As a product creator you have a number of tasks to perform: product ideas and brainstorming, project management and organization and collaboration (you do have someone proofreading and editing your work, don’t you?) I want to share with you my personal toolkit of products that I use to create products and complete other projects for myself or others.
It’s important to have a set of tools and a system to keep you organized and creative when developing your product. There are so many great FREE tools available. I know we all are focused on business and selling – but where would any of us be without those wonderful people who give us so many USEFUL tools for free? (And there are so many paid tools that are not worth a penny!) I did happen to sneak in one paid tool below, but there is a free trial
While this software is popular for screenwriters, there is no reason you can’t use it to plot out your video or audio product. I’m currently using it to write a screenplay, but I will soon be using it to plan out my videos, podcasts and other products that use video an audio or need any type of storyboarding. It’s available for both Mac and PC, it’s free and it’s fun to use. Celtx also has collaborative features for a small fee.
If you need to collaborate with someone on your product, you can use this free online service to create a “room” which includes a whiteboard and a number of graphical tools and chat to plot out your product or sales page. I recently used this site to work with a client to plot out the layout and business model for his new website.
This is for Mac only as far as I know, and it’s not free. But…well, you just have to see it to understand it. It allows you to capture all types of ideas, mind maps, sketches, diagrams – all in one place. I’ve used this one to outline and brainstorm one of my own products. With Curio you get tables, index cards, stencils, drawing tools, recording tools, you name it! If you know of anything similar for the PC please tell me! Like I said, it’s not free, but the folks at Zengobi are so nice, they will extend your free trial if you need it.
Of course there is FreeMind which was recently reviewed by a guest on my site. FreeMind is a popular, free mind mapping software that is available for both Mac and PC. This is great tool to keep track of your product research because you can include links to articles and websites that you find related to your product. It’s also a great tool to use to keep track of your competition or plot out your marketing strategy.
This is the one I’m currently using for mind mapping and brainstorming. Available for both Mac and PC and it’s free. I just love the look and feel of it mostly. You can make a number of tabbed sheets for each map, similar to creating an Excel workbook. You can also create a number of different types of diagrams (fishbone, org charts, etc). What I like about it is that you can create an online account and upload and share your maps. A plus for Xmind is that its compatible with FreeMind!
I used this one for a while. It’s quick, online and free. You can get started mind mapping without even creating an account. I used this to plot out a linking strategy for one of my websites. I’ve discussed bubbl.us a while back on the blog. As someone commented on that post bubbl.us is a good alternative to FreeMind (or other installable mind mapping software) because you don’t have to install it on your computer – and that means your maps are available anytime, anyplace.
Evernote is the perfect (free) companion for researching and storing notes about your product. You can easily synchronize between the downloadable (Mac or PC) and web versions to keep track of your notes from your mobile phone. This is a great tool to capture web clippings, articles and images for your product.
One thing that’s important to me is that all my product information (plans, ebook, video files, graphics, sales page, affiliate materials) are always available to me wherever I am. DropBox allows this to happen. I save all my product files in my DropBox folders on my computers (and iPad) and they are stored in the ‘cloud’ where DropBox automatically makes sure that the latest version is available on all my computers. It goes one step further by saving them in my online DropBox account as well. With the free version I get a revision history of about 30 days (in case I delete something by accident!) DropBox also allows you to share your folder with others, which is perfect for collaboration.
9. Google Docs
I’ve written about Google Docs on the blog before: discussing it as a project management tool and explaining how to use it to create your ebook . Anyone who has worked on a project (or product) with me knows that I set up our projects in Google Docs! You can create folders and use the different applications to manage your projects as well as store your product related files and share them with others. It’s much easier than emailing numerous documents back and forth. And it’s free, of course, and available right in your Gmail account.
10. Remember the Milk
When you create a product, you will always have a list of tasks: create the product, edit it, create your sales page, get Clickbank approval, etc. The list goes on and on. Remember the Milk is a cool way to manage the tasks. And if you have a Gmail account (and use Google Docs!) your task list will integrate right into your email. You can create a Task List for each of your products, and have RTM email you reminders to complete them.
I’ve hopefully provided you a nice list of a variety of tools that you will use in your own product creation kit! Do you have any special favorite tools you use to manage your projects or keep organized? Please let me know!
Have a look at 10 MORE tools for your product creation toolkit!