10 Powerful Online Business Tools for a Productive 2014

This is a guest post by Leo Widrich. He is the Co-founder of BufferApp, a Twitter app I use daily and can’t live without. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Wow, the new year has really come around fast this time, hasn’t it? One of the things that I find most helpful towards the end of the old year and start of the new one, is to evaluate how I work.

10 Powerful Online Business Tools for a Productive 2014

Especially, with the huge amount of online tools and the fast pace at which they’re changing, there’s almost always a way to improve my workflows and to make my life that much more efficient. What better time of the year to do so than at the beginning of 2014?

So, without any further ado, here are the top 10 tools I’ve been using in 2013 the most, that might help you too, to kick-off 2014 right:

1. Hackpad: Sharing Information With Your Team

Hackpad is a collaborative document-editing tool, which lets you create and save documents that your team members can all view and work on together. Each document gets created by a team member, and then others can be invited to edit it.

You can also get a weekly email digest with links to all of the new Hackpad documents that were created that week.

Hackpad Screenshot

2. Buffer: The Easiest Social Media Publishing with Powerful Analytics

Buffer is a powerful social media publishing tool that can send your updates to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and App.net. It has powerful analytics built-in to help you understand which posts are working well and what the best time for you to publish your updates is. Plus, you can collaborate with your team to keep your accounts topped up with fresh content.

Even with these powerful features, Buffer is still simple to use. It’s the best way to manage your business’s social media presence across the web. Especially with the new Buffer for Business, there’s been a big leap forward in terms of how you can improve your social media with smarter analytics.

Buffer Screenshot

3. Skitch: The Quickest Way to Grab and Share Screenshots

Skitch is a screenshot tool from Evernote that’s extremely simple and lets you make annotated screen captures on the spot. It has a bunch of built-in tools to make this process quick-and-easy, like arrows, circles and text.

Image from Evernote

Image from Evernote

4. CloudApp and Droplr: File Sharing Made Easy

For shortening links and sharing files, both CloudApp and Droplr are great options. Each of them makes sharing incredibly fast and easy. CloudApp has an excellent feature that lets you automatically upload any screenshot you take, while Droplr lets you add a “+” symbol to the end of any Droplr image link to embed it in a blog post or web site.

Image from Evernote

Image from iLounge

5. Trello: Organizing the Flow of Work

Trello is a productivity tool that uses cards and lists to keep you organized. To use Trello, you create a board and add tasks (cards) into as many lists as you like. Here’s an example of what that can look like:

Trello Screenshot

Trello is a great way to visually manage your workflow, and collaborate with others to keep track of what’s getting done.

6. Kippt: Social Link-Saving and Sharing

Kippt is a super stylish way to save all your links from around the web with lots of social features built in. On the one hand you can just use the service by yourself. You find the things you like the most, then save them to one of your lists in Kippt to read them later on and use it as a personal archive.

On top of all of this, you can connect with other people using Kippt, follow their lists, comment and like their links. And they can do the same for links you save. You can create shared lists and make them private or public, depending on your preference.

Kipt Screenshot

7. iDoneThis: Sharing Your Successes and Challenges

iDoneThis is a shared work-diary, essentially, that lets you share what you get done each day with your colleagues.

When you login, you can see today’s date and each team member’s list of tasks they completed. Each entry can be liked and commented on, which is a great way to stay in touch with what everyone else is working on and generate discussions about your work.

iDoneThis Screenshot

8. Followerwonk: Amazing Follower Analysis for Twitter

Although you can use a tool like Twitter Counter to watch the growth of your number of Twitter followers, you may want to analyze your followers more carefully. Followerwonk breaks down your followers into demographics so you can understand them better.

The best part about Followerwonk is probably the analysis of what time your followers are online. This helps you to know what times you should tweet to reach more people. You can also find out when people you follow are online more often, in case you’re trying to start more discussions with those Twitter users.

Followerwonk Screenshot

9. Mention: Google Alerts for the Social Web

To monitor your brand’s presence across the web, Mention is one of the best tools around. It includes mentions of your brand or keywords you want to monitor on social networks, forums, blogs and more. It also includes social features to let you respond to mentions of your brand or share industry news that you find.

Mention Screenshot

10. Feedly: The Easiest Content Discovery

Finding great content to share with your audience is easy with Feedly. Not only can you subscribe to RSS feeds to keep on top of industry blogs or news sites, you can also use Feedly to discover new content around your topics of interest.

Feedly Screenshot

These are the top tools I’ve used the very most in 2013 and which have had the biggest impact for my online working life.

Question: Are there any tools you’d recommend either from the above or in general we should check out for a productive 2014? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://www.todayicanchange.com/ Robb Gorringe

    Happy New Year Michael & Gail!

    Some of these are definitely new to me. But my favorite on your list has to be Trello, (because of it’s ease of use + Kanban coolness). One new tool that I’d like to share is: http://iqtell.com/ It works amazing for GTD, and syncs your google calendar, and Gmail, as well all your To-Do’s + Projects/Subtasks. iPhone app too.

    Robb

  • http://www.mikejwilliams.com/ Mike Williams

    Michael, thanks for this great list of productivity tools. I have been using Buffer and Evernote based on your recommendations, I plan to try some of these that I didn’t know about.

  • Kelli

    I am wondering how you handle responses to people when you use tools like Buffer? If I preplan the best times to post things, but then I am not available to respond and interact with folks, does that hurt or help? Thanks for any thoughts/advice on this.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I only use Buffer for posting. I do not use it for monitoring Twitter. I use HootSuite for that. I use HootSuite for all my interactions.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I do the same as Michael. Buffer for posting, Hootsuite for monitoring and interacting. Works well.

  • http://bloggingyourpassion.com/ Jonathan Milligan

    Love this list Leo. I’m pretty up to date on tools and haven’t heard of a few of these. One of the tools I’m still in love with is Workflowy. I mainly use it for learning. Whether I am watching an online video training, webinar, or reading a book….my notes get organized in workflowy so I can be an active learner. Great stuff! oh…and just Buffered this post! :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love Workflowy, too. I wish Evernote would buy the company and build it into their program. My life would be complete!

  • http://personalsuccesstoday.com/ John Richardson

    While tools like these can be helpful, they can also get out of hand over time. I’ve found that it is nice, especially at the first of the year ,and look through all the apps that you have installed via Twitter and Facebook and prune the ones you aren’t using. I was amazed how long my list had grown.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I agree, John. I do this routinely. I also clear out the apps in the Applications folder of my Mac. I use AppZapper to insure that I delete the application and the related support files.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve learned I can only use a handful before I start to get overwhelmed. Instead of trying them all, I find the ones that truly work for me and leave the rest behind. Good advice, John.

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com/ Lincoln Parks

    Great tools. I use a wordpress plugin called Tweet Post. It takes some of my older posts from my blog and creates tweets from them.

    • LeoWid

      Hi Lincoln, thanks for stopping by and great idea, Tweet Post is something I’ve heard of, but not taking a closer look yet, will check it out!

  • http://zechariahnewman.com/ Zechariah Newman

    Thanks for this Leo. I have some new apps to check out today!

    • LeoWid

      Thanks for stopping by Zechariah, so glad you like these! :)

  • Emily

    I use Feedly every day; my blog-reading would be lost without it. Thanks for the rest of the list!

    ~Emily from The Orange Slate
    http://www.theorangeslate.com
    @emilyamccord

    • LeoWid

      Hi Emily, yes Feedly rocks! :)

  • http://www.aterriblehusband.com/about/ ATerribleHusband

    This is great! I’ve been “meaning to” organize my online life a bit better. Thanks!

  • http://intentionalbygrace.com Leigh Ann

    I love Trello. It has hands down revolutionized my ability to get and stay organized. It’s one tool that I use consistently that has made a world of difference. I use it both for my personal life and work life. So helpful! I’ve never heard of “Mention.” I just use Google Alerts, but think this sounds like something worth checking out. Thanks for sharing!

    • Clément Delangue

      We’d love to hear what you think of mention and always here to help if needed.

  • http://about.me/rishabh Rishabh R. Dassani

    Nice post. In my experience, choosing fewer tools and using the heck out of them has worked well.

  • http://www.myaspergers.net/ steveborgman

    I love all of these. Since I don’t do a lot of project management involving others, I bypassed the document sharing apps. Skitch, kippt, and mention are the three apps I’m going to be checking out! Thanks for sharing!

    • Clément Delangue

      Cool! Let us know what you thought of mention and if you need any help.

  • http://www.madalynsklar.com/ Madalyn Sklar

    Great article Leo! Good stuff as always. I’ve been telling everyone to use Buffer & Feedly together. It’s such a powerful combination. Plus you know I love your company. I cannot live without it! :) I use Snagit and Evernote daily but it never occurred to me to use Skitch. I will definitely check that out. Keep rockin’ my friend!

    Michael, I found you through your podcast about a year ago. Love everything you do!

  • http://geekfree.net/ Aaron

    With the exception of using Basecamp instead of Trello, I love all these tools! I’m really curious about Buffer’s upgraded analytics functionality, tanks so much Michael! –Aaron

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Was there a reason you chose Basecamp over Trello?

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    Great tools Leo, you’ve given me some homework :)

  • Guest

    I love and use most of the tools mentioned and I just can’t live without Feedly :) There are some, which I am certainly going to give a try, such as Kippt. I also use ZITE to catch up on news on the go. I always love to try new tools, but Michelle is right that sometimes you might become too overwhelmed and have to pick up your own Top list to work with. My personal favs – Buffer, Evernote, Trello and Feedly, and a few, I have listed in my blog post “12 Free Online Tools to Rock Your Office”: http://bit.ly/19Xvvkg .

    • http://stamply.wordpress.com/ Gaya Harout

      I didn’t mean to post this as guest :) This is me posting the above comment :)

  • Guest

    I love and use most of the tools mentioned and I just can’t live without Feedly :) There are some, which I am certainly going to give a try, such as Kippt. I also use ZITE to catch up on news on the go. I always love to try new tools, but Michelle is right that sometimes you might become too overwhelmed and have to pick up your own Top list to work with. My personal favs – Buffer, Evernote, Trello and Feedly.

  • http://www.fivefoldfatherhood.com/ Ricardo Butler

    I think buffer and Feedly are the only two I’ve even heard of an use on this list. Have to check into these other ones.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      I’d highly recommend iDoneThis if you want an easy way to keep track of your daily activities.

      • http://blog.idonethis.com/ Janet Choi

        Thanks for recommending iDoneThis Joe! Ricardo – we’re free to use as an individual and have a free month trial for team use. Hope you give iDoneThis a whirl!

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          My pleasure Janet. iDoneThis has been a great tool in keeping track what I’ve done each day.

        • http://www.fivefoldfatherhood.com/ Ricardo Butler

          Sure thing. I will take a look at it!

      • http://www.fivefoldfatherhood.com/ Ricardo Butler

        Thanks! I will check it out!

  • JeffScurlock

    Michael, I can always count on you to give me great info which I follow closely. Thanks for another great post. http://www.jeffscurlock.com

  • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

    Buffer is AMAZING. Also just jumped on the Followerwonk train. What a tremendous app with the Buffer integration.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Right Clay! I love Buffer. Have you found any unique ways to use it?

      • http://ClayWrites.com/ Clay Morgan

        Nothing unique. I’m a newcomer to Buffer but I already can’t imagine life on the web without Feedly and Buffer. That combo has changed everything for me and my impossible to be consistent on social media schedule.

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Awesome! It’s so cool to see how all this new technology can change our lives for the better.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I’ve used quite a few of the tools you mentioned. They’re amazing, especially iDoneThis and Buffer. A couple of them I haven’t heard of and will be checking out.

  • http://daveshrein.com Dave Shrein

    Solid. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.carloborja.com/ Carlo Borja

    Awesome list. The two I use the most that are in this list are Buffer and Evernote+Skitch. No doubt they are one of the top tools for productivity.
    Another tool I could add is Time Doctor (http://www.timedoctor.com). I manage a remote team and efficiently checking on their work hours and productivity is essential.
    Cheers to a productive 2014!

  • http://www.mridukhullar.com/ Mridu Khullar Relph

    Happy New Year, Michael. And thanks for a fantastic list.

  • David Arella

    Here’s another new tool to add to the list. CommitKeeper (www.commitkeeper.com) helps you keep track of work commitments you’ve made to others and others have made to you. It’s like email on steroids – light weight, but powerful. You make requests, get a clear response from your collaborator about an agreed due date, track the dialog back and forth along the way, get a clear delivery when the job is done, and then close the conversation and send your performer feedback. Dashboards show who’s got the ball for the next action and enable sorting and drill-down across all projects, people, dates, goals, accounts, etc. Completed tasks are archived for post project analysis and metrics. One of the best features is the ability to easily link supporting tasks in a chain for getting a better overview of all the dependencies on more complex projects. Based on ideas developed by Fernando Flores, CommitKeeper tracks the work conversations between collaborators and adds value wherever there is need for coordination, e.g. managing projects, events, cases, product development, marketing, sales, etc. Available on three technology platforms – Web, Salesforce, and SharePoint.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Thanks, David—I will check that out!

    • Barbara Monzo

      David, thanks for sharing. I just watched the demo. This really does cut to the chase, avoids excess email exchange, and the interface is clear and concise. Great tool.

  • http://blog.idonethis.com/ Janet Choi

    Great post! We’re fervent users of Buffer, Hackpad, and Trello ourselves at iDoneThis! Kippt looks really interesting – I’ll have to give that a try!

  • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

    Thanks for another great list Michael! Followerwonk is a new one to me. I’m heading over to try it out right now.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    Thanks for a great list Leo. I use several of these also. One I started using personally and professionally this past year was Zapier.

  • http://fathertobe.info/ Qarau

    Thanks for sharing! Trying out Trello.

  • http://www.sahilparikh.com/ Sahil Parikh

    Happy New Year! Personally I use most of the tools you mentioned and 2 more – Hipchat.com, Brightpod.com and Evernote.com

    All the best!

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    Feedly and buffer are two tools on your list that I love! Managing content that I consume and comment on is a lot easier with each of those. Thanks for sharing a few more to consider.

  • Greta

    Thank you for your list. Great work. I really like using Buffer – it helps me a lot. Also, I would like to recommend you an application that which was not included on your list. The solution name is Kanban Tool. It is valuable to me because of the ability to easily manage the work of the team.

  • http://168opportunities.com/ Peder Aadahl

    @LeoWid:disqus Thanks for sharing this list. I have to admit that the idonethis tool really stuck out to me as a way to kep momentum going even when you may only have smaller successes. So often I think we forget some of the things we have accomplished, when faced with new challenges.

  • http://marknoldy.com/ Mark Noldy

    BufferApp is great… Just signed up, and have been using it for posting. Slick!

  • http://www.mmmts.com/ Vikas Vinayachandran

    These are some very interesting tools. Thank you for sharing.

  • lisaarussell

    Great list, Michael! I’d certainly be lost without Feedly, Buffer and Trello these days. I also love to use Evernote and would suggestion looking into PointDrive (http://pointdrive.com). It’s a great tool for delivering sales presentations/ content with helpful analytics.

  • dialuz

    great post.this is real good and helpful to users.Thank you

  • dialuz

    it is great post.these 10 tools are very helpful to online business.Thank you for this post

  • http://www.SecretsofTexasBluesGuitar.com/ Eric Beaty

    Just found this post and it’s another great one, Michael! I can personally vouch for Skitch and Trello. These FREE tools are invaluable to my business. Just be careful because you can go crazy creating all sorts of Boards and Cards on Trello and totally defeat the purpose of being organized so you can streamline your life! Trello is very addictive :)

    P.S. My wife and I use Trello for Grocery shopping as well. She’ll be in town and I can add things to Trello for her to buy when she goes shopping!

  • Angel Barreto

    Great list!

  • Sofia

    I strongly recommend Nutcache !! great app for tracking your time on different projects, also you can use the time to invoice online, they also have a web application.

  • Todd Dunphys

    Hi Michael,
    As Sofia just mentionned, I also discovered Nutcache a few months ago and I must say I’m really pleased with the app so far. I invoice my clients in just a few clicks and tracking my time is a breeze with their new mobile app. I recommend!

    Keep up the good work!

    Todd

  • chrism2671

    I apologise for the shameless plug (because I made this, but on the plus side it’s free…), but I’d like to recommend TeamTodoList http://teamtodolist.com – it’s a great way to manage teams and remote workers.

  • luuk

    Thanks for this list. I wasn’t aware of Hackpad and this does look like a very useful tool to me. The other 2 tools I find helpful are http://www.basecamp.com (for my projects) and http://start.me (as my browser start page).

  • Kinjal

    I recommend you to try http://teamgum.com it is a tool for knowledge/web sharing in teams.

  • Peter Modrák

    And what about password managers? They can save you a lot of time because they can fill forms with login names and passwords automatically, create passwords for you and the best thing is that you don’t have to remember passwords and in case of lost email somewhere or call support :) I am currently using Sticky password manager, here is the review of it in PCMag: http://blogen.stickypassword.com/pc-magazine-review-sticky-password-7-is-excellent/

  • wass36

    Thank you for sharing! I agree on Skitch, Buffer and Trello I can’t imagine life without them but I’d definitely add Limitlesslane to the list for managing internet accounts.

    • DUzun

      Definitely Limitlesslane is the best way to save an extra hour everyday.

  • Jennifer892

    Thanks for this post, quite a few apps I need to check out! I personally use the OfficeWrx app (entwrx.com/officewrx.php) as it keeps all my files in the one place and lets me manage them easily.

  • Steve

    Thanks for this blog Michael!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’m afraid I don’t have the time for private consultations, but this is one of the main reasons I created PlatformUniversity.com. Enrollment just opened up again today. (We only open it twice a year.) You can get incredible feedback inside the members area from other platform-builders.

  • Vassili

    Thanks fir this list, useful as usual. However I used to work with Trello but I was spending too much time on inputing the information and updating status, etc. Now I use Beesy. me for my own productivity and also Projectmanagement. It is a Note taking app but it has many productivity features, more or less an all-in-one tool. What I liked with it is that every feature in the app is updated automatically from the notes taken. In fact the notes are “dynamic” and built with assignable actions. It is exactly what has saved me time.

  • Thurstan

    Super!