We use Google Analytics right now, but we’re at a transition point. Nothing is automated, so we’ll need to find something that allows for more automated data gathering soon. Right now, we’re manually pulling numbers and info from different places; like pulling from Close.io panels for sales numbers. Our head of marketing has been suggesting that we start using Mixpanel soon.
We chose Close.io after trying what seemed like every other CRM platform out there. But they all fundamentally did not work for us. We chose Close.io because you can make calls through it, have multiple people in there at one time, and there is a downloadable app that works well.
99% of our internal communications happen on Slack. There’s just nothing else that compares to it. I have used other team chat software before, and I hated all of them. There’s something about Slack that makes you want to use it. It makes it feel like we all work in one office together, and like we all know each other well. It seems they’ve tapped into some way of psychologically making us want to use it. We have Slack broken down into different channels, made up of different groups of people that need to be communicating with each other. We also have a channel for daily intentions and check-ins.
We used Wells Fargo in the beginning, but it did not work well for us and was extremely frustrating to use. Stripe was the obvious choice for us when we decided to switch. We didn’t even consider any other processors. We have Stripe integrated with FreshBooks, which is great, and Stripe allows for recurring payments.
AWeber provided the easiest level of entry to email marketing. But I imagine we will likely need to switch to something more complex in the near future, as we have more complex email campaigns.
Google Drive is the core of all of our file storage and sharing. Almost everything is in Google Drive, with the exception of editors’ and outliners’ work being submitted through Dropbox.
Evernote is used for saving clipped articles in one place, as well as storing miscellaneous information that is not needed for daily work, such frequent flier numbers, staff birthdays, etc.
We use FreshBooks for invoices. It had the easiest way to set up recurring payments. We have recurring payments spread out evenly over a number of months, and FreshBooks made it easy to automate the recurring payments.
We use Xero for accounting. We only use Xero for accounting, not invoicing, because Xero doesn’t allow for recurring payments. It is extremely frustrating. I read posts on their user forums at least once a week asking for recurring payment support. They should just set up an API with Stripe to support recurring payments! Xero also has really bad customer service.
We have an outside accountant who handles benefits, PTO, etc., for full-time staff.
We use Zenefits for contracts and 1099s for our freelancers. We chose it because we used it at the beginning for paying freelancers as well, but now we use Dwolla to pay freelancers, so we use Zenefits only for contracts and 1099s.
We use Mediabistro to find writers, editors, illustrators, etc. We have found the quality of people we find on Mediabistro to be far better than people we find using any other job board.
We use Fancy Hands for outsourcing certain repetitive admin tasks. I used to be against it, since we have an administrative assistant who is more than capable of doing administrative tasks. But the beauty of Fancy Hands is that you don’t have to explain things to them. We have Wufoo forms that trigger Fancy Hands instructions automatically. For example, if we need someone to set up a client’s Kindle account, we just fill out a Wufoo form, and that automatically triggers an order to Fancy Hands, with instructions. We only have to write up the instructions on how to set up a Kindle account once, and store it in Google Drive, and the Fancy Hands person will immediately have the instructions and will be assigned to that task. Fancy Hands is also crazy fast, usually responding within half an hour. Fancy Hands helps us avoid having to assign any task to a certain person on our staff.
We use Upwork for hiring certain skilled people, like proofreaders and illustrators. We used to use it for cover designers or transcriptions, but we don’t use it much anymore. It’s okay to turn to for one-off jobs, but we really barely use it now since we’ve found better alternatives, like Rev for transcriptions.
We use Speedlancer for miscellaneous, small, one-off jobs. They have an extremely fast turnaround, for anything with low skill required. For example, we would not use them to design a book cover, but if we need them to edit an image into a certain shape, they can do it, and do it very fast.
We use Wufoo for capturing and storing data, as well as automating certain processes. When we use Zapier, we have to have an event trigger a process. Wufoo can be used as the catalyst to trigger a process. We’ll have a Wufoo form set up, where the user will be prompted with a question to answer, and when they answer, Wufoo will simultaneously send the action and start the process. In most cases, if there is information that needs to be captured, we’ll use Wufoo. When we’re hiring editors and writers, we have them use a Wufoo form so we can save that information.
At this point, UberConference is only used by a few of our outliners for their calls. It’s a good backup plan for when there’s an issue with Skype. We had originally been using only UberConference for calls, but there were a few times it got glitchy, and we decided to stick with Skype for calls. But the UI and experience of UberConference are amazing. When you’re finished with a Skype call, an MP3 of the call is automatically downloaded onto your desktop. With UberConference, you get an email with a link to download the file. Editors prefer to have the files autosaved on their desktops, while outliners want to download the file on their own, so we give everyone the choice to use whichever platform suits their needs better.
iorad is something new we’ve been using that lets you record a video of you doing something, and highlights what you’re doing. You can then send a link to the video to someone and it’ll walk them through step-by-step. We will definitely be using iorad more in the future, instead of writing forms and documents.
We use Dwolla for freelancer payments. Payments were just so much faster than with Zenefits. And Zenefits became just an extra place to put info. Most freelancers already have Dwolla accounts, so asking them to also set up a Zenefits account was an unnecessary pain. Dwolla also has small transaction fees, which is just one of the many benefits of Dwolla over PayPal. We just asked ourselves, “What do we need for payments?” and Dwolla was the software that matched our needs exactly.
At this point, we use Basecamp and an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is really just an overall visual representation of what’s in Basecamp. We can use both to track the speed with which people are flowing through our process. Basecamp works well with other systems, and we have a number of integrations built in with Basecamp. For example, a salesperson will get a signed contract, and there will be a Dropbox folder and Basecamp project automatically generated.
We don’t actually do much with social media. We have a channel in Slack that pulls Twitter mentions with our names and our company name in one place. And then we’ll log directly into Twitter to respond.