Resources

Here are the tools that I like and use to run Expand2Web and my blog.

Resources and Tools

I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page that you can always come to for all of your online marketing needs. You’ll notice I reference this page quite often in different articles and videos on my blog. I recommend bookmarking it for your reference and convenience. Enjoy!

Blogging

  • WordPress – 15% of the Internet is on WordPress for a reason. It’s a great platform that you can style and extend to fit your needs. And Google loves WordPress sites.
  • Gravity Forms – I’ve tried a lot of ways to present forms on my different websites and blogs, and Gravity Forms is my tool of choice by far. With it you can easily design very robust forms, capture the data, and set notification rules too. I use it over and over again on my sites – well worth the small investment.
  • Wishlist Member – I run the Expand2Web Experts member program on WishList, and I’ve been very happy with it. My advice is to start simple – with one membership level and no integrations, and grow it from there. Once you’ve got things running, you’ll find it easy to add additional membership levels, integrate it with PayPal and AWeber and other systems.

Hosting

  • BlueHost – I’ve tried over a dozen hosting providers (both cheap and expensive!) and BlueHost is my standard. I run my sites on BlueHost; they know WordPress, their support is top-notch, and the price it great too.
  • Amazon S3 – I use Amazon S3 to host my members-only video content and my podcasts. You can host very large files here inexpensively, and use the Amazon Cloud content distribution network (CDN) to deliver them at high speeds.

SEO and Keyword Research

  • Raven Tools – The Raven team has done an excellent job building and evolving this excellent set of SEO tools. I use it to monitor key search rankings, and as a way to track my link building campaigns. Awesome set of tools.
  • Market Samurai – I just started using Market Samurai for my keyword research recently, and wonder how I lived without it for so long. It really accelerates the research process, and helps you find gaps in your keyword plan that you may not have known about. Great stuff.
  • Google AdWords Tool – This is a great free keyword research tool. (Tip if you’re logged in with an AdWords account when you use it you will get more results!)
  • SEO Book Toolbar – I like to use this free FireFox toolbar when I’m analyzing a site or a page. They don’t have a Chrome version which bums me out, but it’s such a good tool that I keep coming back to it.

Video and Screen Casting

  • Screenflow – I use this to record and edit all of my screencasts on Expand2Web and the Membership site. Over 150 videos so far! I love this tool because it is super easy to use, yet it seems to have all the features I need too. Highly recommended.
  • Jing – I like to use Jing for short “video voicemails” to clients, and to team members when we are collaborating on a project. Here’s why it’s so cool: You fire up Jing, then record your screen and narrate it (must be 5 minutes or less) then when you are done, it automatically uploads your video and gives you a private link that you can share with someone to deliver the message. How many times have you struggled with an email reply because you just can’t describe something easily. Well with Jing you just fire it up and send a video message either recording your screen or yourself. It’s saved me tons of time and always impresses clients!
  • OmniDazzle – This is a FREE tool that allows you to highlight areas on your screen with a lot of different cool effects you can choose from. Great for screen casts or webinars. And it’s free!
  • Travel Headset Microphone – Since I do most of my work “virtually” I tend to have a lot of voice conversations on Skype and GTalk. Or sometimes I just need to record audio for a podcast or a screen cast. Well this little headset comes with a travel case so I can use it in my office or just about anywhere I go. I also use it as a nice set of headphones so I can tune out distractions and listen to tunes while I’m working.
  • See my Screen-casting Gear blog post for my complete setup

Email Subscriptions and Marketing

  • AWeber – I’ve been using AWeber for several years now. They were the first to have ability to create a newsletter from your blog posts, and they continue to innovate and add great new features. Building your email list is one of the most valuable assets you will have – so you’d better get a good provider here. AWeber is top notch – I couldn’t’ run my business without them.
  • Webinar Bridge – I use this neat little tool allows you to automatically integrate GoToWebinar with your AWeber lists. So you can create an AWeber list for a webinar series, and have people who sign up for your webinar automatically added to your list in AWeber. This way you can follow up with webinar attendees in a responsible and consistent way.

Productivity

  • Skitch – FANTASTIC screen capture and annotation tool. I use Skitch every single day. Not only can you quickly capture areas of your screen or entire windows, but you can also annotate them with arrows, shapes and text, and then drag the image to your desktop, or publish it to a private area online and share the link. Now they even have a version of Skitch for the iPad!
  • Evernote – I put all my notes in here. I capture screenshots, web pages, documents, thoughts and ideas in Evernote quickly and easily. And they have an iPhone app so I can just shoot a picture of something and it goes into Evernote automatically. And what’s cool – when you search in Evernote, it will even search the text inside your images! Evernote is quite literally my brain’s secondary storage. John Janstch has written up a nice article here describing his Evernote workflow.
  • DropBox I started using Dropbox as a way to share the files I was working on between my desktop and my MacBook so they were always in sync. It worked great for that. But now I use a ton more features. For example, when you put a file in DropBox, you have access to it from anywhere – your desktop, laptop, iPad, SmartPhone (iPhone or Android), and the Web. You can also get a link to a large file in your dropbox to share it with others – just email them the link. Or share an entire folder and you can stay in sync when working on a project. This is another tool I use every day.
  • Trello – OK, you’re going to thank me for this one. I’ve tried a ton of lightweight project management apps, to do list organizers, and always ended up with yellow sticky notes all over my desk and work space. Now that I’m using Trello those are ALL GONE. This handy little web based app (they have an iPhone app too) allows me to organize my lists and projects in a very simple and lightweight way. It’s Zen. And the UI is like butter. I mean this is one of the nicest user interfaces I’ve ever used.
  • Moleskine – I still like the feel of pen and paper for brainstorming and jotting down ideas sometimes. So I keep one of these notebooks in my bag for when I’m “offline.” What’s most amazing about the Moleskine notebook is the story they tell about where it came from – the Legendary Notebook.
  • Google Docs – When I’m collaborating with someone on a project or an idea, I like to put it into a Google Doc because we can both edit it at the same time. I mean real-time editing in the same document – that’s cool!
  • GMail – Of course Email is a big part of my day and workflow. When I worked at Microsoft I lived in Outlook and ended up getting sick of it. But at that time (2007) I thought to myself “I would never use a web based email program.” Well now that’s all I use. I like GMail because it is super fast, and probably my favorite thing is that I don’t bother organizing emails into folders (although you can). Instead, I just “label” them, and archive them. But I can find anything in there with GMail’s super fast search. I also really dig the keyboard shortcuts and can fly through my email in record time using them.

Digital Product Distro and Shopping Carts

  • DPD Cart – DPD is a great way to handle digital downloads if you are selling eBooks or software on your website. It is inexpensive and it just works. And it is easy to set up with PayPal and Authorize.net.
  • PayPal – I use PayPal for most of my transactions. It has its flaws, that is for sure. But if you are just getting started online, it is the simplest and best way to handle transactions. I used to really hate PayPal, but over the past several years I’ve grown to respect them. After using other payment processors and merchant accounts, I’ve found that they are much more old school than PayPal. Here’s a tip – once you are doing good volume on PayPal, you can ask them and they will lower your per transaction cost percentage.
  • Authorize.net – Even though people can still use their credit card to buy something from you via PayPal, some people don’t want to deal with PayPal. So you should have a Merchant Account with your business bank, and you’ll need a payment processor/gateway like Authorize.net to handle the transactions. Then people can just pay you directly over the web or over the phone using their credit card.

Measuring Results

  • Google Analytics – This is a no-brainer. If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on all of your sites then go set it up now. It’s free. And you can use it to tell if your online marketing efforts are working. You can even tell what keywords people are using to find you, what sites are referring traffic to you, and a hundred other valuable things. And you can even set up “goals” (like purchases or newsletter signups or ebook downloads) and continually improve your site.
  • Google Website Optimizer – Use this tool to test your landing pages or signup pages. You will be amazed at some of the little things that you can change that make a huge difference. But you will never know until you test them.
  • Google Webmaster Tools – Another super-valuable and free tool from Google. This tool is probably the best way to see how Google regards your website or blog. Plus you can get all kinds of diagnostic information that will help you fine tune things. Watch this video to see how to verify your WordPress site with Google Webmaster Tools.

Favorite Books

I like to read – a lot. It’s one of my favorite ways to learn new things. Here are a few of the books I’ve found most useful as I built my business.

I do reviews on some of my favorite books here: Video Book Reviews

If you have any other questions for me about what I use, or if you have a favorite tool or service, just let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Affiliate Disclosure

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links (at no extra cost to you). These are all tools and services that I have personal experience with that I recommend because they are helpful and are from companies that I trust.