Tools I Use
People ask me all the time what I rely on to do the things I do. They usually wanna know if there are secret tools in my toolbox.
If you see anything on my website or in a campaign that you’re curious about, please ask. I’m an open book.
While some may feel like that’d be giving away my competitive advantage, my philosophy is the old “a rising tide raises all ships” mentality. I believe that more capable and competent small businesses there are, the better off we’ll all be.
Now, that being said, it’s worth pointing out that if I’m recommending something, there is a chance that I might earn a referral commission for doing so. I want to be totally clear, I would never recommend something I don’t believe in just to earn a commission. But, some of my favorite tools have partner programs. And guacamole is a dollar extra after all..
Leadpages is a great tool for building landing pages that work. You can build anything from simple designs (like this one) to more complex ones (like this) and they’re all easy to use, and mobile responsive. Leadpages also has leadboxes, which is how you can do exit-pop forms, and timed pop-out forms, like the one pictured to the left. In addition, their leadigits product allows you to collect info when your prospects text in- oh, and they all integrate with Infusionsoft.
Infusionsoft is the marketing automation platform that we use. It combines a robust CRM, email marketing, and e-commerce into a powerful tool for small business. If you’re looking to grow sales, save time, and get organized, then marketing automation is definitely something you should explore. Even if Infusionsoft isn’t the right fit. (Want to learn more about Infusionsoft without having to opt-in?)
PlusThis and Zapier
I use both PlusThis and Zapier to extend the native functionality of Infusionsoft. They’re both terrific, and yes, there is some overlap in their feature set, but I use them for different purposes and I love them both.
Small business owners wear too many hats. That’s pretty much a fact. And the reality is that we all end up doing some things that just aren’t the best use of our time. The first thing I decided to outsource was my bookkeeping, and it was a great decision. It was something I wasn’t an expert at, it was causing me anxiety, and now it’s totally off my plate and being handled by professionals. That peace of mine makes it totally worth it. I recommend Kahuna Accounting; not only do they use Infusionsoft, but they truly understand small business.
When people are on your website, or looking at products, they need a way to quickly and easily get in touch with you. If they don’t see one, then there’s a reasonable chance they might just close the browser and walk away. Think about it, of course they could find your email and send you their question – but nothing takes the place of a LiveChat option for engaging your most active leads. I use PureChat, and you can start using it today, for free.
I’m not a photoshop user, and if I need something super fancy I’ll usually hire it out. But, if I need something quick and dirty, like, removing the background, resizing an image, or overlaying a graphic onto something – well, I turn to Pixlr. It’s a free, online photo editing software. It has a lot of the same functionality as photoshop, but I love that it’s browser based, and I can access it from anywhere. I think there is a paid version as well, but the free normally one does what I need.
If you use Chrome, and you need to record a quick video to demonstrate something, or show someone something, I strongly recommend Loom. It’s a free tool, and it allows you to quickly and easily create videos that you can share or embed. I love it.
If you need to take a picture of your screen, or part of your screen, there are native ways to do it on a PC and on a Mac, but I also use Jing, from techsmith on nearly a daily basis. I love that it let’s me quickly capture what I’m doing, highlight certain parts, or add a quick comment to it.
Jing can also record videos (up to 5 minutes) and it will host them so I can just send the link to someone. I like Loom a little better because it also has an option to include your webcam with the recording so the recipient can see you talking. But if you don’t want that, or you don’t use Chrome, then Jing is good alternative. These are great for demonstrating something when asking or answering complicated questions. Jing does have a paid version as well, and I believe it lets you record videos that are longer than five minutes, and probably a few other fun features as well.
I use Camtasia to record all my courses. It let’s me capture the screen, or part of the screen, and it has an nice editing studio where I (a novice) can add an intro and outro, can do volume leveling, add transitions, overlay images, and easily remove any under my breath curse words I may utter. If you need to record videos for courses, or just for your youtube channel, Camtasia is an awesome tool.
I use firefox as my primary browser, and there are a few plugins I swear by to make my life a little easier. Rainbow– this little guy allows you to hover over colors and grab the hex code for specific colors, this makes it much easier to match graphics or text to your brand colors. Firebug– this plugin allows you to analyze the code structure behind a page in a much easier way than right clicking and selecting “view page source”. Firebug allows you to inspect certain elements, and even adjust the code and preview your changes on the fly. Autofill– if you are like me, you probably spend a lot of time filling in your information online. Either while you’re testing forms and purchases, signing up for free stuff, or ordering yet another pair of Chubbies shorts. Just fill in your info once, and click on the guy whenever you have a form to fill out. It even lets you create multiple profiles in case you need a separate one for testing.
LeadPages, which was mentioned above, also has a free wordpress plugin called Rapidology. It’s pretty basic, but it works. Rapidology allows you to create pop-up, slide over, or embedded web forms. You can choose from hundreds of templates and easily stylize them. They integrate directly into Infusionsoft through the API and allow you to tag people so that you can also kick off campaigns. Here’s a blog post I wrote about Rapidology (complete with a video demo) and how it integrates with Infusionsoft.
I use Hootsuite Pro to manage my social media activity. I love that it allows me to schedule and post right from one dashboard directly to my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. This saves me tons of time from having to log in and schedule content in each of those channels. In addition to the posting, I have saved keyword searches where I can easily respond or interact with people talking about topics I’m interested in. Check out the 30 day free trial.