Here you are! The top tools and programs that I use to run my businesses.
It has taken me years to single out the best of the best and I am proud to present to you some really great stuff.
Just a disclaimer - a few of these are affiliate links (aka I partnered with the company because I use the product and proudly endorse them - so I do receive a commission if you pay to sign up).
So go on and read this list and implement some new ways to manage and grow your business successfully!
Project management software, great for working with people in different areas, sharing/collaborating on ideas, and keeping all that back and forth communication super organized and easy to reference. I have used this for years in my businesses and don’t go a day without it. (Free Plan Available)
Powerful note taking program that sync’s between multiple devices (such as your computer, ipad and iphone). Keep all of your notes together and so much more. (Free starter plan)
To-do list app for Mac. Basically like a virtually yellow legal pad for taking notes. Brainstorm, organize and manage all of your to-do lists with this easy to use program and go green! :) ($50)
RSS reader. Do you view lots of different blogs and news sites every day? Most content sites have RSS feeds so they can be viewed in an RSS reader. Get an organized list view of every new article from every site you want to follow. You can expand the title to read a summary and decide if it is worth your time. This is a great way to skim through a lot of content fast. (FREE)
A pretty version of an RSS reader for the iPad & iPhone. Takes the articles and makes them appear in a magazine layout. Imagine a magazine custom made based on all your favorite sites new articles. (FREE)
See something online that you want to remember to read later? Don’t let it get lost in your bookmarks. Instapaper lets you “Save to read later”. Go to the website or the iPhone/iPad app and see your reading list. A great way to get to all those business articles you see throughout the day. Be effective, don’t let them interrupt your work day. Mark them to read later during a set time. (Free starter plan)
Website visitor tracking software. If you have a website you HAVE to install this right away. Even if you don’t know how to use it yet, get it tracking the data. I can’t stress enough how important this software has been to running my online businesses successfully. (FREE)
Amazing email list software. Our top recommendation for building a subscriber list and staying in touch with them. Aweber will collect and organize all of the contact info, allow you to sort it into lists and send out all of your messages. Amazing one stop shop for everything you need to control and manage a very powerful email marketing campaign, not to mention powerful tools for automated follow-up. I use this for all my businesses. (First month $1)
Fantastic website platform. You can literally build a great website or blog in minutes completely for free! Started as a blog software, now it’s better described as a website builder. Tons of great themes and plugins available to make it whatever you want. No doubt you have been on hundreds of Wordpress powered site without even realizing it. (Free)
Website hosting, where you buy domain names, ideal for any type of site. They assist you in easily starting a Wordpress site or blog. They do the basic install. A very reliable service. I have been slowly switching all my sites over to this company. ($5.95/month)
A great option for building a webstore with lots of options, but not having to build it from scratch. This is a more advanced shopping cart in a box program. I use this for all my e-commerce stores, CustomGreekThreads.com & LuxuryMonograms.com. (Free 14 Day Trial)
Google Website Optimizer
Simple split testing software. The basic tool to run a split test. No bells and whistles but it gets the job done. (FREE)
Visual Website Optimizer (Affiliate)
Split Testing software with the bells and whistles. All of my split testing is done with this tool. Easier to use than Google Website Optimizer and once it’s setup it can integrate into Google Analytics. It’s very powerful. If you have a website that can make you money, you should always be testing. (30 Day Trial)
Records visitors sessions while they are on your website This is a screen recording of how visitors use your site, where they click, what they type, etc. Designing a web page is different than using it. It’s amazing what you will learn about the usability of your pages by watching how a visitor uses it. See where visitors get confused and exit the page, avoid lost sales. P.S. This doesn’t record any pages that have private information entered, like credit card info. Programs like this are blocked. (Free starter plan)
Pop Up software. Building an email subscriber list is one of the most powerful money making tools for an online business. A well designed pop up can help increase your subscriber rate by 400%. I use this on all my e-commerce businesses. Don’t let those valuable leads get away! ($77)
Facebook app that lets you schedule posts. Also has a wealth of suggested post topics for when you just don’t know what to say. A real timesaver. You can set all your posting at one time for the entire day/week. Get your mind off of it and work uninterrupted on other projects. No going back to Facebook every two hours to keep your fans engaged. Set it and be done.
Facebook ads software. Easily upload multiple variations of ads. Way faster than using the Facebook interface but only if you want to upload multiple ads at a time for split testing. FYI - split testing Facebook ads is important. The image is a huge part of the ads success. Plus, it’s best to change out your ads every week to keep your cost-per-click low. The free version is enough for a small business. (Free starter plan)
File/video storage. Use the power of Amazon’s huge, fast servers. If you ever have large files, like videos, that play on your website make sure to host them here and not on your normal website server. If you get a spike in traffic and a bunch of people try to play a video at the same time your website could crash if your video is hosted on your server. Any basic website guy should know this but make sure you know to ask! (Pay by usage, cheap)
Program that plays videos and has a serious focus on Call To Action items (buy now buttons, signup forms). Perfect for pitch pages where you are trying to get a sale or a signup. Option to host videos on Amazon S3 ($127)
A video player program for video files hosted on Amazon S3. ($20/month)
Payment processor for online product sales. Ideal solution for selling an e-product. Get access to thousands of affiliates that can help promote your product to their followers. Also, you can be an affiliate and promote other hot products that you think are relevant to your followers/subscribers. (Free for Affiliates, $50 to submit product)
Simple way to setup a shopping cart for a basic store without needing to get approved by a payment processor. Also, a great way to send money to freelancers. (Pay per transaction and they support high risk merchants too.)
Build high-converting sales and signup pages quickly and easily. When you are an online entrepreneur working on projects left and right, you need a fast way to make a professional looking page to sell your product. Let’s face it, even if your product is A grade, if your sales page is subpar, people will not enter their credit card info. Don’t short your business by not putting enough effort into the sales page. ($97)
Facebook app for running sweepstakes & giveaways. Great for increasing fan interaction. Ideal for product based businesses. (Free starter plan)
A fantastic program for brainstorming layout and design for your website/webpage. The digital version of drawing on a napkin. Not an artist but know the layout you want for a webpage or newsletter? This program is great. It makes it easy to draw a basic layout so a graphic designer isn’t trying to guess what you want based a verbal description. This has saved me a ton of time getting projects started in the right direction. ($79)
FTP program. If you are more advanced with the web and deal with FTP this is a great program. If not, don’t worry about this! ($34)
Chat/Video conferencing software. The top choice for chatting with other business people virtually face-to-face. The next level up from a phone call. (FREE)
Skype Call Recorder
Record your Skype video chat. Perfect for recording an interview and then posting it for friends and fans. Mac only. ($19.95)
Amazon Superstore VIP service, free 2-day shipping on almost everything. As an entrepreneur, time is money. Daily errands can suck up so much time and energy. Buy as much as you can online to save time. With Amazon Prime there is no minimum order amount for the free 2-day shipping. Set up a product “subscription” to have Amazon automatically ship you products you know you will need again. I use this service almost every single day and LOVE it! Do you buy your shampoo every 3 weeks? Have Amazon automatically ship it to you on that schedule with free shipping! Automate your basic buying habits to save time to work on your business. (Free Trial then $79/year)
Screen recorder tool. Need to walk someone though how to do something on a computer? Use this to give feedback on a webpage or graphic design. Record you pointing to an area and talking about what you want to see done differently. Very powerful way to communicate changes you want made. Bonus - send the video via Dropbox. (Free starter plan)
File sharing service. Easily share large files that can sync between multiple users. Ever run into problems with emails not showing up because a large file was attached? Use Dropbox and just email the link to someone. (Free starter plan)
Live webinar software. Great for doing a screen presentation to an audience all around the nation to teach or discuss a new topic. (30 Day Trial)
Recorded webinar software. Automate your webinars to be automatically played at certain times. Make it appear live but without requiring you to be present. Great if you want to make a webinar available at different times without filling up your schedule. ($70/month+setup)
Web based social media dashboard. Manage all your social media accounts from one place. If you are really into monitoring your brand or image socially, this is a great tool. Be careful spending too much time with social media and not getting a return. It can be a time waste for a brand new business if you don’t have a strategy. (Free starter plan)
Get small project done for $5. It’s amazing what quality work people will do on this site for $5. It can help get all those little tasks done for your next project. Launch quickly and on a small budget.
Guru.com Elance.com Odesk.com
Find freelancers to do a huge range of projects. Great for larger scale, one-time jobs like video editing, webpage design, graphic design and much much more.
Find a Virtual Assistant in the Philippines. Outsourcing is an entrepreneur’s best friend. Too many business owners do all the work. Be efficient and learn to outsource. Warning: there are right and wrong ways to do this for the best results. The Academy will teach more about this topic for paying members.
After you have set up an account and “pin” compelling images from your blog or website for exposure and ultimately traffic. When viewers click on your images they will be taken directly to the site where they were “pinned” from. Ex: You can “pin” an image of one of your best selling bracelets in hopes of other people on Pinterest seeing the image and clicking through to your site.
Quickly draw on an image to pass feedback to someone. This is great for the editing of anything. Take a screenshot of something you are viewing and write and draw right on top of it. Takes away the confusion of someone reading feedback in an email and trying to guess what you are talking about. (FREE)
ANY Backup Program
Backup your computer! I can’t stress this enough. As a business owner your livelihood is probably in your computer files. I have had many times where a computer crashed on me or I dropped it. It WILL happen at some point. Be prepared. Macs should use Time Machine, it’s already on your computer. Also, an internet backup of your computer is a good idea. Backblaze.com is good for this. ($4/month)
We live in a world where people steal things. This app for Mac is a theft recovery tool. If your computer is stolen, log into the website and you have access to all sorts of tools to help get the computer back with the assistance of the authorities. Imagine being able to get the location of your computer, turn on the webcam without the user knowing and take pictures of the thief and have them sent to the police. Stealth, right? ($49)