There are a lot of tools here so don’t try to implement everything! So that you don’t get overwhelmed, focus on one area of your business at a time, streamline it and then get to work on the next one. I’ve tried and tested every single one of these (no joke) and these are my honest opinions.
*Click the little computer screen with the logo for direct access to each site.
QuickBooks is the Mac daddy of all accounting software. They’re the most well known and recognized, it integrates with everything and they’re super affordable.
Freshbooks is a relative newcomer compared to Quickbooks and is focused on small businesses. The system is easy to use and also affordable. They also make invoicing super simple as well.
We used Invoiced for 3 years. It was awesome and easy to use. We only switched is because we now self-host our memberships. Invoiced is great for subscriptions or one-off invoices and integrates with most accounting software.
I loveeeeeeee Zapier. It gives me the ability to integrate all of my apps without having to think about it or having to be a developer. I have 37 zaps running at the time of writing this.
InfusionSoft is a MONSTER. It’s CRAZY powerful and gives you true automation but there’s definitely a learning curve. If you’re new to automation, use Zapier instead.
WPFusion gives you powerful automation between your website and your CRM. We use WPFusion for almost everything in the academy to build your learning path, unlock bonuses and grant access to our leadership resources.
I’ve been using Contactually longer than ANY platform I’ve ever used (going on 8 years). It’s best for entrepreneurs who work directly with their clients.
HubSpot has become a mover and shaker in the CRM world. They target B2B businesses and can grow with your business.
InfusionSoft is an all in one platform that does everything, alongside a CRM. It’s expensive but it’s CRAZY powerful so when you’re ready to REALLY invest, InfusionSoft is the way to go.
Shopify is the Mac daddy of ecommerce sites. If you don’t want to self-host your shop, Shopify is the way to go. It also integrates with Printful. They give you tons of extensions, can host your website for you and handle the entire eCommerce process.
If you’re planning to self-host your shop, WooCommerce is the way to go. It’s a beast so if you try to do it yourself, give yourself enough time to figure it all out and be sure to use a theme that’s compatible.
If you’ve looked into ecommerce, you’ve probably heard of dropshipping. Printful is better. It’s print-on-demand. You upload your designs and start marketing them. When you get an order, Printful prints, ships and mails the item for you.
We used to use Teachable for our diamond experiences and it was fine. My frustration with it was that you don’t get paid for at least 30 days and it doesn’t do membership sites very well. Teachable is by far the most popular platform for hosting courses online.
Podia takes a different approach by giving you courses, digital downloads and membership sites all under one roof. It does all of them fine, but I wouldn’t say it does them all REALLY well. We started our academy on Podia and I didn’t love it but it worked for what we needed.
LearnDash was our second attempt at self-hosting our membership site and it’s the best decision we’ve ever made. You’ll need to buy an additional theme as well as LearnDash and take the time to set it up so it’s not worth it for beginners.
Mailchimp is a free option for email marketing and when you’re ready to grow, it has some awesome features for eCommerce stores. I do not recommend it for entrepreneurs who have a one to one connection with their clients.
SEVA (FORMERLY CONVERTKIT)
ConvertKit is my personal favorite because it’s simple to use but CRAZY powerful. The way our academy runs right now wouldn’t be possible without ConvertKit.
ActiveCampaign is super popular because it also gives you the ability to do some marketing automation. I still prefer ConvertKit.
I have a love/hate relationship with EventBrite SOLELY because it’s the BEST platform out there and I couldn’t figure out an easy way to integrate it into our academy so we needed to hire a developer to do a custom integration for it.
I also have a love/hate with Meetup. We started MEB (which was then South Florida Young Professionals) on Meetup but they don’t make it easy for their organizers. It’s a great way to find new people for your events, their platform is just really frustrating.
THE EVENTS CALENDAR
I’m convinced there’s no such thing as a perfect self-hosted event site so we use The Events Calendar plugin to kinda self-host but sell tickets on EventBrite. Ideally, tickets will be integrated with your personal account.
In my mind, Canva is the only option for graphics. A lot of designers will say it’s not graphic design, but when you’re making a ton of graphics every day, it’s not realistic to hire a designer for everything.
It’s not a perfect platform but it’s powerful, does everything you need it to and gives you tonssss of inspiration from their templates.
I also highly recommend going through their free Design School.
TAKL makes it super easy to find people to help you with your chores around the house affordably. Whether you need a housekeeper, someone to mount your TV or someone to help you organize, TAKL has your back.
One of my least favorite things in the world to do is to go get a car wash. Washe comes to you to wash and detail your car so you can leave your house or office with that new car smell.
If you find yourself in the mood to cook and just don’t have time to go shopping, Instacart is going to be your best solution. They shop for you and can have groceries at your door in as little as two hours.
You know those Instagram accounts that have gorgeous themes where every image just seems like it flows together? You can just assume VSCO is behind it. The app has tons of filter options to give you consistency across your images.
Having a beautiful feed is essential to growing your following count so Planoly helps you plan your Instagram feed and see what it’ll look like before you post.
Since Instagram only allows you to have one link, LinkTree very easily allows you to direct your traffic to a page with multiple links so you never have to change your link again.
With Acorns, every time you swipe your card, Acorns rounds up to the next dollar and deposits it into an investment account. If you spend $10.50, Acorns invests the remaining $0.50 for you. It adds up!
Betterment allows you to quickly invest money. I wouldn’t recommend this your long-term, only solution but if you just want to start investing some money quickly, this is the way to go.
If you’re an online shopper, eBates is about to be your new best friend. You get cash back just for shopping online. I’ve gotten a few hundred dollars back just by using the app. As a bonus, their web extension also tells you if there are any coupons or if you can find it cheaper somewhere else.
What you don’t track, you can’t improve. Google Analytics tells you exactly how much traffic you’re getting, where they’re coming from and where they’re spending their time so you can continue to optimize your site.
SEM Rush helps you keep track of the keywords that are sending you the most traffic so that you can continue to optimize your site for more SEO traffic.
Want to spy on your competitors to see what pages are getting shared the most? This kind of knowledge will help you better plan your content strategy.
Mailchimp does super basic landing pages that you can use on social media or in your emails. If you don’t need anything fancy and are looking for fast and cheap, Mailchimp is the way to go.
LeadPages has awesome templates and is easy to use. There’s a lot more customization than Mailchimp while still keeping things simple.
Of any of the self-hosted landing page platforms I’ve used, Beaver Builder is by far my favorite. It’s beautiful, easy to use and you can create beautiful landing pages or build your whole site on it.
I usually like to include multiple options but for door knocking, Spotio is KING. It’s easy to use, does everything you need it to and will save you a ton of time if you do door to door prospecting. As an added bonus, it integrates with Zapier.
If you’re tired of collecting business cards and hate having to enter all of the cards into your CRM, you’ll LOVEEE CamCard. It’s super easy to use and syncs with your contacts so you can scan cards and not have to worry about them again.
I realize that this is stating the obvious but if you’re like most people, you forget to take the time to scroll through someone’s social media accounts before you meet with them. It’s such an easy way to find a way to build rapport faster.
If you end up using LeadPages for your landing pages or just don’t want to self-host your opt-in forms, LeadPages is 100% the way to go.
By now, you’re probably noticing a trend… I like to self-host whenever possible. Self-hosting often comes with it’s own complications but Thrive Leads is one of the simpler solutions. All of our email opt-in boxes are built on Thrive and integrated with InfusionSoft.
Before we moved to Academy 2.0 with a new theme, site and everything, some of the features of Thrive Leads weren’t compatible so we used Opt In Monster for screen fillers. The platform works but Thrive is still my favorite.
Tailwind makes it super easy to plan and schedule your pins, as well as contribute to “Tribes” to grow your audience reach faster. They’re working on adding “Smart Loop”, which expands the life of your pins dramatically.
While I get that a lot of people don’t care for the follow/unfollow method of growing social media, Pinterest is one of the sites that it really does help with. Most of our traffic comes from Pinterest, so having a bigger reach means more traffic, more email subscribers and more revenue.
Deadline Funnel gives you the ability to add genuine, evergreen funnels to your site to increase urgency which in turn helps increase conversions.
Right Message turns a sales page into a dynamic page by changing wording on the page to fit with the person whose viewing it which can help increase conversions. This is for advanced funnels only.
Viral marketing is used by companies like Dropbox to gain attention quickly. UpViral gives you the same ability by giving you everything you need to build an entire viral marketing campaign.
If you’re JUST starting out and want a cheap, easy platform for scheduling social media posts, Buffer is totally the way to go.
When you’re creating consistent content and want to keep sharing that content without having to manually do it, SmarterQueue is the best platform I’ve found for that.
CoSchedule is great for marketing teams or agencies who have a lot of different accounts to manage and a bunch of moving parts. The platform is SUPER robust but most of it won’t be necessary for an individual business owner.
Stock images are great for blog post covers, Pinterest pins or filler content for Instagram. Just try not to use more than about 20% of your graphics as stock images on Instagram so your feed is authentic to you.
PEXELS + UNSPLASH
Both Pexels and Unsplash have TONS of free, professional imagery that will help you brand your business. I love them both equally.
They’ve branded themselves as “stock photos for the quirky and creative”. While Pexels and Unsplash are more intense and dramatic, Gratisography is bright, bold and quirky. Use what fits your branding!
If you follow me on social media, you probably know that I don’t post a lot of food… Buttttt this site has tonssss of free imagery of food and I just had to include it here because most other sites don’t really include it.
I LOVEEEE ToDoist. I’ve been using it for the last few years and have gotten my family and our leadership team using it. It’s easy to use, beautifully designed and yet, it’s incredibly powerful. My favorite features are the natural language input and keyboard shortcuts.
While I LOVE ToDoist, they don’t do an incredible job at teams or group projects and this is where Asana really shines. The platform is beautiful but it’s a little more robust than ToDoist so if you like to keep things simple, stick with ToDoist. If you have advanced projects with team members, go with Asana.
Monday is a newcomer to the productivity game but it’s seriously getting attention. They take a different approach to team productivity by giving you more flexibility and different ways of displaying your projects so that everyone is kept in the loop and on track.
If you decide to add text message marketing into your stack, Skipio is the way to go.
I chose to use Skipio because it’s the only platform I could find that gave you an actual 10-digit number to text from rather than a shortcode. In addition, you can also do direct-voicemails, call forwarding, two-way texting and text campaigns.
When you’re ready to self-host your site, hosting is a HUGE part of the success of your site.
Don’t even get me started on all of the mistakes I made with hosting so let’s just say that switching to Flywheel has been a HUGE breath of fresh air. The platform is beautiful and easy to use and it’s also beginner friendly.
Not to mention, their support is awesome and our site is now blazing fast.
Zoom is pretty new compared to some of the older platforms but it’s been making a lot of noise and for good reason. I’ve preferred to use Zoom for group video chats over any other platform because of how easy it is to use.
If you’re looking for a free solution, Google Hangouts is going to be your go-to. To keep it consistent with your branding, you’ll want to embed a live hangout in a landing page and add a chat box so that it’s interactive for a webinar.
WebinarJam and EverWebinar are a beast. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the platform but it gives you the ability to have evergreen webinars and from what I’ve seen, there isn’t another platform that does it as well as they do.
*Disclaimer: Some of these tools have affiliate programs where I will get a small commission for recommending them. I have personally used and tested every single one of these and have tried to give my most honest, transparent feedback possible. If it really bothers you that I’ll get a commission, you can go directly to their website to check it out.