Essential Keystrokes is…

where I share my favorite tips, tools, reviews and commentary on web design, marketing, blogging, new media and related topics. For more about this site and the voice behind it, check out my About page.


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Archive for Essential Tools

Summer is in full swing, and let me just say that while I am having a lot of fun and spending plenty of quality time with my kids, it is not really good for my blogging schedule. However, thanks to some well planted seeds in the spring, I am able to have this crazy summer schedule and not really feel the impact on my business’ bottom line. Today’s Essential Tools features another busy Mom who has a series of successful web sites – Shannon Weidemann from Marketing Elf. Shannon is able to run her business from anywhere – Starbucks, vacation and her home office – without missing a beat – and often from the palm of her hand.

Shannon’s iPhone is truly the heartbeat of her workday -  it has completely changed the way she handles email and social media. She is no longer tied to a computer to send out emails or keep up active discussions on Twitter. Her  iPhone love has no bounds, so with that being said there are several apps that she finds priceless including:

  • Gmail Shannon switched two of her main email accounts to Google apps and that has made checking email via her iPhone so easy.  She is also a bit of  an email packrat so the ability to keep just about everything is very appealing.
  • Twitterlator Pro makes managing social media while on the fly so easy. You  can snap a picture on your phone, upload and tweet it out. Plus Shannon can manage multiple accounts with ease.
  • Simplenote – Shannon just started using Simplenote, but loves being able to start a blog post, write down a thought, and then when she has a moment to sit down at her computer later, she can log into Simplenote online and it is all right there. No need to sync or download anything.

The other essential tool for Shannon is a simple pad of paper. Like so many of us, there is still something about putting ink to paper. Shannon has been known to map out entire website ideas or write down full blog posts on a legal pad or composition notebook. It just really helps the creative process creative process.

I’d love to know what other iPhone apps you use (or apps for other Smartphones) to help keep your business moving forward when you are not in the office. Share them in the comments below, please.

Subscribe to the Essential Keystrokes feed so you don’t miss a single Essential Tools feature. If you are interested in sharing your essential tools for business, drop me a line at cpolanosky [at] gmaildotcom.

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One of the cool things about working on the web is being able to connect with others in your profession anywhere in the world. This week’s Essential Tools feature goes to London to take a look at the tools web & print designer, Rob Cubbon relies on for all aspects of his business. Rob and I have been following each others’ blogs, twitter streams and such for years but this is the first real conversation back and forth we have had.
In Rob’s own words – his essential tools for success online:
The three programs I use constantly are Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign (CS4 at the moment). InDesign because I still do a lot of print work and create on-screen PDFs for people – as well as my own invoices. Illustrator is essential for most vector work which I do a lot of. And Photoshop I use all the time (as I’m sure everyone does) for improving photos, creating web graphics, visuals, etc.
The first applications that start up with my Mac (I’m a Mac person) are:
  • Mac Mail (I need to get round to hosting my mail with Google apps but at the moment it’s hosted with my host – Dreamhost). I do like Mac Mail. I use the Mac’s “To Do” here as well which sycns with iCal.
  • Chrome – I switched from Firefox a few months back – just love the speed. Chrome Developer Tools are just as good as Firebug for Firefox. I also occasionally use Safari for checking and we have a cheep laptop to check Internet Explorer (yuck!)
  • TextEdit – this is the Mac’s version of TextPad. I use it all the time for quick code changes. Writing down my billable time for each client (automated, eh!). You can open documents in seconds and switch between rich text and plain text with a keystroke. TextWrangler is a great text app – more powerful than TextEdit, you can to find/replace on multiple documents with this baby.
Web design tools:
  • Cyberduck: Free FTP tool for Mac. Slow but good.
  • Dreamweaver: Great for writing HTML, CSS, PHP and JS. It color codes it all so you know where you are and I use it’s FTP function. Great for when I don’t use WordPress.
  • WordPress: my number 1 CMS of choice.
  • MAMP: for running WordPress (PHP and MySQL) locally
Tabs I always have open in Chrome:
  • My Google Analytics
  • Web mail (I use a Yahoo! address for non-work related stuff)
  • Twitter (To be honest I was late to Tweet and now I kind of put up with it. I’ve definitely learned tons of stuff from it but I’m not a massive Twitter enthusiast)
  • LinkedIn (My favorite social networking site. Fantastic information from LinkedIn Groups and great traffic from them. Traffic from there sticks around whereas Twitter/Stumble/Digg traffic comes and goes – my experience only)
  • My site and the WP backend
  • 5-10 tabs of blog posts I don’t have time to read but will do one day
  • Amazon
I’ve just got into making video tutorials. They’re embarrassing at the moment but one day will put a few on the site:
  • IShowU: Mac screen recorder.
  • GarageBand: For creating musical snippets for the intro and outro.
  • iMovie: for putting it all together. May move onto Adobe Premier when I have time.
  • TimeMachine with external drive to constantly back up my work. Have unlimited space on my Dreamhost account so put it up there as well. I still use Carbon Copy Cloner for a complete system back up.
  • iPhoto for, er, photos and iTunes for, er, music!
  • Occasionally use Flash but prefer using  jQuery on websites.
  • Microsoft Office, of course.
  • And … how could I have forgotten Skype!!!

Good to finally connect, Rob – and thanks for sharing all those great tools for the Mac!

Subscribe to the Essential Keystrokes feed so you don’t miss a single Essential Tools feature. If you are interested in sharing your essential tools for business, drop me a line at cpolanosky [at] gmaildotcom.

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Essential Tools Featuring Logan Thompson

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Essential ToolsSchool’s out for the summer (at least where we are), but as any good internet professional knows, everyday is an opportunity to learn something new! This week’s Essential Tools series features affiliate marketer, designer and entrepreneur, Logan Thompson and his essential tools for online success.

In Logan’s own words:

  • DropBox – I don’t know what I’d do without Dropbox. I can store and backup all my files so I can work from multiple computers and even off my iPhone. Plus it is great for sharing large files with other people.
  • Meebo – I spend quite a bit of time chatting with clients and colleagues online and Meebo keeps all my instant messaging clients in one web interface. It definitely helps me keep things in order.
  • Web Developer Firefox Add-On – Has so many tools I use when building sites, especially when working with CSS. Cuts my development time in half at least.
  • WiredTree – My hosting provider is essential to my business. I’ve used a LOT of web hosts, and they are by far the best. Fast support and they manage my server for me so I can focus on my business.
  • Outright – Keeps all of my bookkeeping in one easy to user online interface. It has saved me so much time since I switched from Quickbooks. Plus it’s free so you can’t beat that.
  • TweetDeck – Still my favorite Twitter app. Runs on my iPhone and desktop so I can stay in the Twitter loop.

Thanks for being part of this series, Logan, and for sharing a tool that is new to me – Outright – it looks like something I need to be using, especially since it works with FreshBooks.

Subscribe to the Essential Keystrokes feed so you don’t miss a single Essential Tools feature. If you are interested in sharing your essential tools for business, drop me a line at cpolanosky [at] gmaildotcom.

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