Here are the tools that made me successful with my online businesses. These are all highly recommended and have all been used by me at some point during my career. By signing up to one of the services/tools listed below I may receive compensation but you’ll help support me by creating more useful content.
Web Hosting/Email Services
Your choice in a web hosting provider is the cornerstone of your business. It’s important to pick wisely as saving a few dollars in web hosting can be pennywise but pound foolish
- Namecheap – A reliable and cheap domain name registrar.
- Bluehost – If just starting out, a cheap web hosting provider.
- WP Engine – A great WordPress web hosting provider. If you are serious about your blog, then you should be using them.
- G Suite by Google Cloud – Google’s G Suite email, calendar, spreadsheet, and docs service are on par to Microsoft’s Office 365.
It is best to manage your affiliate links in one central location than to manually insert each affiliate link on your website. Affiliate links can change often and outdated links can cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Also using an affiliate link manager allows you to cloak links so they are cleaner plus allow for conversion tracking. It’s highly recommended you start off using one of these services today before placing an affiliate link on your website.
- Thirsty Affiliates – While not as advanced as Clickmeter, Thirsty Affiliates is a cheap and easy to use affiliate tracking system for someone just starting out.
- Pretty Links – Similar to Thirsty Affiliates, another link management WordPress plugin.
- Clickmeter – The best affiliate tracking and link management service bar none!
- PixelMe – A link shortener that’s simpler than Clickmeter and cheaper as well. Should be used primarily for link sharing and not affiliate tracking/conversions.
Mailing List/Email Marketing
Even though email isn’t as popular today as it has been previously, it is still one of the best ways to stay engaged with your audience. I recommend creating a mailing list immediately.
- Mailchimp – A much more simplier and cheaper tool compared to ActiveCampign, but be can be limiting if using affiliate links in your emails. The first 2,000 email subscribers are free!
- ActiveCampaign – A great mailing list service who wants automated email sequences, but can be costly.
Lead Gen/Landing Page
With any web site, you need to build your audience of visitors to your mailing list and promotions.
- OptinMonster – Add popups with ease to your web site and integrates with almost all mailing list services.
- OptimizePress – A WordPress plugin and theme that allows you to create landing pages, but also entire web sites.
WordPress Plugins and Themes
Why reinvent the wheel with your WordPress based site, when you can download an existing plugin to make your website more useful. Keep in mind not all plugins are created equal. Unfortunately many free plugins are designed poorly (they are ahem free you know..).
I’m a big fan of paying for commercial WordPress plugins. While there are many great free plugins some of the best plugins available are commercial. Don’t be afraid to pay for a plugin. In most cases, the amount spent will save you time and/or generate more revenue in the long run.
- Genesis Framework – A SEO Friendly theme with many out-of-the-box designs available.
- WP Rocket – With SEO and users, page load time is important. Speed up your website by minifying your files and using a CDN with this plugin.
- MonsterInsights – Easy to use plugin to track your visitors and affiliate links.
- Social Warfare – The must-have plugin for social media links on your website.
- Yoast SEO Premium – The definative SEO plugin for WordPress.
- BackupBuddy – Don’t rely on your web hosting provider to make backups of your site! Make sure you are in control and have off-server backups.
- PixelYourSite Pro – While I’m more a fan of Google’s Tag Manager, PixelYourSite is an easy to use plugin for adding tracking to your site for remarketing campaigns.
- UTM Tracker – Of course I’m going to recommend my own plugin for tracking UTM parameters.
If a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound? One of the primary ways people will find your information is via search engines like Google. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a way to research, monitor and improve the ranking of the content you create.
- SEM Rush – A must-needed tool for SEO and tracking of competing websites.
- Ahrefs – My goto SEO monitoring and tracking tool.
If you are selling services or products online you must have an online shopping cart of some sort.
- Thrivecart – A very affordable online shopping cart service and the one I use.
- SamCart – An very easy to use, but expensive, online shopping cart service. In some ways better than Thrivecart with all features compared.
- WooCommerce – A very popular E-Commerce WordPress plugin that has many additional plugins.
One of the more powerful tips mentioned in the book “Influence” by Robert Cialdini is the use of social proof. Showing what others have done, shows to new visitors how valuable is your service.
- WPFomify – A WordPress plugin that displays popups of recent buyers of your service.
- Proof – Similar to WpFomify, alerts visitors of recent purchases by other visitors.
- Shopper Approved – Create an easy to use method to instill social proof with your visitors. Helps with not only with visitors but displays in SERP with Google Ads.
I’ve always been about constant small 1% improvements. Over time a 1% improvement every week, can yield huge gains after one year. Constantly improve your website and use some of the tools below to instill better trust, engagement, social proof, or increase revenue.
- LiteSpeed – If you are hosting your own web site you want the fastest possible web server. LiteSpeed is the best performing web server.
- HotJar – Create heatmaps of visitors and video record tracking experience through your website.
- Crazy Egg – Creates heatmaps better than HotJar and actually use both for more insight into the user experience. Use promo code “twenty” to get 20% off your order.
- Slack – A great tool to help keep in contact with your team members.
- PushCrew – Push notifications are the latest trend in keeping your visitors informed. It keeps visitors in contact via a browser popup. They have high CTR, are anonymous and easy to unsubscribe.
- FeedPress – A great way to track your RSS feeds or PodCasts. Plus has a nice front from subscriptions.
- Ecamm Live – If you are doing Facebook Live or YouTube Live broadcasts this software is perfect for any video presentation.
- Microsoft Advertising – The often overlooked alternative to Google Ads. From my experience can do just as well if not sometimes better in ROI.