The Top 5 #Startups I use to run Silicon Bayou News

Silicon Bayou News (SBN) is not a big media company (yet). We don’t have the resources or staff behind big tech news sites like TechCrunch or Mashable.

The majority of our team works for free or meager pay and our writers contribute on their own schedules. I’m asked frequently if SBN is my full-time job – it isn’t. I have multiple consulting gigs that pay my bills including one that has me spending a lot of time in Holland, Michigan over the next few months (hence all of my #hollanding tweets).

So how do we keep the site running like a well-oiled machine?

The secret is that we don’t just write about startups, we seek out, test, and use their products to run SBN. Here are five of my personal favorites that may just help you in running your own startup or company:

5. Storify

Storify is in the business of creating “social stories.” Their web app can be used to quickly & easily aggregate content from multiple social networking sites into one cohesive, social tale. I used it to create this post documenting tweets related to the 2011 SBN 100 release party.

Storify has several different embed options, allows for formatting, additional text boxes, and best of all is free.

4. Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a social media tool we’ve talked about before. It offers all the features of major social media tools: scheduling, Google Analytics, team management and more, but in a sleek, user-friendly design.

After a 30 day free trial, Sprout has plans ranging from $9/month all the way up to $899/month. If your business is looking for a way to comprehensively manage social media in one place, this is it.

3. Dropbox

Dropbox is a no-brainer if you have more than one computer, more than one team member, or basically any reason to access files remotely. I have a laptop I drag around while traveling and a heavy duty desktop holding down the fort at Launch Pad. Dropping large media files into my dropbox folder has saved me from lugging around easy-to-damage/misplace external media.

I’ve also used Dropbox to exchange files with writers all over the state. A 2GB account is free and additional storage starts at $9.99/month.

2. iSocket

Before I discovered iSocket, I was dreading the process of selling and managing advertisements on SBN. I had tested everything manually and discovered “ad management” was a burden likely to leave me little “free” time for actually writing. I found iSocket via TechCocktail, and knew it was the answer to my prayers. It is exactly what it says it is – the easiest way to sell and manage direct ads online.

SBN Advertisers can now go to one easy website, pick out an ad location & time range, upload media, and pay electronically in a matter of minutes. I get an e-mail to approve the ad, click one button, and voila! my job is done. Everything else is magically taken care of by my iSocket angels. If you are selling direct ads on a website any other way, you are probably wasting significant amounts of time & energy.

Sites must be accepted by iSocket before they can use the service and pricing starts at a flat rate of $19/month for less than 500,000 pageviews.

1. Trello

Trello! I first heard about Trello when they competed at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco last year. Shortly after that a friend started using it for his business and liked it. So when I needed a way to manage the story pipeline and workflow of our growing list of writers and staff, I gave it a shot.

There are a lot of things I like about Trello. It’s user friendly, simple, and just plain works. It’s also one of the most versatile “list” tools out there. It works for tracking multiple un-related lists or for tracking the flow of items from one list to another. I have a Trello “storyboard” for every under-the-hood SBN project and a primary board for the story pipeline (pictured above).

The only barriers I’ve experienced using Trello are getting other people to check/update it and getting the lists out of my head and onto the boards for everyone else to see. It’s currently free and I’ve yet to see any indication they will be charging in the near future.


Non-disclaimer-disclaimer: None of these links are referral links. No one here is getting paid by any of these companies to endorse or otherwise talk about their products. But if they wanted to advertise on SBN, we’d be happy to have them take care of that here. *wink* *nudge*


Tell us: Are you using any fun new startup tools to manage your business?