Here’s a list of great tools that have helped me build and market my work to the rest of planet earth.
Now you may not need all of these tools.Yet, I hope that many can help you in your own work.
You’ll find a bit of everything from website design, social media marketing to simple but beautiful video editing.
- Descript: AI Video Editing
- Apple Clips (mobile only)
- Spotify For Podcasters
- Hemingway Editor + Grammarly
If you’ve ever tried your hand at website design before, then you’ve probably heard of WordPress.
Lots of ordinary people and big brands use WordPress as their platform of choice to create their website and blogs.
It powers over 30% of websites today.
It’s a modified and somewhat simpler to navigate version of wordpress.org.
Either way, getting a website, blog or both off the ground is pretty quick and simple with WordPress.
Recent data shows that 60 million websites are powered by WordPress and that 30% of today’s online bloggers use WP as their publishing platform – so that’s gotta mean something, right?
This service is a real time saver for me.
Once you’ve set up your home base of a website, you’ll no doubt want to start telling people about it and the great service or content you have.
What you don’t want to be doing is spending all your time posting across loads of different social channels about your cool side projects.
So we need to be smarter in our approach to managing our time and energy, this is where tools like Hootsuite can help.
Basically, it’s what the industry calls a social media management tool
I would add a sanity saving tool too as no one wants to be on social media posting all day long.You can easily schedule and post updates to any social network in advance with its simple to use features and dashboard.
There are paid features but dependent on the nature of your side project, you may never need to purchase them.
You can get a full overview of HootSuite in this article.
My #1 social media scheduling tool of choice.
I switched from Hootsuite to Buffer for two reasons in late 2021.
- The ability to schedule videos to LinkedIn (Hootsuite doesn’t offer this at the time of writing).
- Up to 30 post slots to schedule content on the free plan monthly (vs the 5 on Hootsuite).
If you’re playing in the free market with not much cash to spare, these details are important.
In short, Buffer is simple and friendly to use, plus the team is constantly adding new features to their product roadmap.
I used to be a power user of this platform.
But not so much since the paywall went up and the fact that every article is about 10x your life, morning routines or telling you the latest 99 reasons to quit your job.
However, don’t let my cynicism put you off as it can be a great engagement tool.
Especially, for those of you who are writing content or wanting to showcase a new technology service/product without paying to write somewhere.
I always enjoy sharing my work here and it has led to a great engagement at times too.
Unlike some of the social tools I’ve mentioned so far, I am a power user of LinkedIn.
I am a power user because this is where my audience hangs out.
It’s important to understand where a large base of your audience goes for their information and mine just happens to be this platform.
For any of the social tools I’ve covered so far, these are the ones that work for me so they may not be right for you.
You will need to do some research to find the best channels for your work.
What I can say is that LinkedIn is a growing platform and one which I feel is underused by many.
It has nearly 900 million active users.
If you have created a side project which offers a service or product then you should be marketing on this platform. Also great for building our your professional and personal branding.
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn for more content and thoughts.
A fantastic and easy to use email marketing tool.
You can quickly create a newsletter and many more types of email marketing with this tool.
It surprised me just how quickly you could create a professional looking email and start building your audience with their tools.
An invaluable tool for me as a big source of my engagement is my weekly newsletter (which you can subscribe to here btw!)
Email is not dead, friends.
It’s essential for those wanting to create a connection with their audience.
If you want a straight forward newsletter tool designed specifically for creators, Beehiiv is for you.
Created by some of the team from the incredibly popular morning Brew newsletter. Beehiiv is a growing tool in the creator ecosystem.
You can learn more about Beehiiv here.
You don’t need to be a graphic designer to create professional and eye-catching designs with this free tool.
I have been using Canva for years to create amazing visual content for my site, newsletter and more.
With everything from posters, magazines, ebooks, blog pictures – this graphic design tool has so much to offer
The best part? Most features are free.
You can easily make your side project look visually stunning with Canva. It’s an essential tool for all creators.
Descript: AI Video Editing
Descript is a powerhouse of a content editing tool with a generous free plan (paid ones are available).
Transcribing and adding subtitles to videos has never been so easy. It’s AI features make this smooth and simple. Plus, you can use the green screen and studio sound features to level-up your videos.
This one is useful for both social media and long from videos.
If you are an iOS user like myself then your device will come pre-installed with Apple’s own in-house video editing tool.
It’s free, simple to use and I feel most people could pick this up in an hour and create some good content.
I would recommend iMovie for its simplicity. It’s truly amazing what you can create on your phone.
Apple Clips (mobile only)
Another bonus app for iOS users and one you may not be aware of.
This app is great for shooting videos for social channels.
With lots of cool features including filters, adding text and music, plus you can add your own subtitles too.
The subtitle feature is a really important one as many apps charge a premium for a feature like this and although the clips app can be temperamental from time to time, it’s a great feature.
Studies have shown that 80% of video shared on social channels today now has subtitles included as standard.
So it’s will be crucial to have this option at your disposal.
👋 Want to learn how to easily film and edit videos with free apps? Check out this full step by step guide.
Do you need some visually stunning images but don’t know where to get any that you won’t get sued for using?
Unsplash curates thousands of photos from photographers all over the world.
And the best bit? They are all royalty-free.
Unsplash hosts so many amazing photos covering many categories, so you are spoiled for choice.
Use of all photos is royalty free for business and personal use.
But, you can give back by crediting the creator wherever you use the image or donate every now and again.
A royalty-free media site which is very similar to Unsplash but with one added benefit.
Alongside a vast library of beautiful pictures, Pexels has a library of royalty free video and audio clips to use for your projects.
Super useful for social media and YouTube videos.
For the longest time, I’ve been looking for a place to get my hands on a library of beautiful icons to use in my work and break free from the limits of PowerPoint.
I finally found the holy grail in the Nounproject which offers over 2 million free royalty-free icons.
You just need to give credit to the artist in your work for each icon you use or buy individual icons if you prefer not to have to give credit.
Spotify For Podcasters
Thinking about venturing into the world of audio and starting your own Podcast?
Owned by Spotify For Podcasters (formerly Anchor) provides a seamless and easy experience to record and distribute your podcast.
If you’re looking for a service that’s going to help you get up and running on the world’s largest platforms, this is your best choice.
It’s also my personal choice and powers the Steal These Thoughts! Audio Experience aka my podcast.
You’re not limited to publishing on Spotify though.
You can upload your show to any podcast platform and make use of newer video podcast features.
Need a simple video conferencing tool to connect with people around the world?
Look no further, Zoom is here to save the day.
With both free and paid plans, Zoom offers a host of great features for users including the ability to record both audio and video.
The free plan gives you unlimited access for one-to-one calls and a limit of 40 minutes on group calls (more than 2 people).
Unlike Skype, your participants don’t need to install anything. Just send them a link and they can join via their web browser, voila!
A simple way for you to share your availability for engagements has arrived.
Again Calendly offers free and paid subscriptions, but you should be ok with the free version for most scenarios.
I use this to book my podcast guests, public speaking events and consulting sessions with clients.
Super easy to use and saves the annoyance of email tennis to confirm a time all parties can meet.
Looking for somewhere to store and share videos?
YouTube provides a platform for you to share your own videos to the public or keep them private if you wish.
Simple to use and used by billions of humans make this an essential tool in the content creator bag of tricks.
A perfect app for podcasters to turn segments of their episodes into social media ready posts.
Headliners free version offers 10 video creations a month
More than enough to use your audio to create short videos to use across all your platforms.
A free tool with a simple learning curve to allow you to create top quality audio for your podcast and videos.
Even if you’re using the cheapest of audio equipment, Audacity can do wonders with your audio.
You’ll need to invest about an hour to learn the ropes but once you’re done you’ll be able to take your audio game to the next level.
Labelled on the site as the only link you’ll ever need and it’s probably true.
The beauty of Linktree is that it allows you to direct your audience to one page full of all your content and contact links in one place.
The best part? You can do all of this for free.
Hemingway Editor + Grammarly
Never has it been easier to create good copy and quality articles with the help of these writing tools.
Paid options are available of course, but you can do a lot with the free version.
I find both can make you wince at how much your writing can suck from time to time.
I’ve had many smackdowns from the Hemingway app in my time, yet it’s all part of the learning process.
Capturing screen recording has never been so easy!
A free account with Loom allows you to record videos of up to 5 minutes for free and stores these in your own personal locker.
If you stick with the free plan, you’ll get 25 slots to use in your locker, but can upgrade for more if you need it.
With a simple user friendly interface and user experience, this is one tool that could become an essential as part of your content creation workflow.
I only discovered this recently and I’m already loving it.
It is a direct competitor to Loom below but they offer different functionalities that I feel warrant both of them a place on this list.
Simply, this tool allows you to record anything from its browser extension. So, it’s a case of picking your poison as they say.
Nonetheless, easy setup and low barrier to entry with the tech make this a must have.
This is what you need for sexy, sleek and engaging experiences when telling stories with slides.
You could call this next-level PowerPoint but I think that would a disservice to the great product that Menti is.
I’ve used this tool on the free plan in both my 9-5 and presenting at conferences. It works a treat and never fails to get people excited.
You can opt for a paid plan if you need every single feature but the free plan offers a lot already. You can build your slides right in the tool.
You can use all manner of interactivity to make your audience feel part of the experience.
I’ll leave you to go forth, embrace the enormity of the possibility of what you can create with the support of these tools and have fun building your side project.
Before you go… 👋
If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.
You can join me every Tuesday morning for more tools, templates and insights for the modern L&D pro in my weekly newsletter.