Building an online business can be complicated sometimes. It can seem like there’s an endless number of things to learn and master. But in this post, I’m going to share with you 11 tools I use to simplify my business that can shave months and years off your learning curve.
If you’ve ever wondered how the experts are able to crank out slick, professional looking capture pages and sales funnels seemingly overnight, wonder no more…
Tools like Instabuilder are making it easy for anyone of any skill level to create marketing pages for their business in minutes.
Instabuilder comes with a bunch of pre-done templates that you can use, or you can build a new page from scratch. Unlike some other similar products, Instabuilder pages are 100% fully customizable. Everything is drag and drop simple.
Instabuilder runs on WordPress, so you should be familiar with WordPress, or at least willing to learn the basics of how to use it.
Clickfunnels – Clickfunnels has a visual editor that is very similar to Instabuilder, though it lacks some of the fine tuning features. Clickfunnels is also quite expensive at $100 per month.
But… you’re paying for loads of additional functionality like membership site creation, a built in autoresponder, built in payment processors for selling your own products, etc. Plus, your content is hosted on their servers instead of your own, which is expensive.
Unbounce – Unbounce actually has my favorite visual editor of the bunch. If you’ve ever used Microsoft PowerPoint or something similar, you’ll have an idea of how Unbounce feels.
You can literally grab any element and just drag it anywhere on the page you want. There are no grids that everything snaps to, you can move everything EXACTLY where you want it.
The downside though is that Unbounce is for advanced designers in the sense that there are very few pre-done elements, like countdown timers, that you can just drop in.
Unbounce has a free account option so you can test as much as you want before buying anything. They also have one of the most helpful blogs concerning marketing and conversions I’ve seen.
Lead Pages – Lead Pages is a popular page builder that a lot of people like because it’s simple to use. There aren’t a lot of options to distract and confuse you. You just grab a template, plug in your info and go.
If you like to be a bit more creative, or you have some ideas of what you might like to have or not have on your pages, then Lead Pages can be a bit frustrating. It’s very “on rails” so you can’t do much customizing of the templates they give you at all.
Roboform is a password manager. This is the simplest tool to use on this list, and also the most helpful.
Running an online business means logging in and out of online accounts A LOT. If I had to remember every username and password and enter them manually all day long, I would be unnecessarily wasting hours of my life every day.
Roboform is simple. It sits at the top of your browser. When you login to a new site for the first time, it will ask you if you want to save the credentials. Click “save” and you’re done. You never have to login manually to that site again.
Roboform also has a password generator so you can create strong passwords. You should NEVER be able to remember your password. If you can remember it, it’s not strong enough.
Another nice feature is the ability to sync your data across all browsers and all devices so your login data is always within easy reach.
LastPass – I’ve never used LastPass myself but it’s a highly rated, popular alternative to Roboform.
If you haven’t found yourself in need of a Hosting Account yet in your business, you will. Whether you want to start a blog, build a sales funnel, start a membership site, or run one of the other thousands of apps that need to be self hosted, Host Gator is the way to go.
I’ve used Host Gator for years without any issues. If you have special needs, such as a super high traffic site, managed WordPress hosting, etc, then there are other, more expensive options that might better suite your needs.
But for reliable, inexpensive, all-purpose hosting, Host Gator is what I use and recommend.
If you do any paid advertising or split testing (you should be doing both) having a reliable tracking solution is necessary to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Click Magick offers an attractive tracking solution at an affordable price. It has a ton of features including…
- Split testing
- Traffic quality reporting
- Accurate stats
- Bad click filtering
- Unlimited custom domain integration
- Complete sales funnel tracking
- Dynamic popups, bars, timers
Click Meter – Haven’t used this one, but I’ve seen it recommended by some successful marketers.
AWeber is an autoresponder service that allows you to capture prospect’s information and build a list of subscribers.
List building is the core pillar to your online business. If you aren’t currently building a list, you should stop everything you’re doing and make listbuilding the focal point of your efforts.
It’s building this list of contacts who know, like and trust you that will be your most valuable business asset.
I’ve been using AWeber as my autoresponder for years. They have high deliverability of emails, a dedication to quality, excellent customer support, and easy to use list building tools.
Get Response – We’ve used Get Response as well over the years, They’re on par with AWeber in just about every way, although I do like AWeber’s form builder a little better.
Mail Chimp – Never used Mail Chimp personally, but I know it comes highly recommended by some prominent leaders in the industry.
Jing is a free screen capture tool. Jing is simple and effective. Capture anything you can see on your screen with 1 click.
If you create videos that you want to embed on other pages, like blog posts and sales pages, you shouldn’t be using free services like YouTube and Vimeo.
Youtube and Vimeo are great for certain kinds of content. They are free services that make it easy for people to find and watch your videos.
But… the catch is that you do not own any of your content. They own it, and they can remove it any time they wish, without notice or explanation.
So, if you have a video capture page, for example, that you just spent $1,000 to send traffic to… you’re not going to be very happy if YouTube decides to remove your video halfway through your traffic campaign.
If you’re making business videos, you need a business video hosting solution.
EZS3 allows you to take advantage of Amazon S3’s dirt cheap content hosting, and create players for all your videos that you can then embed wherever you need to.
As far as Amazon S3 integration goes, EZS3 is the best. They even allow you to use Amazon Streaming Cloudfronts to stream your content, meaning you only pay for the portion of your video that gets played, even further reducing your bandwidth costs.
Wistia – Wistia is great. They make video hosting simple, and somehow even fun. If you have moderate video hosting needs (under 200gb per month) they are a great way to go. You can get a free account with 200gb per month of bandwidth.
If you think you’ll go over 200gb, then you’ll pay $0.33 per gigabit. That may not sound like much, but depending on how much traffic you’re driving to your videos, it can add up. Especially if you’re hosting something like a team marketing system.
Video Maker FX is a program that makes it easy to create animation style videos you can use to sell products, brand yourself, or whatever else you want.
These kind of videos work especially well on capture pages where you want to deliver a short, punchy message in a fun way that will make people remember your offer.
This product has an upsell as well that gives you access to a new set of video slides each month. I recommend getting this upsell if you’re interested in Video Maker FX. The slides are well done and they give you a lot more options when creating your videos.
Screencast-O-Matic is a free program that allows you to record your screen with audio. You’ll use this tool a lot when you want to make training videos, or explainer videos, or even product reviews.
I recommend buying the premium version ($15 per year) to get the full suite of editing tools.
Camtasia – I’ve never used Camtasia myself. Screencast-O-Matic will meet your needs for the vast majority of projects, but if you need something more powerful Camtasia is the way to go.
Handbrake is a free video transcoder. If you’re hosting your own video content and paying for bandwidth, then you’ll want your video file sizes to be as small as possible without losing quality to reduce costs.
Handbrake will reduce your video file size and optimize it for the web with a few clicks of the mouse. In many cases you can reduce your file size by 50% or more. This process is ESSENTIAL to avoid paying enormous and unnecessary bandwidth fees.
Toggl is a simple and free way to track what you’re doing during the day to help you eliminate time wasters and use your valuable time more efficiently.
Ok, so that does it for this list. Hopefully you learned something and some of these tools will be of benefit to you.
🙂 Shawn Smith
PS… Have questions or want to suggest some tools that didn’t make the list? Leave me your thoughts in the comments below…