TLD;DR: Ahuge list of SaaS tools to help you become super productive at work.
As I wrote in the last blog about desktop automation… work is overrated. You make $ by working on the right things. So automate anything you don’t need to do.
We are going through all the automation hacks I use or know of which use SaaS tools to hustle. Let’s do it!
I personally don’t use this, but I thought about it. I prefer to just do it myself as I go with my design in Audio Hijack. But if you don’t want to mess about, but want clear audio, this might be for you. Auphonic can automate audio processing for you.
They offer two hours of processing a month, so if you don’t podcast much, that’s basically free ;).
Here is what the UI looks like. Yeah, there are a lot of options!
Say you are using Libsyn, you can connect it up to automate your production.
Here’s an example automation process you could do in a single step:
- Automatic Intros and Outros in Auphonic
- Batch processing
- Background noise and hiss reduction
- Reduce reverb
- Hum reduction
- Volume leveling
- Mixdown to mono
- Encode to MP3
- Automatic Speech Recognition and Audio Search
Audio distribution marketing SaaS tools
You spend a tonne of time on your podcast and you want people to hear it. So how do they hear about it 😉
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could easily share a snippit of something awesome, smack on some pretty visuals and share it on social media? Well, two tools can help out there!
Firstly, you have Audiogram. You choose an audio clip from a published episode or upload it directly. Slap on a background image and text/visualisation style and share that shizzle. You can see the process here.
And here are some examples. It seems some well listened to blogs are users of Audiogram.
The pricing for this SaaS tool is reasonable:
Secondly, you have Wavve. The site isn’t quite as nice as Audiogram. Wavve automates allows you to create a template for your videos so you can upload an audio clip and get it up and out. To make it faster you can have multiple templates depending on the social media platform you are using.
You can see the creating process here:
And how they describe the process:
Finally, here is their pricing. Their top package is a bit more expensive than Audiogram.
They say it’s not what you know, but who you know. I see the immense value of having a strong network, but that’s a pain to do well. Here is a tool I used for years (but is a bit pricey now). It is called Fullcontact.
I think they have always struggled to make money, so the business model seems to be shifting away from being a contacts app, to profile enrichment for companies. Effectively you have a phone book but there are sparse details. Fullcontact makes your contact information… full. It’s a fine idea, but the price to value has always been an issue for me.
Here is how they describe themselves:
This is a screenshot from my system without the contact details:
Whenever your contacts have updates you have the option to update them:
Fundamentally though, I think the pricing is way too high now. It used to be like $5 a month. I have around 10,000 contacts so clearly $299 a month for a contact book is a joke.
Are you using Gmail? If so, there are some cool tools for you. Let’s get into them.
To be honest, I don’t give a shit about emailing someone at 5am. But a lot of people do, especially if you are corporate and emailing the ‘boss’ etc. So if you are working crazy hours and pretending you aren’t and are effortlessly doing your job, you want to manage appearances.
But maybe you want to pimp out your engagement so you can automatically send follow-ups if people are ignoring you 😉 Yeah you can do that too. It’s called Boomerang. Here are some features:
If you are trying to stay at ‘inbox zero’, well you can set and forget emails and have them appear later, which is nice, but a common feature now. So say someone says ‘I’m on holiday now but let’s chat around Jan when I am back’ well you can have you reminded then and not keep the email in your inbox. FML. I hate email.
Boomerang also has some interesting support to help you write better emails. See here:
Next, we have Hubspot CRM. If you want a FREE CRM then this is the best one I have found for sure. Now Hubspot itself is super expensive and you will pay through the nose if you want to do fancy stuff, but generally it is pretty cool.
It will track every interaction you have with your contacts automatically through your email integration:
You can create pipelines to track your deals.
And here is another handy automation. Everytime you email someone, you get a pop up to tell you when people actually open your emails! Sneaky 😉
I definately recommend this.
Erhh. If you haven’t heard about marketing automation, or have but think it is is just WAY too much work… it doesn’t have to be.
Trust me, I’ve started doing it knowing nothing and learning along the way. It’s cool.
There are some seriously cool things to do and there are a TONNE of companies in the space. You probably have heard of Hubspot (above) as an example?
I’ll just share two: one if you want simple, and the other when you are a larger company.
But you are probably wondering what these things can do for you?
- Email sequences: You can write a series of emails and they automatically get sent out. So if you write 52, then every week for a year, your users get an email. The automation starts when people sign up, so new users always get the content
- Segment: You can automatically segment your users on almost any criteria you think is useful. Why is this useful? Well if you sell to candy stores and chemists, then the chemist doesn’t care about your new post on candy stores. So you can reduce your unsubscribe rates by tagging people and being selective who gets your emails
- Engagement-based emailing: If people click on certain links, they can get an email. If they haven’t been on your site, you can email them too!
- Automate lead magnet resources sending: Every post you have can have a lead magnet (free shizzle). If people want theOKR, PPP and KPI manager , they can sign up through a new page or pop up box and the system will automatically send it to them. I use Leadpages for some of this. This is the other tool you need to have with Convertkit to fill out your automation
Those are a couple of use cases.
Firstly, if you want simple to use, then don’t search anymore. Just head over to Convertkit. I spent a week researching every single system and this is it in terms of functionality, accessibility and price.
Here is an overview of what they do:
Here is an example of how an automation could work:
If you don’t want to make something too crazy like the above, then you can make simple triggers, so if someone signs up to a form, they get an automated email sequence from you:
They integrate with a tonne of people. I currently use Gumroad for example (the google analytics tracking sucks). I use the Convertkit plugin with WordPress. And as mentioned, I use Leadpages everytime I add anything in Convertkit, because the forms Convertkit makes are frankly really ugly. You can customise them, but it isn’t that easy to do.
So, now pricing. It might seem expensive, and sure I wondered if I should really pay up for this, but just do it.
Secondly, if you are affluent and growing and have the resources to do more complicated things, then Infusionsoft is the tool for you. Many of the well known bloggers and startups who are pros at marketing use this. But unless you have some people with texh chops, I would stay with Convertkit at the start, then migrate.
In short, Infusionsoft does the same stuff as Convertkit… but a lot more. Infusionsoft isn’t super easy to use to the point you have to pay a mandatory onboarding fee. This is currently $250.
Let’s have a quick look at what you can do with Infusionsoft.
If you are into analytics, then you can dig into the details:
If you want to build super complicated funnels, then knock yourself out 😉 You can do a lot more than in Converkit.
They have a variety of sales tools too, which are an additional paid module.
Lead scoring is something a lot of marketers do. You can’t do this in Converkit, but you can here.
Organising meetings is a total ball ache. Seriously… Unless you have a secretary (who does anymore, this isn’t Mad Men) ain’t nobody got time for all the back and forth and even unorganised meetings. I gave up on this BS years ago. A portfolio founder and friend, Cameron from Trade Gecko, turned me on to Calendly. Eh, I was a bit ambivalent at the start, but man I’m so happy I started using this.
Every time someone wants to organise a meeting with me I just write “You can org a time with me here: https://calendly.com/XXX”.
But, I’m more efficient than that. I use AutoTextExpander to type “bookcal” and it adds my custom link. Boom. The people pick a time and it syncs into my Google calendar and I can see it in Fantastical (My calendar app).
Sure, I sometimes wonder if really senior people will resent it, but frankly, I just don’t give a shit. When you are organising so many meetings, you just need to get things done.
Anyways… if you want something SIMPLE that works, use Calendly. BTW, you can totally use it for free. It’s super restrictive, but you can use it for free. If you are a bit more pro, then it is going to cost you.
BUT… if you want to do more, as of this week I got turned on by something new. And man it is dope!
It’s called ScheduleOnce. It’s reasonably priced, I think.
I started with one page for the 50Fold Me page, but will be adding another page when I start my second podcast (which is interview based. I pushed out Ask Alex to just launch and learn). Tbh, I’ll probably add another page and just get rid of Calendly to have fewer systems to deal with.
Here is the pricing:
I use this to organise consulting calls for 50Folds Me to help people work out all the tough questions they face. It’s pretty dope. You can integrate payments into it directly.
This is not the most intuitive UI/X tbh. It took me maybe an hour to figure out how to do some fairly advanced stuff. Here is where I set up event types.
But if you are running a podcast… man this is amazeballs. You can automate a hella lot. You can set up all sorts of reminders to make sure that your schedule goes to plan. I haven’t launched my interview podcast yet, but I have already figured out a whole automation stack that will make it so dope. I might write a blog on this in future.
Ok Ok. You want to know about fancy shit? Sure, there are AI tools. I’ve used some of them starting at their beta stage, but just no.
Buf if you want ‘toys’, sure what-evs. So there are two I have experience with.
So, you have Clara. Some people say this works well… but my buddy in London used it… So you know you can use Attach to send pitch decks to investors and track their engagement? Well, Clara isn’t exactly “AI” atm. They use people behind the scenes. He actually found that he sent a link to investors and a minion at Clara read his email, clicked on the link and read his pitch deck! Seriously.
I think this is over priced. Sure, if it worked and you are living the life with a secretary, this may save you cash. But the SaaS I mentioned before are still cheaper and will work 100%.
Next, you have x.ai. I used it in beta and it was sort of ok. It worked fine when I would organise a call, but not in person meets. I fooled a tonne of people to think ‘Amy’ was a real person. But it doesn’t quite work. When it was free, I sort of used it. When they brought in fees, I was like, nah. It’s just not good enough dudes. I need things to just work.
Here is a handy little hack. Let’s say you want to know when your company is featured in the news? Or you track ‘pitch decks’ and want to know when people write articles about them. With Google Alerts you can get daily, weekly etc emails with a list of links to check out for those key words. Nice 😉
So as an example, you can just but some buttons and get some pointless celeb news:
Or you can pick your key words like ‘marketing automation’ and see the kind of results you might get sent:
Podcast review aggregation
Did you know that there are 155 different iTunes stores!? Seriously, each country has their own and a review on one site does not show on the others! WTF I know.
So what do you do if you want to read your reviews, or aggregate them for marketing? Meet My Podcast Reviews. You can use it for free, but if you want to get fancy you pay.
Here are some things you can do with it:
- Automatically aggregate all your podcast reviews and get them emailed to you
- Use Zapier or IFTTT to automatically add them to your site
- If you have more than one podcast, you can aggregate reviews for all of them
Here is the pricing:
Social media posting
If you are in the social media game, surely the ability to post to all your social media channels would be super handy 😉
Enter Buffer. Buffer will schedule all your posts for you. It isn’t super feature rich, but for the price, it’s the best I have found. HootSuite looks ghetto and is over priced.
Here is what my Buffer looks like. For super-automation, I have a marketing manager that does this all for me now.
If you have cash to blow, then check out Edgar. What this does is recycle all your content automatically for you. If you write evergreen content then it clearly makes sense to keep sharing that since not everyone will see your blog the first time. Doing this manually is a pain… But Edgar is $49 a month and I think that is over-priced.
Joel and I were chatting on FB yesterday, and it’s something the team at Buffer are thinking about bringing to Buffer. So maybe wait for that, if it happens.
Social media image generation
Generating content for social media can be a huge bore. Sure you can Canva, but it’s still work…
Relay “helps anyone make 1000’s of eye-catching designs (and manage multiple brands) in just a few clicks.” You create a template, enter your marketing mumbo jumbo, and then Relay will automatically create multiple variations and sizes for your social networks.
So here is an example:
And their pricing. You basically won’t get anything in the free version, so you need to go straight to paid:
If you are dyslexic like I am, then spelling good and using proper grammar is annoying and people seem to think it’s important 😉 This is where Grammarly comes into play.
Here is an example from the above sentence:
The free version is what I use, and it’s fine. There are two annoying things. 1/ It messes up your formatting, say if you bold something. And 2/ it positions itself in the bottom right of input boxes, and that can get in the way of something you want to press.
There is a premium version and here are the differences:
And here is the pricing:
The best things in life are free. If you want to effectively want to manage your team, you need a tool. Welcome to the OKR, PPP and KPI manager you have been looking for. It’s by me 😉
A cool automation is that every Friday at 6pm you will be sent an email update of all your team’s progress. You can change the time and date of course. Nifty!
IFTTT isn’t super tbh, I have never really been able to find killer applications. The one I like is when I post on Instagram, it posts natively in Twitter. If you don’t use the recipe then a link shows in Twitter and not the image. The good think about IFTTT is that it is free 😉
To understand, just look at this picture:
Here are some examples of what I do in IFTTT.
Now, this is the hardcore version of IFTTT. If you want real commercial integrations, you can’t not use Zapier. If a system you are using doesn’t have an integration with another, chances are there is a Zapier integration. Basically, anything you can think of can be automated, so use your imagination.
Here is a simple overview:
Currently, there are 750 services connected together through Zapier.
Now Zapier isn’t a free SaaS tool. If you use it a tonne, it can get pricey. You basically spend by the number of Zaps you run per month.
Ok, your turn. What SaaS tools do you use?
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