Here at Get It Down Pat, I’m all about anything that makes life easier, quicker, and better — and I definitely apply this philosophy to my at-home business as well.
If you are finding yourself working from home for the first time, you’ll also find that many of the following tools can help make your work-at-home life all of the above.
I’ve use all of these tools for a long time, so I know first hand that a) they work and b) they are produced by high-quality companies. While they are provided by third-party companies that have their own customer service, if you’d like to ask me any questions about them, I’m happy to give you my personal take. You can contact me by simply clicking HERE.
FreshBooks — Accounting software
FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting system that I used for my creative services business for years now. I love it! As a creative type, I’ll admit that I’m not always the best with numbers, bookkeeping, and accounting. But as a business owner, I have no choice but tend to such tasks. Freshbooks makes life so simple. It’s easy to use, very intuitive, and makes accounting, invoicing, and time tracking quick and easy. Plus, because it’s cloud-based, I can log in from virtually anywhere, as long as I have an Internet connection, and invoice my clients.
Try it before you buy it! You can try it out for FREE for 30 days and see if it works well for you.
Click HERE to learn more and add FreshBooks to handle your accounting and invoicing.
Backblaze — Computer system backups
Now that you are working from home, you’re probably realizing all the more how critical it is to ensure that all your computer files are backed up. Of course, the day you don’t do it will be the day you wish you did. To keep that day from ever happening, backup your files using Backblaze. I used a competitor’s backup for a while, and the unstable nature of its software and its constant inability to play nice with my Mac made me switch to Backblaze. Without a doubt, it’s the easiest, most-intuitive backup system I have ever used. You just install it, start it, and let Backblaze do the rest. It recognizes your files and backs them up. Boom! Done.
And restoring files couldn’t be easier either. It’s available for both PC and Mac platforms, and plans start at the unbelievable price of just $6 a month. Purchase a year or two years at a time, and pay even less! You can even start off with a FREE trial.
Don’t risk losing your important files! Click the link below to try Backblaze today for FREE.
VirBELA — Virtual meetings
If you are going to be working from home, particularly one with a team of associates, freelancers, subcontractors, or full-fledged employees, you need a way to be able to reach out to people and communicate with them on a regular basis. Sure, you can phone, you can text, you can email. But many times, words alone don’t cut it. People often need to see visuals — slide shows, documents, demonstrations of live interactions — to really understand the points you are trying to convey.
But, also, when you work at home, let’s face it — you tend to be in a different comfort zone. For example, most people are dressed in a pretty comfortable, casual way when they work from home. (We can talk later about whether people who work at home SHOULD DO this, but the fact is, they ARE DOING this.) Grooming in general takes a casual dip. Women might not bother doing hair or makeup. Men might skip shaving. And the reason for that is they know that NO ONE is going to see them.
And then, there are their surroundings. You might let cleaning and organizing a home office slide about because, hey! It’s not bothering you. And no one else will ever know.
That is, until you do a video conference. I’ll be honest: I’ve dressed up and put on makeup for a video conference. And I’ve cleaned my office right before one as well (or at least, shoved a few items aside). And don’t you know, I’ve been online with people who HAVE commented about some object sitting on my bookcase, or even (of all things) the doors of my closet behind me. Yes — people do notice! And some even say a thing or two about what they see.
But then, there’s VirBELA. VirBELA is a virtual meeting like no other. If you are a gamer yourself or at least have played the occasional “Wii” game with your child, then you might have an idea what a VirBELA campus looks like. It’s a virtual world of offices and auditoriums.
You create an avatar, and you explore the campus and attend meetings as that avatar. You are “seen” without being seen. Meetings are held. People talk, they walk around, they sit down. They interact. They view slideshows and documents on projector screens that can be zoomed in to fill your entire monitor or window. You do everything you’d do in those “other” virtual meeting situations, but — no one sees you at that moment. Wear your PJs, leave your hair undone, and don’t worry about your office disorganization. No one sees — nor gets distracted — by any of it.
If you are considering have a remote team, VirBELA gives you the means to communicate with your team members, in a way that’s meaningful, productive… and even a little fun.
You can try VirBELA and even use it to meet with people for FREE. And if you decide you want to have a virtual “office” for your team, as an affiliate, I can extend a great discount — $200 off your first month of “rent.” And need I say, the monthly rent is MUCH cheaper than investing in an office suite in a brick-and-mortar building.
SiteGround — Domain names and web hosting for WordPress websites
OK, so you’ve decided that you ARE going to build your own website. Do you want hosting with that?
Of course you do. You’re going to need it… and a domain name, too, of course. And you can get everything you need, via a simple, user-friendly platform, by using SiteGround.
SiteGround had been strongly recommended to me by other website designers, and now, as a user, I know why. Siteground is amazingly easy to use, their pricing is much lower than their value, and their 24/7 support is out of this world. If your website is a serious part of your business — as it should be — then SiteGround is the perfect place to host it. Let them be an integral part of your online success.
Elegant Themes — WordPress building themes
Damn it, Kirk! I’m a designer, not a programmer.
OK, OK… I stole and paraphrased that line from the original Star Trek series. But it doesn’t make it any less true. I’m not a programmer at all. But I’m still able to design great-looking, efficient, responsive WordPress websites for my clients.
And for the most part, that’s thanks to Elegant Themes. I’ve used their theme “Divi” to build my own creative services website, and I’ve used it to build websites for my clients as well.
Of course, some people just want to do their own website designing and programming. That’s cool — I totally get it! You can save a lot of many and maintain a certain amount of control when you build your own website. All the more reason to use Elegant Themes’ Divi. It’s easy to use, even for a beginner. And once it’s set up, with the power and ease of WordPress behind it all, editing and revising the website is a breeze.
If you are going to be building your own website from scratch, I’d recommend the lifetime membership to Elegant Themes (it’s what I have). That way, you’ll always have access to the updates to the themes.
WooCommerce — eCommerce platform
Of course, some websites are actually online stores. Those sites require an eCommerce platform. When I created an online store for my own business, WooCommerce was my solution. An extremely user-friendly plugin for WordPress websites, WooCommerce is the most customizable eCommerce platform for building your online business. If you are building your own online store, I highly recommend it. Best of all — you can get started with WooCommerce for FREE.
Stencil — Image creation
If you’re creating a website — or doing any marketing online — you’re going to need images. Not all of us are blessed to be able to use software like Illustrator and Photoshop to create images for the web. If that’s your situation, I invite you to check out Stencil. Stencil is a FREE online program that allows you to make your own images quickly and easily, without having to own — nor have a background in— graphic arts software. Even though I know how to use Illustrator and Photoshop, I use Stencil quite a bit, simply because it’s quicker and easier to use, especially for social media images. With just a few mouse clicks, you can create your own quality images, all by yourself!