I only recommend the tools that I know and have tested myself or that are vouched by people whose judgement I trust and have used them. Other tools I’ve tested do not make the cut but I won’t disclose them.
Coworking space management tools
- Cobot: managing coworking spaces since 2010. It helps you manage the backoffice of your business with invoicing, bookings, reports, etc.
- Nexudus Spaces: white label tool to manage your coworking space. You can create your website and manage all backoffice needs, newsletters, etc.
- Nadine: open source program by the team of Office Nomads. Give it a run if you are comfortable with GitHub, Django, and Python.
Website and blog creation tools
- WordPress: the tool that powers most websites in the world and this site. You have two versions depending on your needs and knowledge:
- hosted and managed by you on your own server: wordpress.org
- managed by wordpress with limitations but less work and worry (I also use it in other projects like Coworking Belgium, no need to worry about security breaches or updating plugins): wordpress.com
. This is what I use to run The Coworking Handbook’s website. I recommend Siteground to host your install: reliable and helpful.
- Google Analytics: track the statistics of your website and convert them into actions to improve your marketing. It is specially good if you set up goals.
If you don’t have the knowledge or a programmer to work with you, go for the online version.
If you have the expertise or a programmer, you don’t need my advice :)
There are many other perfectly good tools out there to build websites and you can export your content from one to another (with different levels of difficulty). Some of the most used are Weebly, Wix and Drupal. Try the tools you like and keep the one that works for you.
Email marketing tools
- Mailchimp: our tool of choice at Betacowork. It connects to a lot of other tools easily, most programmers know how to work with it.
- MadMimi: simple, straight forward, very easy to change the layout without knowing any code. Great for first timers. We’ve used it a lot before and still use it in other organizations.
- Mautic: email marketing automation tool I’m experimenting with and that is very promissing. It is basically the WordPress of email marketing: you have an open source version that is hosted by you (mautic.org) or the online service managed by them (mautic.com).
Social media tools
- Buffer: share your social media posts to multiple accounts, send them at the same time, let them trickle out at specific times. Great time saver. It is my favorite posting tool and I use it a lot in the subway, other places where I’m alone and spending a lot of time looking at my phone and to quickly share pictures of things happening at Betacowork. You allow users with different access privileges to the accounts of your choice so you don’t have to disclose your master passwords.
- Hootsuite: another tool for social media sharing to multiple accounts, with autoschedule. I prefer to use it to see the updates in different accounts at the same time and to follow hashtags, namely during conferences. You allow users with different access privileges to the accounts of your choice so you don’t have to disclose your master passwords.
- Mobile Twitter app (Android, iOS): great to have on you and manage multiple accounts, specially for replies. You can enter multiple accounts and switch. A free alternative to Hootsuite IF you trust everybody that is going to use it with the master password for the account.
- Facebook mobile app (Android, iOS): great for interacting in your personal feed and those of your fan pages.
- Feedly: get all coworking related news in a single feed that gets automatically updated and share the most interesting ones through social media. Great combined with Google Alerts. Kickstart your Feedly with our RSS feed.
Event organization tools
- Eventbrite: my favorite tool for event ticketing. It works great, most people already have accounts, free for free events.
Customer service tools
- SnapEngage: great to have a live chat on your website and help convert visitors into clients.
- HelpScout: drive all support emails through here to assign to a team member and keep track of the conversation.
- Google Apps for Work: don’t bother synchronizing files to your computer and those of your team. Always work online! Great for collaborating in documents and to make signup forms for your events and collective activities. Also to stock files, with a good search that actually goes into the documents themselves. We use it for everything at Betacowork. We have online backups for these in Spanning and Backupify. I also use Google Keep a lot (I never managed to use Evernote regularly) for notes and lists (like the weekly standing meeting list of things to discuss). Its simplicity is its strength.
- Boomerang: if you don’t get a response to an email, get it back in your inbox. Great tool in the spirit of GTD (Getting Things Done) that helps you follow up freeing your mind to do actual work and not just trying to remember who you have to go after, what for, and when. You can also schedule emails to be sent later.
- CamScanner (Android): a scanner on your smartphone to quickly snap and share all kinds of documents as PDF or images.
- CamCard (Android, iOS): scan the business cards you receive and sync the contact information with your contact manager.
- Kindle reader: get all your business books in one place and share them with your team. I love my Kindle readers and use them extensively, also for fiction books. The great thing is that you can also sync the books with your mobile devices and event use the online reader on your computer.
Password management tools
- LastPass (web, Android, iOS): my password manager of choice. When you are working with teams of people, within or outside of your company, you have to be able to control and limit the risks linked to the use of shared log-ins and passwords.
All the syncing apps out there that we tried (all the known ones) gave us trouble.