“Jeff, what do you recommend I use for… ?” I get asked this question pretty regularly.
To answer it once and for all, I have compiled this list of tools and resources I personally use and recommend.
As you can guess, some of these tools are paid, but many are free. If you have a question about any of them, feel free to drop me a line.
Now, onto the list…
The best tools for:
- Domain name
- Web hosting
- Web design
- Marketing Automation
Creating a brand is the first critical step in establishing a presence online.
The way your brand is interpreted by prospects will influence the way they trust and recognize your business when considering whether or not to purchase your products and services.
To create a memorable brand, at a low cost, and as quickly as possible, I recommend using Tailor Brands. Tailor Brands is the world’s first AI-powered logo design and branding platform. With their platform, you can create a logo, establish a brand identity, and start sharing branded content on social media in just a few hours. It accelerates the process of launching a memorable business and living out your dreams.
The first step to building an effective online presence starts with a domain name. It’s your identity on the Internet and it needs to be meaningful.
There are less and less traditional domain names, such as .COM, still available. Meaning you may need to choose something that doesn’t accurately represent your brand if you go with an old domain extension.
New domain extensions, such as .ONLINE, are the future and it is in your best interest to stay ahead of the game and build an innovative and meaningful online presence.
Since these domain extensions are relatively new, most of the simple, short, and memorable domain names are still available. So, I’d highly recommend you secure your ideal domain name ASAP!
I proudly host my website with Bluehost and I couldn’t be happier.
They have been in the web hosting business since, like, forever. So, I know they will not simply disappear and pull the rug from under my feet. Also, they are among the most established web hosts out there, with a robust infrastructure. As a result, my site is lightning fast and I actually don’t remember if it has ever gone down. Plus, whenever I have a question or need help, their support staff are available via email, chat or phone, 24/7.
In short, they are fast, reliable and helpful. What else could I wish for in a web host? Oh, did I mention they also give you a free domain name with your hosting plan?
But, the best thing about Bluehost is… you don’t have to start looking for a new host when your website becomes successful! Their starter plans are super-cheap, but they also offer more advanced hosting plans, which you can switch to seamlessly, without any interruption to your service.
So, you save yourself a ton of frustration associated with finding and moving to a new untested host. And, you can keep focusing on growing your business knowing that your web host can handle all the traffic you throw at it.
By the way, I have a special relationship with Bluehost. So, when you buy via my affiliate link below, you become eligible for a special discount I negotiated for you. It is available only to my visitors.
Content management system
As a publishing platform, I use WordPress and I honestly don’t know why you would consider anything else.
It is an open source software and it’s free. You can use it to create any kind of website, blog or an app. It has thousands of free plugins that extend the functionality of your website. It has a huge community of developers who can answer any question you have. And, it is used by 31% of the Web (that basically means, every 3rd website you visit runs on WordPress).
Oh, and Bluehost is already prepped for WordPress with a simple, one-click install.
My website is custom-designed, but it hasn’t always been that way.
My very first design was a free WordPress theme obtained from their official theme directory. It contains thousands of free designs you can use immediately.
If you want something special and want to be 100% sure the design is not only great-looking but also well-coded, mobile-responsive and search engine friendly, check out the premium themes at Themeforest.
As you progress and become more successful, you will likely need a designer with WordPress experience to make some changes. Luckily, there are plenty of experienced and affordable WordPress designers for hire at Fiverr.
Right after you get your website sorted, you will want to make sure you can measure everything that needs to be measured.
The must-have tool here is Google Analytics. Not only is it free, but it’s also extremely powerful. I rarely find myself needing more data than Google Analytics can give me.
I use Google Tag Manager to insert the Google Analytics code on my website and recommend you use it, too. This guide is not the right place to go into details on all the advantages of Google Tag Manager, but, trust me, it’s worth using it.
Fortunately, installing Google Tag Manager takes just a couple of hours or less and there are plenty of Google Tag Manager experts on Fiverr willing to help for very little money.
Search engine optimization
There are 3 tools I’m using for pretty much all my search engine optimization (SEO) needs.
The first SEO tool is the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, which is free. It has a number of features, but I regularly use only three:
- XML sitemaps – the ability to automatically generate XML sitemaps, which can be submitted to the search engines for easier URL discovery.
- Meta robots index – the ability to communicate to the search engines whether to index a certain URL or not.
- SEO title and meta description – the ability to optimize the snippet of individual URLs for higher rankings and better conversion.
Google Search Console
The second SEO tool I use is the Google Search Console, which is also free. This is a must-have for any webmaster because it’s the closest you will get to measure your performance in Google Search.
Google Search Console allows you to see which queries bring users to your site, analyze your site’s impressions, clicks, and position on Google Search. It also allows you to submit your XML sitemaps and individual URLs to Google and review your index coverage to make sure that Google has the freshest view of your site. Finally, you can receive email alerts when Google identifies issues on your site, see which URLs are affected by these issues, and tell Google when you’ve fixed them.
The third SEO tool I use is SEMrush. It’s not free, but it’s one of the most comprehensive all-in-one digital marketing suites for analyzing websites –your own or your competitors’ – across pretty much all areas that matter (SEO, PPC, social media, public relations, content marketing, and more). Anytime I want to look for new good keywords or compare my site to any of my competitors’, I use SEMrush.
Promoting my new posts used to be a tedious and time-consuming chore. That is until I found Agorapulse.
With Agorapulse, I can post to all my social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+.
I can also pre-load posts and schedule them to go at the exact time I need. This is especially useful since I’m in Australia, plus I travel around the world a lot, but most of my readers are in the United States. So, I can schedule my social media posts to go live when most of my target audience is most likely to see them.
I also use their re-schedule feature, which allows me to continually promote my most important content. I use this feature, particularly on Twitter.
The other thing I like about Agorapulse is that it allows me to view all my conversations across all my social media accounts in one place. This way I don’t have to log into individual social networks and look for new notifications or posts.
Finally, Agorapulse also gives me detailed reports on all of my social media activity.
I estimate that this tool easily saves me 10 hours a week. That’s 10 hours I can spend on other, more important things.
Growing an engaged following on Instagram is harder and more time-consuming than ever. Especially given the endless list of spammy tools out there that promise the world and deliver nothing more than a list of fake followers and a banned Instagram account.
Kicksta is an Instagram growth service that uses genuine interactions with targeted followers to grow a REAL audience. You won’t be faking it with this tool.
Kicksta’s growth methods are simple and organic. All you need to do is describe your ideal follower and Kicksta will find and engage with users who match your specifications.
These interactions increase your brand awareness and organic growth without having to spend hours on Instagram yourself.
Another proven method for growing your Instagram following is to use trending hashtags. Hashtagsforlikes detects the most trending hashtags based on a search of your choice and instantly provides analytics, data, and hashtag recommendations that you can use to increase your exposure.
Hashtag searches are free, so you can get started straight away. But by going premium you unlock a suite of powerful hashtag tools to help support your success on Instagram, I highly recommend it.
As a publishing business, content creation is at the core of everything we do at JeffBullas.com.
For years, I relied on static images and written content to proliferate our brand and key messages. But the way people interact with content has changed.
Video is now more important than ever.
Video creation and editing has always been a unique challenge for those that aren’t professional videographers (like me). That was until I discovered InVideo.
InVideo is a video creation tool that provides pre-determined templates, a library of stock video, unique music, and an easy-to-use interface. Anyone can create a professional looking video with this tool in under 5 minutes.
There is one more tool I use from time to time, especially, when I’m looking for proven content ideas or when I want to find new influencers to help me promote my content. That tool is BuzzSumo and it’s pretty impressive.
Converting all that website traffic into subscribers and buyers is what it’s all about. Therefore, conversion rate optimization is very high on my list of priorities.
There are two tools I use constantly. In fact, they are integrated into my website.
The first one is Sumo, which is a suite of tools designed to improve your conversion rates.
For example, you can have a popup window that shows up 1 second after the page is loaded, or when the user hovers over the address bar, scrolls down the page, etc.
You can also have a so-called welcome mat displayed across the entire screen when a page loads, or the user scrolls to the middle of the article, etc.
As well, Sumo lets you add a smart bar to your website displayed across the top or bottom of each page.
Oh, and this tool suite comes with social sharing icons you can add to the left side of your content, at the start and/or end of each post.
The other tool I use for conversions is Leadpages, which is a landing page builder, complete with forms and everything.
They have plenty of templates to choose from. All you need to do is drag, drop, click, and type. You get beautiful and functional landing pages without the need to hire a designer or a developer.
My email list and customer relationship management (CRM) system are my most important assets. Therefore, choosing the right provider is essential. I personally use Infusionsoft, but it’s a little pricey and there is a learning curve.
If you need something reliable and affordable that is also intuitive, extremely powerful, and has excellent live support, I recommend Constant Contact. Its drag-n-drop editor and tons of attractive templates make it ideal for the beginner to intermediate email marketers out there.
For something more robust, but still affordable, check out EngageBay. EngageBay is a powerful, all-in-one tool that integrates marketing, sales, and support automation features, and also offers free CRM. It is a single-point solution for growing startups and small businesses.
EngageBay is priced affordably, has a low learning curve, and has prompt and friendly support as well.
Currently, I don’t have my own eCommerce store. Any products I sell, I do via partners’ websites, such as Udemy.
However, I did my own research into eCommerce shopping carts, so I have a pretty good idea of what’s out there.
If you want to build an online store, my best recommendation is BigCommerce. Compared to other solutions, such as Shopify, Magento or WooCommerce, BigCommerce has better out-of-the-box functionality, does not require paid add-ons/apps, and doesn’t limit growth.
This means that a small business with zero revenue will have no problem scaling to a $100M+ using BigCommerce.
Also, unlike Shopify for example, BigCommerce does not charge additional transaction fees on top of credit card processing rates if customers use one of the 40+ payment gateways in 100+ countries. So, a store doing $5M per year, could save an additional $25,000 per year on credit card processing if they use BigCommerce. That’s $25,000 in pure profit!
I need presentation design pretty much every month. Either, I have a new ebook coming out, or I’m getting ready to speak at an even or record a video. And almost every time, I turn to these folks…
Designing a presentation to be engaging and persuasive can be tough. I want my slides to come across as professionally as I can, and that’s why I use 24Slides’ presentation services.
With 24Slides, I simply send the content of my slides via their online platform, and within 24-hours I get back a completely redesigned presentation.
I will provide design guidance like sending them my website, which then allows their designers to get inspiration on the styling. So far, it’s always been great.
For people who have teams producing many slides each month, they have a dedicated team solution, where they’ll train a team of designers in your branding and preferences to be on-call to support you with overnight presentation design, regardless of how many slides you may have.