22 Fabulous Web Business Tools For 2014

by Rob on December 12, 2013

I’ll keep the introduction for this particular post short and concise.

What you see below is a list of the tools I regularly use in my online business.

Take a look through and please do comment below if you use and like any tools that you can recommend to other readers which I didn’t include in my list.

If you’d prefer here is a handy PDF version that you can save to your computer:

Right Click, Save As… To Download The PDF

Ok, here we go…

1) Jing / Screencast

Sometimes, typing emails can get pretty tiring.

So instead I often shoot a short screencast video (basically a video of your computer screen) to reply to customer queries, send private messages to joint venture partners and communicate with freelancers.

I have the free version which is limited to 5 minutes recording (a good thing because it forces you to be concise!). Once you click “stop” you can click another button to share the video on your Screencast.com account which will give you a web address URL that you can simply email out to whoever you made the video for.

Investment: Free
Links: http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html & http://www.screencast.com/

2) Wishlist Member

I use this fantastic WordPress plugin on many of my sites to secure the members areas so I can keep freebie seekers/prying eyes out and let customers in.

There are many alternatives but for me this is the best. It integrates easily with various payment systems (including PayPal) and email list providers (including Aweber).

Quick tip: If you are considering this but are put off by the price just get the 1 site license for your first site and once that’s successful upgrade to the multisite version (that’s what I did!).

Investment: $97+
Links: http://member.wishlistproducts.com/

3) Skype

Free phone calls worldwide? Yes, please! :-)

I use Skype in 4 main ways:

1. To speak with my private clients
2. To speak with joint venture partners & freelancers (e.g., software developers) that I’ve hired
3. To interview people for content I’m creating for my products
4. To make personal calls such as phoning my bank.

Investment: Free
Link: http://www.skype.com/en/

4) Call Recorder

This allows you to record the audio (and video if you wish) from Skype calls.

Call Recorder is just for the Mac which I find to have the best reliability (it’s never ever let me down). But there are equivalent applications for the PC too such as Pamela.

Perfect for recording expert interviews in your niche – exactly what I use it for!

Investment: $29.95
Link: http://www.ecamm.com/mac/callrecorder/ or for the PC: http://www.pamela.biz/en/

5) Audacity

This is free and although it takes a bit of time to get used to (just look up some YouTube videos to train yourself up) it’s brilliant for editing audio.

After I record an expert interview I can use audacity to “top and tail” the audio and edit out any bits that aren’t very useful. After that’s done I just click File > Export to bring out a lovely new MP3 file which I can upload to Amazon S3 (see below) and publish direct to my sites.

Investment: Free
Link: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

6) Easy Video Suite

This used to be called Easy Video Player but it’s now got a few new features in it.

The thing I love about this is that it integrates directly with Amazon S3 (see below): I literally select the video or audio file I want to publish and click on “Upload”. From there I just copy and paste the code that it gives me directly into WordPress and the video plays.

If I need to change any of the features of the video (autoplay, colour, size etc) I never need to touch that code again but instead just make the changes at the click of a button inside the main Easy Video control panel.

Investment: $297
Link: http://easyvideosuite.com/launch/

7) Amazon S3

This is mass “cloud” storage. “Cloud” just means “on the internet” – almost certainly an inferior technical definition there but that’s how I think of it anyway.

The 3 best things about Amazon S3 are:

1. It’s incredibly cheap. Even with thousands of views of a 60 minute video you’d only end up paying a few dollars.

2. Using it means that you don’t have to burden your website with the high bandwidth required for playing video or audio (I never recommend uploading a video or audio to your hosting account as it’ll really slow down or crash your server).

3. The files are delivered super fast and are also private so it’s perfect for publishing your content to customer download areas or membership sites. YouTube is not a great option for these purposes because the videos are public so customers may not be happy that they have paid for access to something they could have watched for free on YouTube!

Investment: Incredibly cheap!
Link: http://aws.amazon.com/s3/

8) LeadPages

This took the internet marketing scene by storm in 2013 and it’s a terrific tool for building high converting sales, squeeze and content pages in (literally) seconds.

The cleverest thing about the service is that they are effectively “crowd sourcing” split test results. In other words, as other people use high converting templates they get pushed up inside the system so you can select them as well.

They are also adding lots of new templates all the time (which are tested beforehand). So basically, you are guaranteed to be using a high converting template straight out of the box. No other service that I know of offers this!

Investment: $37+/month or $197+/year
Link: http://www.leadpages.net/products/ (or my affiliate link: www.gainhigherground.com/leadpages)

9) Hybrid Connect

This allows you to create email optin boxes with the most impressive custom wizard editor I’ve ever seen (seriously check it out if you haven’t seen it before).

You can add these forms anywhere you like simply by pasting a small “shortcode” to your page, post or sidebar widget right inside of WordPress.

Investment: $49+
Link: http://hybrid-connect.com/ (or my affiliate link: www.gainhigherground.com/hybridconnect)

10) SpyBar

Ok, obviously I’m biased here as this is one of my products!

But still, I do use it several times per day to find what’s going on with websites I visit around the internet.

Investment: $12.95
Link: http://www.wpspybar.com

11) BigStock

This is where I get the vast majority of my images and pictures that I use for my sites and products. Each image costs $1-$2 (roughly) and although there are free alternatives (http://www.morguefile.com/, http://www.sxc.hu/) the quality and volume with BigStock makes it my first choice every time.

Tip: I only ever use the smallest images as they are always big enough for what I need and they are also the cheapest.

Investment: $1-$3/image (it depends)
Link: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/

12) IconFinder.com

This is free and brilliant for little icons that you can use in your marketing. A lot of my products have images in them that I’ve sourced from IconFinder.Com.

The image at the top right of this post is from this site too :-)

Investment: Free (mostly!)
Link: https://www.iconfinder.com/

13) SnagIt

Has there been a single day in the past 12 months that I haven’t used SnagIt? Well probably, but those days would be when I’m not on my computer at all!

It’s brilliant for making fast adjustments to images such as resizing and cropping. I also use it extensively for working with the images I use for Facebook Ads. As close to as a “must have” as it gets in my book!

All the images in this list were captured and edited using SnagIt too.

Tip: Snagit and Camtasia (see below) are available as a package together. If you don’t want Camtasia though, you can just purchase Snagit separately.

Investment: Varies on package and country (Free trial)
Link: http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html

14) Pixlr

I still can’t believe this is actually free.

Rather than explain more about it here, check out the video demo I did for you on this blog post: http://www.gainhigherground.com/how-to-create-a-website-header-using-a-brilliant-free-online-tool/

Investment: Free
Link: http://pixlr.com/

15) Camtasia

All my videos are edited and produced using this.

It’s not perfect but it is fun to use and gets the job done fast. One of the best investments I’ve ever made for my business. If you are a Mac user then Screenflow might be a better alternative but personally, I don’t use that myself.

Investment: Varies on package and country (Free trial)
Link: http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html

16) Aweber

As with most of these tools there are countless alternatives and Aweber is no exception. For me though, I just really like it. It’s perfect for starting out as well because it’s:

1. Easy to use
2. Very inexpensive

As you get more advanced you’ll find some limitations but to be honest in my view there’s usually far more money to be made by improving your products and marketing strategies than there is in spending time upgrading to a more extensive email system.

If $20/month for Aweber puts you off then please consider the alternative cost of starting a traditional offline business (i.e., thousands before you even open the doors). It’s so inexpensive to use and building your list is the single most profitable things you can do.

Investment: $20+/month ($1 trial)
Link: https://www.aweber.com/ (or my affiliate link: www.gainhigherground.com/aweber)

17) Odesk & Elance

I still can’t decide which of these outsourcing sites I like the prefer!

Overall though, when people ask, I usually say oDesk and in truth that is the one I use mostly for transcription, graphics, web design and software development. In contrast I’ve never has much luck with Freelancer.com but of course, your experience may be different.

These sites represent one of the best things about doing business online: Access to incredibly low cost workers who can handle the things you either aren’t skilled at yourself (and I’m hopeless at transcription, writing or software development) or simply don’t like doing.

Investment: Depends upon project. E.g., $15+ for transcription, $150+ for software, $20+ for web design
Link: https://www.odesk.com/ and https://www.elance.com/

18) FileZilla

FileZilla is a FTP program which allows you to transfer files back and forth between your computer and your web hosting account.

I try to avoid this whenever possible (preferring to upload via WordPress > Add Media or to my Amazon S3 account) but still sometimes it’s necessary and it’s a great skill to learn (not very difficult at all once you’ve done it a few times).

Investment: Free
Link: https://filezilla-project.org/

19) Fiverr

What can I say?

Fiverr has been a revolution over the past few years and at such a cheap price you really can’t go wrong.

I mainly use it for logo designs, 3D product e-covers but there is so much more available too. Once I actually bought a gig entitled “I will record nearly anything you want as a horse race for $5″ for a friend’s birthday (watch the video here: http://fiverr.com/arnyaustralia/record-a-mock-horse-race-call-for-you-and-your-friends)!

Investment: $5+
Link: http://fiverr.com/

20) Google Chrome

In my opinion this is the best and easiest to use internet browser. If you haven’t tried it and are currently using Internet Explorer or Firefox give it a shot for a few days and see what you think.

Investment: Free
Link: https://www.google.com/chrome

21) Canvas

I get questions all the time about which WordPress themes I recommend.

For mini-sites, membership areas and beautiful looking niche blogs I nearly always choose Canvas. The company behind it, WooThemes, have a really solid platform and once you’ve spent a little time playing around and getting used to it I think you’ll be really impressed.

Investment: $99+
Link: http://www.woothemes.com/products/canvas/

22) Notepad++

If you have a PC then you’ll automatically have Notepad which is a simple text editor. However, I highly recommend using Notepad++ instead as it gives you slightly more features and in particular supports multiple tabs open at the same time.

I store my daily “TODO” list in it and lots of template emails I use for customer support and communicating with outsourcers and joint venture partners.

Investment: Free
Link: http://notepad-plus-plus.org/

That’s it – I hope these tools are as useful to you as they are too me!

What tools (free or paid) do you use? Please let us know in the comments below… :-) Cheers,Rob.

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd Scheitler

Just wanted to say thanks for this very helpful list.

Reply

Rob

It’s a pleasure Todd, thank you for letting me know you found it useful :-)

Cheers, Rob.

Reply

Mike

This is a brilliant list full of things I’d never even heard of, let alone worked out what they were for. Thanks very much, Rob. It’s a resource I’m sure I’ll be returning to often.

Reply

Rob

Excellent Mike, that’s great to hear – very glad you enjoyed it!

Cheers,

Rob

Reply

Stephen

Great list, Rob!

A quick tally shows that I use exactly half of these tools; so there are definitely at least a couple that I need to either explore or revisit. ;)

One resource I regularly find myself tapping into is PresenterMedia http://www.presentermedia.com/

It complements BigStock and IconFinder nicely.

- Stephen

Reply

Rob

Hi Stephen,

That site looks very interesting indeed and I’m sure it’ll be helpful for other readers so thank you very much for sharing :-)

Cheers, Rob.

Reply

Peter De Campi

Take a look at TODO.ly It’s a todo list that I use all the time. It’s free and there’s a paid version for $3 pm. What I like about it is it’s just intuative to use.

Also take a look TRELLO.com. Again I use the free version here. It’s a way of keeping tabs on things and what stage they’re at. It’s actually quicker to watch their video than describe it in detail

Pete

Reply

Rob

Thanks for those 2 resources Pete, great stuff! :-)

Cheers, Rob

Reply

Paul

Thanks for the list Rob, some I use and think are great too, a couple I had not heard of.

I use textpad as an alternative to note, which gives you the multiple tabs as well as some formatting etc

I understand that Pamela will not work with Skype in the near future and I need to find something to replace it. Any other recommendations?

I have managed to get all my screen capture tasks done with Jing (as you recommend) and not seen what the benefit would be of upgrading to Snagit.

I use FTP core lite, rather than fiileziiller, just because that was one that someone recommended years ago and it works very well.

I would struggle to manage without evernote. I use it most days and on several devises, the sync across all just helps me to be a little bit organised.

I now use Thesis from DIYThemes as my wordpress theme. When it went over to version 2 I could not get to grips with it, mainly as there was not user manual. Very poor I accept. However now it is at version 2.2 (I think that is the latest) it is much easier to us and there are some good videos out there now on how to use. Once you get a grip, it is great and very easy and versatile.

Leadpages is unfortunately only on my wish list at the moment, due to cash flow, but will use your link when things get sorted.

Thanks again

Reply

Paul Barber

Sorry addition additional note

I have issuses with Chrome. It has a habit of hidding the pages that open up, so that you cannot click on the ‘attach’ button etc and have to cascade windows to find it and continue. Anyone else have the same problem?

Reply

Rob

Great comment Paul – a blog post in itself there!

No specific recommendations for Pamela alternatives but there are several options from a “skype call recorder” search.

Agreed on Thesis especially, that’s the theme that this blog uses actually!

And good call on Evernote too :-)

Cheers,

Rob.

Reply

Andrew

I used MP3 skype recorder for my interview with John Thornhill. The link to MP3 recorder is below:

http://voipcallrecording.com/

Very easy to install and use. I did initially try with Pamela but had a lot of issues with it that I couldn’t resolve, MP3 skype recorder done the job.

Reply

Rob

Excellent Andrew – thanks for sharing this!

Great to hear a viable alternative to Pamela :-)

Kind regards,

Rob

Reply

Andrew

Thanks Rob – returning the favour for sharing your links, especially the images repository :) (thumbs up)

Andrew

John

Great list Rob, really most helpful. Like you I think AWEBER is a must and their support and email advice on new developments are first rate.

Reply

Rob

Thanks for this John, I didn’t mentioned support in the post so it’s really helpful to hear your feedback on that in particular :-)

Kind regards,

Rob.

Reply

Gordon Griffiths

Hi Rob,
Thanks for your email from Gain Highger Ground.
Having only just joined your DPF program, the fact that there is more very helpfull sites to explore makes feel very confident of success.
Hope to get around all sites as I progress.
Thanks,Gordon

Reply

Rob

Hi Gordon,

Great to see you hear on the blog! I hope you enjoy the content and when you get a chance have a browse through some of the “Popular Posts” listed on the right hand side.

Keep in touch and thanks for dropping by :-)

Kind regards,

Rob.

Reply

Walter

Hi Rob
Thanks a lot for sharing your list of Web Business Tools.
With regards to screen capture, I use Screencast-O-Matic as I often need to record videos that last a little longer than 5 minutes. With Screencast, you can record up to 15 mins with the free version and it’ll automatically upload your video to YouTube as well. You can publish your video in different file formats, or have Screencast do it for you and provide a link. Learning curve is about nil too.

Walter

Reply

Rob

Hi Walter,

Great tip, I remember testing screencast-o-matic some time ago and for some reason it didn’t seem to work well for me. Maybe it’s time to try again…

Thanks very much for the share :-)

Cheers,

Rob

Reply

yegeta

Thanks for the list!

Regarding Aweber, is there a free version that works similar to Aweber as I am not ready to pay for the service?

Reply

Rob

Hi Yegeta,

Thanks for your comment and good to see you here on the blog :-)

Yes, you can try MailChimp which is free for a certain amount of subscriber. But they won’t let you promote affiliate products. If you have your own products then it is an excellent option but again a little restrictive overall really which is why I don’t really recommend free email service providers.

Cheers,

Rob.

Reply

John Banks

Loads on here I use.

Big fan of – Skype, Amazon S3 (very recently!), Spybar (cant remember where I got this?), Pixlr, Camtasia, Aweber, FileZilla, Fiver and Chrome.

Planned future investments – Leadpages, Wishlist Member.

Alternative suggestion to one of yours:

Bigstock Photo —> Pixabay – completely amazing royalty free images.

Great post – thanks for sharing.

John

Reply

Rob

http://pixabay.com/ looks fantastic John and a great free alternative to BigStock!

Thanks so much for your comment :-)

Cheers, Rob

Reply

Karen

I was very impressed when you sent me a video in response to a query. I like the idea of sending a video of myself talking as opposed to a screen shot. Wondering how you would do that?

Reply

Rob

Hi Karen,

Thanks for your comment :-)

It’s all done with Jing and Screencast.com – both totally free and on certain occasions it’s a lot faster and more effective than typing emails!

Cheers,

Rob

Reply

Sean

Hello Rob, I have to agree with you on hybrid connect it looks to be… head and shoulders above anything else out there.
I’m dithering, but I’ll probably buy it! I’ve got at least 3 other plugins that are bought and paid for, supposedly to do what hybrid does, and they don’t!!!

Reply

Rob

Hi Sean,

I know exactly what you mean!

There are stacks of alternatives for Hybrid and most will do a nice job but Hyrbdi itself really is something special. I know Paul & Shane who are the creators and they really do operate in a way that is a cut above the rest which is a rare commodity across the IM landscape.

Thanks for your comment and great to see you on here on the blog :-)

Cheers,

Rob

Reply

Sean

I bought it Rob… Going to set it up over the week end, just getting my head around S3 self hosted email, and html templates for news letters… Should keep me busy! :)

Reply

Rob

For email I’d really recommend a service like Aweber unless you have a specific reason for going down the self-hosted route.

Lot’s to learn either way though so enjoy it and thanks for your comment :-)

Cheers, Rob

Reply

mark walsh

What an excellent Article lots of Valuable Information, thank you for Posting.

Reply

Rob

Thank you Mark, glad it helped and thanks for letting us know :-)

Cheers, Rob

Reply

Chris

Totally with you on a lot of those tools there Rob.

I’ve never known quite what I think of LeadPages though. It works a treat but it’s a big expense if you host the pages yourself. I now try to replicate my own such pages for various projects in hand-coded CSS now. It’s an incredibly simple language once you get familiar.

What will be interesting is if Hybrid Connect is converted to a standalone tool for the same purpose.

It’s been rumoured for a long time but I think all focus is currently on another tool which might end up an addition to this list next year – a drag and drop content editor for WordPress. I got in early doors with that one whilst it’s still in development. It looks good. Shane Melaugh and his team make great products.

Thanks for the heads up on Amazon S3. I’ve heard of it but never got the lowdown. I can think of some immediate uses already.

Reply

Rob

Hi Chris,

Excellent points and thank you for sharing!

I’m not inclined to try learning CSS myself but I’m sure others reading this might be thinking about it so it’s great to hear your experience there.

Totally agreed on Shane; him and his business partner Paul really put out some top notch products :-)

Good luck with S3, it’s very easy to use once you get your head around it (just remember that “buckets” are basically folders!) and I think you’ll find it very useful.

Cheers for now,

Rob

Reply

Michael Bury

Hi Rob

What can I say that’s not been said above?

Fantastic post thanks for taking the time out to share with us, some great tips to help us on the long [& sometimes lonely] road to success & clearly due to the above comments lots of people agree.

Seems like we are even keeping you busy responding Rob, perhaps a product idea: plug in to respond to individual posts with relevant content……..

Best wishes for Christmas & thanks again for all of your help.

Michael

P.S.
I am impressed that my business partner has submitted his comments, clearly a step in the right direction….Take Action :-)

Reply

Rob

Hi Michael,

There’s an idea – it would certainly be a big time saver!

Thank you for your kind words and great to hear the content has helped – lot’s more to come next year :-)

Kind regards,

Rob.

Reply

Jack Albright

Thanks Rob, this is great stuff

Reply

Rob

Glad you found it useful Jack and thank you for your comment :-)

Cheers,

Rob.

Reply

Steve

Hi Rob, you are like a breath of fresh air. Kind of like that neighbor we’d all like to have – straight shooting, congruous, and a boat load of integrity. Thanks. I have been working to get something live on-line over the last few years – it is corporate technology related – so a different audience than online marketing, and I have to admit I am still struggling trying to understand how to monitize the advice I provide to others. I purchased Kajabi but it did not seem like a fit with my Word Press sites; then I saw your post on the subject – and your words rang true. So what do I turn to instead?… and then youre post appeared about the tools and it answered my questions. Thanks so much. I’ll check into your membership site. You’re a good guy. Thanks.

Reply

Rob

Hi Steve,

Great to see you here on the blog, thank you for your kind words :-)

Glad you found this useful too!

Kind regards,

Rob.

Reply

Peter De Campi

I came across TrafficWave.net as an alternative to aweber.

It doesn’t have all the features that aweber has. But I’ve havent found any bad reviews about it. Of course the price is key and TrafficWave is $17.95 from 1 to 10,000 subscribers. That’s going to be a big deal for me.

Pete

Reply

Rob

Hi Pete,

Thanks for the comment and suggestion – much appreciated :-)

Kind regards,

Rob

Reply

Barry

Hello Rob

Reading your post makes me see the dollars mounting up!

Obviously any business needs investment in time and money. I wonder; what is the minimum monetary investment we need to make a profitable website?

Reply

David

Hi Rob
Finally got my first web page up and now am working on getting a ‘blog’ up and running. Knowing which themes and member sites to use is a real bonus. I did not know how a YouTube video video could really slow down loading up.
This answers why many sites are cr*p.
It must be nice for you to know all your members have superior knowledge which will enable them to produce better work.
My site was made with Kompozer and once Filezilla was bypassed uploaded easily, some would say I should have known.
Best wishes
David

Reply

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