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Everything I pay / get for free – SEO Apps, organising tools and more

In the 12 years I’ve been running my business I have downloaded every free trial going, I’ve spent on software I definitely did not need but had a nice shiny coat on and I thought it was time I shared a list of apps and software I recommend (as of April 2024) to manage your SEO, your productivity and everything else in your business.

I love creating systems and processes and as I work with so many lovely creatives, I get asked a lot about which systems I use.

For Getting Organised

Notion

I’m a BIG fan of documenting every single task I do because my neurospicy brain is terrified of forgetting anything, so I manage all my tasks via the brilliant tool Notion. I firmly believe we need to stop using our brains like USB sticks, thereby freeing them up for more play and creativity and the best way to do that is to write down everything else! There’s a free version, but I pay $10USD for that little bit extra functionality. For 10 years I used Asana, which was ace but ultimately I love the simplicity and visual friendliness of Notion.

Cost: $10USD a month

Calendly

Since switching to Calendly (after having used various different scheduling tools) pretty much everyone who books a call with me comments on how smooth this process is. The best part of meetings are the actual meetings themselves, getting to talk to new people and make magic together – the worst thing about them is having to go back-and-forth to schedule them. Calendly does all that for you. Highly recommend.

Cost: $12USD a month

Google Emails & Drive

Everything I do, I do it on Goooooo(gle)* as the famous song lyric almost goes. I much prefer using Google Docs and Google Sheets to manage everything I do all in one place plus I have a lot of files to store, so I pay for this in one package on Google Workspace.

Cost: I pay £10 per user per month but there are cheaper packages

LastPass

Please for the love of all that is good and holy, stop writing down your passwords in a Note on your phone or in a notebook on your desk – it isn’t safe, secure or reliable! Instead, download LastPass which is a simple extension on your browser. It’s easy to share with collaborators too without sharing your actual password.

Cost: $32USD a year

Xero

I manage all my bookkeeping and accounting on Xero and have done so for years. I used to have, and was very attached to, a very convoluted spreadsheet until I realised I wasn’t doing myself any favours when it came to tax return time and a spreadsheet also means there’s plenty of room for human error with the sums. I do my bookkeeping every day which takes five minutes because I’ve got a great system set up. 

Cost: I pay via my accountant £84 a quarter

For Creating Content

Canva

It’s no secret that I love using Canva. Their massive range of graphic design templates in their Pro version are perfect for so many different things, I really can’t fault it. I’m no graphic designer, I literally use Canva for everything and so I’ve been a happy customer for years. You can sign up here.*

Cost: £8 a month

Flick

Whatever the current view is on how many hashtags to use on Instagram content at the time you read this, if you’re stuck for hashtag inspiration then I find this tool very helpful. You can research your hashtags with this most excellent tool. You can sign up for a free 7 day trial here*.

Cost: £100 a year

Microsoft Office

Whilst I prefer using Google sheets and Google Docs for everything I do which work the same as Excel and Word and Keynote instead of Powerpoint but I do pay for Microsoft Office because clients like to send me attachments so I’ll pay the. With Google Docs and Sheets it’s much easier to share docs and spreadsheets and there aren’t multiple versions flying around which drive me mad.

Cost: £60 a year

Loom

I love Loom! I can record quick videos for contractors I work with, clients I need to send instructions to, and I upload all my Visible Vibes membership content on there. It’s a low cost tool that is incredibly effective. I can also embed the videos in my membership portal or in Google Docs when I’m sending SEO Healthchecks to clients too.

Cost: £10 per user per month

For Managing My Website and Content

Siteground

If your website is a house, you need to rent land on which the house can live. This is your hosting. If you have a WordPress website you need to arrange for this separately. I trust Siteground* with mine 100% – their hosting services are crafted with top speed and security in mind. I offer hosting packages here on Sassy and Soft which are particularly good if you’re not keen on techy stuff.

Cost: depends on your website needs

Namecheap

If your website is a house and your hosting is the land on which you rent for it, you need to have an address to find it, and that is your domain. I like using Namecheap because they have great customer service. I am a little bit addicted to paying for domains but currently I’m getting my habit under control!

Cost: £8 a year per domain (but can vary)

Divi WordPress Theme

If you’re wondering how this website was built – the answer is Divi*. It’s not just a WordPress theme but a total design framework that allows you to completely customise your site to suit you. I love using it to design my client websites too – check out some examples on Sassy and Soft.

Cost: £79 a year

Memberpress

As of 2024, I use Memberpress to handle my membership content on my website. I have spent 8 months designing a bespoke membership portal after getting fed up of paying a lot of money for clunky software I had outgrown (I’m looking at you Teachable, Thrivecart, Kartra and probably others in there I can’t remember). Essentially my membership portal is designed on pages and blogs like the rest of my Maddy Shine website but it has to be protected by a plugin and I chose Memberpress. Their customer service is great which is a good job as it’s quite convoluted and I’m not sure I recommend them for the price!

Cost: £180 a year on an initial offer

Libsyn

If you have a podcast, it has to exist somewhere on the internet and you have to pay for that space. I chose Libsyn as it was recommended to me, and for £20 a month I get a user friendly platform where I can upload the episodes, the shownotes and access stats so I can see what’s popular.

Cost: £20 a month

SEO software I use

For figuring out your keywords

It’s pretty much guaranteed that your audience are Googling the things you sell – but you don’t know what words they’re using. Until now! Check out my guide to figuring out your keywords here, and my recommended (low-cost) tool Keywords Everywhere, which tells you the most popular words and phrases to use for your SEO. Sign up here*.

Cost: $10USD for 100,000 credits (they run out every 12 months)

For adding your keywords to the right places

If I was to make an SEO-themed 80s cover band – and I’ve considered it – then my crowning glory would be The Power of Yoast to the tune of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Yoast is an incredible (free) tool that takes the guesswork out of how well your keywords are performing in a blog post. Basically, it’s a fast track to Google stardom (and it’s not just for WordPress, either!)  Here’s how to use it to get to Number 1

Cost: FREE but there is a premium option with extra functionality

For tracking website visits

Google Analytics is a goldmine of important info, like how many people are viewing your site, what they’re visiting, where they’re coming from, when they’re doing it, how they’re interacting, and more. Though logging in may look like a spaceship dashboard, it’s not as scary as it looks – I promise! Here’s a foolproof guide on how to set it up.  

Cost: FREE

For telling Google you exist

It’s the 21st century of if a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound – if your website is fabulous, but Google doesn’t know it exists, is it doing what you want it to? Google Search Console is the way to shout to the world that you’re ready and there – follow these failsafe tips to set it up.

Cost: FREE to set up but I offer a Google Wiz package to help you set this up and more here

For tracking your Google rankings

It’s all well and good saying we need to make the most of our keywords – but how do we know what they are in the first place? SEO Edge & SERPMojo will help you figure out the magic words. Listen here for more info on how it all works

Cost: FREE

For resizing your images for SEO

SEO isn’t all words – oh no, it’s images too! And thanks to our old pal page speed (see above), you’ll want to use Tinyjpg to reduce your file size whilst retaining your image quality. You can read (and listen) to some more info on how to get your images found on Google here

Cost: FREE

For speeding up your website

Load speed is an important factor in SEO, and it might seem impossible to figure out without buying 100 computers and a stopwatch and manually working it out. But we’re busy people, we don’t have time for that! That’s where GTMetrix comes in – it does that hard work for you.

Cost: Free to check but to fix the errors is another story! You can check out my Speed Up package here to help you.

To wrap up

There you have it! Everything I currently use to manage my website, content, SEO and for my clients. If you want me to help you with this work, do check out my brand new agency website Sassy and Soft. And if you have any questions please do come and ask me on Instagram, I’m all ears.

*Disclaimer: I get a little bit of cash if you buy through the links marked with an asterisk.

Maddy x
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Maddy Shine - Visibility Expert