This is a collection of my hand picked and battle tested tools that I use in my business and life.
I would never recommend anything that I don’t use myself. This means that you’ll find some affiliate links in here, which means that in exchange for sharing information about these resources and showing you the light, I may get a kickback for the referral. Helping me help you. 🙂
The following resources are free. They may have paid upgrades, but if they’re listed in this section, I likely use the free version alone.
Image Creation – Crello
This is one of my favorite tools. I used to make ugly images, now I don’t. All of the images on this blog were made with Crello.
Note Taking / Organization – Evernote
Evernote changed my life. I’ll go into more detail on how I use it soon, but until then check out this blog post. You can get a free month of premium with my link here.
Documentation & Resources – Notion.so
Notion is an incredible new platform that aims to change the way we approach word processing. I’ve found it to be perfect for speccing out designs and other documentation, since it allows you to seamlessly input graphics, gifs, videos, links, and pretty much anything you could want to do. After that, the page you create can be accessed from mobile or desktop browsers by anyone you allow, either completely public or by specific email addresses.
Drawing Diagrams – Lucid Chart
Lucid Chart has been my go-to for all kinds of diagram drawing for years now. They have a very reasonable freemium model, and most people should be able to do everything they need on the free plan.
Project Management – Freedcamp
I’ve used every popular project management solution there is out there, and Freedcamp takes the cake. And better yet it’s completely free to use, which frankly blows my mind because of how good this platform is. It’s not even the ‘freemium’ type of free where you need to upgrade in order to really dig into what it has to offer – everything you need for your whole team is ready to go. It has a customizable dashboard so everyone can set up their homebase the way they like, and you can have unlimited projects organized between your unlimited team members. Home run.
Automated Contracts & Invoices – Hello Bonsai
Hello Bonsai streamlined my invoicing, getting paid, and remembering to get paid (how strange a problem that is). It keeps track of recurring invoices, 50% start/finish project invoices, and more. And it’s free to start with, only charging like $1 per invoice, or some equally negligible amount.
July 2017 Update: Hello Bonsai has changed their pricing and now doesn’t have a good free plan anymore. I recommend Invoice Ninja now.
Productivity – Rescue Time
RescueTime is a time tracking app that scratches my ‘relentless productivity itch’ by quietly running in the background of your computer and phone to generate reports on how you use your time.
Transferring Money / Getting Paid – Square Cash
Square Cash has been a game changer both personally and for business. For no charge, you can instantly transfer money into a bank account using just a debit card number. Use my link above and we’ll each get $10 – sweet!
Email Marketing – MailChimp
Their free plan gets you up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Once you’ve got 2,000 subscribers, any of the upgrades should be able to pay for themselves.
Keyword Research – KeywordTool.io
Stick a keyword in here and get a ton of related suggestions. Really awesome for building out content strategies or PPC keywords.
Free Screen Recording – Open Broadcast Project
A lightweight and barebones screen recorder. Does exactly what it needs to, and nothing more.
Email Marketing – Active Campaign
This is my #1 go-to email marketing service. Super easy to use, and if you’re not using email automation, you are leaving money on the table.
SEO & Backlink Building – The Hoth
Turn-Key white label SEO solutions with an incredible support team to help you along every step of the way. These guys are killing it. Even if you don’t need their services, they’re good to study as how to run a great business.
Onpage Marketing Tools – Groove Jar
Use this to collect email opt-ins, shares, and other cool marketing tools.
Tracking – Improvely
This is a seriously impressive service. The base level of tracking requires only one line of code in your site, and you will start to get incredible insights on where your traffic is coming from. Setting up your conversions only takes a bit longer and will shine a laser focused light on exactly where you can maximize your ROI. A must have if you run any paid traffic.
CRM – You Don’t Need A CRM
Despite the ironic name, this is a great CRM. I don’t really understand the name, because it does function like a CRM, however the UI is different than the other ones I’ve found out there. Like project management tools – I’ve tried them all, and this one’s my favorite.
Domains & Hosting – Namecheap
This is my go-to company for domains and hosting. I purchase all of my domains from namecheap, because I’ve found they have the best prices. The hosting is also very reasonably priced. However the #1 reason I stick with Namecheap is their incredible support. If you have any questions or issues with your domain, hosting, or emails, they have a very fast live chat that will quickly help solve your problem, and can even do the fix on their end most of the time.
WordPress Hosting – Tap
At $5/mo you get fast and secure WordPress hosting with SSL included which lets you do secure transactions and more. They have great support as well who will help you get your website and domain set up properly.
Transcriptions & Captions – Rev
For $1/minute, you can get anything translated. This is handy for recording ideas on the go, or meetings, and turning them into notes or easily edited and postable blog content.
SERP & SEO Tracking – Serpbook
Plans start at $9/mo to allow you to track up to 50 keywords and their positions for 50 domains. This is my favorite keyword tracker, with WhatsMySerp as a viable (but less hands-free) free alternative.
Updated December 2019.
Everything in this section is available for free, and covers your bases for a powerful and flexible WordPress site.
Flexible WordPress Theme: WP Astra
Page Builder: Elementor Page Builder – Works with Astra. It’s very slick. I never thought I’d be using a page builder, but the above combo is just too good.
Classic Editor: Classic Editor – This is a must. The new gutenburg editor sucks, and doesn’t get along well with Elementor anyways.
SSL: Really Simple SSL. Sometimes your SSL can act up. This plugin just magically makes it work.
Contact Forms: Contact Form 7 + Flamingo (Captures Messages on-site)
Google Analytics Dashboard: GDWAP – Inserts a simple google analytics widget into your dashboard and gives you quick and simple access to change GA settings. Nice and convenient. I normally wouldn’t use a plugin for this, but it’s actually quite nice.
Security: Wordfence Security. This is a really great security plugin. Prevents attacks, scans for files, and everything you need, all for free. I’ve recovered hacked sites with this, and every site I’ve already had it installed on has never had an issue. It can interfere with some of your plugins, such as WP Manger, so you will need to whitelist them inside of the plugin. You’ll see it in there.
Alternative Website Stats: Slimstat – Built in stats, no google analytics needed. Only use this if you’re not using GA.
WP Site Manager: Manage WP. This is a really cool website manager that is a must if you’re managing multiple websites. I use this to maintain all of my personal sites, and client sites. I can log into them all from one dashboard, manage plugin updates, spam comments, etc. Super nice tool that I wish I started using years ago.
301 Redirects: Redirection. This plugin makes it easy to make 301 redirects, which you can do a lot of cool stuff with, like hiding affiliate links, creating affiliate tracking, and more. The sky’s the limit.
Image Size Restrictor: IMsanity. This plugin keeps your image sizes from beign uploaded too large. It comes with a default set of nice max dimensions that should work for most sites. That way you don’t have some 4000×4000 photo taking 4s to load.
Image Compressor: EWWW Image Optimizer. This plugin actually compresses images. You may need to fiddle with the settings a bit. I really recommend compressing images yourself on your computer using something like ImageOptim, but this is a good solution for doing it on your website.
Trusted People To Learn From
These are my favorite people to follow and continue learning from, in no particular order. You could spend years trying to get through these golden archives.
- John Carlton – http://www.john-carlton.com
- Dan Meredith – https://coffeewithdan.com
- Ben Settle – http://bensettle.com
- Glen Allsopp – http://www.viperchill.com
- Matt Diggity – http://diggitymarketing.com
- Sean D’Souza – https://www.psychotactics.com
- Gary Halbert – https://www.thegaryhalbertletter.com
7 Of My Favorite Books
These are some of my favorite books on the shelf. They all fit the “Wow, I only wish I had read this earlier!” criteria.
Eckhart Tolle – The Power Of Now
Gary Halbert – The Boron Letters
John Carlton – The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together
Robert Cialdini – Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion
Dale Carnegie – How To Win Friends And Influence People
Geshe Michael Roach – The Diamond Cutter
Viktor Frankl – Man’s Search For Meaning