My Best Tools of 2021

15 Tools To Help You Be More Productive

It’s that time of the year when I share with you the top 15 tools that have helped me run my business more efficiently, get more organised, and provide a more professional image to the world.

So in the article below you will see the tools/apps/software, links, a short review and current pricing.  These have had a big impact on me so I hope they will help you.

To get a printable copy of this guide, click on the button below.

I’m curious to know which are your favourite tools and if they made a difference in your business?

If you prefer to listen rather than read, click on the link below to listen to the podcast version of this blog.

All-in-One Integrated Tools

 

1

kartra logo

$1 for a 14-day trial and then from $99/month

Kartra is completely foundational and fundamental to running my business. It is an all-in-one platform that enables me to do all my email marketing; store my emails, create emails, send them out and create sequences. I also host my membership programmes: The Self-running Agency, The Agency Selling System and The Build, Nurture, Convert Blueprint Programme on this platform. It’s easy to create 'products' like these, take payments online and deliver the contents to my members.

It also hosts and stores my videos and you can also create web pages. You can also create forms, use the inbuilt calendar booking system, run surveys and quizzes and much much more!

Since all these components are all integrated, they play well with each other and you can create sophisticated sequences based on specific user actions and behaviours.

Kartra is a fantastic all-in-one platform. Now the question is: do you want to buy a suite of best in breed individual products and then connect them all together, or do you want to use an all in one platform like Kartra?

Kartra is the platform for me; I've been using it for a couple of years, and it works well. It cost me approx £1,320 / year (it's not a cheap product) but considering I don't have to pay for video hosting, I don't have to buy a separate email marketing platform, I don't have to host my website anywhere else, and I don't have to get a separate calendar booking system, if you add it all together, it's cheaper to buy Kartra than buying all the independent products. Also, I won't experience the headache of trying to get them to ‘talk to each other’ works well. It cost me approx $2500 / year (it's not a cheap product) but considering I don't have to pay for video hosting, I don't have to buy a separate email marketing platform, I don't have to host my website anywhere else, and I don't have to get a separate calendar booking system, if you add it all together, it's cheaper to buy Kartra than buying all the independent products. Also, I won't experience the headache of trying to get them to ‘talk to each other’.

Broadcasting tools

 

2

$468 per year

I use WebinarJam to host my live webinars (which makes up a major part of my marketing). When running a masterclass, a workshop, or a webinar, I will host it on a WebinarJam. It is a great platform where you can deliver your presentation, chat with your audience, deliver files, offers, and other things that make running a webinar so much easier than using another platform like Zoom.

 
 

3

EverWebinar

$498 per year

EverWebinar is similar to WebinarJam but I use it to deliver on-demand or evergreen webinars. A good tactic when running a live webinar is to run it several times (to refine it and use feedback from attendees to perfect the content) and once it’s proven to work, then you can turn it into an on-demand or an 'evergreen' webinar, which means people can watch it at their leisure, and it can stimulate the same behaviour as with a live webinar.

Webinars are a really important part of my marketing strategy, and I'll be doubling down on them this year. Having products like WebinarJam and EverWebinar make my life an awful lot easier. I never have to worry about the registration method and delivery because WebinarJam and EverWebinar take care of that and are reliable and robust.

 

4

Zoom  

Zoom

FREE for a personal plan or from £119.90/year for teams & business plans

In the remote working world we have been living in, Zoom has become one of the major communication platforms. I personally use it for both my one-to-one coaching with my private clients, and for my monthly group coaching call. It’s reliable and robust.

The Self-Running Agency
 
 
 

5

LOOM

FREE up to 100 x 5 min videos then $8 / month

I also recommend Loom as a way to build even more engagement with your audience.


It enables you to record your screen (with or without you in the recording) and then share a URL of the recording (with an option to download it).


I use it for communicating with my clients. There are two reasons why I do this: firstly, it saves me a ton of time since I can give feedback in real time (rather than having to craft an email response). And secondly, from my client's perspective, a video (rather than email) is more engaging; it's a great way to build relationships. I even use it with my prospects.


Loom is free up to a certain number of videos/limited functionality, but you buy an annual subscription (with unlimited videos) for $8 per month.

Design and layout tools

 
 
 

6

Final Cut Pro

FREE for 90 days, then £222 for a 6-year license

I have launched a new website and a new YouTube channel focusing on my campervan adventures as well as doubling down on the Da Costa Coaching YouTube Channel.


Since I'm editing more videos every week for my different platforms, I decided that I need to step up from iMovie and get better at video editing. I invested in Final Cut Pro, a grown-up version of my iMove for a Mac!

It has made my videos more professional with much more functionality available (than iMovie).


With all these platforms like Final Cut Pro, there's a steep learning curve, so one thing I would advise is to take notes (and of course, I do that in my ReMarkable 2). So every time I learn something new, I write it down (because otherwise I think I'll remember it, and then two days later, I'm think, "How the heck did I do that?"!!).

 
 
 

7

Canva

FREE for single-use or from £107.88/year for multiple users & additional functionality

Another important tool for creating content is Canva. It helps me create more professional Youtube thumbnails, social media posts, guides (like this one), and much more.


I highly recommend using Canva because you don't have to outsource a designer to create good-looking documents. Also, Canva keeps improving its functionality - you can now import a PDF and then you can edit that PDF within Canva.


Canva gives you many pre-designed templates and access to hundreds of royalty-free photos. You can also create simple animations. Canva is a super important piece of software in my tool kit, and for the cost, it's been a big game-changer in the industry, so I highly recommend it.


We use a paid version, but you can get it free if you wish.

 
 

8

convertkit

£380 / year

It is one of the best in breed examples (compared to Kartra's email marketing function). ConvertKit is an email marketing platform. It enables you to capture people's email addresses, send emails, create sequences, automations and broadcasts - all the while ensuring you are GDPR compliant.


ConvertKit is a simple tool, and it's free to use (with limited functionality and up to 1,000 subscribers). This is the platform I used before I moved to Kartra.

There are also other platforms like Mailchimp, Mailerlite and ActiveCampaign.


ActiveCampaign is great if you want to be more sophisticated (for example, do lead scoring where you can start identifying your top prospects with the highest scores).

 

Finance

Now, let's move on to finance. I can't complete this guide without sharing the two tools that help me manage my finances. Xero and Dext (formally ReceiptBank). 

 

9

xero

FREE for 1 month, then from £10 / month

Xero is an online financial accounting system. I really like the fact that it's cloud-based so my accountants have real-time access.


It is also intuitive and easy to use for non-finance people like me!

 

10

ReceiptBank

FREE 14-day trial then £120 / year

The next tool that works seamlessly with Xero is ReceiptBank (now known as Dext) for capturing your receipts and piping them through to Xero.


I don't know about you, but in the past I have been terrible at submitting all my receipts. Dext removes this issue by making it very easy to simply take a photograph of a receipt, which it then digitises. You can then submit these receipts directly to Xero - making the process very straightforward. This one saves me a ton of time and a ton of money!


One of the functions I also love is that when I receive an invoice by email I can just forward it to my personalised Dext email address and it will automatically be piped into Dext and then to Xero; all of these things are just about making your life easier.

Planning and organisation tools

11

reMarkable 2

£299 (plus subscription for cloud storage)

The reMarkable is an e-ink paper tablet that allows you to take notes as if you're writing on paper. The feeling is so similar to writing on paper that it’s amazing. It is a good example of a piece of kit that does just one thing, but does it really well.


As a result, I have completely gotten rid of all my papers, resulting in a truly paper free office. I can't remember the last time I bought a printer cartridge!


I use the reMarkable to write and store all my client notes as well as everything else (that used to get scribbled on a piece of paper that I would invariably lose!). When you write something, you can translate it into text and email it to yourself. You can also sync your reMarkable with your computer.


This is just revolutionary for me, and I can't say enough about how fantastic this product is. Although it is number 11 in this list, it is really my top tool!

12

vidIQ

Free for Basic or $7.50 / month for Pro

If you use YouTube in your business then having vidIQ is a great tool to get smart advice on improving the SEO and the performance of your videos.


VidIQ is a Chrome and YouTube extension. Once you upload a video, it will give you an SEO score. It will enable you to track the competition and search for keywords and include those keywords as hashtags into your video. It will give you an overall score of the performance of your video so you can keep improving.


You can use vidIQ for free, but I use a paid version which costs me £5.54 a month. They offer different levels of subscription, but the basic version that I'm using is good enough.

13

Amazing Marvin

$8 / month

This tool has helped me get myself much more organised by helping me plan my day, my week, and my month, in detail.


You can assign alarms, use stopwatches and so much more. I use it to help me get laser-focused and ensure I deliver the priorities that will move my business forward each day.


My goal is to plan my day (during my morning ritual) and make sure that by the end of the day, every single task is crossed off. Marvin is a great productivity tool for helping achieve this.


Marvin works across my phone and my computer, which means whenever I have random thoughts, I can easily capture them into the app and it syncs up with my desktop computer.


I really encourage you to start every day and every week by planning your priorities.


I can't tell you how good it feels to see a list with everything crossed out at the end of the day because I have overestimated how long tasks will take rather than overestimating how much I can get done in a day.

14

google drive

FREE for 15GB storage, from £1.59/month for more

Like many of you, my team is working remotely, and therefore, having a central place where we can share and access all of our documents has been super useful. 


It's really easy to add a document and create a link to share and set permissions accordingly. I tend to put all of the files I share with my VA team as well as the past call recordings for my Self-Running Agency Implementation Group.


You can quickly invite others to view, download, and collaborate on all the files you want (no bulky email attachment needed!). It ensures that both you and your clients are collaborating on the same version of the document.


You can keep photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings, videos, and more. You can access these docs anywhere, so wherever you go, your files follow.

It also protects you against a hard disk drive dying and losing all your data.

 

15

TOBY

Free to use Chrome extension

Toby made it onto the list last year for the first time. It is a free Google Chrome extension that I would highly advise you to use because it makes my life so much easier.


I don't know if you're like me but during the day I open way too many web browser windows and tabs. I then struggle to find what I'm looking for so I end up opening yet another tab!


Well thankfully I have found a solution to this and now I am much more in control and have way fewer tabs opened.


And that's all thanks to this chrome browser extension called Toby (another rather stupid name!).


This enables me to create a frequently used library of tabs and put them into various categories. Now when I open my chrome browser the first thing I see is the library of tabs.

In Summary

My Top 5 Favourite Apps


  • reMarkable
  • Kartra
  • WebinarJam/EverWebinar
  • Canva
  • VidIQ
 

In Conclusion

I spent (wasted!) a lot of time researching and playing with tools and apps and I have shared with you my top 15 best productivity and time-saving tools - so you don't have to waste time searching the web and trialling 100s of tools to find the ones that work for you.


If you have any of your favourites that I did not mention, I would love to hear from you, so please drop me an email at [email protected]

To get a printable copy of this guide, fill in your details and we will send it right over

    Rob Da Costa

    >