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Archive for jenn chamberlain

Another Friday, another installment of Essential Tools!! Through my involvement with the Kellogg’s Snackpicks site, I met yet another incredibly talented web designer, Jenn Chamberlain. Jenn owns Pixel Pop Designs, an interactive design and social media company.  She has been recognized as one of the best female web designers – and for good reason – her portfolio of work is just amazing, including brand names we are all very familiar with.

I asked Jenn what tools she considers to be essential for running her business online. Her favorites in her own words:

YouSendit

YouSendIt is a free service that allows you to send large files over email. It’s fantastic if you work remotely and handle large files. I used to pay $50/month for Basecamp account, but found clients thought it was difficult to use or burdensome. They just want their files sent to them directly without clogging up their email and without having to remember any extra passwords or usernames. That’s YouSendIt.com

Dropbox

This service is also a life saver for those of us who work remotely and sometimes collaborate with others. Instantly I can share large files with another designer – or access them myself from another computer.

Tweet Deck

Tweet deck is always open on my computer. Not only does it allow me real-time updates simultaneously from all my social media accounts (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter) but it allows me to stay up to the minute watching what’s happening with my social media clients as well. I can see who’s saying what about my client’s brand instantly.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is great free service that allows me to track how my blog, websites and client sites are doing. Each morning I can’t wait to see what content is hot… and well, what’s not so hot with my users. I’m constantly learning and evolving content based on user engagement.

Apple Magic Mouse

If you have a Mac, you need a magic mouse. It now comes standard with new iMacs and it’s amazing. It’s wireless, with no buttons or scroll button. Instead, it has a smooth “multi-touch” surface and it supports momentum scrolling (similiar to iphone and itouch).

Smart Brief

Recently I was lucky enough to have met Wendy Goldman Scherer of The Social Studies Group at the Blissdom Conference. She was one of the keynote speakers. I asked her what she read each day to stay current and she told me to sign up for my industry briefs at SmartBrief.com. It’s great! Every morning I receive the headlines for my clients’ industries. It’s impressed them numerous times.

Jenn’s not all business, though. Catch up with Jenn at her personal blog, JenericStories.com, too or follow her on Twitter at @pixelpopdesigns.

Don’t forget to stop back next week for more essential tools for success, featuring programmer turned super affiliate marketer, Eric Nagel . If you are interested in sharing your essential tools for business, drop me a line at cpolanosky [at] gmaildotcom.

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Thank goodness its Friday and that means it is time for another Essential Tools feature. This week we spotlight Grant Griffiths of G2WebMedia – better known as the voice at Blog for Profit and co-founder of Headway Themes – the oh-so-awesome premium WordPress theme framework. Headway has literally turned the WordPress community on its head by introducing a WSIWYG editor for creating custom layouts for your site without ever having to touch the CSS or PHP code that makes WordPress rock. (I used Headway to create the SOBCon conference site this year.)

And, now, over to Grant to let you know what his essential tools for online success are.

My business and office is rather unique. First, I spend all day online. Second, I have the pleasure of doing it all from my home office. Not only do I need tools that just work. I also need tools that are portable.

My list of must haves include both the hardware and the apps I use daily.

The hard stuff

MacBook Pro

At the center of my office is my computer. This is where the “just works” comes into play. I moved over to Mac computers over 6 years ago and I have not looked back since. The Mac and especially the MacBook Pro enables me to do what I need to do whenever and where ever I need to do it.

Yes, there might be one or two programs or apps I might need to use on a PC. However, I have yet to find there is anything I can’t do on my MacBook Pro that I can not do better and easier.

Time Capsule

The Apple Time Capsule Network Hard Drive is also a must for us. This handy little piece of hardware takes up very little space on my desk. Not only is it a full-featured 802.11n Wi-Fi station. It also has a huge amount of storage. We do daily backups to the Time Capsule. In fact, it is all automatic with Time Machine.

Flip Video

I use the UltraHD Flip and it is wonderful. It combines the Flip’s shoot-and-share simplicity with the power of vivid, vibrant HD video. The first time I used the UltraHD I was blown away by the quality of the picture. How can something this small capture and give you such great video? My only regret with the Flip is the fact it does not give you the ability to plug in an external mic. Which would be nice if you were doing interviews. If you are looking to get the Flip, I would recommend you look to Amazon to purchase. I was able to buy mine for a lot less than you can get it from Flip.

Kindle

This is without a doubt one of the all time best inventions in the last 20 years. Other than the personal computer, the Kindle is amazing. Seriously, if you don’t have one and you are a reader, get it. Yes, it cost over $200. But, I have actually found I am reading more for pleasure since I received it last Christmas from my 4 sons. And talk about portable. I take it every where.

Since I have been doing more traveling this year to conferences, it also makes those 2 or 3 hour flights go a lot quicker too. Just whip it out and start reading.

Moleskine

I love my Moleskines. This is another one of those tools I take every where and use daily. It is even surprising to myself that I still find it more useful to take pen and paper to start writing down ideas for a project I am working on or to jot down blog post ideas. There is just something about the feel of a pen in your hand and the actual act of writing something down to get the creative juices flowing.

Applications and the soft side of my tool box

WordPress

Not only do I blog myself for a living and to promote and market our businesses, we also build blog and web sites for clients. I would not want to do this on any other platform than WordPress. WordPress is without a doubt the best solution for any business when it comes to a Content Management System. It is also the best blogging software too.

When it comes to making WordPress work for you in a way you want it to, there are just a ton of plugins you can get. And, the WordPress developer community is awesome too. The only limitations you have with WordPress is really your own imagination. If you can think it up, either you or someone can do it with WordPress.

Headway

I almost wasn’t going to list Headway as one of my essential tools. Especially since I am one of the co-founders. But, I could not make a list of my own essential tools without a mention.

Headway is more than a theme. It is a framework which gives the DIY’er and the developer the ability to build a blog, blogsite or a website with or without custom CSS. It is so easy to use, even I can use it. When we started to build Headway last year I told my son and business partner Clay it had to be more than dummy proof. It had to be Dad proof. And it is. Seriously, if I can use Headway to build a site, anyone can.

Chrome

Chrome has become my browser of choice. I still use Firefox for a few things. But Chrome is quickly becoming my only browser. I was thrilled when Google released the extensions for Chrome last month. With that feature added, there is really no reason not to use Chrome.

Chrome also works with all of the other tools I use daily. From Evernote to Dropbox. I have it all in my toolbar now and it saves me time too.

Gmail + MailPlane

My email service of choice is Gmail. I run all of my accounts through Gmail even if they are not a Gmail account. The spam filter, labels and filters in Gmail are something I would not want to be without. I get a large volume of email daily and Gmail gives me the ability to organize and control it the best I can.

MailPlane is the app I use to run my Gmail. It is a desktop application that looks and feels just like Gmail. Best of all, it does not tie up a browser window and uses very little memory too.

Google Calendar

I could not do what I do without Google calendar. I run at least 3 different calendars. One for business related items. One for my editorial calendar where I schedule my own post, but also the post of our contributing editors for Blog For Profit. I also have a calendar for Home.

And it all sync’s with my Droid so I can take my calendar with me where ever I go.

Twitter + Seesmic

Social media tools like twitter are a huge part of my daily activities. Not only is it a way I stay in touch with those I know. Twitter has a huge part in our daily marketing of Blog For Profit, but also Headway.

Twitter is a great way to network and connect with people all over the world. I could spend an entire series of post discussing twitter, which I have done. The key to twitter is to don’t over think it and just use it. The other key to twitter is to get the right tools to manage it for you.

I use Seesmic which is a desktop client for twitter. It gives you the ability to set up columns so you can manage those you follow in some type of an orderly fashion. Right now, it is free. Free is good.

Other essential blogging tools

I really could go on and on. There are a number of small apps I use which I would not want to be without. However, I did not want to bore you with too many.

Thanks Grant for such excellent insight into your tools for online success! Make sure you leave comments to this post so we can keep the conversation going. Share what you are using in your own blogging tool box and in your home office. I have found I get some of the best ideas of things I can use by reading what others are using.

Next week will spotlight another amazing web design talent, Jenn Chamberlain of Pixel Pop Designs.

Categories : Essential Tools
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