Making products is a lot of fun, so long as you know how to effectively manage our work and everything around us. You are expected to be creative and productive at the same time. You are expected to make tactical decisions while thinking long term. There is always someone waiting for your decision or approval. I
know this and have been through the motion for a long time now. Thanks to a lot of peers, mentors and influencers, I have used a whole bunch of tools, hacks and techniques that have helped me a ton to stay productive, creative, decision-biased and develop a discipline.
The resources I recommend below are handpicked – I have used them personally and found them very useful. That said, there are several others like them – I just have personally found these better. I try to keep this list updated with newer tools that I find useful – will be good for you to check this place once every 1-2 months. Before you headed down the list, I want you to read this important disclaimer:
|Some of the links on this page are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. These are all things that I currently use or have used before and I am recommending them because they are helpful and are companies that I trust, not because of the tiny commissions that I may earn from you using these products and services. Please buy them only if you need to, and find yourself in need for the product. Thanks, and I appreciate your understanding.|
I’ve used other email tools in the past for my other blogs. Someone I trust introduced me to ConvertKit about 8 months back and I jumped onto it immediately. I switched to ConvertKit for two main reasons – it’s focused on your subscriber and not a list, it’s super-flexible tagging system that practically allows you to talk to your subscribers like you are having a coffee! I highly recommend using ConvertKit if you are looking to build and engage an audience for your product!
I book guests across the globe for the Design Your Thinking Podcast. Working with someone across timezones to book a calendar slot is one of the worst nightmares one can ever have. I did a thorough research of all schedule management tools and picked Acuity for the simple reason that it’s simple 🙂 This is a no-fuss tool that you can learn in less than 10 minutes (no, I’m serious!) and get your calendar set along with a form for your people to book your calendar. If you are looking for a tool to help you manage your calendar with guests, you should definitely try Acuity Scheduling!
Bluehost (here is a link to Bluehost India)
My story with Bluehost goes a long way back in time. I used to run 3-4 blogs back in 2006-08. I picked Bluehost as someone I know was using it for a long time. I really love their service and support! At that time Bluehost had servers based in the United States. I had to move to other hosting service providers as I was looking for servers based in India. But guess what? Bluehost has now started its India operations too! 🙂 If you are looking to start a web-based business or just a blog, don’t hesitate from trying Bluehost!
I’ve always been a hands-on product manager when it gets to creating creatives. Still there were times when I was stretched beyond limits that I needed to find someone to delegate – and someone way better than I am. 99 Designs is a great platform for getting your creatives done – this include images, logos, website design and much more. What I enjoy most is the money-back guarantee that 99 Designs offers – get your money back if you don’t like the work!
Music Radio Creative
Music Radio Creative offers a good set of services to get your audio or music needs addressed. I tried them to get the voice-over for the Design Your Thinking Podcast. They are priced pretty nicely and give you enough options to make up your mind. I really liked the customer support as they personally worked with me to get through the changes I had asked for. Check them out!
This is another tool I’ve fallen in love with in the recent times. Canva is free tool to help you with designing your next set of business cards, social media posts, banner ads or more. I highly recommend this to all of those who aren’t good at Photoshop (like me!!) or are looking to get out something quick.
Pixelmator (for Mac & iOS)
I play with images a lot – from website graphics to hi-fidelity mockups. I also find Adobe Photoshop too complicated to understand and use (I’m not a Pro!). Pixelmator is a fantastic tool if you are using a Mac (they have an iOS version too). You can also edit PSD files (yeah, the elusive PSDs!!) that you could never do before without an Adobe Photoshop. Try this and life will be easy. At $29.99, the price point is easy on the pocket too!
Fiverr is a creative marketplace. I’ve found Fiverr to be a good option for creatives. I tried it to ideate the artwork for Design Your Thinking Podcast and had a good outcome. The key thing with Fiverr is that you engage directly 1-1 with designers and other creatives, unlike 99 Designs which does manage that for you. It’s good to directly engage with designers sometimes, especially with the good ones who are there to offer good work for a lesser price to establish themselves in the marketplace. Try Fiverr and you’ll not be disappointed.
If you are looking for do-whatever-you-want hi-resolution pictures, Unsplash is the place to go. I’ve used pictures from Unsplash a few times and they are really good! Do take a look and hope you find it useful too.
Audio & Video
Camtasia is my favourite software when it comes to screen recording and video editing. I use this for all my screencasts. It has great features that allows me to focus on specific areas of the screen and also add zoom-in and zoom-out on the fly during editing. If you are using Camtasia for recording screencasts, I highly recommend using a big monitor as it allows you to do more tricks.
I’ve used Screenflow as much as I’ve used Camtasia. If you use both PC and Mac, then go for Camtasia as they have both variants – helps share projects and work on them. If you are only using Mac, you should try Screenflow. Price-wise both are priced the same – so that’s out of your way when it gets to making a decision 🙂 Love to know your experience!
All you listen to in the Design Your Thinking Podcast could not have possibly be done without Call Recorder. This is one super-focused tool that will help you record your Skype (and FaceTime) conversations (audio + video). Call Recorder comes bundled with tools so you can split the tracks (speakers in a call) so you can individually edit the tracks (useful to edit volume, remove background noise, etc.). Try this and you’ll love it!
This is for you if you are considering starting a podcast. Libsyn is a great platform to store your podcast audio content. They have been around for a long time and know exactly what podcast directories like iTunes look for. The tool is pretty easy to use too. Libsyn also provides a customized app for more advanced plans.
Get Stuff Done
Trello has been another of my favourites when it gets to a to-do list. My to-do list format works well for me and I cannot think of a tool better than Trello. I highly recommend Trello’s iPhone and iPad Apps!
Evernote is one of the best tools I have on my Mac. I use it for multiple things – taking notes, sharing shopping list with my wife, sharing project notebooks with colleagues, and more. I like the built-in chat too. I’m a big user of Evernote’s iPad and iPhone apps and find them extremely handy when I need to take a quick note or lookup something quickly.
The PomodoroApp by TeamViz is another cool tool that helps me focus better. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique that is designed to help us get extremely efficient and productive.
How many times have you re-read your blog posts, product copies, sales copies? I know it can get extremely challenging to spot grammar issues, spelling and much more. Grammarly helps you delegate those responsibilities and focus on your content instead. Try Grammarly to proofread your copies and you’ll find out why it’s such a wonderful tool. It also comes with a Safari Add-on, if you are using a Mac.
I love my morning coffee as it keeps me going non-stop. Caffeine does the same to my Mac! It comes very handy when doing a presentation using my Mac as it prevents the screen from automatically going to sleep or dimming away. If you are into making presentations with your Mac, this is a no brainer!
I send a lot of emails to media editors, emails to people I don’t know or met to talk about my product, market research or do interviews. Not everyone likes to be messaged on social media. Voila Norbert offer a pain-free way to get email addresses of people as long as you know the company name they work for. Try Voila Norbert and you’ll be surprised!
As most of us, I deal with a lot of physical documents every day – utility bills, receipts, business cards, medical prescriptions, and more. CamScanner allows me to take a picture of the document and stash it into a folder (mine gets synced with my Dropbox) so that I never have to worry about keeping track of that piece of paper or document. I even use it to scan chapters or pages of books or magazines that I find interesting so that I can refer to them at a later point. This iPhone app is a must have.