[UPDATE: The PDF file below was updated on August 26th, 2016]
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:
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.
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!).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
9) Hybrid Connect (Now Thrive Leads)
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.
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.
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)
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!)
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)
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: https://www.gainhigherground.com/how-to-create-a-website-header-using-a-brilliant-free-online-tool/
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)
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.
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.
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).
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)!
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.
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.
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.
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.