Recommended

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.)


My Most Recommended

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

  • YouMail. I haven’t checked my voicemail since 2009. That’s because with YouMail, everytime somebody calls my number, I get a text message telling me who called and, if they left a message, a transcription of the message. It also allows me to blacklist any number, so once I get a spam call, I can make sure they never call me again. The “in-box style” interface allows me to find and play past messages, even if I’ve deleted them. At $5 a month, it’s hard to beat!
  • MeetEdgar. Social media is an important tool for staying visible, especially if you create your own content (recommended). But posting regularly is time consuming. MeetEdgar solves all that. Starting at about $20 a month, the service allows you to preload and automate your updates and original content across all your social profiles. It even helps write them for you. Easy to use, excellent customer support.
  • 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.
  • Loom. This is a quick and easy tool for recording and sharing videos of whatever is on your computer screen. You can show just your screen or include yourself in the video as well. Great for quick instructional videos, design requests, or even as a “hello” that you drop into an email. The basic level is free.

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 with Constant Contact since 2002. Many of the newsletters that I manage for clients are done on the Constant Contact platform.  A high quality, easy-to-use tool for your e-mail marketing. Free phone support.
  • MailChimp. Very easy to use with several nice options including easy targeting and tagging of lists, a simple interface, and no fee for lists below a certain size.
  • Keap. Keap (formerly 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 use it for delivering automated courses and follow-up messages, as well as for publishing my own newsletter.

Browser Extensions (software that adds functionality to your web browser)

  • Grammarly. “Compose bold, clear, mistake-free writing.” Grammarly checks the spelling, grammar and tone of your emails, social posts and anything else through your browser. Incorrect words are highlighted as you type.
  • Awesome Screenshot. If you want to take a picture or video of what’s on your screen, whether to copy an image, capture an error message, or demonstrate and then share an action, this extension makes it easy. You can annotate and crop as well.
  • Private Internet Access. If you jump on the Internet at Starbucks, in a hotel room, or at any other public location, you are potentially exposed. PIA is a quick and easy way to provide “multi-layered security with advanced privacy protection using VPN tunneling.” Whatever that means. No matter. The point is, PIA, keeps your data and computer safe.
  • Honey. Honey is a discount code / coupon site. And it does all the work for you. When I put something in my shopping cart, even if I forget Honey is there (and I usaually do), it suddenly appears and starts trying every discount code it can find. Sometimes I save just a few dollars, but recently Honey found a code that took $200 off a $500 computer! Install it and forget about it.

Images

  • iStockPhoto and 123RF. For a few dollars each, both of these sites allow you to 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

  • MeetEdgar. Social media is an important tool for staying visible, especially if you create your own content (recommended). But posting regularly is time consuming. MeetEdgar solves all that. Starting at about $20 a month, the service allows you to preload and automate your updates and original content across all your social profiles. It even helps write them for you. Easy to use, excellent customer support.
  • Lastpass. An easy way to get all your user names and passwords organized, secure and in one place. And it’s free.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • YouMail. I haven’t checked my voicemail since 2009. That’s because with YouMail, everytime somebody calls my number, I get a text message telling me who called and, if they left a message, a transcription of the message. It also allows me to blacklist any number, so once I get a spam call, I can make sure they never call me again. The “in-box style” interface allows me to find and play past messages, even if I’ve deleted them. At $5 a month, it’s hard to beat!