I’ve been reflecting on 2016. In particular, after a peculiar year in politics, I have been reflecting on the best bits of my year. I got to thinking about how I do what I do and the best bits of that, and I thought you might be interested in knowing who I work with and what tools I use.

Website

This is more of a person than a tool, but it’s a bloody good one! Ok, it IS a person and not a tool at all, but Martin Robson from Roman Britons is fabulous. Martin not only created my website, but he looks after it for me too.

For a start, he is easy to get hold of. This might seem an odd thing to say, but if you’ve ever had a website problem and tried to get hold of your web designer/support and struggled, you’ll understand.

Next, he speaks English and not techy. I used to be a techy back in the day (pre-1996!) but these days, I don’t know my widgets from a hole in the ground. I love it that Martin can explain what widget I could use to solve any particular puzzle that I have and then just gets on and does it for me.

Thirdly, Martin charges a reasonable price. A basic website can be had for as little as £500. Then you can choose to add more when you want to and the extra work will be priced for you before you set off. When I hear of people who’ve spent thousands of pounds on a poor website (or even on a good one), I just sigh. Invariably, poor websites happen because there wasn’t a clear specification to begin with. Martin doesn’t even start work until the specification is agreed by everyone.

Another little arrow in his quiver is that his English is excellent – not only does he have a degree in it, but he also teaches it. What that means for us is that he often picks up on typos and grammatical errors that we’ve missed in our copy. A little thing, I know, but (to use a well-known slogan) every little helps!

Graphic Design

Again, my second favourite tool of 2016 is actually a person: Vicki Nicolson of Branding Therapy.

My gorgeous website is a combination of Martin’s wonderful ‘techiness’ and the graphic design skills of Vicki.

The reason that I rate Vicki so highly is because of how easy it is to communicate with her too. Communication is the key, isn’t it? Vicki is professional. She asks loads of questions, she works quickly and gives lots of choices in terms of colour and style and she keeps going until you’re happy. Perfect!

Canva

All the memes I use and the headers for my LinkedIn profile and my Facebook page have been created using Canva. I find it incredibly easy to use. You can upload your own images or buy one of theirs at $1 a pop. You can move stuff around, flip it about or resize it as you go. You can make beautiful PDFs simply and easily.

In short, it’s fabulous and I couldn’t be without it.

List Building Pop-Up

The pop-up box on my website is make using PopUpAlly.

I particularly like this plugin (as opposed to the thousands of others that exist for use with WordPress) because it is simple to use. The branding and design bits are easy and it just does what it’s supposed to, without squabbling with other plugins. I like that in a bit of technology.

Scheduling Software

The best scheduling software that I’ve ever found is Meet Edgar. The reason I think it’s so cool is that it doesn’t just post your content. It posts your content and then saves it too.

What I mean by that is that everything you post via Edgar stays in a library and can be reused. Think about that for a second. You create your Facebook page or your Twitter account and then what? You spend ages trying to think of stuff to post, don’t you? When you consider that the  lifespan of a Facebook post is somewhere between 2 and 5 hours (depending upon who you listen to) and a Tweet’s lifespan is only a mere 18 minutes, why wouldn’t you use content again?

The other cool feature of Meet Edgar is that you can post to a group, or a page, or your own wall at specific times, that you specify. You can set it up and then just keep feeding it content, which is curated sensibly and delivered impeccably.

Edgar isn’t cheap, but in my opinion, it’s the best.