DO MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE

Running a business efficiently requires that you invest in technology that saves you time and money, and makes your life easier (so you can do more of what you love instead of getting lost in administrivia). Below are some resources we use and love. (You can also check out the books that have informed the way we think and do things here.)

Software and Apps

ACTIVE CAMPAIGN

This automation software offers incredible functionality for a small investment of less than $9 / month to start. It enables you to communicate with you audience enmasse and on a regular basis while keeping it personal!  With forms you place on landing pages, you can build your subscriber list, and then stay-top-of-mind with email marketing, newsletters, and marketing automation. Should you require assistance, you have responsive chat and email support at your fingertips and you can even have up to 3 users at this “Lite” Level.

I’ve used this platform for all of the above features! What I have found incredibly valuable is the automation settings that are included and the reporting features that provide you with deeper insights than just your top-level analytics. For example, you can get notified when a contact visits your website and thus monitor behavior and engagement, and create a more personalized experience.

The feature I like best is the visual mapping, the level of personalization possible, its ease of use, and the built-in options that are above and beyond what I’ve seen from other platforms.

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WEBINAR KIT

If you want to serve webinars on-demand (or pre-recorded content that your audience gets to consume when they’re ready – this platform is the right one to get it done. Why? Because it is a one-time small investment and it has everything you need!

Easily create webinar funnels and add your own branding. Plus: It’s super-easy to use, even for begginning marketers, and built for mobile devices! Even more important:  You get analytics so you can tweak your content. I love it for its simplicity, functionality and price, and it integrates with marketing automation platforms, such as ActiveCampaign (which I also love).

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MIGHTYTEXT

“Texting” is ubiquitous, and I find that I can type so much faster than using my smartphone to hunt-and-peck.

With this app, I can send and respond to text messages right from my PC. If a message contains links, I can simply browse to the target by clicking on it. Best of all, I can sync and easily download images I have taken with my smartphone to my PC (and then upload them to social media, if I want).

This app has been a true time-saver for me.

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ZOOM

Having been a fan of video meetings for a while and having worked with other platforms, I can confidently say, with Zoom the video and audio quality is tremendously superior when compared to others.  Not only is Zoom device- and operating system-agnostic, it can also serve as a voice-only conferencing platform. Other reasons I like Zoom include the ability to break participants into groups and have them be able to talk to one another in “breakout rooms.” When scheduling a meeting for which you want participants to register, Zoom automagically creates a registration page that includes calendar item downloads for the registrants!

Zoom offers so many administrative options to tweak your and your audience’s experiences that it is impossible to list them here. Suffice it to say, I would highly recommend Zoom if you use video to communicate with your audience.

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APPYPIE CONNECT

AppyPie Connect allows you to connect two platforms to build smooth workflows.  For example, I use it to connect my payment platform (Paypal) with my marketing automation platform (ActiveCampaign), so that a successful sales transaction initiates a confirmation email to the buyer that provides the details and/or access to the product.

The reason I chose this app is that current subscription levels on the other apps I was using didn’t include the functionality I was looking for – and to upgrade to the next level didn’t make much sense at that point. So AppyPieConnect offered the right solution at the right time. And that is just one example; it seems the options are endless!

Yes, AppyPie Connect has a well-known direct competitor, but it’s less expensive, and customer support is more responsive and customer-centric.  At a cost of less than $10 / month and the variety and number of apps already included, this was an ideal option for me. (And, it’s worth mentioning, they are adding apps on a daily basis and upon request!

And, did I mention, they’re customer-centric! Should you choose to setup an account with AppyPie Connect, tell them I sent you

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DUBSADO

This is an all-in-one back-office platform for consultants (or contractors) of all types.

Once you’ve set it up to fit your brand, you can use it to capture leads with forms, onboard your clients with workflow automation (with contracts and precomposed emails), connect your calendar to offer available times in your schedule, manage and organize your projects and clients, set up and track your offer packages, categorize your income and setup taxes. 

Because it has so much to offer, it seems a bit overwhelming at first, but there is also a vast knowledge base of how-to videos and excellent customer services, should you have additional questions.

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12MIN

12Min provides summaries – narrated as well as printed – of books in all genres. This allows me to listen to the audio version of a book before deciding whether to buy it or not. (It has already happened a number of times that I found the summaries so interesting that I felt compelled to get the full version of several books to delve deeper into a subject.) It’s also great to be able to listen to books that have been on my shelf for a while, for little reminder of the key take-aways.

When you first set the app up on your phone, you select all the genres of interest to you. Every morning you are then invited to listen to a book that might be of interest to you. Of course, you can also forego the suggestion and make your own selection if you’re in the mood for something else. Here, too, I found myself listening to some suggested summaries of books I would probably not have chosen myself, only to find some surprising nuggests of knowledge or wisdom.

I’m a big fan of books; heck, I have so many I think I could open a library! But, truth be told, not all books live up to expectations. So, when I found this  app, it was perfect! Now I get to listen to the highlights of a book before I decide to purchase the full version.

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10to8

this scheduling software is useful when you want to allow folks to book appointments with you through links you provide on your website, emails, signature block, you name it.  The app syncs with your calendar and sends SMS reminder messages for appointments. 

The best part is that the free version comes with a built-in option to accept payment (via Stripe) before an appointment can be scheduled, if that is what you want. If you want to accept payment via PayPal(R) then you need to upgrade to the Basic version, but even that is less than $10 per month when you opt for the annual plan (which also allows you to customise the branding for your booking pages.

Bonus: When you use the button below, you also get 1 month free of the Basic plan, after you try it for free for 30 days.

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Hardware

BLUE YETI MICROPHONE

The best microphone – by far – in my opinion (based on my experience, and the huge number of people who agree, judging by the number of reviews and ratings on amazon: 19,187 ratings as of the date of this writing)!

It is a USB connection, which makes it super-simple to set-up. It has 4 different pick-up patterns, as well as headphone output and volume control, and an on/off button.  You can choose can choose between silver, black or blue color, and it comes with an adjustable stand. 

The downside is also what is so great for: It is super-sensitive on the pick-up – which means all noises register… On the other hand, since I installed it, no-one has complained about me sounding muffled…, and when I record video, my voice is recorded super-clearly.

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SMALL LED RING LIGHT

Good lighting is crucial when you’re on camera, live or recording yourself. When I was exploring light rings for that purpose, I selected this one, because of its ratings, price, and different light options: 10 brightness levels, and 3 light modes, from white, warm yellow, and warm white.

It comes with two tripods: one for the ring itself, the other to clip-mount a smartphone. A 360-degree swivel ball mount is also included, and the ring is USB-powered for convenience. 

Since my office has a window on one side of me, I have found that the different options to adjust the ring light have allowed me to balance the light in accordance with what the outside brightness is for the given moment.

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SABRENT 60W 10-PORT USB 3.0 HUB

Seemingly everything that can be plugged in around my desk has a USB connection cable. Since there are only so many USB ports on my computer, I needed to get a HUB to accommodate the demand.

I chose this one, because it is highly rated on amazon (88,884 ratings as of this writing), and it has 10 ports: 7 USB and 3 smart charging ports. The USB ports provide data transfer speeds up to 5Gbps, and the smart charing ports deliver current speeds up to 2.4 amps per port (which I interpret as “fast charging”). Being that the hub is powered means that the connected devices continue charging, even when my PC is off.

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LOGITECH HD WEBCAM C-525

With video conferencing here to stay, I needed a webcam that delivered a crisper picture. This one fit the bill.

The camera itself is a USB device, so you just plug it in. It has a base that enables you to sit it on top of your PC or Laptop monitor or another base, so you can have it at an angle you prefer. While the lens head itself swivels on the base, the real adjustments are made in the software for the campera. There you can make tweaks to suit your needs for lighting, color, contrast, angle, and zoom…

I’m very happy with this camera, and so are many others, based on 2,222 reviews as of this writing and an overall 4.4 stars rating.

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