what you should really be doing to grow your business.

I’m not saying that these tools are a bad thing.  Not at all.  I’m just saying that often it’s better to choose a tool and get on with running your business than signing up for a free trial of 27 different tools and becoming overwhelmed.

So how do you know which tools to choose?

I’m glad you asked.

In the book The Wisdom of Crowds, author James Surowiecki explains how the aggregation of information in groups often results in better decisions than those that would have been made by individuals.  He uses the example of a crowd at a county fair trying to guess the weight of an ox.  When all the individual guesses were averaged, the result was closer to the actual weight of the ox than most of the estimates from the crowd members.

That’s why in this post I’ve aggregated the collective thoughts of 53 experts to see which tools they couldn’t live without.

The question I asked them was:

If you could only use 3 tools to run your online business, what would they be?

I’ve collected all of their responses below.  Hopefully they will help you choose the best tools for you and your business.

The Best Tools for Freelancers

The following chart shows the most popular tools along with how many votes they received:

Chart showing the best tools for freelancers (as voted by 53 experts).

What do you think?  Do any of these surprise you?  Are there any tools missing that you think should definitely be on the list?  Let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.

The thing that I noticed from these results was how the tools that received most votes tended to be more generic.  In other words they’re applicable regardless of what your business is.

That’s not exactly surprising given the broad spectrum of expert freelancers I reached out to.  The designers tended to vote for tools like Adobe Creative Cloud, the web developers went for specific WordPress themes and the writers voted for Google Docs etc.  They picked tools specific to their own industry which is understandable.

Collectively though, the tools with that rose to the top were the ones that everyone can use.  Tools like:

  • WordPress – because all online businesses need a website.
  • Google Drive – for storing files on the cloud and accessing them from any device, anywhere.
  • Basecamp –  for managing projects, clients and team members.
  • ConvertKit – for building an email list and staying in contact with them.

Hopefully that means this post will be valuable for everyone, regardless of the type of online business they run.

Here is the full list of the tools recommended by our experts. I’ve included links to the website and sorted them by category. Please note that some of these tools could easily have been included in multiple categories as they offer multiple features. I’ve only listed them once to keep things simple.

The best Accounting/Invoicing tools

  • Harvest – Simple online time tracking software.
  • Wave – Invoicing accounting software plus credit card processing and payroll.
  • FreshBooks – Small business cloud accounting software.
  • 17 Hats – Ridiculously easy business management for entrepreneurs.
  • Paypal – Pay, send money & accept payments.
  • Quickbooks – Accounting software for small business.

The best Communication tools

  • Slack – A messaging app for teams.
  • Screenhero – Screen sharing for collaboration in teams.
  • Skype – Free calls to friends and family.
  • Voxer – Messaging, walkie talkie app for team communication.
  • Zoom – Video conferencing, web conferencing, webinars, screen sharing.

The best Electronic Signature tools

  • Hello Sign – Legally binding electronic signatures.
  • Adobe EchoSign – Makes it faster and easier than ever to securely sign and manage documents across devices.

The best Graphic Design tools

  • Adobe Creative Cloud – Software and services for creative professionals.
  • Canva – Amazingly simple graphic design software.

The best Document/File Storage tools

  • Google Apps / G Suite – Gmail, docs, calendar, & cloud storage.
  • Dropbox – Get to all your files from anywhere, on any device, and share them with anyone.
  • Evernote – Capture what’s on your mind.

The best Email Marketing tools

  • ConvertKit – Email marketing for professional bloggers.
  • MailChimp – Send marketing emails, automated messages, and targeted campaigns.
  • Aweber – All the tools you need to send emails the right way.
  • Active Campaign – Email marketing – marketing automation – small business CRM.

The best Online Products/Courses tools

The best Personal Productivity tools

The best Project Management tools

  • Basecamp – Manage projects, groups and client work.
  • Asana – The easiest way for teams to track their work.
  • Teamwork – Cloud productivity software.
  • Trello – Lets you work more collaboratively and get more done.
  • Redbooth – Online project management software & collaboration tools.
  • Todoist – To do list and task manager.

The best Sales, CRM & Contact Management tools

  • Contactually – Web-based CRM software & contact management system.
  • Infusionsoft – Small business CRM, sales & marketing software.
  • Ontraport – Business automation.
  • Streak – CRM in your inbox.

The best Scheduling tools

  • Acuity Scheduling – Online appointment scheduling software.
  • Calendly – Scheduling appointments and meetings is super easy with Calendly.
  • vCita – Client engagement platform for small businesses.

The best SEO tools

  • Ahrefs – SEO backlink checker & competitive research tools.
  • Google Analytics – Web analytics & marketing measurement.
  • Long Tail Pro – The best keyword research tool for long tail keywords.
  • SEMrush – Service for competitors research, shows organic and ads keywords for any site or domain.
  • Tiny Rocket Lab * – Rank tracker and onpage SEO tool.

The best Social Media tools

The best Video tools

  • YouTube – Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all.

The best Website tools / Content Management Systems

* Affiliate link disclaimer – two of the links in this article are affiliate links and these are indicated with an asterisk. That means that should you click that link and go on to purchase the tool, the expert who recommended it gets a small commission. This in no way affects the price you would pay.

53 Experts Reveal Their 3 Favourite Online Business Tools

Read on to discover each expert’s favourite tools and how they use them.

Top 3 tools:

  1. YouTube
  2. WordPress
  3. ConvertKit

“If I had just three tools, I’d set up YouTube videos to position myself as an expert and drive traffic to my landing page (on WordPress) and collect email addresses with ConvertKit. I’d then sell my consulting / coaching services to my email list using ConvertKit.”

Brighton is a Video-preneur who helps professional coaches (life coaches, executive coaches, etc) who want to use online video to build their practice.

Top 3 tools:

  1. Basecamp
  2. Quickbooks
  3. Google Apps for Business

“I use so many tools, it’s hard to pick just three I couldn’t live without!

I love Basecamp for managing projects between myself and contractors I work with. After using it to work with some of my clients, I realized how useful it could be for organizing information and collaborating.

For invoicing, Quickbooks is a step up from Paypal. Not only does Quickbooks let you invoice and receive payments – it also provides a lot of tools and feedback for staying on top of debt collection. I don’t want to spend all day chasing clients for payments, and Quickbooks makes my time spent on the task very efficient.

Finally, I know I couldn’t live without Google Apps for Business. I’m always trying hard to stay on top of emails, and Gmail has a lot of great functionality. Google Docs are critical for creating and sharing articles with my contractors and clients. I make presentations on Google Slides, and my highly-detailed to do list is on Google Sheets.

Some of these tools are paid and some are free, but they’re all critical for my business success.”

Maddy Osman creates engaging content with SEO best practices for marketing thought leaders and agencies that have their hands full with clients and projects. Learn more about her process and experience on her website, www.The-Blogsmith.com and read her latest articles on Twitter: @MaddyOsman.

Michelle Nickolaisen

bombchelle.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Harvest
  2. Google Apps
  3. Slack

“I use Harvest for invoicing & billing, so it’s pretty much a given. Google Apps is CRUCIAL for easy collaborative doc editing and for an email inbox that I can modify to my whims (MixMax is my main tool of choice there). And Slack…well…I don’t know if that counts since it’s not a business tool per se, but it’s way too easy to feel isolated as a work-at-home freelancer/biz owner, and Slack lets me stay in touch with various communities and friends so that I don’t go completely off the rails and start having whole conversations with my pets.”

Michelle is a freelance writer (with many side projects, including novel writing and other creative writing, the Freelancer Planner which was funded by a Kickstarter and are now available for sale, a data project about inequality in freelancing, & more) who works with B2B SaaS companies & tech startups to improve their copy and content marketing. She also write about ways freelancers can improve their businesses and occasionally leads classes/workshops on the topic.

Kaye Putnam

kayeputnam.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Adobe Creative Suite
  2. ActiveCampaign
  3. WordPress

“I use SO many tools that are integral to my business running smoothly, but these 3 are the foundation of it all.”

Kaye is a psychology-driven brand strategist. She helps entrepreneurs attract their ideal clients online through brand strategy and design. She created the In Demand Brand method to build brands and has worked with over 100 entrepreneurs’ brands. Her course, Brand New Brand, walks people through the exact process she uses with her $5K+ 1-on-1 clients to stand out online and get great clients.

Top 3 tools:

  1. Ontraport
  2. Basecamp
  3. Google Docs

“To be honest – it’s seriously hard to just choose 3 as I use so many tools that keep my business running smoothly and I feel like I couldn’t live without. But here’s why I’ve chosen these three:

Ontraport is my all-in-one system that runs my email marketing, list-building, sales and affiliates. It’s a big monthly investment, but has been sooo worth it for me to have all the “money-making” side of my business in one place.

Basecamp is essential for me for project management. Both for work with clients and my own business. Being able to set tasks and to-do lists and discuss and take notes all in an organized way help me and my team be more productive and get sh*t DONE. I love how simple and streamlined Basecamp is without too many distracting options and features that just make it harder to stay organized.

I couldn’t live without Google Docs for content creation. Creating content (whether it be courses or blog posts or FB ads) is the backbone of getting my business out there and visible in the online world. Having one place to keep ALL that content and keep it organized (along with it being in the cloud that I can access from anywhere)- is a lifesaver.”

Leah is a web designer and freedom-seeker who helps entrepreneurs have beautiful online homes and freelancers find freedom as creatives.

Lise Cartwright

hustleandgroove.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Todoist
  2. Trello
  3. WordPress

“I literally only focus on these three tools to run my business now. The combination of Todoist and Trello makes keep track of small tasks and projects a lot more manageable.”

Lise is a full-time author, coach and creative entrepreneur. She looks for the magic in life and loves making real-life connections with real people.

Farideh Ceaser

farideh.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Asana
  2. Dropbox
  3. Facebook Power Editor

“Asana is great for managing. I manage multiple businesses in there. I use Dropbox for coordinating all things biz and lastly, Facebook Power Editor because Facebook Ads are my jam!”

Farideh is a launch strategist and musician. She helps entrepreneurs launch big ideas, brilliantly. No blazers. No monotone voices. No icky-gross-make-me-want-to-vomit sales techniques. Whether its helping you expand your business, launch an online course, or helping you fulfil your creative destiny.

Jessica Freeman

jesscreatives.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Basecamp
  2. Meet Edgar
  3. Wave

“Basecamp and Edgar were the easiest tools to list here, as they help save me so much time, and keep me organized. Things in my business were so disorganized before I started using these tools!”

Jessica is a graphic and web designer who works with service-based entrepreneurs. She helps entrepreneurs create a brand that shines, while empowering them to make smart design decisions in the future.

Erin Flynn

erineflynn.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. WordPress (+ the Genesis Framework)
  2. Gmail
  3. ConvertKit

“There are a ton of flashy tools on the market, and I own some of them. And sure, they make my life easier. But when it comes down to it, I simply need a great website, a way to communicate with my clients and customers, and a way to automate emails to my mailing list (and convert more people into customers). It’s as simple as that!”

Erin has been making websites since 1999, and started her own web design and development company in 2012. After a few years creating websites for clients, Erin shifted her business. Now, her primary business is helping other designers and developers navigate the difficult waters of entrepreneurship by providing courses and guides to teach everything from how to start a web design business to how to deal with nightmare clients.

When she’s not teaching designers or working with her own design/development clients, Erin can be found exploring the mountains near her home in Aspen, Colorado.

Liz Froment

lizfroment.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Lanes.io
  2. Blankpage.io
  3. Buffer

“Ooooooh this is a good question, I like how you framed it.

Ok so my tools would be:

1. Lanes.io – I have recently fallen in love with this tool, and quite honestly it’s been the key to a massive increase in productivity, time management, and business output. It’s basically a combination of a daily to do list, project management tool and Pomodoro timer all in one.

2. Blankpage.io – Writing is a massive part of my business, so I have to do it on a daily basis. Blankpage is my go to tool for writing. I set my daily word count and go at it. When I write every single day, I get a ton of great ideas and lots of content I can expand out into posts, emails, ebooks, etc.

3. Buffer – Social media is where it’s at, and I love connecting with others online. Buffer is my goto tool for social media. I use it to not only get my own content out there but also curate awesome posts I read from others and sharing cool stuff.”

Liz Froment is a B2B focused content management strategist out of Boston. You can find her on lizfroment.com

Dr. Kelly Edmonds

drkellyedmonds.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. WordPress
  2. vCita
  3. Harvest Time

“I assumed that email would be a common tool as well as Facebook so gave you more special tools I adore and need.”

Dr. Kelly Edmonds helps entrepreneurs and corporations create, design and teach online-based courses. A leader in the e-learning field she’s won seven educational awards and presented at nearly 30 education conferences while helping thousands of people learn better through research-based instructional design.

Emma-Louise Smith

emmalouisesmith.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Buffer
  2. Google Drive
  3. Waveapp

“It’s essential to schedule your social media posts and my tools of choice is Buffer. It’s the most intuitive of the social media schedulers and cheaper than options like Meet Edgar or Coschedule. You can set your post times, fill up your Buffer queue with content and leave it to do it’s thing. The browser extension makes it really easy to add things from around the web to your queue as you come across them. And rebuffering is a great way to reschedule popular content particularly on Twitter.

Google Drive is simply THE most useful way to create and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets. I couldn’t live without it. I don’t store much on my computer anymore it’s all on Google Drive and I use Google Docs and Google Sheets rather than Word or Excel.

Wave is the free accounting package I use and it’s great for quick and easy invoicing and helping me keep on top of my business finances.”

An audience-obsessed wordsmith, big picture strategist and tech-geek rolled into one. With over 15 years experience as a journalist and communicator, Emma’s been there and done that. Now her mission is to help small businesses and charities stand out online with compelling copy and a strategic social media.

Top 3 tools:

  1. Redbooth
  2. Aweber
  3. Acuity Scheduling

“Keeping things organized and systematized will help ensure both the success of your business and its evolution for the long haul, especially nearer the beginning when you may lack the funds to hire a project manager or other people to help you run and grow your endeavor. Systems FTW (for the win)!”

Natalia helps coaches turn more visitors into clients through effective strategy and design that give your website superpowers.

Andrew Holland

zoogly.co.uk

Top 3 tools:

  1. Thrive Themes
  2. Ahrefs
  3. Grammarly

“I chose not to add Google’s tools such as docs, slides etc as there are so many. But they are the cornerstone to my business.

That being said the other tools have changed everything for my business. Thrive Themes has allowed me to create eye-popping articles. Ahrefs is getting better all the time and is allowing me to spot SEO and content opportunities that I never knew were out there.

Finally, Grammarly is my best friend, a bit like having an editor on your shoulder that is telling you when you are making mistakes.”

Andrew is a content marketing and social media specialist. He creates viral content both in a written and video format that gains plenty of shares and then climbs the Google rankings like a Ninja scaling a wall.

Nicola Semple

buildyourbiz.online

Top 3 tools:

  1. Google Analytics
  2. Evernote
  3. ConvertKit

“Google Analtyics – the old adage is true, ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’. A key part of my business is creating great content and driving traffic to that content. Without Google Analytics I would have no idea what content people are interested in and actually taking the time to consume.

Evernote – I have a REALLY bad memory. Evernote is my external brain. I use it all the time. I have an ‘Important Things to Remember’ note that has SO much useful information such as passwords and access codes. I also love being able to create content when I am out and about and then have it all sync to my desktop seamlessly.

ConvertKit – If you don’t have an email list and you are struggling to decide which email provider to use then stop it. Just pick one and get on with it! They all have their pros and cons but the most important thing is that you are using one of them to build your email list. I am currently using ConvertKit and would highly recommend it. It is simple to use and because it is a small company they are very receptive to feedback from their users on new features.”

Nicola is the founder of Build Your Biz and is a ‘no fluff, no guff’ business mentor. She helps new and aspiring business owners figure out what they want from their business and then she helps them go out and get it.

Nela Dunato

neladunato.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Adobe Creative Cloud
  2. Trello
  3. Google Drive

“Adobe Creative Cloud applications are the basis of my business, and since I use Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign in my work daily, that alone could fill my quota of “only 3 tools”. So I’m cheating and treating it as one tool!

Trello helps me organize and keep track of my business operations, editorial calendar, client projects, personal projects and so much more. I love the drag-n-drop interface, and numerous features that make managing my business so much easier.

Nowadays I rarely use the office suite on my computer, and the majority of my documents is stored in Google Drive (I regularly back it up to my computer, of course). I love using Drive because I can access and create new documents from any of my devices, which is super important when the inspiration strikes in the weirdest moments. I’ve typed many of my blog posts on my phone while commuting, thanks to Drive.”

Nela Dunato runs a boutique design consultancy that helps micro-businesses evolve into premium brands and connect with their dream clients. She empowers creative entrepreneurs to feel confident in their position on the market and attract better paying clients, with her hand-lettered logo & brand design and mobile friendly websites.

Sara Frandina

sarafrandina.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Asana
  2. Spotify Premium
  3. Google Docs

“There are a million tools out there for online business owners, and it’s easy to get caught up in trying out the latest and greatest — but the three I’ve mentioned above are the ones I simply couldn’t live without — Asana for organization and sanity, Spotify Premium for endless variety in background music as I write, and Google Docs as the ultimate collaboration tool between myself and my clients.”

Sara Frandina is a copywriter + content strategist with a relentless love of words and an insatiable appetite for books, travel and popcorn. When she’s not creating copy for clients, she’s reducing the amount of hair lost over content strategy with tips, freebies, and workshops at sarafrandina.com and running the (free) #justwrite community for writers over on Slack.

Kat Love

katlove.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. WordPress.org
  2. MeetEdgar
  3. GSuite

“So in love with WordPress! MeetEdgar has saved me hours of time with social media. And GSuite encompasses my email needs as well as documents, apps, and storage.”

Kat Love builds and designs websites to help psychotherapists get more clients, grow their practice, and take their online marketing to the next level. Kat’s appreciation of therapists stems from the powerful healing that therapists helped them achieve following childhood sexual abuse and neglect.

Karen Marston

untamedwriting.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. MacBook Air
  2. WordPress
  3. Aweber

“These three things are the core components of my business. Without any of them, I’d be screwed. I sell through my writing, which I share publicly on the web (through WordPress) and privately via email (through AWeber). And obviously I need something to write on. So, the MacBook.”

Karen writes copy with personality that helps businesses sell stuff in a non-sleazy way, and she helps budding writers who want to escape their mundane lives create freelance writing businesses they can run from anywhere in the world.

Mary Kate Feeney

mkfeeney.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Momentum Dashboard for Chrome
  2. Adobe Creative Cloud
  3. Dropbox

“Working for yourself, like I do, sometimes it is hard to stay focused and on top of your to-do list. With Momentum, everytime I open a new browser, there is my main goal and tasks for the day staring me in the face. It truly keeps me on track. And who doesn’t love checking the box once a task is complete?

Not a day goes by that I don’t use the Adobe Creative Cloud. Whether it is designing graphics for social media or editing photographs, I couldn’t live without Photoshop, Lightroom or InDesign.

I have Dropbox installed on all my devices, from my phone to my Macbook. Sharing files with clients is a breeze. Not to mention, I back up all my photos from my iPhone onto Dropbox.”

Mary Kate Feeney is a writer, digital media strategist and photographer.

As the chief strategist and founder of Dockside Media, LLC, a creative digital agency, Mary Kate works with educational institutions, nonprofits and political initiatives to craft and tell their story through online marketing and social media.

Previously, she was the Director of Online Media for Governor Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts. Additionally, she is a published photographer and has been featured by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and the Smithsonian Institute.

Al Clunnie

alclunnie.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. MacBook Air
  2. Evernote
  3. Bullet Journal

“I wasn’t 100% sure whether you meant physical things like my Macbook, apps or what, but these 3 things above I use every day and could not run my business without.”

Al Clunnie is a Lifestyle Design & Personal Development coach. He helps people take their “One day I’ll…” and make it happen by getting clear on their goals and the steps required to achieve them. When he isn’t coaching people, he’s probably out running, brewing some beer, walking his dogs or spending time with his son. You can find out more, and request a free consultation at www.alclunnie.com or by joining the friendly, inspiring and free community of like-minded people in The Momentum Group on Facebook.

Maj Wismann

majwismann.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Simplero
  2. Tiny Rocket Lab
  3. Google Analytics

“I’m a best selling online sexologist and relationship therapist both in Denmark but also international. I do a lot of work to make people find me in their search results with longtail searches. Therefore I also have to keep track of my rankings where I use TinyRocketLab. For my online workshops I use Simplero – wich is an amazing software with all you need when you are starting an online business where you sell online products. And of course Google Analytics.”

Maj is a clinical sexologist from Denmark & she helps men, women and couples in Denmark and international to get their sex drive back & keep it for life. Online. She has online workshops, Q&A’s, blog posts with tips and guides etc.

Jamie Jensen

yourhotcopy.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Google
  2. 17 Hats
  3. Teamwork

“This is a tough choice, but my operations would literally slow to a halt if I didn’t have these three tools/platforms working in my business. We use these tools on a daily basis and, while none of them are “perfect,” they are critical to our client experience and processes. And, while that might not sound very sexy, you need a seamless client process for a healthy, happy, business (with a very sexy revenue stream to match).”

Jamie Jensen is the founder and CEO of Your Hot Copy, a digital copywriting agency for entrepreneurs with big hearts and bigger personalities. She’s used the power of the written word to help her clients (and herself) increase their sales by as much as 900%. To date, Your Hot Copy has worked with over 200 amazing clients (and counting).

Prior to creating marketable content for the internet, Jamie was creating marketable content for the big screen. Her indie romantic comedy film Hannah Has a Ho-Phase won her the Best Feature Writer award at the La Femme Film Fest in 2013.

Jamie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Storytelling from New York University, and a Master’s in Producing from the University of Southern California. You can learn more about how Jamie and Your Hot Copy can help you tell your story in a way that sells at yourhotcopy.com.

Lysa Greer

lysagreer.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Thrive Leads + Landing Pages
  2. Harvest Billing
  3. Canva for Work

“I have a few other honorable mentions: X Theme (for web builds), Quickbooks Online, Acuity Scheduling and Trello.”

As a digital production strategist, Lysa helps entrepreneurs who are ready to scale and leverage their businesses by providing support through development, design, and implementation. With over 15 years of experience working with a variety of businesses, she brings a comprehensive background in broadcasting, interactive and print media, to every project she produces.

Top 3 tools:

  1. Basecamp
  2. MailChimp
  3. Later

“I have multiple businesses and team-members. Basecamp keeps us (and all our documents) on the same page!

Every time I start a project or a business, the (almost) first thing I do is set up a mailchimp account to makes sure I’m communicating with prospects and clients.

Later.com has made maintaining my instagram presence fun! And for someone who doesn’t much like social media, that is saying something!”

Anna is a serial entrepreneur, writer and travel addict! Her businesses include sugaring and skin care studio The Portland Girl, Anna Long Stokes (consulting) and new blogging project The Ask Experiment.

Alex Broderick-Forster

earnenough.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Slack
  2. Adobe Photoshop
  3. Screenhero

“If I could do away with email all together and only use Slack, I would. It’s made team and client communication so easy.

Photoshop is a tool I almost always have open. You could sub in Canva here and achieve the same effect. Basically I need some way to create pretty images on the fly for ads or personal use (jokes).

My new favorite tool is Screenhero, which lets you do a screenshare meeting and control the other person’s computer. Doing specialized requiring complicated actions to be performed by my clients, this tool saves some major headaches.”

Alex strategizes and manages Facebook advertising campaigns for his clients.

Billie Gardner

desiretodone.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. DPD (Digital Product Delivery)
  2. Boardbooster
  3. Canva

“DPD makes it super easy to sell digital products, like eBooks. It’s reasonably priced and has helped increase my bottom line.

Boardbooster has helped increase my Pinterest followers, website traffic, newsletter list, and sales. It automatically loops old pins, keeping my pins rotated and in front of new people.

Canva makes creating beautiful graphics easy and fun. I create blog, product and social media graphics with Canva.”

Billie is an Online Business Manager and Pinterest Strategist. She also writes articles and eBooks for aspiring virtual assistants wanting to start their own businesses. In her free time you’ll find her cuddling with her fur babies, watching funny movies, and scoping out new restaurants with her hubby.

Megan Ronecker

rubyandsass.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. PayPal
  2. Wave Accounting
  3. Hello Sign

“I love Paypal- it just makes everything so easy! I can send invoices, transfer money to my bank or make payments directly with my Paypal account. I even signed up for the Paypal Debit Card so I can pay with my Paypal balance when at client lunches or out shopping for supplies.

Wave makes accounting and tax time SO easy. It collects all my transactions for the month and all I have to do is categorize them and hit approve. At tax time, it’s as simple as generating an income sheet and hitting print!

Hello Sign is my go to for getting contract signatures. It’s quick and easy for both me and my clients!”

Megan is the graphic designer behind Ruby and Sass Design. From branding to web graphics to print design and everything in between, she uses her love of bright color and bold designs to help her clients stand out in this highly visual world. When she’s not working directly with clients, she enjoys designing vibrant art prints for her Etsy shop.

Bobbie Adkins

builtbybobbie.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Basecamp
  2. Acuity Scheduling
  3. Zoom

“Basecamp – I literally run my entire business out of this project management system. It eliminates client emails, and serves as my remote teams ‘water cooler’.

Acuity Scheduling. Connects to everything, seamlessly handles all client booking with more features than I could ever need!

Zoom conference calling has become my go-to for weekly client Focus Calls. It’s amazing how much my daily client communication improved when I started video calling vs phone calling. That face-to-face interaction makes a HUGE difference. And zoom makes this SUPER easy :)”

Bobbie is the CEO of a Digital Marketing Studio that helps entrepreneurs design, build, and scale powerful online businesses with marketing strategy and custom website design.

Cinthia Pacheco

digimorphs.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Google Drive
  2. Later
  3. Streak

“I also really rely on paper, pens, and sticky notes. Sometimes you just need to physically brainstorm and move things around on paper or on a board to validate your ideas.”

Cinthia helps female business owners take the overwhelm out of their site analytics and data, as well as streamline the systems & tools they use online and offline. She loves all things digital but believes that screen-free time is just as important. There is a calm way to run your business while still being successful. Cinthia also runs a podcast called Digitally Overwhelmed and works with corporate clients on their web analytics.

Nicole Heymer

curioelectro.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Evernote
  2. Asana
  3. G Suite

“Evernote is my brain in the cloud. I literally can’t imagine running a business without it.

Asana is how we manage all of our projects, from start to finish. We invite clients, contractors and anyone else who matters to each project. Everyone can see the big picture and nothing is forgotten.

G Suite (Google Apps) is not only a rock-solid email platform, but also a fabulous place to share documents. I use it and I recommend it to all of my clients.”

Nicole Heymer is the owner and principal designer at Curio Electro, a boutique web design firm specializing in digital strategy and branding for clients ranging from interior design firms to municipalities.

Sally Tudhope

sallytudhope.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. DIY Thesis
  2. Teamwork
  3. ConvertKit

“It’s hard to pick only three, but I really am trying to cut my tools down! I absolutely love the Messaging system inside Teamwork (it replaces email and keeps client conversations in one place, which is a lifesaver), but a free and very simple alternative for project task management is Todoist, which I have also used and loved.

ConvertKit has been an eye-opener. If you struggle to write blog posts, but enjoy writing emails to friends, try ConvertKit. Writing a Welcome Sequence for someone who has just downloaded your latest freebie feels really natural and fun. You get to unveil your business, offer help and provide other goodies in a way that feels just like connecting with a friend.

And DIY Thesis – my first love when it comes to web design. It’s such a great tool for creating any kind of website, from a simple starter site to a full-blown custom design. I love building sites on a sound and solid structure – like building a house on good foundations and with top-quality materials – and Thesis helps me do just that.”

Sally runs Sally Tudhope Creative where she helps women get online beautifully, so they can connect with dream clients and positively transform lives.

Top 3 tools:

  1. Google Docs
  2. SEMrush
  3. Long Tail Pro

“It is hard to only choose 3, but I have these three open all day. I use Google Docs to keep everything in one place. I keep client docs, email sequences and contracts organized. SEMrush is my first stop for SEO research and I use as one of my LongTail Pro for Keyword Research tools.”

Meg is an SEO Strategist for creative entrepreneurs. She helps women use their passion and influence to do more good.

Lisa Fiorvante & Joe Scoppino

scovantemedia.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Teamwork
  2. G Suite
  3. WordPress

“We’ve tried ’em all and Teamwork is, hands down, our fave project management tool. It allows us to manage our projects professionally and efficiently, holding us accountable and keeping us on track so we can avoid tasks slipping through the cracks!

When it comes to saving and organizing our files, The G Suite is our cloud of choice. It allows us to leverage the Gmail interface while giving us access to the rest of their tools– most importantly, Google Drive. Google Drive allows us to organize all of our own files within the cloud (such as graphics and other media files) along with all the native Google files such as docs, sheets and presentations.

Our favorite tool for web development is WordPress. We like control and that’s exactly what it gives us, even allowing for ease of use for non-developers while creating and publishing content. It also opens up the door to tons of plugins and extensions to make our website even more powerful.

These 3 tools power the infrastructure of our business and help us turn our BIG ideas into reality each and every day.”

Lisa Fiorvante & Joe Scoppino are a husband & wife team who founded Scovante Media, a digital marketing & design company for entrepreneurs with BIG ideas.

They use their special sauce of skills & experiences to craft meaningful personal brands and impactful marketing campaigns. Lisa’s the creative strategist & visionary who loves turning ideas into reality and Joe’s the designer, developer, and educator who loves empowering his clients to make their businesses better & stronger.

They both love pizza & tacos, and in their spare time, you’ll find them recording episodes for their NEW podcast, ‘The Sunday Sauce: Tips, Musings & Roundtable Chats for and by Creative Entrepreneurs,’ eating at Chipotle, and attempting Gordon Ramsey style meals in their teensy, tiny NYC-style kitchen. (Anything involving food, obviously ;))

Larissa Pickens

floatdesign.co

Top 3 tools:

  1. Harvest
  2. Basecamp
  3. Boomerang

“I LOVE finding tools that make my life easier and business run more efficiently. Basecamp is the heart of our operation — we’ve looked at several other project management tools but it’s hard to beat the simplicity of Basecamp. Plus it’s easy enough that our clients actually use it.

Harvest takes care of invoicing and keeping track of my team’s hours. It probably saves me 2-3 days of work each month and makes everyone much happier.

I have so many tools I love but another that I use multiple times a day is Boomerang. It brings up reminders when I need them, reminds me to follow-up and generally helps me keep my inbox sane and focused.”

Larissa Pickens is the owner and creative director of Float Design, a digital design studio focused on beauty, wellness and lifestyle brands.

Kamila Gornia

kamilagornia.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Infusionsoft
  2. Contactually
  3. Asana

Kamila Gornia is a powerhouse digital marketing strategist for modern entrepreneurs who wanna get seen + get paid online doing what they love so they become leaders in their space and blow up the Internet with their message.

Mallie Rydzik

mallierydzik.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Google Apps
  2. Edgar
  3. Slack

Mallie Rydzik is a tornado scientist turned serial online entrepreneur who is dedicated to helping creatives think bigger about the work they’re doing in the world. As a business strategist and coach, she guides her clients to more impact and income in their small businesses, taking them from solopreneur to CEO.

Top 3 tools:

  1. Slack
  2. Google Drive
  3. Ahrefs

Jo Gifford is a content strategist, and a recovering overwhelmed entrepreneur with an addiction to making things easier.

Champion of working smarter and creator of the Brilliance Ignition Process, she has a loyal global audience and a stellar client list of biz owners making big sales and a big difference.

A widely read contributor to Huffington Post, Selz, Regus, Prowess, YFS Magazine and many more interwebz rabbit holes, she is a respected UK voice on life as a pocket-sized enterprise owner.

Jo’s background – a seasoned blogger, copywriter, podcaster and graphic designer with an MA and research interest in creative thinking for small business – makes for an eclectic and colourful killer content approach.

Angela J. Ford

angelajford.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. WordPress
  2. Teachable
  3. ConvertKit

Angela is an Author and Digital Marketer, focused on helping creative entrepreneurs do more work they love. Currently, she works with authors, writers, and bloggers providing expert guidance on book launch strategy.

Top 3 tools:

  1. Google Drive
  2. Acuity Scheduling
  3. Typeform

Kathryn Brown is a productivity and work-life balance coach for service-based small business owners. She helps them uncover how they work best so they can leverage their time, scale their business, and live their life. It’s time to use your personal productivity style and your work style preferences to optimize and streamline your business so that you can make more without working more.

Top 3 tools:

  1. Voxer
  2. Aweber
  3. Facebook Ads

Kate Swoboda (a.k.a. Kate Courageous) is the author of the Courageous Living Program, founder of the Courageous Living Coach Certification, and creator of YourCourageousLife.com, where she defines courage as feeling afraid, diving in anyway, and transforming. Her approach combines straight-shooting, pragmatic wisdom with playfully poking at self-imposed limitations of who you are and what’s truly possible for you.

Kate was deemed one of the top 50 bloggers making a difference in fitness, health, and happiness by Greatist. She’s written for Entrepreneur, The Intelligent Optimist, The Daily Love, ProBlogger, MindBodyGreen, Lifetime Moms, and has been breakout session speaker at the World Domination Summit.

Her first book with publisher New Harbinger will be on shelves in 2018.

Julienne DesJardins

juliennedesjardins.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. ConvertKit
  2. Squarespace
  3. Trigger

Julienne DesJardins helps small businesses who are ready to bring a strategic partner on board. She is a digital marketing virtual assistant who specializes in systems creation, as well as email and social media marketing. Julienne is a Certified ConvertKit Expert who blogs about her favorite business tools, and tips for work-at-home parents. If you’re a mom struggling with finding enough time for their biz during the day, she offers a free 5-day email course, called Balance Biz + Baby. Visit her website or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.

Kimberly Crossland

kimberlycrossland.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Trello
  2. Wave Apps
  3. Google Drive

Kimberly Crossland’s role can be described in 3 Cs: Content, Communications, and Copywriting. With this three-pronged approach she helps businesses bring in qualified new leads by ranking higher online, crafting engaging material, and making target audiences swoon.

Morgan Haines

alittlecreative.net

Top 3 tools:

  1. Dropbox
  2. Acuity Scheduling
  3. PayPal

A brand strategist and designer for big-hearted, sweary entrepreneurs. I love potatoes and hate my dog.

Devon Smiley

devonsmiley.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Google Apps
  2. ConvertKit
  3. Gumroad

Devon is a Negotiation Consultant for Ambitious Entrepreneurs who are ready to stop taking what they can get, and start going after what they want, need and are worth in business.

Erin Cassidy

heyartsocial.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. MailChimp
  2. Asana
  3. Boomerang for Gmail

Erin Cassidy is a graphic designer living and working in Denver, Colorado. She helps business owners create beautiful websites.

Top 3 tools:

  1. Basecamp
  2. Harvest
  3. Adobe EchoSign

Sara is an e-book editor for entrepreneurs. She helps big thinkers in small business write well and get paid.

Janine Duff

janineduff.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. FreshBooks
  2. Basecamp
  3. Google Docs

Janine Duff is a Word Slinger who has helped over 200 women coaches and creatives speak their customer’s language in a voice that’s unmistakably theirs, so they can bump hearts with their people, sell without sleaze, and become more influential and profitable doing what they love. When she’s not Peggy Olson-ing it up at her keyboard, you can find her flipping pancakes, getting lost in historical fiction, or frolicking through forests with her pooch.

Sonja Jobson

jobsonstudios.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Google for Business
  2. 17 Hats
  3. Asana

Sonja is the owner and graphic designer behind Jobson Studios. She loves great design, small businesses, and fusing the two together to make amazing entrepreneurial things happen.

Shankar Poncelet

shankxwebdev.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. MailChimp
  2. Calendly
  3. Teamwork

Shankar grew up in Luxembourg which is a small country in the heart of Europe. After high school graduation he joined the Luxembourg law enforcement forces in 2002. During 9 years of active duty, Shankar learned to manage stress, be a good listener and communicator, and that the best way of working with people is on a basis of mutual trust and respect.

In 2011 it was time for him to emigrate to the United States; by doing so he realized a childhood dream. He attended beautiful Miami University of Ohio where he majored in Interactive Media Studies with a focus on web development.

After graduation in 2014, Shankar started working as a software consultant in Cincinnati. In October 2015 he decided to start freelancing as a web developer, focusing on Ruby on Rails and CraftCMS.

Shankar believes that the future belongs to individuals and organizations that want to positively impact our communities. He loves to support entrepreneurship, creativity and sustainability.

Stefani Harris & Janet Hoover

theessentialwebsite.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Google Drive/Docs
  2. Dropbox
  3. Skype

Janet & Stefani are two passionate, dedicated gals from Texas who help smart, kind, ready-to-grow business owners create the online home they’ve been dreaming of. Technically speaking: They design and code WordPress websites, create custom logos, manage their clients’ sites post-launch, and collaborate and strategize to ensure their clients’ success!

They love helping other freedom-seekers escape the 9-5 and live the laptop lifestyle, and do just that with their online magic-making!

Sarah Merekar

thinqsouk.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Slack
  2. Google Apps For Work
  3. FreshBooks

Sarah is primarily a storyteller who loves to work with and in several different mediums, on various platforms and see how these co-exist and complement each other. She loves hacking product sales and understanding how content creation has an effect on this process. The content she creates for clients is high quality, highly tailored, and on brand, specifically in the form of digital & brand copywriting, design and video.

Arwyn Todd

arwyntodd.com

Top 3 tools:

  1. Teamwork
  2. MailChimp
  3. Google Docs

Arwyn is a WordPress developer, technology wizard, and total dog person who believes everyone deserves to have a website they truly love. She builds websites from scratch, tackles to-do lists on existing sites, and offers monthly maintenance packages to help with all those pesky WordPress updates.

Summary

Wow!  How amazing was that?

I’d like to thank every one of the experts who took the time to contribute and share their experience with us. Obviously a lot of work went into pulling this together, so if you got some value from it I’d love it if you could share it.

If you could only use 3 tools to run your online business, what would they be? Leave a comment below.

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