Guest Post by Siân Killingsworth
I am so excited to share Siân Killingsworth’s useful, usable advice with you! She’s a wellspring of marketing and small business tips that really help simplify many processes. Siân is a copywriter, content curator & strategist, and social media advisor to small businesses and solo-preneurs like you! She’s an expert at writing content for social media, blogs, websites, and digital marketing, plus she’s a whiz at social media strategy and writing. She helps small businesses determine how social media can benefit them, then helps them expand audience reach and attract new customers. She loves prawn burritos, puns, and any opportunity to wear fancy shoes. Contact Siân at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.sianessa.com.
Make Google Do Your Work For You
When you’re running a small business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the hundreds of details that help your operation flourish. Spend too much time fiddling with those details and you’re apt to lose sight of your overall strategy. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some smart, useful business applications that all worked together to make your life easier? And wouldn’t it be awesome if they were free?
Well, guess what? I’ve found them! Google has created a series of online applications and tools that go way beyond that famous search engine.
Six Cool Tools
Google offers all these products free as long as you have a Gmail account, which itself is also free. These business tools are great because they allow you to streamline your processes and free up some of your valuable time to focus on the big picture. As you might guess, because the products are all created by the same company, they work together pretty seamlessly. For example, when you subscribe to a video channel you found via Video Search, that channel’s updates will appear when you click on the YouTube tab. There are more than just six applications, but in my opinion these are the most relevant for small businesses:
- Google Drive. Remember ftp? Formerly named Google Documents, this is a handy, online storage drive to save, archive, and share documents of all kinds. I keep several folders containing my clients’ graphics, documents, presentations, and more. I’ve got access to spreadsheets that document the paperwork traffic around a given project, with deliverables itemized and assigned to the appropriate people. I even know people who’ve used it for planning their weddings with great success.
- Google Search. If you curate content, use the search function to locate articles, images and other shareable assets.
- In Google News, you can add sections based on your search criteria to appear automatically in the navigation bar that appears on the left side of the page. You’ll save a lot of time doing this rather than re-creating your search every time.
- In Image Search, you can click on the advanced search feature to locate images with particular colors, sizes, from a certain place, and by type of file format. You can search for images that are available for free re-use, redistribution, and even images you can modify.
- In Video Search, utilize the power of Google’s ownership of YouTube and find awesome videos quickly. You can subscribe to companies’ YouTube channels to get automatic notification of new uploads or other updates and information from that company, and you can choose how often you hear from them.
- Google Reader. This is a fairly standard RSS feed of anything you send to it. I get updates from the blogs I subscribe to, plus the news alerts I created are sent here.
- YouTube. I really hope that you’ve gotten at least a little bit familiar with YouTube by now. It’s a treasure trove of videos covering every imaginable topic ranging from home-improvement tutorials, to industry-created instructional videos, to movies & TV shows, to family videos. These videos have been uploaded by amateurs and professionals alike, and much of it is intended to be shared – most people hope and pray that their video goes viral! Just make sure you double-check any copyright and distribution warnings before you send your discoveries into the ether.
- Google Calendar. This feature incorporates all the expected functionality of creating meetings and reminders, and of course you can invite other people (who use Gmail) to attend meetings you create. The guest list will appear to you, so you know who’s attending or not. Additionally, you can create custom views of your calendar: how many days to display, weather based on your location, and you can even set it to automatically add Google+ hangouts to events you create.
- Google+ Hangouts. This is big enough to require another post for another day, but briefly, these hangouts are a fantastic way to connect with colleagues, customers, family – you name it. Just invite the people you want to talk with, check your teeth for spinach, and turn on your webcam. All the invitees must have their own Gmail accounts as well.
Whether you like, loathe, or are indifferent to Google, you can’t deny that this suite of business tools is extremely useful. And again, the best part is that they’re free. You definitely can’t beat free!