I’ve put together a list of all the resources that I mentioned in the Small Business Toolbox PLUS those that I personally have used to create and grow my business. Because I never had much capital to start my business (can we say leeeeeaaaan startup?), I end up doing most of the designing, branding, marketing and promotion myself. The tools listed below have been really helpful for me along the way and I hope they will help you as well.
Note that some of these links are affiliate links, but I’ve only chosen the products and services that I use (or have used) or know about, believe in and trust. If for any reason you feel like there is a better fit for your business, there are of course many other options available to you than those listed here.
Business Website Platform: WordPress
This is the #1 blog publishing platform and it’s what I use for all my websites. Coming from a background in HTML coding and Flash, I don’t remember how I ever lived without WordPress. It’s easy to use, easy to design and creates extremely professional sites.
Professional WordPress Themes: Themeforest
This is where I buy many of my WordPress themes. It’s a top resource for premium themes. (I love this site.)
Theme used on this site: Megazine Theme
Theme I use for this website. I’ve used many WordPress themes in the past and this is my favorite so far because all of the pages layouts are customizable and it’s super easy to set up.
Instant Sales Page Theme: OptimizePress
If you want to easily integrate a sales page or squeeze page on WordPress, OptimizePress is your best option. I’ve used it for my sales pages and found it easy to to use and a powerful theme.
Powerful Theme: Thesis
Thesis is one of the most powerful WordPress themes on the market and people rave about it.
Thesis Theme Designers: Shatterbox
If you don’t want to design your own Thesis theme, Shatterbox will do it for you.
Website Hosting: Dreamhost
I switched to Dreamhost a few years ago. I love it because it has 1-click installs for WordPress and other programs. Also, you can host as many domains as you want under one account. It’s extremely easy to use and set up and I highly recommend it for your website.
Click here to access helpful Dreamhost tutorials
Email Marketing Platform: Aweber
Run email marketing programs with powerful, easy-to-use email marketing tools. Powerful opt-in service and sleek email broadcast tools. I use Aweber for all of my email marketing campaigns and I find it’s the best way to stay in touch with my customers.
Click here to access Aweber set up tutorials
Sleek Business Cards: Moo
I like Moo because you can order one set of business cards with multiple designs. This works really well for artist or photographers who want to showcase their work. To me, it’s really important to have a good-looking business card because I know that it represents by brand. I’ve seen poorly printed, hand-cut business cards and I shutter at the thought of them. Plus, Moo does postcards, stickers, etc.
Business Cards + More: Uprinting
After I saw a friend’s business card from UPrinting, I went straight to the sight and ordered my own. The cards thick, glossy and very professional. Also, they’re not overly pricey and they ship out quickly. Plus, they can cut the cards into a few different shapes, which helps them stand out more. Uprinting also prints everything from brochures to doorhangers to tickets, so it’s a good one-stop-shop for printing.
AWESOME Microphone: Blue Yeti
After using terrible audio for my first few podcasts, I immediately upgraded. The Blue Yeti microphone is AWESOME! I love it. If you are doing ANY sort of audio for your business, this is a great microphone to have.
Open Source Audio Recorder: Audacity
I’m a big fan of Audacity…it’s a powerful audio recorder and it’s totally FREE so it’s a win-win for you. I use it to record all of my podcasts and even though I don’t know how to use all the features on it, I know enough to do exactly what I need to do.
Click here to easily learn how to use Audacity
Skype Recorder: Pamela
I use Pamela Skype recording program to record my interviews over Skype. In the past, I’ve used conference call lines, but they are more expensive, use up my phone minutes and can’t hook into my nice Blue Yeti mic, so I switched to Pamela and love it.
Click here to learn how to set up your Pamela recorder to record audio interviews over Skype
Online Interview Platform: Skype
Skype is the online platform that I use to conduct my podcast interviews. You’re probably pretty familiar with it, but it’s free and easy to use to do interviews with people anywhere in the world.
Video Intros & Logo Stings: VideoHive
Royalty-free video files including stock footage, motion graphics, DVD menus and logo stings. This is where I buy the logo intros for my videos. It’s one of the top sites on the Internet for motion graphics and definitely my favorite when it comes to finding great video.
Audio Clips & Intro Music: AudioJungle
Royalty-free audio files including music loops, sound effects, and intro music. This is where I buy the music that I used in my video intros.
Video Promotion: Leadplayer
This is a tool to use with your videos to help build an audience and generate more income. Check out the video on their website to learn about all the cool features.
Video Editing Software: PowerDirector
I use Powerdirector to edit all my videos and have had lots of luck with it (after testing out multiple other programs). It’s a powerful software that’s surprisingly easy to use and not very expensive for everything you get with it.
Click here to watch a video tutorial on how to easily edit videos in Powerdirector
Screen Capture Software: Bandicam
I did a ton of research on finding the right screen capture video software after wasting a TON of time using CamStudio (please don’t even bother). Bandicam has been perfect for me! It’s simple, easy and has been so helpful for me. I highly recommend.
Video Camera: Sony DCR-SX45 Handycam Camcorder AND/OR Canon HD Vixia HF R200
(Note: I’ve used both of these and they are both great, but own two of the Sony’s. The Sony does NOT have an input for an external mic, so I bought the Zoom Digital Recorder separately. The Canon DOES have a mic input, so you can plug the lavalier mic directly into it. If you want to shoot with two cameras like I do, I would recommend getting one of both and plugging the mic into the Canon).
Video Camera Memory Card: Polaroid 16 GB Flash Memory Card
Headphones: Sony Outdoor Headphones
Selling Physical Products: Shopify
Create your online store with everything that you need to start selling products online. Easy to use and set up and has over 100 different themes. I like Shopify because I think it’s user-friendly and has a lot to offer, unlike some of the other shopping carts services I’ve dealt with.
Selling Virtual Products: Ejunkie
Ejunkie is inexpensive and great online shopping cart for selling ebooks, video courses and any other digital products you have.
Membership Site for WordPress: Wishlist Member
If you don’t want to pay for an expensive web designer to set up a membership site for you, Wishlist is the way to go. It can easily turn any WordPress blog into a membership site and they have great tutorials that take you step-by-step through the set up process.
Keyword Research: Market Samurai
The moment I purchased Market Samurai, I’ve been practically obsessed with it. I use it to target high-traffic keywords to boost the traffic to my site. The first time I used it, I used one of the keyword phrases I found to write a blog post. Within 1 day, I had made $300 in affiliate commission from one of the links I put in the post. It’s such a cool program, so I highly recommend downloading a FREE trial and checking it out for yourself.
Press Release Service: eReleases
If you start a business and no one knows about it, you’re not going to get very far. This is where eReleases comes in. eReleases can write and distribute your press release to journalist and newsrooms across the country.
When I was doing teleclasses and a six-week telesummit, I used Maestro and was really impressed. Their conference system was simple to use and they also had the friendliest support staff (which was located in America) when I called with a question. Maestro also has breakout rooms, screenshare, call-recording, green rooms, and a host of other featured that made me originally choose it when I was shopping around for a conference call service.
I like Stealth Seminar because you can stream live to iPad or iPhones, which I feel like is the direction the world is going. Their service has webinar capabilities while I believe Maestro just has teleclass (phone) capabilities. Could be wrong, but that’s my understanding and why I’m listing both of them on here.
Graphic Design: 99Designs
I have had really great experiences with 99Designs. It’s a graphic design platform that’s set up in contest form. You submit your proposal and specifications for a logo (or other design project) and designers submit ideas and you get to choose the design you want. (Note: The key to getting what you want is to give each designer feedback)
Technical Stuff: oDesk
Even though I do a LOT myself, I still do recommend outsourcing anything in your business that you’re not good at doing. oDesk is perfect for this and makes it so easy to delegate. You post the job you need done, receive applications from the skilled candidates on their site and choose who you want to work with.
Writing, VA’s, etc: Elance
Just like oDesk, elance is another great outsourcing community, but it’s more geared towards writing, virtual assistants and that sort of thing.
Website Traffic Analytics: Google Analytics
This is what I use to track the traffic on my website. You set up an account, get the code for your website and plug it into your WordPress website. Here’s a site that explains exactly how to do it: http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/how-to-install-google-analytics-in-wordpress/
Audio Books: Audible
I read and listen to marketing books constantly. Doing this keeps me on top of my game. Audible is the #1 source of audio books. because you’re probably already too busy to read, I highly recommend listening to audio business books while you’re on the go.
Contact forms: Fast Secure Contact Form
Audio/Podcast Player: mb.miniAudioPlayer
Social icons & Related Posts: Shareaholic
SEO: SEO Yoast
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