Your Online Business Toolbox
Below is a collection of the tools and resources that I recommend to help you run your online business.
You’ll see updates to this page as time goes on; complete with new tools and replacement of older ones when/if necessary. You can expect to see me refer to this page in the articles on this site.
Please understand that some links on this page are affiliate links from which I’ll receive compensation. These are companies and products that I endorse and I will not add links here just for revenue’s sake.
Hosting / Domain Registration
- HostGator – This is my favorite web host. The live chat support is absolutely phenomenal and the representatives are genuinely helpful. I use HostGator for hosting and often register my domains through Namecheap.
- Blue Host – This host makes setting up a WordPress blog dummy-proof. In just minutes after registering a domain you can have a WordPress blog installed and be off and running. Pay a year of hosting up front and pile as many domains onto your account as you’d like (great for minisite building).
- Namecheap – You’ll love Namecheap mainly because, as its name implies, their low prices! Register your domain name for a hair over $10 (after taxes, fees, etc) and they’ll even privatize your Whois data (protect your personal info as the owner) for a year.
- Amazon S3 - You don’t want to pay tons of money for storing large videos, images and audio files, am I right? Then use the secure Amazon S3 storage service and pay pennies to store that type of data. I love this service.
- GoDaddy.com - Although they are my least favorite of this list of web hosts (due to cluttered account dashboard and continuous upsells), they are a big trusted brand and offer reliable service.
- Headway Theme – You will love the drag and drop functionality of this premium WordPress theme. What you’ll like most is rearranging your site layout, real-time, in a visual editor that I’ve never seen offered by another theme. See my write-up about Headway here.
- Thesis Theme – Old faithful. This theme has a variety of skins you can add to customize the look and feel of your WordPress website. I used to use this theme exclusively.
- Elegant Themes – You will find stunning design and a plethora of theme choices with Elegant Themes. What you’ll like even more is the all-access pass you get to their theme library for under $40; what a steal!
- Profits Theme – This theme is great for online marketers. You can build great sales letter pages, opt-in squeeze pages, and have a membership portal all-in-one. What are you waiting for? Start your paid community today by reading more about Profits Theme here.
Affiliate Marketing Tools
- Tweet Adder – It’s easy to get lost all day on Twitter adding new people to your network and building relationships. So start working smarter, not harder, by purchasing Tweet Adder. Or you can start by reading this article on the benefits of using Tweet Adder.
- The Best Spinner – This is a time-saver to help you spin articles for content marketing. Write an article, spin it multiple times through The Best Spinner, then submit them to article directories and/or blogs. Get traffic and backlinks in a fraction of the time it would normally take. Remember to check your spun article quality!
- Blog Blueprint – Imagine sitting down for 5-minutes to type up a 100-word article to get a backlink to your site. Now, picture yourself submitting it to a service that will post it on PageRank 3 – PageRank 5 blogs for you. No fuss, no hassle. Enough said – buy Blog-Blueprint today and start climbing the search engine rankings with powerful backlinks.
Membership Site Tools
- WishList Member – You aren’t tech savvy? Hey, don’t worry because WishList Member has you covered. It’s affordable, easy-to-use and the support is great.
- AMember Pro – If you don’t mind tools with a bit of technical aptitude required, then here’s your robust membership site solution. It’s highly flexible and a professional choice for protecting your premium community.
- Profits Theme – You want an all-in-one solution on the cheap. Profits Theme boasts the functionality of a WordPress based site with the added bonus of a protected wall for your paying community. Win-win-win.
Ecommerce Tools/Product Distribution
- Paypal – This tool needs no introduction. PayPal is the way of online payment processing – open your account today. You need this one.
- Clickbank – You can use Clickbank to sell your digital products. It gives your product(s) great exposure to thousands of hungry affiliates and it accept payments. Open your vendor account to start selling your products today.
- E-Junkie – Here is another great digital product distribution system. The monthly fee is way cheap, it handles affiliates who sell your products for you and it integrates well with other payment processors.
- 1ShoppingCart – A robust option for payment processing, upsells in your sales funnel, affiliate management, autoresponders and a great overall shopping cart. You’ll be impressed with this service.
Keyword and Market Research
- Market Samurai - You’ll save time researching your market, finding keywords to target, and hone in on available domains to purchase with this paid product. Truth be told, I’ve not yet pulled the trigger on this one. I’ve tinkered with this product in the past based on a trusted recommendation. I intend to purchase it.
- Google Adwords Keyword Tool – A free tool offered by Google to help you assess search terms for your adwords campaign. You can also study market competition and find relevant search terms to start targeting within your online content.
Images for your Website
- Flickr – Short on cash? Use Flickr’s Creative Commons to help find the right [free] images to use on your website articles and pages. Just be sure to properly credit the photographer.
- iStockphoto – If you’re after the professional look and want to take your web images to the next level, iStockPhoto is the place for you. You’ll buy credits which allow you to download beautiful images, videos, audio and more with no attribution needed.
- Freepixels – Yet another great place to find images for your website for zero out-of-pocket expense.
- IconFinder – Use this search engine to browse a gallery of sleek icons and art to add a unique touch to your website. It’s free! Simply search for “No link required” (follow my instruction here) and you use their icons for whatever you’d like.
- Aweber – You will be very pleased with this email marketing service. They are easy-to-use and affordable for sending out your email newsletters, automatically broadcasting your blog posts, and creating stunning sign up forms for your products and news.
Website Analytics and Testing
- Google Analytics – An absolute must use tool for tracking the visitor activity of your website. You’ll want to install this from day one of building your site. It will track keywords people are searching to find you and visitor behavior once they’re on your site.
- Clicky – Here you have another popular and flexible analytics program. It’s similar to Google Analytics but it allows you to watch what website visitors are doing in real-time on your site. Very powerful.
- Google Website Optimizer – Increase your ROI without spending a dime by using GWO. You can split test your landing pages to serve the highest-converting pages to your visitors with stats to back it up.
- Visual Website Optimizer – Similar to Google’s Optimizer, Visual Website Optimizer (paid service) allows you to load up your code once and visually set up your multivariate testing. Basically, think of this as Google Website Optimizer on steroids.
- BuySellAds – Want to hand-pick the websites that serve your advertisements? Then use the Buy Sell Ads service to purchase ad space on websites of your choosing. Easy to use and fun.
- Facebook Ads – You’ve heard of Facebook. You’ve also sunk plenty of time goofing around on it. Time to drive some website traffic using Facebook Ads and its phenomenal demographic targeting. If you already have a Facebook account most of the setup is already done!
- Google Adwords – Get noticed by placing your ads next to searches performed in Google. Pay only when someone clicks your advertisement.
- Google Adsense – You get paid to use this service. Yep, you read that right. Google will pay you to display advertisements from Google advertisers.
- Virtual Staff Finder – This company is run by the 20-year business veteran, Chris C. Ducker, who employs over 200 outsourced workers. Why should you care? Because Chris cares about you and offers this service to help you hire a virtual employee to take your productivity to new levels.
- Fiverr – Cheap, cheap, cheap. For only $5 you can find someone to do just about anything you can imagine to help you with tasks you delegate.
- TextBroker.com – Hiring a quality writer can be a pain. I’ve used Fiverr to outsource article writing and found their service providers to have high turnover. At TextBroker you have a specialized writing service for your content writing needs.
- Odesk – Another great option for finding someone to do your coding, programming, search engine optimization, design and other specialized tasks. Hire someone today (and stop banging your head against the wall trying to do everything alone).
Screencasting (video capture)
- Camtasia – Ever watch those screen recording videos people use to sell products or record PowerPoint presentations? You can make your own using Camtasia Studio; the robust video capture and editing solution available for PC and Mac.
- Camstudio – For the budget-minded, Camstudio is a free program that allows you to create screen recordings but with far fewer editing and feature options than Camtasia.
- Backup Buddy – Have you ever thought about what you’d do if your WordPress website was hacked? What if you suddenly lost all your data overnight? Backup Buddy protects you by streamlining the backup, migration, and restoring process of your site.
- Premise – By Copyblogger Media, this is a fantastic WordPress plugin that allows you to create compelling sales letters and landing pages on your WordPress website. Funnel more opt-ins, grab more sales and do so with the high-caliber back end support we’ve come to expect from the team at Copyblogger.
- Gravity Forms – A powerful and highly customizable form-creation plugin. You will be blown away by the drag-and-drop functionality of creating forms, polls, and even dynamic forms that allow visitors to publish content right to your site if you wish!
- Pop up Domination - Want to grow your email list? Well, pop-up forms are a source of heated debate but you can’t argue with results. Get PopUp Domination today because it comes well-reviewed with stat proof (search Google) and I’ve used it on client sites to grow email subscriber lists. You may see it active here soon.
- S3 Flowshield – An affordable plugin that is a must have for anyone streaming video, running a membership site or who wishes to protect their Amazon S3 hosted files. Prevents unauthorized streaming of your data.
- Audio Player – If you’re going to be running a podcast show then this plugin makes it easy to run on your WordPress website. Check these business podcasts to see the player in action.
- WPZon Builder – Want to create Amazon affiliate sites in minutes? This plugin pulls in Amazon products, descriptions, and buy buttons in one click. You select the products, schedule when they go live, hit publish and you’re in business.
Video Hosting and Syndication
- JW Player – If you’re going to serve videos on your website but want them only on your site (meaning, you aren’t sharing them on, and embedding them from, YouTube or others) then you’ll need this program. The free version is a non-commercial license; purchase a license if you plan to sell the videos as premium content.
- Tubemogul – A great service to distribute your videos for free across multiple video sharing sites from one upload. Tubemogul has a free tier or paid ones for in-depth analytics and other features.
- S3 Flowshield – Do you store files on Amazon S3? Would it bother you to know people may be stealing your personal, premium and even your free content? You pay for bandwidth usage so stop giving away the farm. Use S3 Flowshield to protect your links from being passed around without your consent!
- Amazon S3 - As mentioned under the hosting section of this page, Amazon S3 is a great service to use for hosting your videos. Using their service gives you more control over your content than, for example, dumping all your files onto YouTube.