MY FAVORITE TOOLS TO JUMPSTART YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS.
Many of you know that I have been running an online business for 12 years. It started in 2008 when I launched my first online course teaching people how to run Facebook Ads. Since then, I’ve had over 100,000 students and clients in more than 40 countries worldwide. And along the way, I’ve learned some big lessons. From podcasting to webinars and online courses, building a truly diverse community is what I’m most proud of.
One of the things I’ve never done is let you all know which systems and tools I actually use to make this all happen.
Given the world's current state, I know many of you are trying to either (a) start an online business or (b) get the one you already have to start generating real revenue for you. So I thought I’d let you under the hood to tell you what I believe are the best platforms and products to use if you want to build a thriving, conscious, online business that helps you make an impact on the world (and gives you passive income) while you sleep.
Here's the table of contents:
- The Best Online Course Platform
- The Best Strategy for Launching an Online Course
- The Best Bookkeeping Service
- The Best way to Start Payroll
- The Best EVERYTHING for Podcasting (& Recording Guided Meditations)
- The Best way to get your Music on Spotify & Apple Music
- The Best Custom Email for your Business
These are all tools that I actively use to run my business.
The best part: it's much easier than you think.
And while I am using referral links for some of the items below, this is not a sponsored post - none of these companies have paid me or asked me to advertise their products. These are the products I use. Your use of the affiliate links below helps to support the many free programs and scholarships we provide to those in need.
Here's to your success.
I've researched and used pretty much every online course platform over the years, and Kajabi is - hands down - the best. It's emails, a custom membership site where your users can login using their own password, web building, affiliates, and the full front and backend all in one platform. The page you're looking at right now is on Kajabi, and so is the rest of my website and course platform.
Think of it like having Squarespace, Mailchimp, Wix, Constant Contact, and an online course builder all in one. The best part = they have the best customer support (24/7 live chat anyone?), and you can get two full weeks free to try it all out if you click on our special link above.
Anyone who's ever worked with me is going to hear me say the name, "Michelle." And that's because Michelle has been my go-to Digital Strategist for years. She's the #1 person I go to for advice on exactly how to build my audience, launch my online courses, create my landing pages, and understand what's new and "what's next" for online launches.
While Michelle isn't taking on 1-on-1 clients anymore, she's created this incredible program called Launch Brain which gives you a step-by-step strategy of every single thing you need to do and know to successfully launch a digital product, program, course, or membership site of any size or scale. She walks you step-by-step through the same exact spreadsheets we use to run my business, and the best part = when she updates the program, you will always be grandfathered in to every Launch Brain upgrade.
There's no point in having a great online platform if you don't know how to get people to buy your products. Michelle is the only person I trust.
When it comes to bookkeeping...I've tried everything. I've had private bookkeepers, CPAs, in-house accountants, and more - but Bench takes the cake. Bar none.
I'm busy. So what I need from a bookkeeper is someone who is going to be on my a$$, proactively asking me for what they need so that I feel like their service is worth my money. I don't want to be hunting down my bookkeeper or checking in on them. I want them checking in on me. I want it to feel like they're ahead of the game so that I know I'm supported. Bench does that. With a dedicated specialist on your account, they will even do "catch up" bookkeeping for all those months you haven't caught up with yet.
They work seamlessly with my private CPA, who does my taxes, and they even have their own tax solutions if you need them (I haven't tried that, though, but I would if I needed it!). No more waiting until the last second before taxes to drag through all your bank statements - they get it done for you every month, which makes it so easy to save, budget, and understand how much you actually spend and earn each month. At the end of last year, my taxes were done 3 MONTHS EARLY (for the first time ever!). Their team is responsive, pro-active, organized, and has the best customer support I've ever experienced from any company, ever. Period. They go above and beyond. And I don't say that lightly.
Anyone with a growing business will eventually hear these words: "you need to start doing payroll." 🤦🏾♂️ It's a gift and a curse. On the one hand, it means your business is growing. On the other hand, it feels so complicated if you've never done it before. I've tried different payroll companies over the years, and Gusto is the best, which is why I use it now. They are the Airbnb of payroll - making it easy, with a fun and fresh dashboard, and great customer service to walk you through the entire process. Plus, they're doing a special right now giving you a $100 Visa gift card if you sign up using my special link above.
If you're going to take your business to the next level, you're eventually gonna have to stop with the mindless bank transfers and start paying yourself through payroll. Gusto makes it easy.
Starting a podcast has been one of the most successful ways I've grown my audience. The Kingdom Podcast now has tens of thousands of listeners in countries all over the globe. And those same listeners turn into loyal customers and followers. People often ask me, "How do you start a podcast?" Whether you have a podcast already or want to get started for the first time, it doesn't have to be expensive to create a high-quality podcast if you know the right tools to use. Here are the best ones.
- Getting on Spotify & Apple Podcasts: Simplecast. I used to have Libsyn for hosting my podcast, but I ran for the door once I saw Simplecast's dashboard and metrics. Simplecast is the best and easiest platform to get your podcast on platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more, all with one click.
- Best Microphone: Blue Yeti. Want the upgrade pick? Try this version with a boom arm (that's what I use).
- Best Audio Editor: Audacity. It's free!
- Best How To Guide for Recording Audio Meditations: this guide by Minima Designs is awesome.
- Best for Recording Virtual Interviews: Audio Hijack. Recording podcast interviews online is the way it's done - especially during a pandemic. But recording interviews over Zoom won't give you the best quality. Audio Hijack will.
I remember when I put out my first album I was so confused. How do I get it on Spotify and iTunes? What about Apple Music? How do I make money from it? And how do I create a pre-order campaign? TuneCore makes it easy. They will automatically distribute your music to every single digital platform all at once, from Apple Music to Pandora to Shazam, and beyond. I've researched CD Baby, Distrokid, and many others, and TuneCore gives you the best bang for your buck and has one of the easiest platforms to use.
It's 2020. And your business does not look professional if your email address is [email protected] What you need is [email protected] You also shouldn't be mixing your personal email with your business email. Work-life balance is pretty much impossible that way.
Making this simple upgrade takes you from basic to serious quick. And it's easy.
Don't use the free email provided by your domain host like Godaddy. It's clunky and will often have you landing in people's spam folders. Gmail has it's own custom email platform called Google Workspace (formerly GSuite). It looks and works just like a normal Gmail account, except it's customized for your domain. Plus, you get all the features like Google Docs, Drive, Sheets, and Gmail, but all customized within your business - you can use it on your phone too. I've been using this for over 10 years, and it's still the best. If you're already using another service, they make it incredibly easy to switch.
I think that covers it! I'll be updating this page as I learn more business tools, but from the hours of research and trials and testing my team and I have done - these are the best. I wish I'd had a list like this when I was getting started! And I hope this list helps you step beyond your fear and finally start that business you've been waiting for, or take your current business to the next level.
We rise together.
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