When it comes to compiling a rolodex of the marketing tools I use in my business, I didn't quite realise how big that list would be.
However, I was adamant on ensuring there was a mix of free, low cost and higher-end-can't-live-without tools. I'm sharing with you what I chose to commit my hard earned dollars on and which I've chosen to stay with the free version.
Some of the links are affiliate links, but know I would only recommend something It means if you decide to become a customer of the company in the future, I may receive a commission. However, it won't affect what you pay.
I hope you find the list helpful and it goes a long way to automating, systemising and scaling your business to help generate consistent income.
Blogging and Website Tools:
There is a lot of debate about good hosts and bad hosts for your WordPress website. Personally, I’ve always been with Hostgator and haven’t had an issue. They've been reliable, incredibly affordable and the support system is good.
Ah, yes, another prickly one! I’m a big supporter of self-hosted WordPress sites for various reasons, including the fact you own the platform (unlike WordPress.com and Blogger), you have more control over your site design, you can use plugins to help run your blog and business better, you can use custom themes, custom analytics, and greater power in Google search.
There are many free WordPress themes out there, but I'd highly recommend you invest in a premium theme. You'll be glad of the flexibility it provides you in the long run. While this site uses a Genesis theme, if I was starting over I'd choose Elegant Theme's Divi Theme. It's the theme I've used to build client websites in the past. The reason I love Divi is because of its drag and drop design elements, it can build unique blog post pages and can replace some landing page software.
It’s really important to know what’s going on in your business via your shopfront (ie your website) and to keep an eye out for opportunities you might be missing. One example is to look for certain sites that are sending you a lot of traffic and seeing if there’s an opportunity to further those relationships. Another is to look at high traffic pages and use smart strategies to leverage them.
This is where I buy all my domains. I did originally buy them through Hostgator, but when I eventually wanted to get .com.au domains, Hostgator wasn't able to help me at the time. I regularly visit CrazyDomains looking for a new domain.
I've long had another social sharing button plugin on my blog posts and it's never fully counted the shares that each blog post gets. So recently I bit the bullet and changed over to Social Warfare. I decided to upgrade to the paid version - just $29/year - simply for the ability to have all the sharing icons I want, only having the share count turned on after it reaches a certain number of shares, being able to change the colour of the buttons, tracking through Google Analytics, allowing the Pin It button AND including the ClickToTweet tool inside blog posts. This is one of the best social sharing plugins I've used. You can see them here at the top and bottom of this page.
There is quite a list of plugins I use on my site. However, rather than list them all here, I'm going to link you up with this plugins post where I detail each one.
When I reached 1000 email subscribers, I moved away from using Mailchimp because I needed something with greater flexibility. However, I will say that as a starting point it was the perfect platform for me. It’s free for under 2000 subscribers. So if budget is an issue, I would highly recommend this one. It’s also super simple to use if you only need it for basic email marketing.
My great love! We started off rather rocky and confused, but we’re best of friends now. I do love that Infusionsoft means I don’t need 10 different moving parts that need gelling together. Infusionsoft is my CRM, ecommerce store and email marketing system – all in one! Yes, it’s got a pretty price tag with it, but it’s been a worthwhile investment for me.
Now, once we have that opt-in done, we need somewhere for people to opt-in. Leadpages has been my go-to software, because it takes me literally five minutes to set up a page and does all the analytics and conversions for me. The templates they offer are also well tested, so conversion rates are always high for me.
People have this perception that I must spend hours per day on social media. The truth is, I barely spend anytime on there. And it's thanks to tools like Bufferapp, which allows me to schedule in advance all my posts for most of my social media accounts. I also love the fact I can "buffer" - or share - posts from the Chrome extension on any site I visit and it allows me to track clicks, shares, comments and more.
While I use Bufferapp for scheduling and analytics, I use Hootsuite to help with responding to comments, retweets and DMs on Twitter. It's a nice-looking interface and can, if preferred, be used for scheduling and analytics as well. This way you have everything in the one tool. It allows you to monitor numerous social media platforms, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and more.
Or Camtastia for those on PC. This is how I'm able to create training videos, how to videos and anything else where I need to teach with slides or screenshots. I've tried to use iMovie and I found the whole experience rather frustrating. It wasn't an easy tool to use. However, the Screenflow interface is simple, creation is easy and editing is a quick.
I've never been a big fan of pop ups, despite the fact that stats show they increase conversions and sign ups. Mainly because they interrupt your flow when you're on someone's site. However, I don't mind exit intent pop ups - because I was going to leave anyway. Exit intent pop ups do as they say - they pop up as you're about to leave a site. One of my favourite tools for creating these is PopUpAlly. It can also do scrolling sign up forms, footer opt-ins, horizontal opt-ins and more.
For hosting videos, I have two choices. One is Vimeo, which is a lot like Youtube in its ability to do private or public videos, along with advanced video stats. However, you can also create password protected videos and video-on-demand with paywalls.
My other choice for video hosting and playing is Wistia. The difference here is there is more customisation with video and player itself. It also comes with great analytics.
I mention in the business tools how I'm using Zoom to do webinars. The downside is it doesn't connect with my Infusionsoft system, which means I miss out on a lot of automation opportunities. If I'm truly honest, the best webinar software has been GoToWebinar. But it has it's challenges, including the price tag and no automated webinars. Recently, I've purchased Webinar JEO, which is promising to do everything GoToWebinar does, PLUS it does recorded and automated webinars. And the price tag is an easy one to digest.
Word, Powerpoint, Keynote or Pages
I don't have a preference when it comes to the above. Although, I will admit that having only moved to Mac a few years ago, I tend to end up using Word and Powerpoint. This is possible through having Office 365 installed on my Mac. When you need to create opt-in offers or "freebies", this one will do that for me. No fancy programs or sophisticated software. Just a plain ol’ PDF can have far more value than a 200-page ebook!
I often get complimented on my PDFs, because they're fillable. This is how I'm able to take the humble PDF opt-in and turn it into magic. Previously, I'd eye off the high-end programs that enabled you to create fillable PDFs, but was completely overwhelmed by how complex they looked. Then I was introduced to PDF Escape and my PDFs changed forever. What I love about it is it's super easy to use, you don't need to download anything to your computer AND it's free.
If you have large files, like videos or large PDFs, or you want more security around the files you store in the cloud to share with others, then this is my first and only choice. Many people upload their files for products and programs onto their website's media section. But it's all too easy for people to do a simple Google search and find them. Add a layer of security for your important files and upload theme to Amazon S3 instead.
As I said, I don't upload files to share via anything other than Amazon S3. However... all of my files on my computer are stored in the cloud - via Dropbox. Heaven forbid anything should happen to my beloved Macbook Pro, I know all the important business-related documents, photos and files I have won't be lost.
Once, I had notepads full of ideas and inspiration. But I never really knew where anything was. Now I use Evernote to store links I find, articles I want to read later, map out plans for new products and even collaborate with two of my mastermind buddies via a shared folder and the chat function. I'm now more organised, due to the ability to put things into folders and sync everything between my Mac and phone.
Online businesses need a way to take payment. Paypal is still one of the most trusted payment options out there. And for me, it's syncs beautifully with my Infusionsoft shopping cart.
For credit cards, my merchant account is eWay. The reason I chose them is because they're Australian, they connect easily with my Infusionsoft shopping cart and they came highly recommended by others in the online space. It was a great decision for me.
We send so many emails per day, it makes sense to have a good email signature on each. Wisestamp allows you to customise the look of your signature, add in all your relevant contact details, include an image and promote your latest project - whether that's a blog post, a Youtube video or a program.
I reached a point with Skype where I was questioning how professional my calls with clients were. Often the audio would cut out, the video would stall or the call would drop out completely. It was embarrassing. Then I was introduced to Zoom.us and now my client calls have clear audio, high quality video and it doesn't drop out. I also love the fact I can also use Zoom for my live webinars and don't need to get third party chat software or plugins to make any of it work.
I couldn't live without my Google Calendar. Along with scheduling my life, it's also become the place where I can insert notes for blog posts, newsletter ideas or topics I want to discuss with coaching clients during our calls. It means everything is in one place!
I've tried a few scheduling tools and have never found one where the free option was good and/or it was affordable to upgrade to the paid plan. I love the interface for this one and the ease of connection with my systems.
When you’re creating a simple opt-in, you can make any images or promos you use look beautiful with text and banner overlays. You don’t need to go overboard with design. Now, while I have a paid account for Picmonkey, you can do everything you need with the free version too.
Similar to Picmonkey, Canva allows you to create some beautiful design elements on your opt-in and promos – for free. The other fantastic thing about Canva is you can design the entire opt-in within their program and then download it as a PDF. Lastly, and probably the clincher for me, is their stock photography, which you can download for $1 apiece.
I'm not the greatest designer in the world. But this app makes my social media posts on Instagram and Facebook like they're done by a professional. Available on the app store, this tool will help you create beautiful quote images or blog post images quickly. It usually takes me somewhere between 15 and 20 seconds - yes, seconds - to create a quote image for Instagram and Facebook.
One of my favourite places to find scenes to use in my marketing is Creative Market. Take a look at Publicity Alchemy, Soulful Client Pathway Kit and Complete Launch Success Kit to see how I've used them in my sales pages. The headline link goes directly to the mockup scene creator I own.
A background in journalism taught me enough about copyright to know that just grabbing an image from Google is a no-no. But images can be expensive. I originally used Canva's images as my go-to, but found the choice limited. Now, I get all my images from DepositPhotos and love the choice. This is an investment that is well worth it.