One of the questions I get asked the very most – is some version of “what is the best (fill in the blank) to use…?
What email system to use? What shopping cart are you using? What should I use to create an opt in page? What about a blogpost?
And… really… there is no right answer for everyone. I can’t tell you what is right for you right here in this blog post – what I can do is tell you what we personally use to run our business. The tools I use might be a good fit for you too.
Tools we use to run our website
This site is hosted with HostGator. HostGator has been a bit more of a bare bones experience. Something like MomWebs provides more white glove level support – but for just a little more per month. Our domains are registered with GoDaddy and HostGator.
We host our site on WordPress. Although many of our clients have had great luck with Wix or SquareSpace, I’ve just always used WordPress. It has an almost infinite functionality through plugins and integrates with everything under the sun. AND there is a giant universe of freelancers and/or virtual assistants who can help you build and manage a WordPress site.
We use ThriveThemes. Over the past year or so, ThriveThemes has seriously upped their game for ease of use and the ability to create nice landing and sales pages. The yearly membership gets you access to all of their themes plus other goodies like a countdown timer, a quiz funnel, etc.
One of my favorite part of ThriveThemes is Thrive Architect which is a drag and drop creation tool and ThriveLeads. ThriveLeads is one of the most advanced opt in systems. It does cool things like let you show different calls to action depending on whether someone is already a subscriber or not. (It is also one of the least expensive systems – you can get Thrive Leads on its own for just $67 (but buying the entire Thrive membership is a great deal since you get access to everything… including WordPress themes.
Explainer videos, normally in animated form, have become very popular over the last couple of years, especially when it comes to explaining the benefits and/or features of digital products, especially apps. If explainer videos are what you need then there is software out there that will let you create them yourself – we have used a couple of different ones in the past – but they take a fair bit of learning and a lot of work. Better to let someone do them for you – its worth the expense, honestly. We recommend Zaxaa, who have done all the explainer videos for LinkedSelling, so we know their work. Check out their website here.
We tried just about every email marketing autoresponder system out there a few years ago, and decided that Active Campaign provided the very best value for the money. In addition to simply sending emails, Active Campaign has a CRM component and allows you to create advanced sequences and funnels with great integration with payment, accounting and other systems.
For people who are just starting out, I’ve been recommending Mail Chimp which now includes tagging and automation in their free basic plan for up to 500 subscribers. I’ve also heard really good things about MailerLite which includes advanced automations and drag and drop landing pages – and is free up to 1000 subscribers and only $10 a month up to 2500.
Shopping Cart – How I Collect Money
At the end of the day, you need to collect money in order to have a business. And, having a way to do that virtually is going to save you a LOT of time and money. Most people start out with a simple paypal button – but once you get more than a few people paying you, you are going to want something that easily connects to your email list and referral program.
My highest recommendation for a shopping cart system goes to ThriveCart. (No relation to Thrive Themes). We’ve been using it here at Magical Marketing Machine for the past few years and no other shopping cart is as feature-filled or easy to use. It easily integrates with Active Campaign and many membership platforms, it has an affiliate program, coupons, upsells, cart abandonment tagging. Plus, the pages were designed for maximum conversion. It handles state tax and VAT really well.
Even better, while most shopping carts charge you a fee *on top* of the fee your merchant account charges – ThriveCart does not.
I have been really excited about the cart for a long time – but I had no idea how to recommend it to you because (like gmail) it has been in limited beta forever. They’ve opened the private beta back up again to friend of their customers. You can now buy a lifetime membership for a fraction of the cost of other big shopping carts ( which charge $97+ a month). Check that out here. (If you decide to buy – I’ll help you get your email autoresponder connected and first product set up.)
Finally, one of the biggest challenges I’ve had ramping up my coaching program is getting a booking system that worked well with multiple calendars. I finally found something that worked really well – Book Like A Boss.
Not only can you easily book appointments, Book LIke a Boss hooks up to Zoom and creates meetings for all of your appointments. You can also hook it up to paypal to allow people to pay for sessions when booking.
Need some help deciding what are best tools for your business? Schedule a Clarity Call with me by clicking the following link – Schedule
If you want something quick and easy – and only costs $3 forever – try pick.co
My name is Meredith Eisenberg - the solo biz hacker - I love to scour the internet for new strategies and ideas - and then experiment to see which ideas really work. For the past 8 years, I’ve been helping clients overcome the overwhelm, stop spinning their wheels and create 6 figure and multiple 6 figure businesses based on their expertise. I love to learn and hold multiple online marketing certifications my most recent is the internationally recognized Online Marketing Manager certification.
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