Digital Business Tools

I often get asked about the business tools we use for developing, marketing and running websites for The Modern Entrepreneur and our clients. On this page you will find a list of some of my favourite products and services. There is a mixture of both free and premium resources (some with an affiliate relationship where I receive a commission) but everything on this page is here because I use it myself or recommend and use it with clients.

In the constantly evolving world of business technology things are always changing and evolving so I will try to keep this site as updated as possible. I would recommend you bookmark this page for future reference and check back in every now and then for new tools.

Advertising & Affiliate Marketing Networks

  • ClickBank – Affiliate network that specialises in digital products. Widely used and recommended as both a merchant and affiliate.
  • Google Ads (Previously Google Adwords) – The premier PPC (Pay Per Click) search and display advertising network from Google. You can pay to place your adverts in Google's search results and across thier network of sites offering AdSense placements.
  • Google AdSense – This is the display network from Google where you can get paid to host adverts on your website.
  • ShareASale – Network that host individual affiliate programs for merchants, features lots of popular software merchants.
  • MaxBounty – CPA Network with reliable payments and a variety of offers.

Analytics Tools 

  • Google Analytics – Fully featured website tracking solution and pretty much the standard for analytics. https://google.com/analytics/
  • Matomo (Formerly Piwik) – Open source analytics solution where you own your data. Good if you don’t want Google harvesting your data or consider them a competitor.
  • Google UTM Builder – Used for tagging links to your site based on their traffic source, campaigns and creative. Useful in combination with Google Analytics and Google AdWords. If you're a big user if UTMs then you may also want to investigate UTM.io which offers a handy Chrome extension with Templates and a more efficient way of managing many tagged links.

Domain Names & Hosting

  • Digital Ocean – Allows you to quickly deploy a VPS. If you don't know what that means, you probably don't need it.
  • Kinsta – Managed WordPress host from the UK with Google Cloud Platform servers around the globe available across all of their plans. They also have many great articles on WordPress optimisation on their blog.
  • Namecheap (Top Recommendation for Domains) – Popular domain registrar with a wide variety of extensions available, great support, and good security and privacy options.
  • SiteGround (Best Shared Hosting) – The best WordPress shared hosting you can get. PCI Compliant if you are running an ECommerce site, WordPress specific performance optimisations, and integrated with powerful tools such as Lets Encrypt (Free SSL), Cloudflare and Git.
  • WP Engine (Our Current Host) – The largest Managed WordPress host with servers of Amazon AWS and Google Cloud Platform. You also get free access to the suite of Genesis Themes by StudioPress.

Email Marketing & Marketing Automation

  • ActiveCampaign – Email marketing and marketing automation software for small to medium business users. Powerful solution that competes with software that retails at many times the price.
  • Aweber – Simple list based email marketing solution that is widely supported by third party software. We used this before converting to ActiveCampaign.
  • Mailchimp – Free list based email marketing software with some basic automation features. Slightly more restrictive policies than Aweber so if you plan on affiliate marketing you'll probably want to avoid Mailchimp.
  • OptinMonster – Used to be a WordPress plugin however now managed via an online dashboard for creating high converting optin forms without a designer. Also useful for managing multiple clients email optins through a single dashboard.

Business Management Tools

  • 1Password – Increase your security by setting unique and complex passwords for every service you use and then access everything using this password manager and a single master password that you control.
  • Asana – Project Management platform with task lists, kanban boards and team collaboration tools. Offers a very powerful free plan.
  • Dropbox – Allows you to easily shares files between devices and keep a backup of your files in the cloud.
  • FreeAgent – Simple tool that takes the hassle out invoicing and filing your taxes. Create invoices with embedded payment buttons, collect all of your receipts and complete your tax return in a few clicks at the end of the year.
  • Remember The Milk – Simple task management software. Definitely not business class but I’ve tried so many others and keep coming back. The SmartAdd feature makes adding tasks so much quicker than other complex multistep solutions I’ve used.
  • Toggl – Simple time tracking tool that comes as a chrome extension, desktop app, and mobile app. Also produces simple PDF reports and integrates with several third party services.
  • Trello – Card/Board based tool that can be used for project management and collaboration.
  • Xero – Cloud based accounting software and online bookkeeping tool that integrates with a ton of other services and is also supported by many partnered accountants.
  • Zapier – Connects many popular and lesser used online services APIs. Great for automating simple data processing tasks that you may have previously outsourced and connecting APIs between software that doesn’t speak to each other as standard.

Development Tools

  • Browser Shots – If you develop themes or websites this will provide you with screenshots of how your site looks across tons of different devices and browsers.
  • Cross Browser Testing – Premium cross browser testing that uses real devices and actually lets you interact with your site on other devices for more comprehensive testing.
  • Generate WP – Fill in the blanks code generation for common WordPress snippets such as creating custom post types and taxonomies.
  • Schema.org JSON-LD Generator – Tool that allows you to create structured data snippets that you can drop into your site pages rather than marking up specific elements on your web pages. Structured data can increase machine understanding of your site,  get your content highlighted in search results and increase both reach and click throughs.
  • Local By Flywheel – Creates a local WordPress Development environment on your computer so you can build your site as if it were on the web, but only launch it when it is ready for prime time. It can also be used for testing large changes to your site by making an offline clone.
  • WordPress – The best CMS (Content Management System) for the web. Started as a blogging platform but now powers 27% of the web including membership sites, eCommerce stores, media sites, software services, and of course it hasn’t forgotten blogs.
  • WP CLI – This is one for the hardcore WordPress developers. It provides a full command line interface for WordPress so you can automate and schedule key WordPress workflows.

Content Marketing Tools

  • CoSchedule – Cloud based marketing calendar that integrates with WordPress and your social media profiles so you can keep on top of your content creation and distribution. It also provides embedded optimisation tips and training and can integrate with several other popular content creation and analytics tools.
  • Camtasia – Software suite for recording your screen and producing fully edited videos. Great for creating software demonstrations and tutorials, marketing content and even entire video courses.
  • SnagIt – Camtasia’s little brother. Allows you to create and annotate screenshots and short videos.
  • Buffer – Allows you to create and queue social media posts in bulk for multiple networks and have them spread out automatically to a schedule that is optimised for your followers.
  • Vimeo Pro – Allows you to host videos with professional privacy protection and engagement statistics. Useful for video content that you plan on primarily sharing through your website or even plan on selling access to.
  • Wistia – Video host with advanced analytics, lead generation and marketing features. It’s not cheap but if video is one of your primary sales levers then it can be worth the investment.
  • YouTube – The best website to host your videos for free. It also happens to have the largest distribution and biggest chance of your content going viral so if your video content is designed to be shared then this is where it should live.

Marketplaces

  • Codeable – WordPress services marketplace that only accepts the top 2% of WordPress developers and offer website projects from as low as $70 per hour.
  • Fiverr – The ultimate bargain marketplace where everything starts at $5. There are lots of quirky and unique offerings that you can use to promote your business and you can also hire multiple designers for less than the price of one standard design for idea generation and placeholder graphics whilst developing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
  • Flippa – If you need to buy or sell a website or domain this is one of the easiest places to start. You can “flip” sites you’ve developed and are no longer interested in for a profit and also find the occasional great deal on profit generating and/or well ranked websites to add to your portfolio.
  • UpWork (Formerly Elance) – There are many freelancing platforms but this is the one I’ve had most experience with. it’s not necessarily better or worse than the other but it is where I got my start freelancing for others and I’ve also used it with mixed success to outsource development, content creation and general virtual assistant tasks.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Tools

  • Google Search Console – Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, GSC provide information on how your site is being index and accessed with Google. Also provides alerts for changes to your website that may negatively impact your ranking.
  • Market Samurai Keyword Research – Keyword research is not as easily quantifiable in the modern marketing environment, however it is still as important as ever to understand what your audience are searching for and the competition you face when optimising your web pages for a specific search phrase. Market Samurai helps you drill down on the key metrics that you need to consider for on-page SEO and AdWords planning.
  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider – Desktop software solution which crawls your website for broken links, redirects, duplicate content, page titles, meta data and many  other elements that can impact SEO. Useful for conducting SEO audits and analysing sites for errors after major structural changes. Free for up to 500 scanned URLs.
  • SEMRush – This is a powerful search engine marketing and competitive analysis tool. It can provide you with data on exactly where your site is ranking for different keywords and where there are opportunities to improve. It also lets you know which sites are linking to your competitors, details on their PPC campaigns and social media analytics and campaign from competitors for benchmarking and research.
  • SERPBook – This is a low cost pure rank tracking tool that you can use to receive daily reports on your where your sites rank for specific keywords. You can also use this to deliver automated branded reports to your clients if you sell SEO services.

WordPress Plugins

  • Elementor – The most popular (and powerful) page building tool for WordPress. Elementor is awesome for creating everything from quick landing pages through to entire websites.
  • Memberium for ActiveCampaign – If you want to create a membership site with WordPress and use ActiveCampaign for marketing automation then this is the most deeply integrated membership plugin you will find. It is extremely powerful and right now whilst it is in beta you can get a license that is free for life which makes it a no-brainer.
  • Pretty Link Pro – I recently switched to this as it came highly recommended and the previous solution I was using began causing database errors. It enables you to cloak affiliate links, create redirections, embed marketing tags in your links and many other things that are useful for affiliate marketing and link tracking in general.
  • Toolset – Powerful developer toolkit for creating custom post types, custom fields and non-standard WordPress content.
  • Thrive Leads – You can use this to create attractive email optin forms, two-step optins and more with advanced targeting options that are deeply integrated with WordPress for super-targeted lead generation.
  • WP Rocket – The easiest caching plugin for speeding up WordPress. Works well with SiteGround's built in caching and Cloudflare’s CDN if you use either of those services.
  • Wishlist Member – If you don’t use ActiveCampaign and want to create a membership site with WordPress then this is my next favourite plugin. I’ve been using it for years to create everything from full membership and video training sites to product delivery areas.
  • WooCommerce – Free plugin that turns WordPress into an eCommerce platform. Whether you  plan on building an eCommerce powerhouse or plan on selling just a few products then you should consider WooCommerce. The company was bought and is now run by Automattic (creators of WordPress) so you can be sure it will remain supported and widely integrated by third party solutions.
  • Yoast SEO – There is both a free and premium version of this plugin and I install one on of the two on every WordPress site I want people to find. This is the most powerful tool for managing your meta data, integrating with key tools such as Google Search Console and creating XML sitemaps to help search engines index your site.
  • Zero BS CRM – Customer Relationship Management tool that lives inside your WordPress dashboard. Keeps notes on your customers, import your WooCommerce orders, run metrics reports and launch marketing and outreach campaigns based on the data.

 

WordPress Themes

  • OptimizePress – If you need to create simple internet marketing long-form sales letters or email marketing squeeze pages and aren’t too worried about creating a full authority site, this theme is full of templates that should serve your marketing needs. There are also built in templates for membership sites and a library of marketing graphics available to craft your message.
  • StudioPress – The Genesis Framework from StudioPress is one of the best theme options on the market for adhering to accessibility, security and WordPress development standards. You simply install the Genesis Framework as a parent theme for the core functionality and then you can install a child theme on top that customises your design. StudioPress offer the Genesis framework and over 40 child themes to purchase individually or in a single package saving over $1,000. This is my go-to selection of themes for building both my own and client websites.
  • ThemeForest – If you need something a little different and can’t afford to customise a child theme then there are thousands of themes available from independent authors at ThemForest. Unfortunately as there is such a varied talent base inside the marketplace; themes don’t always follow WordPress best practices and customisable themes often come with bloated scripts that can slow down your site. Make sure you pay attention to reviews of the themes you consider purchasing.
  • Underscores – If you are a developer (or are hiring one) and want theme created without using a framework then this starter theme from several WordPress and several other open source contributors adheres to modern standards, includes the basis of all the key templates you’ll need ,and is a huge headstart on building from scratch.

Other Website Tools

  • Facebook Debugger – If you have optimised Open Graph data for your content but it isn’t showing up when you share your content on Facebook or other social media sites, you can use this tool to validate the metadata and also refresh the Facebook cache as you make changes.
  • Google AMP Validator – AMP is a new standard from Google for building mobile optimised pages. You can use this tool to verify that your site complies with AMP requirements.
  • Google Site Testing – If you want a general review of how your site holds up in terms of performance and mobile optimisation, this tool from Google can provide you with an automated report including suggestions for potential improvements.
  • Uptime Monitoring – When you’ve invested in building the perfect site, you’ll want to make sure that your audience can actually get to to it. Status Cake is a great tool with free and premium options for keeping track of your sites uptime. It can alert you if your site goes down and you can also keep track of performance over time in case your site or your host starts underperforming.

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