Business Tools Love List
I often get asked what tools, software and systems I recommend to my clients. So finally I’ve put together a list of the ones I love – everything from websites, membership sites, mailing systems, accounting systems to software for audio and video editing. I’ve got you covered!
If you’ve got questions about what system is right for your business, leave a comment at the bottom of this post and I’ll try to help you out.
WordPress with Divi Theme
WordPress can be a tricky beast to get your head around at first.
But, using the Divi theme makes WordPress-life so much easier. In fact, this is the only theme I now use to build WordPress websites.
You get a nice drag-and-drop interface making it super easy to create beautiful website pages without having to know any code at all.
If you do decide to go with WordPress, you’ll need to get yourself a hosting provider.
Reach out to Steve at 123host and tell him I sent you. This is an Australian-owned company but services websites all around the world. Steve gives you great personal, responsive service at a very affordable price. Can’t recommend him highly enough.
A simpler alternative to WordPress. Squarespace is less complex to use but the trade-off is that it’s also less flexible.
My Facebook marketing guru Kirsty Saint, tells me that Squarespace is not great for tracking Facebook pixels, so if you plan to run Facebooks ads to your site, I’d recommend you go with WordPress.
If you’re wanting a website with just a few simple pages and you’re not doing anything too fancy, Squarespace is a great place to start. There’s a monthly recurring cost which also covers your hosting, so you don’t have to outsource to an external hosting provider.
Contact me if you’re in the market for a new website, I can help.
Wishlist, WordPress and Divi
Wishlist is a plugin that protects content within a WordPress site.
To create a membership site using Wishlist, you’ll need to build a WordPress site, then install the plugin to easily create membership levels and protect your course content so only members with a user name and password can access it.
I recommend you use the Divi theme for styling your membership site pages and making things look puuurty!
You will need a hosting provider for the WordPress site – reach out to Steve at 123host.
Membership sites I’ve created using Wishlist:
Ontraport, WordPress and Divi
Ontraport is an email and CRM system but it also has the functionality to manage membership sites. Similar to Wishlist, you build a WordPress site, then install Ontraport’s membership site plugin – PilotPress and off you go.
I would only recommend this option if you are already using Ontraport in your business. If you’re not using Ontraport, Wishlist is the better, more affordable choice.
You can create a simple online school, accessible to members only, using Teachable.
This is by far the easiest option if you don’t want to build your own WordPress membership site.
You simply setup your online school, create a course, upload ‘lectures’ – which can contain audios, videos, workbooks, images and text. Then publish!
You can even create a sales page for your program through Teachable.
There is an ongoing monthly fee and Teachable does take a cut of any sale you make.
Membership sites I’ve created with Teachable:
Contact me if you’re wanting to create a membership site, I can help.
For the wonderful price of FREE, Mailchimp is a great mailing system for when you’re just starting out.
What I like about Mailchimp is the simplicity and lovely drag-and-drop interface to create beautiful email templates.
With the recent addition of automations in Mailchimp, you can now also create simple nurture or sales funnels when someone signs up to your mailing list, sending them a series of automated emails.
However, if you’re wanting to do more complex sales funnels or are selling products and services with new contacts entering your mailing list from multiple avenues, I would suggest you skip Mailchimp and look into using Active Campaign or ConvertKit.
Active Campaign can be a bit of a beast to get your head around at first. But don’t let that put you off! This is one powerful mailing system.
It has a drag-and-drop interface like Mailchimp to create your email templates.
And you can create simple to very complex sales funnels and email sequences through the drag-and-drop automations screens.
Make sure you understand best practices before you get started in Active Campaign. It can get pretty messy in here quickly and then it gets oh-so-confusing! I’ve seen some gnarly Active Campaign accounts which I’ve then had to go back and clean up for my clients.
I would suggest you hire someone to help you set up the system correctly and get proper training – this will save you a whole heap of time and pain later. Reach out if you need support.
ConvertKit has similar functionality and flexibility to Active Campaign. This is the mailing system I currently use. I would also say, it’s a LOT easier to use than Active Campaign. But it is slightly more expensive.
One downfall is it doesn’t have a nice drag-and-drop interface to create beautiful email templates. So if you’re attached to creating pretty emails, I’d skip this guy and go with Active Campaign.
Contact me if you need help setting up (or cleaning up!) your mailing system.
There’s really no excuse not to have your biz finances in order when you’ve got access to Wavve Accounting.
You can connect your bank and PayPal accounts so all transactions are imported automatically for you, saving you heaps of data entry time at the end of the month.
You can also give your accountant their own login details when it comes to tax time.
Sure, because it’s free, it doesn’t have a lot of smart, fancy integrations, but if you’re just starting out in business, this is great beginners accounting software.
I talk more about how I structure my business finances over here.
AUDIO RECORDING AND EDITING
For recording your voice – mediations, audio trainings, solo podcast episodes – you’ll really only need one small piece of software – Audacity. The good news? This guy is free! Available to both Mac and Windows users. It’s also the program you can use to edit your audio, mix in music and do fancy stuff like that.
I have a mini-course which teaches you how to record and edit using Audacity. Check that out here. (It was designed with podcasters in mind but, even if you’re not a podcaster, it will teach you everything you need to know about Audacity.)
FOR RECORDING INTERVIEWS
The important thing you want to look out for when choosing interview recording software, is to be sure the software records your voice on one track and your guest’s voice on a separate track. This is super valuable during the editing phase as you can edit each track separately, doing things like adjusting volume levels, removing background noises and silencing one track when the other person is speaking. It makes the whole editing process a lot easier and creates a higher- quality final sound recording.
Let me step you through two options:
Ecamm Call Recorder
If you’re a Mac user, Ecamm Call Recorder is brilliant for recording interviews through Skype. Ecamm has the functionality to split recordings, leaving your voice on one track and your guest’s voice on another. It also creates quite a high-quality sound recording.
Once installed, Ecamm acts as a plugin to Skype which is a free program and generally reliable if you have a relatively decent internet connection.
In fact, while I was travelling around Australia, I actually recorded interviews from the back of my campervan by hot-spotting to my iPhone and then making the call through Skype and recording with Ecamm. It worked surprisingly well.
Zoom is a wonderful alternative to Skype and a call recorder. It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac and, just like the call recorders mentioned above, it can record separate audio files for each participant on the call.
It’s also a fantastic application if you’re thinking about hosting panel discussions. However, you will need to purchase the paid version if you want to invite more than you and one guest on a recording.
My personal recommendation: If you’re a Mac user, my first recommendation would be Ecamm. It produces a better quality sound than Zoom and allows you to adjust volume levels to have more control over the end product. If you’re a Windows user, it’s Zoom all the way.
For more on recording interviews, you might want to check out my program: The Perfect Podcast Interview
VIDEO RECORDING AND EDITING
If you’re a Mac user, iMovie is a SUPER simple video editing tool and it doesn’t take too long to whip up something that looks pretty professional.
If you’re wanting to record your screen for technical tutorials or lessons, I highly recommend Quicktime. Again – FREE for Mac users.
We all know video file sizes can get really large REALLY quickly and they take a LONG time to upload. Handbrake is a free tool for condensing videos into a smaller size without losing quality. Very handy!
It can take a little while to get your head around all the settings, but this post here will help you.
The obvious Youtube – awesome for the price of FREE!
Vimeo is a great storage system, easy to use, allows you to privately protect your videos – which is GREAT if you’re storing videos for an online course or paid products. You also have lots of control around where videos get embedded and how they are shared (you don’t get this flexibility with YouTube).
If you’re really protective of your content, Vimeo is the way to go.
There is a monthly charge which can get quite expensive, especially if you’re uploading a lot of large-sized videos (hint: use the Handbrake tool to reduce video file size).
Amazon S3 is the hosting platform I use to store my videos. The cost of storage is calculated based on video views. I pay no more than about $5 / month to store my videos here – which I think is a pretty good deal!
You are limited with protection settings, so again, if you want to be sure your content is 100% secure, I’d go with Vimeo.
SoundCloud is an okay option for audio storage. I’m not a huge fan of this company, to be honest, but it does do what you need it to.
Cost is free for 3 hours of audio content. Or $12-$16 AUD / month for unlimited hours.
You can also make your audio tracks private so only people with the private link can listen – handy if you’re storing audios for a private course or paying clients.
**If you’re starting a podcast, don’t use SoundCloud – it’s the worst!
Libsyn Podcast Hosting
Libsyn is what you’ll want to use if you’re starting a podcast. Think of your podcast host as a big storage area designed specifically for holding and distributing your episode files. It’s also the place where specific information about your podcast is recorded – the podcast name, description, categories, artwork etc.
There are lots of different podcasting hosts out there, all ranging in price and capacity. I personally use and recommend Libsyn.
I go into more detail about podcast hosting providers inside my podcast starter pack, which you can download here.
Get free Libsyn hosting: I have partnered with Libsyn to offer you free podcast hosting. When signing up to Libsyn, use the promo code ALANA and you’ll receive free hosting for the remainder of the current month and all of the following month. Find out more about this offer here.
That’s it! What systems do you use and love?
Got questions about what system is right for you – pop a comment below and I’ll try to answer your questions.
** In complete transparency, I am an affiliate for a number of the systems I have mentioned above. Purchasing from the links in this post may mean I receive a small commission. Please know, I only ever recommend products and services that I have personally tried myself and 100% believe in.