Toolbox

my blogging and teaching tools

Hi there, bienvenue ! 

I am regularly asked what applications or software I use to run Selfrench, so here's a complete list of all my gadgets! 

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links on products that I use and recommend only.

1) Shopify

My shop / blog is powered by Shopify. I thought the platform was more convenient for me since I was counting on having a shop with a little blog on the side. I've actually done the contrary in practice, but Shopify allows me great control over both, so that works just fine! I really recommend it if you plan on selling items, particularly online ones! The shop can also easily be integrated with Wordpress, an all-time favorite among bloggers. 

2) Shopify Apps:

With Shopify, I have access to countless apps with a one-click integration. Many of them are free, and I regularly try out new things. I currently have: 

- Product Review:

Can be found at the bottom of my products page here.

- MailChimp for Shopify:

Very useful, it transfers all my email address to my various MailChimp list

- Plug in SEO: 

Helps you see if something is wrong on your website and can be corrected to improve you SEO.

- Merchify:

I was really curious about this one. The reviews are great so I decided to give it a go. You can easily create and integrate items (mugs, tote bags, t-shirts, mouse pad...) to your shop. You don't need to worry about anything, Merchify creates and sells the items for you and you get a nice commission on the sale.

- Digital Downloads:

My very first app. Since all my products are virtual (ebooks ...) I use Digital Download to host my file on a cloud and they are released for each sale automatically.

- Compass:

A fantastic tool that I use as a complement to Google Analytics and Shopify. 

- Open Sign in:

Great app! It instantly helps your customer register from their favorite social media and fastens the checkout by filling their info for them. 

- POWr:

They have a ton of little widget (for free!) and options available to add some slides, pictures, forms etc. to your website.

- FinditQuick:

It's a search engine and a shop. You can add your product on FinItQuick to boost sales, SEO and increase your visibility.

- Alt Text:

Add tags to your pictures to make them more SEO friendly. Simple and practical.

- Privy:

One of my first love! I use to complete MailChimp. Privy sends the first mail after registration and I then follow up from MailChimp. Why not use MailChimp all the way? Well, I prefer controlling my embed from my Shopify dashboard. 

- Related Blogpost:

Add three articles at the end of each blog post. This way, you increase your chances for visitors to stay on your blog and check out your next article.

- Fishbowl:

Awesome app to create giveaways. The system is clear and simple and helps a lot with growing your email list in no time. Everyone wants to win something! 

- Social Sharing:

This app offers various resources to help you boost your blog engagement for free. A few more functions are available to Premiums, but the free features are already very customizable and fun, I just love it! 

- Trust: 

I tried Trust a couple of weeks ago. The app generates a small icon (place it where you want) that displays  little information about your business to built customer's trust, such as your billing address, CSS validation etc. you choose which to display.

+ Extra: 

- Disqus:

I added Disqus to my website recently. Though I don't have the choice on my blog (Shopify comment section or none) other pages such as the Playlist, About me, or the shop now have Disqus integrated, which I believe was the best option, since it's the most recommended Comment section service and allows for a quick authentification as well as follow-up. 

 

 

2) To teach French:

Since July, I am no longer an IRL, live whatever you want to call it, teacher. I discovered Preply in early August and I have been able to find 14 students in three weeks.  To give my classes, I use a few tools:

Preply:

The platform puts me in relation with students. We chat about their needs, current level and objectives and they decide if and when they want to take a course. If that works for the both of us, they pay for a trial lesson. The first lesson's cost goes entirely to Preply as a commission. Some might think it's too much, but I am personally very happy to have a platform taking care of all the details for me and also to protect me if anything should happen with a student. 

 

Paypal:

All the payments are made through Paypal, which I find much more interesting than a points system where people purchase points  or virtual money. All I have to do is convert from dollars to Malaysian Ringgit (my currency). I can withdraw money from Preply to Paypal anytime I want, without a minimum balance, which I find pretty useful, rather than waiting for a particular date or minimum amount. 

Skype: 

I have been told that I could use any other platform but since everyone I met so far uses skype, I will keep using it. I am not a big fan of the quantity of bandwidth it uses, my connexion being rather limited (bear in mind I live in a small village in Malaysia, having wifi should already be celebrated!). But so far, nothing too bad has happened. I bought a microphone for 20rm, 5$ (perks of living in a country with oh-so cheap electronics)

which allows me to be heard properly. I truly recommend investing in a mic, students need to clearly hear your pronunciation! 

Google Calendar. 

Since I'm getting more and more hours, it has become difficult to keep track of my schedule. I have a big white board in my room with my schedule, but when a student recommended Google Calendar, I agreed. This way, everyone I teach can easily know when I am free as well as seeing my planning from their time zone. 

Edmodo:

The latest one. I never used this platform before since I was only a substitute teacher and never full-time but it seems to be the most famous platform for teachers -students interactions. It's very similar to Facebook, but for teaching, it helps keep in touch with everyone, share some resources, organize a library, give assignments and so on.