Tools

I receive a lot of questions regarding which tools and services I use to run my business. So I decided to put them all together here, for easy access.

This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list – but every service on here is one I use or have used and that I recommend based on that first-hand experience.

(Full disclosure: If you click one of these links and sign-up for the service mentioned, in some happy instances I get compensated by the company in question – at no additional cost to you!)


My Most Recommended

If you look at nothing else on this page, take a close look at these four.  I find myself telling everyone about them, again and again.

  • Constant Contact. I’ve been working closely with Constant Contact since 2002. All the newsletters that I manage for clients are done on the Constant Contact platform. Great product, smart (and nice) people and it just keeps getting better. If you want a high quality, easy-to-use tool for your e-mail marketing, this is it.
  • Contactually. A weird name for a great product. This is a simple, CRM system that integrates seamlessly with gmail and other tools. Easily keep track of prospect/client conversations and set up reminder systems based on categories that you create. Simple interface makes it a breeze to learn.
  • Audio Acrobat. For about $20 a month, this service takes care of all types of audio needs. Want to record your monthly newsletter and give readers an option to click and listen (and post it automatically on iTunes)? Want to record a message that visitors to your web site will hear? Want to set up a dedicated phone line that your customers can use to record a testimonial for you? You can do all this and a lot more with Audio Acrobat, and it’s easy as can be.
  • Lastpass. An easy way to get all your user names and passwords organized, secure and in one place. And it’s free.

Online Events / Webinars / Screen-sharing

  • Eventbrite. A great tool for managing and promoting your events. It’s easy to personalize the registration page to match your brand, the support staff is helpful, and you’ve got all the bells and whistles you’d expect for setting up events however you’d like. Eventbrite has saved me hours of development time.
  • ReadyTalk. We’ve all lived through the webinar nightmare: You show up, ready to participate, and the software doesn’t work. You can’t log in, your computer crashes, blah, blah, blah. Until I discovered ReadyTalk, I figured this was just the way it had to be. But with ReadyTalk, there’s no software download required (it’s Flash-based). Participants can chat, “raise their hands,” and see anything on your desktop you want them to see. I use it for all my online events.
  • Glance. A great service that lets you see my computer screen on your Mac, PC or any mobile device. There’s no download required on your end (all you do is go to my custom URL) and instantly (Ok, it takes one second), we can be reviewing designs together, walking through a web site or doing anything else that requires two (or more) people to look at the same thing at the same time.
  • Screencast-o-matic. I know, it sounds like a toaster. But this easy-to-use tool allows you to record whatever is on your computer screen. Great for creating tutorials/demonstrations (you can easily include a video/audio of you talking at the same time) and then uploading and saving to YouTube.

Audio on your web site / In your newsletter

  • Audio Acrobat. For about $20 a month, this service takes care of all types of audio needs. Want to record your monthly newsletter and give readers an option to click and listen (and post it automatically on iTunes)? Want to record a message that visitors to your web site will hear? Want to set up a dedicated phone line that your customers can use to record a testimonial for you? You can do all this and a lot more with Audio Acrobat, and it’s easy as can be. (More on how I use audio here.)

Data Backup / Retrieval

  • Dropbox. Dropbox synchs any files you designate, instantly, to “the cloud,” so you can get to them from any other computer or device. I keep all my files in my dropbox folder so it doesn’t even matter what machine I’m using or where I’m located. You can also set up folders to share with other people you designate (great for exchanging large files with other folks). Free.
  • Carbonite. For about $5 a month, Carbonite has your data back-up covered. I’ve used them to restore an entire computer’s worth of data and it worked like a charm. (And the iPhone app, which lets you retrieve any file you’ve backed up, directly onto your phone, is pretty cool too).

E-mail Marketing

  • Constant Contact. I’ve been working closely with Constant Contact since 2002. All the newsletters that I manage for clients are done on the Constant Contact platform. Great product, smart (and nice) people and it just keeps getting better. If you want a high quality, easy-to-use tool for your e-mail marketing, this is it.
  • AWeber. AWeber does a lot of things, but I relied on it for years as a rock-solid autoresponder. So, for example, if someone buys one of your digital products, you can use AWeber to deliver it and to then automatically send a series of pre-written follow-up messages days or months later. It’s also great for delivering online courses, also at set intervals. In all cases, you set it up once and forget about it.
  • Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft is a powerful tool for automating your email-based marketing. You can tag, select and customize messages based on past reader behavior and purchases (it integrates with a shopping cart), and segment your list to your heart’s content. I also use it for delivering automated courses and follow-up messages.

Business-Building Books

  • Spunk & Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style. Arthur Plotnik. This is the only book about writing I’ve ever read that is both useful and interesting (and very funny). Engaging author, Arthur Plotnick (even his name is funny), explains how to make your writing zestier and more readily consumable by other humans.

Tools for Selling Stuff

  • E-Junkie. I looked at a number of options when I relaunched my site and e-junkie was the clear winner. It was easy to set up, has plenty of options, and offers (very important) really attentive customer service. There’s also an incredible treasure-trove of detailed, online documentation.
  • Clickbank. I used Clickbank for 8 or 9 years before I needed to move up to a more sophisticated system. But it works great and if you want to quickly and easily get up and going selling digital products (e-books, etc.), this is the place to start. They also have a built-in affiliate program, making it easy for other people to sell your stuff.
  • PayPal. You can use PayPal to quickly get up and running selling things on your web site (the ones above have more features, but PayPal is very simple). You need a PayPal account anyway to get paid easily by other people and to make payments. Definitely worth having an account.

Images

  • iStockPhoto. For a few dollars each, you can buy the rights to download from among hundreds of thousands of photos/illustrations. Great for newsletters, web sites and powerpoint presentations!
  • Flickr. Millions of photos, free to use (with certain restrictions and requirements).

Miscellaneous Tools

  • Contactually. A weird name for a great product. This is a simple, CRM system that integrates seamlessly with gmail and other tools. Easily keep track of prospect/client conversations and set up reminder systems based on categories that you create. Simple interface makes it a breeze to learn.
  • Lastpass. An easy way to get all your user names and passwords organized, secure and in one place. And it’s free.
  • Send Out Cards. This service allows you to send cards and gifts from your computer through regular snail mail! Amazingly convenient and these days, “old fashioned” mail really gets noticed. A great way to stay in touch with clients, prospects, colleagues and mom.
  • SignNow. Occasionally, I need to sign a document and send it back to someone. Until recently, that required faxing (don’t own one), signing and scanning (a pain) or snail mail (ugh). With SignNow, I simply upload any document, sign it (using my mouse!) and save it back to my hard drive. Now I have a record of it and can easily send it to anyone. Free. (Watch a 96-second video about the service here.)
  • PhotoStamps. Create real, U.S. postage stamps with your photo, logo or whatever else you want on them. A cool – and relatively cheap – way to brand your outgoing mail.