Recommended Tools & Apps

This page collects together the tools, apps and services I heartily recommend.

I use ALL of the services listed in my own business.

Click on any of the links below to learn more about each resource featured and to get started.

Please Note: Some (but not all) of the links shared are affiliate links which means I’ll get paid for purchases made through the links shown.

Page Builder & Course Platform for WordPress

Thrive Suite

The Thrive Suite is what powers all my sites, courses, lead pages and quizzes. I’ve used Thrive since 2017 and it keeps getting better each year. With Thrive Theme Builder you can create a custom look and layout for your site with a simple step by step wizard. If you ever want to change the colours or fonts across your site you just go through the wizard again and the site wide changes are instant. With Thrive Apprentice you can create courses, membership sites or single page products - again in just a few clicks. Then there’s the core element, Thrive Architect, which will allow you to use ready-made drag and drop design ‘blocks’, change them how you want, build a page from scratch or use any combination of the two.

What I like the most about Thrive is that it works for those just starting out with the ready made templates and design elements. But it also works for the advanced user who wants to tweak and edit specific elements they way they want.

Tool Tip #1 I’ve only mentioned a few of the tools in Thrive Suite above. There are also tools to create lead pages and funnels, A/B split testing, Customer Comments, Quizes and limited time offers amongst others.
Tool Tip #2 Thrive membership comes with their Thrive University included which has a range of courses to help you build and use each element. But for step by step training and ongoing support for using Thrive I recommend Doug at Convology.com. He offers some quite brilliant step by step courses on using Thrive as well as courses on other core tools such as Surecart and Bunnynet and also has a membership which gives you access to his ongoing issue busting answers that save days.

Email Service Provider

Active Campaign

Having a service that delivers your emails to new and future customers, leads and those that want to receive your regular updates is one of THE most important investments you’ll make for your online business. You really need a service that focuses on this business area exclusively as deliverability, reputation with the likes of Google, and the ability to flex with your needs can all make or break your business long term.

After using other vendors in the past (Aweber from 2004 to 2019) I now use Active Campaign for all my core email communications. Things I love about it are that it’s regularly improved, has drag and drop design for the emails themselves as well as automated communications campaigns. Plus it integrates with all the major tools and services as a prime SAAS solution.

Tool Tip #1 The pricing of Active Campaign suits new business owners through to the very largest as it is on a sliding scale. This makes the cost to access their services more affordable for those starting out and trying to limit their overheads. Active Campaign can grow as your business grows and is simple to set up and use for automations, broadcasts and onboarding sequences.

Thrivecart

Cart & Payment Platform

Thrivecart

Thrivecart is my shopping cart and sales processor of choice for all my products, courses and membership sites. It offers a choice of pre-built but fully editable checkout pages, upsell and down sell funnels and full and easy integration with Thrive Suite (and other site builder solutions).

With Thrivecart you can design your own shopping cart page AND embed it on a page of your own site so you can provide your customers with the on brand experience you want to give them.

I use Thrivecart across all my products and services and I highly recommend it.

Tool Tip #1 Thrivecart has a Professional plan upgrade. This is more than worth the price as it lets you use a branded url so your customers are unaware they are even using another service AND also includes a full Affiliate platform so you can recruit and get others to sell your products for you.

Hosting

WPX

I've used four different hosts in the 20 plus years I’ve had websites and I can easily say that none of them have offered the reliability and in particular customer support that WPX offer for standard WordPress website hosting. Their support is exceptional and every time I’ve approached them I’ve had online chat conversations that have resolved my questions within minutes.

As I’m not a server and hosting expert it’s great that they even do changes to things like DNS records so there’s no risk of me breaking anything! They offer free site migrations, fast servers, daily and on demand backups and a very user friendly site management interface.

If you’d like a host that provides all the help and support you need, is reliable and easy to use then WPX is a great choice.

Tool Tip #1 They also plough their profits into supporting Dogs that need love and help through their own non-profit Every Dog Matters charity.

Video and Audio

Descript

Descript is the tool that powers all of my audio and video recording and editing (plus captions, transcripts and audiograms too). I’ve used a variety of tools such as Camtasia in the past, but Descript is the next generation of video and audio editing and now my firm favourite. It's a powerful but REALLY easy to use tool that anyone can master.

The power of Descript lies in how it revolutionises the editing process. If you can edit the text of a document or social post then you can now edit audio and video too! Editing in Descript is based around editing the on screen transcript text of your audio or video. You edit out a word in the text and the audio and video get edited too.

Whether you’re tweaking an interview for a podcast or creating a captivating tutorial or YouTube video, Descript has all the tools you need to make your work look and sound professional.

I like this tool so much I even got the owner’s permission to use their brand in a training product name – Eze Descript (coming soon!).

Tool Tip #1 Descript offers up to two hours of output a month for free so you can try it out before you decide to buy anything.

Video and Audio

Hello Audio

Hello Audio is an audio production tool that helps you easily create, edit and publish private audio files via all the popular podcast apps. This means you can take your digital audio content such as your lessons, tutorials, Q&A sessions, coaching calls and more and turn them into a private podcast feed that only your students can access. With multiple options to listen to your content, this makes it easier for your students to access and consume your wise words, easing their path to success.

I use Hello Audio to create audio lessons, Q&A replays and exclusive podcast content that only my students can listen to.

Tool Tip #1 Hello Audio also provides a public podcast option so you can use it for your public broadcasts as well as those just for your students.

Video and Audio

Presto Player

Presto Player is the brandable audio and video player tool I use to display videos and audios across the articles and pages of my sites. I use Presto these days after many years as a Vimeo user.

Switching to Presto player was an easy choice as it has some really useful features such as muted preview, player branding included and calls to action. But the key reason was cost. Presto offers monthly, annual and lifetime pricing AND doesn’t charge for video storing and streaming allowing you to make use of much more cost effective solutions such as Bunny (see below).

Tool Tip #1 Every video and audio player I’ve come across either doesn’t allow own branding or requires you to buy their most expensive plan to have such a facility. Presto lets you brand your player to match your site and brand as a standard and included basic core feature.

File Storage and Streaming

Bunny.Net

Over time the cost of cloud storage and delivery services have fallen, dropped, decreased and got cheaper – and yet most ‘all inclusive’ options such as Vimeo either haven’t passed these savings on or worse have increased their prices!

If you use any form of hosting for your site then storing your large assets such as PDF’s, Audio files, Videos and Images will quickly build up and most hosts charge extra for this. With Bunny net you can store and stream your files securely from their globally based content delivery network servers for literally pennies per month.

I use Bunny to host and stream all my product files, lesson videos and audio files.

Tool Tip #1 Most services like Amazon S3 are certainly low cost but also very difficult to setup and use (I used S3 for over a decade and never really got to grips with how to manage my files). Bunny.net however is both low cost AND simple to set up and use.

Design & Artwork

99 Designs

I’ve used 99 Designs since 2008 for logo creation on my own projects such as the Eze logo and colour scheme you can see across this site. I’ve also used their service for a number of my client logo/brand projects.

99 Designs uses a unique crowd based design process. So you get a huge variety of ideas to consider from lots of designers which gives you a LOT of choice and creativity for your small investment. This is so refreshing compared to the old fashioned logo design approach where all too often you’re stuck with a couple of designs from a single designer.

99Designs is an excellent and easy service to use for brand and logo creation.

Tool Tip #1 I always use the Logo only option to keep costs down. You can always buy extra options later.
Tool Tip #2 You can use their design brief questionnaire without buying anything and this is a really good tool to help you shape your ideas for your brand, logo and colour scheme.

Design & Artwork

Canva

Canva has grown amazingly since I signed up when it was first launched in 2013. Back then as a non US business they used a famous US business personality (Guy Kawasaki) to act as an ambassador to build up interest in their new service. Now they're a global business loved by users and hated by many traditional ‘professional’ graphic designers as they’re SO good.

With Canva I use their core design and layout tools all the time as this is where they are at their best.

Tool Tip #1 I’m not a Canva expert, just an advanced user so if you need help with how to use Canva and store all your designs then I can thoroughly recommend the amazing Brenda Cadman who is a recognised (and qualified) expert in all things Canva.
Tool Tip #2 One of the brilliant features of Canva is that you can use templates created by others and then easily add your content and edit the template colours and images to suit your own brand. The templates I use all the time are from Sal and her excellent Template Tribe site. I love her designs as they are all different and use a variety of fonts and colours but most of all are designed in a way to make them easy to edit to become your own in Canva.

Design & Artwork

Smart Mockups

The Smart Mockups tool provides a huge array of different templates that you can use to display your choice of artwork on screens, in picture frames or on clothing. You can mock up anything just by uploading an image which then displays inside all the templates available.

There is a free account to try it out but the limitation to the image quality means you can’t use anything you create anywhere you want to look your best. I use Smart Mockups as they offer so many options you can create artwork that is different to the mock ups from say Canva so you can stand out. You can see this tool in action on the course sales pages alongside the course module descriptions on this very site.

Tool Tip #1 It pays to experiment with different size images and to download and test an image before you go ahead and create multiple pieces of artwork. This will ensure your images look their best and will save you unnecessary re-work time.
Tool Tip #2 This is a tool I’d only suggest you buy when your business is up and running and making you money simply on cost grounds as its simple to use. In the early days you could use the mockups provided in Canva and in Canva templates to get you up and running.
Tool Tip #3 You can use the free account option to test out your logo or podcast artwork! Seeing your artwork in real use in a wide range of situations can help you see if your new logo works or needs more work as it only looks good on a webpage full size.

Software and Tool Marketplace

App Sumo

App Sumo is a now legendary site where new or relaunched software, apps and tools are released at huge discounts so the vendor can get feedback and reviews from the expert community there.

Since 2012 I’ve picked up some now mainstream products at incredible lifetime price offers of around $60 each. That’s - $60 for lifetime use, not monthly!

As you’ll hear me say a lot – “beware running up overheads when your income stream from your business is zero and even more so when your business is doing well. Things can change overnight in the real world”. So using carefully selected lifetime deals from App Sumo can be a brilliant way to get the tools you need with no ongoing overhead costs. As an example - I bought one offer I still use every week for a lifetime price of what that tool now costs for a single month (think honey!)

Tool Tip #1 The hardest thing about App Sumo is not buying all the amazing lifetime offers so I recommend you follow their new releases but have a shopping list of ‘tools actually required today’ before browsing!

Outsourcing

Fiverr

I use Fiverr for lots of small one-off projects for both my own projects and brand and also those of my clients. Like all outsourcing sites, Fiverr has some excellent specialists that you can use to deliver core elements of any project.

In the past I’ve used specialists on Fiverr to create logos, animations, legal documents, voiceovers, audio clips and hand drawn illustrations. For example, the Elephas logo and the animation at the end of all our videos was done via a Fiverr expert.

Tool Tip #1 Provided you do your research, give a clear brief and provide rapid feedback and direction you can ensure success every time.  
Tool Tip #2 Look out for my tip videos on Outsourcing and my full course, Successful Outsourcing Secrets on how to outsource safely and successfully.

Social Media Scheduling

SocialBee

SocialBee helps you manage your social media accounts to create, schedule, publish, and analyse your posts. Out of all the 10+ social media tools and apps I've tested and used over the years for content planning, posting and analytics, SocialBee has proved bar far the best value for money. Another impressive aspect of SocialBee is that they keep improving and extending the functionality to add to the features available.

With SocialBee you can draft, design, schedule and post to Facebook Pages and Groups, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram and Twitter.

Tool Tip #1 Social Bee includes Canva within the app so you can design and post in one place without having to switch between the two or do endless copying and pasting.

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