Running your own business is a big responsibility and as an affiliate marketer you are essentially doing just that. It’s down to you to put in the time and hard work required in order to make a success of yourself, be it creating content and maintaining your own website, or managing outsourced workers and ensuring things run smoothly.
It’s fair to say that affiliate marketers have a pretty sweet deal: flexible working hours, being your own boss, working from the comfort of your own home or some far flung destination if you really wish… the list goes on. However, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to reap such rewards.
In order to enjoy a relaxed and flexible lifestyle, you will need to be highly organised. Keeping on top of daily tasks, new projects and scheduling content will enable you to run your business smoothly and relieve unnecessary stress. There are many tools available, both free and paid, which you can utilise to run your business effortlessly. Here are some of my top recommendations.
Trello is a fantastic organisational tool and is the perfect alternative to traditional pen and paper lists. This tool is especially useful if you collaborate with a lot of other people, for example outsourced writers or designers, or if you have a small team working with you in your affiliate business. The other benefit of Trello is that many other useful apps can be integrated, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Twitter to name a few.
Trello allows you to create ‘boards’ and within a board you can add multiple ‘lists’. These can be used to separate tasks or keep things in order, for example they could be labelled ‘to do’, ‘in progress’, ‘live’, ‘archived’ and so on. You can than add ‘cards’ to each list and these cards would contain details of each individual task. You can add members to your Trello board and assign people to relevant cards.
Trello offers you one central hub to keep track of all pending tasks and outsourced work as well as ideas and discussions with your team. You can add links to other sites, e.g. to a Pinterest board or Google Drive document, or simply upload files from your computer. You can schedule tasks and add a due date as well as subscribe to important cards.
With a basic free account you are able to create unlimited boards allowing you to keep some private and invite others to certain boards. For example, you may want a separate board for your team and another for your outsourced workers, as you wouldn’t want to share all of your business ideas and documents with your outsourced staff.
If you wish to upgrade to a business account, you can do so for $9.99 per month and this will give you access to more power-ups (the number of apps you can link to your board), larger upload capacity and increased support and customisation options.
Slack is a communication channel that’s ideal for affiliates working with a team of people. It’s essentially a chat room but has many more features making it ideal for collaboration. You can create ‘channels’, both private and public, and invite relevant members to each channel. There are also private one-on-one channels allowing you to speak directly with other team members. Slack also allows you to share files and documents, and even make phone calls.
If you work with outsourced staff or have a small team of people who are based in different locations, then Slack is great way of staying in regular contact with one another. It’s an excellent platform for sharing thoughts and snowballing ideas as well as getting quick feedback or dropping reminders to your peers.
Slack helps you to stay in contact with your team and keeps all communications in one easy-to-access place. For example, following email threads can often get complicated especially if it is a long conversation involving several people. Within Slack you can flag up important messages, set reminders to reply to a specific comment and search back through previous messages.
Slack is completely free so it’s definitely worth a try to see how it can improve communication within your team. However, if you have a larger team and want to take advantage of more advanced features such as unlimited searches, app integrations, guest access, larger file storage and more, you can upgrade to Standard for $6.67 or Plus for $12.50 per month.
Social media is a great way of reaching out to your audience, building brand awareness, and if used well, driving traffic to your website. There are hundreds of social platforms to work with and it’s worth choosing a select few that you feel would suit the content you plan on promoting. Managing multiple profiles on an individual basis is time-consuming and it can become more difficult to keep all channels updated regularly. That’s where Hootsuite comes in handy.
Hootsuite enables you to schedule posts on multiple social media channels. It is a simple tool to use that can save you a lot of time and effort by organising your feeds, messages and followed content. You can download a free version which allows you to benefit from the following:
- 3 social profiles
- Basic analytic reporting
- Content scheduling
- Limited content suggestions
- Lead capture images
- 2 RSS feed integrations
- Online help centre
- Free social media courses
However, if you wish to upgrade to a professional, team or business account to gain access to deeper reporting, a larger account limit and additional features, you can do so from between £7.99 and £69.99 per month.
To add, remove or manage your social accounts you will need to navigate to ‘Account Overview’ in the left sidebar menu. Once you’ve linked the appropriate social accounts you can go ahead and schedule content. To do so, you will need to navigate to ‘Publisher’ and here you will be able to view drafts, and scheduled, pending approval and historical posts.
The main benefit of using Hootsuite is that it allows you to streamline your content and ensure all channels are equally managed. I would recommend putting aside an hour or so at the start of each week, or a couple of hours at the start of a new month to put together content for the upcoming weeks. You can then schedule your content as far ahead as you like.
This is a great approach to take because it allows you to have one creative ideas session where you can research and gather all of your proposed content. This is easier and more efficient than trying to think of something new to post each day, especially if you’re caught up with other tasks. So, setting aside a chunk of time to focus on social content helps you to ensure you’re frequently posting engaging, creative and shareable content to your audience.
Google Drive is a great organisational tool for anyone to use, not just digital marketers. The fantastic thing about Google Drive is that you can log in from anywhere on any device and find all of your files waiting for you. Unlike ‘My documents’ which is linked to a specific computer, Google Drive is a cloud storage facility giving you the flexibility to log in from various different devices and places.
As well as using Google Drive for saving and accessing your documents, you can also utilise the rest of the Google family. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, for example are great alternatives to Microsoft Office. Files can easily be shared with other Google users with both read-only and editing access. Every new document automatically saves to your drive and continues saving every couple of minutes to ensure your work is never lost.
When sharing documents all you need is a simple link, meaning you can easily share them on Trello and Slack, and via email, text, and other online tools. This helps to keep everything simple and fast, enabling you to focus on more important tasks. If you’re sending Google Drive files to non-Google users, you can save all files in Microsoft format or PDF if need be. Best of all, Google Drive is completely free.
At some stage in your affiliate career you may find you’re no longer single-handedly running your affiliate website; you’ll perhaps have a range of outsourced freelancers or a small team. At this point, organisation is the single most important skill you will need to ensure the smooth running of your business.
Since affiliate marketing gives you the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world, it can become difficult arranging meetings and keeping in regular contact with your outsourcers or team, especially if you’re in different time zones. That’s where Calendly can come in handy.
Calendly is essentially a scheduling app which gives you the ability to select the times and dates you are available, and allows others to choose when they’d like to call. You can sync Calendly with your calendar and this will ensure no calls can be scheduled if there is an event in your calendar that clashes.
You can also set a time frame for each day of the week, for example if you work early Monday to Thursday, but like a lie-in or have an exercise class on a Friday, then you can set Calendly to only allow calls after a certain time. You can also book out full days if you are going away, and ensure calls are only scheduled during the week if need be.
You can also request information from the person scheduling a call, most importantly their number, but you can also ask them to leave details of the proposed call to enable you to prepare. This works brilliantly if you’re working with a large team and need to catch up regularly.
The person scheduling the call can choose a time suited to them which also fits in with the times you’ve specified as being free, so there’s no going back and forth via email trying to find an ideal time to suit both parties. You can also have your outsourced staff create Calendly accounts so that you can arrange calls with them too.
To top it off, Calendly is also free. With a basic account you can create unlimited scheduled calls for up to 15 minutes. However, if you wish to book out longer meetings, e.g. 30 or 60 minutes, you can upgrade to a paid account from $8 per month.
As Calendly is a scheduling app it simply allows you to set up calls, sync them with your calendar and send reminders prior to the call. However, since the call is made outside of the app from your own device, you are not necessarily restricted to 15-minute calls with the free app.
Doodle is another useful organisational tool. Again, it’s a scheduling app, but as well as arranging dates and meetings it’s also great for documenting decisions and ideas. You can run polls on Doodle too which are great for gathering everyone’s thoughts on an idea without having long discussions and veering off topic. You can create simple free polls, for example you could ask your team to vote on their favourite title for your next blog post.
Once you’ve created your poll, you can simply invite people to complete it, send the link out, or perhaps share it on Trello or Slack. Anyone with the link can then click through, make their selection and save. Simple!
Again, this tool is completely free. There is a paid option but the only additional benefits are custom subdomain and design, and SSL encryption starting from €29 per year.
Pinterest is essentially an online mood board and is great for inspiration, saving ideas and building up a visual representation of your thoughts. This is also a great organisational tool for any affiliate marketer as it allows you to bookmark ideas and inspiration on the go, which you can then come back to at a later date.
Once you have a Pinterest account you can start to follow other users. For example, if you promote CrazyBulk, you can follow people with relevant interests such as diet and fitness because they’re likely to share content which is of interest to you.
When you ‘Pin’ an image you are saving it to a ‘board’; you can create multiple ‘boards’ for different topics and set them as public or private. For example you could have a fitness board, diet, bulking, definition, female and so on, and then Pin relevant images to each board. This will help you to keep track of images and links that are of interest or perhaps sparked a great idea for an image of your own for your next article.
You can also collaborate with your team by sharing Pins with them. If you come across a Pin which sparks an idea for a great piece of content, you can simply share with another user via their email address, or send direct messages to give them more details on the idea behind the Pin.
You can upload your own images to Pinterest which is great for creating a visual online mood board. If you don’t want other users to see your own content, then you can simply create a private board. Since you can add your own links to Pins you have uploaded, you may also want to link through to a Trello card with full details of the article, or strategy behind the Pin.
If you haven’t done so already, do give some of the above a try. As well as these, there are tons of other awesome organisational tools available that you can utilise to streamline the day-to-day running of your business.
We’d love to hear about your own experiences with these tools or suggest others you’ve used; please share these with us in the comments section below.