For some reason, I adore behind the scenes round-ups of the tools and programs and services people use to make their livelihoods work. Thus, I rounded up my own list to share with you! When in doubt, assume I’ve tried 3-7 versions of a thing before settling on the thing I’m recommending. Brand new additions to the tech team are *not* included, as they haven’t been time-tested and I don’t want to steer you wrong.
Free programs and services
For writing: Open Office
When I’m drafting blog posts, working on anything business-related, or editing for ghostwriting clients, you’ll find me typing away in Open Office. Much like Microsoft Word, this software is free and does everything I need on ye olde MacBook. (Sometimes I even downgrade and use TextEdit because I’m so committed to being distraction-free.)
For recording interviews: Zencastr
You can record up to 8 hours a month FREE with this bad boy, which saves the audio directly to the computers of the people having a conversation, then uploads and syncs it after the fact automatically! No more of that weird Skype-is-failing noise ever again! (Hear this program in use with this Kim Anami interview.)
For e-mail: Gmail
I love G-mail, adore all its features, and prefer to keep it simple.
For surveys: Google Docs
Google Docs is really easy to use for creating and keeping client surveys. I used to pay $39 a month for this service from Constant Contact, but Google Docs does the same thing for $0.00.
For stock photography: Unsplash
If I need a landscape photo or a hipster-friendly image for any reason, Unsplash helps me out at no cost.
For blogging: WordPress
This platform allows a world of design, templates, plug-ins, and technical goodness to live on top of it. It’s one of the world’s best free things.
For page design in WordPress: Elementor
This breathwork teaser (save 25% on classes for being on board before launch!) was whipped up with ease in under 30 minutes using a free plugin. Insane, no?
For keeping all my files in one place in the cloud: Dropbox
We both know those files aren’t organized, but they’re all there! That counts for something, right?
Steer Your Ship peeps can meet up and talk in a Mighty Network without having to dodge clickbait and political headlines! Huzah!
YAH I’m embarrassed, but I tried amping it up and making it more complicated and ‘going pro,’ and either way I got the same number of e-mails, comments, and downloads per episode, so I went with the way that feels most natural to me. I also use…my phone’s built-in mic with the Voice Memo app that comes standard on every iPhone.
To further this confession: there are canned wine spritzers in my refrigerator at this moment. YOU WILL NEVER BE FANCIER THAN ME.
For delivering my Fuck Yah Club goodies to peeps: a password-protected WordPress page.
Again, SO FANCY. If you haven’t yet gotten access to all my book excerpts and two free sessions from M-School, my magic school for entrepreneurs, now is the time!
For eliminating repetitive tasks and connecting bits and bobs automatically: Zapier
If you’re like, HOW WILL I POSSIBLY GET X TO TALK TO Y WITHOUT TEDIOUSLY DOING THIS JOB MANUALLY EVERY DAMN DAY — Zapier probably has the answer. It connects apps, where apps are your teaching platform, your shopping cart, your e-mail list, and/or your social media accounts. I use it to automatically connect those who purchase a class through Samcart (like M-School) with their Teachable login information.
Worth-every-penny programs and services
For $3 a month — THREE DOLLARS A MONTH — I get amazing flight deals to locations around the world. This service has saved me over $800 on tickets this year alone.
For e-mail: Convertkit
Pricing varies greatly depending on the size of your list, so you only pay for what you need. ConvertKit is also the only company I know of that will magically and wonderfully MIGRATE YOUR LIST for you, thus eliminating 84% of the dread associated with the techy side of having a list in the first place. My open rate has skyrocketed since I switched e-mail companies, and it also plays nicely with SamCart and Teachable.
Related: 15 minutes to an e-mail list of your own.
For selling: SamCart
::cue angelic voices and unicorns::
I switched to SamCart when my other shopping cart shit the bed and lost me about $13,000 in sales. The e-mails were going out, all NOW IS YOUR LAST CHANCE and registration is closing, and people were clicking, and the cart was all, NOPE I’M NOT WORKING.
I’m not gonna say this will take your business to the next level, ’cause we know that shit doesn’t exist, but it will take you to the Stop Beating Yourself About the Head Because Shopping Carts are So Complicated realm. Which is nice.
SamCart allows me to have one-time and recurring products for sale, is downright beautiful — no really, look at this checkout page for Introverts at Work — and lets me see who’s abandoned their cart to send follow-up nudges to those peeps. It’s easy to set up and costs either $99 or $199 a month, depending on how many features you require.
For connecting with peeps live: Crowdcast
This monthly subscription allows me to hold Q&A calls, lectures, and live presentations (i.e. webinars) with just a few clicks. It’s stream-lined, simple to use, and has all sorts of lovely features built right in so that you can get peeps to attend with automated e-mail reminders, then follow up with the recording and a buy-some-stuff-now call to action after your event. Simple, lovely, and $49 a month.
This one *is* new, so take with a grain of salt. I had Instant Teleseminar for a bunch of years and only made the switch when I fell in love. Failed to meet my standards in between making the jump: Zoom, Google+, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live.
For understanding WTF is going on with my web traffic and stats: GoSquared
I know that Google Analytics is free, but DAMN is it ugly and clunky. (Totally discussed at length in this interview with Alison Monday, my behind-the-scenes tech helper person.) GoSquared helps me see where my traffic is coming from, where it’s sticking around, and which articles are the most popular. (This article is still the most viewed of my entire website.)
For submitting my work to literary publications and contests: Literistic
These lovely humans scour the internet for upcoming literary deadlines, then share a reasonable number of places to submit each month without being overwhelming. IT’S A GODSEND. There’s a free version, but the premium version is longer and well worth the additional few bucks.
For keeping my shit together: Breathwork
This simple exercise, completed once a week for about an hour, has kept my emotional foundation from crumbling in the face of my two dearest friends’ simultaneous divorces, a dear one’s mounting financial debt, the Trump administration’s daily insanity, and a frustrating business challenge or seven that’s gone down this year.
I’m a certified breathworker releasing classes and 1-on-1’s soon, click here to be notified when they’re available!
For hosting WordPress without fear of gremlins eating my website: Flywheel
Dedicated WordPress hosting, automatic backups, and killer customer service for $28 a month. Since I make my living exclusively from my website, thias is my payment for peace of mind.
For backing up every single file on my computer: BackBlaze
$5 a month to back up my hard drive, which gives me the ability to both sleep at night and restore my every file within a few hours should disaster strike? Yes, please!
For completing follow-up via e-mail: Boomerang
I use the Boomerang app for Gmail to both schedule messages in the future (of *course* I remembered to ask about that very specific thing 30 days from now!) and for keeping my inbox clear of client back and forth. When a message boomerangs into my inbox, it gets my attention and I follow up with the human on the other end, easy peasy. This rings in at $4.99 a month.
There are free ways to publish and host your podcast, but this $9-per-month solution keeps That’s What She Said online, on time, and uploaded to the iTunes podcast app like magic.
For class teaching: Teachable
Should you enroll in Ballsy or in M-School, you’ll quickly find yourself using the Teachable interface. It’s clean, intuitive, and allows for the clear organization of content at a reasonable $39 a month.
For bookkeeping: Outright
This online software keeps my accountant from breathing down my neck — but because it’s online and attached to my bank account, it automatically updates most expenses. It automatically labels recurring fees after you’ve labeled them the first time, so it “learns” as time goes on. $9.99 a month. (Also it’s been bought by Go Daddy, so it’s in this awkward phase where it’s The Service Formerly Known as Outright, like when Prince was The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.)
For scheduling Instagram so that it’s not exclusively photos of my dog: Tailwind
Since Instagram is mobile-only and I write exclusively on my laptop, not my phone, I schedule posts that make reference to business in any capacity. Tailwind helps me do that with hashtag searches and all the bells and whistles you can imagine. $9.99 a month.
For sorting photos quickly: Photo Mechanic
This one-trick pony loads, categorizes, and renames photos in a snap. I use it to cull and rename files. One $150 purchase and you’re saved from slow-loading Adobe options forever.
For sales pages and opt-ins: WordPress and these Bluchic templates
Um, holy shit guys, you don’t need to pay $xxx a month for opt-in pages! If you’ve got a WordPress theme and a few minutes to spare, you can make gorgeous pages like this one for Introverts at Work and this one for Calling to the Deep with a one-time purchase of $67. This breathwork page was also created with the same template! HUZAH!
For snail mail: Hello Happiness Card Co.
I have Josh over at Hello Happiness make me custom cards full of swears, then send them with tiny glitter packets and confetti to all over the globe. (The postal services worldwide means sometimes they take months to arrive, but that has nothing to do with Josh.) If you want his positive and good stuff, boom. If you want the secret swears and dirty stuff, EVEN BETTER. From $4.
For all your photo editing and graphic design needs: Photoshop
I still have a copy of Photoshop on my laptop from before it went all monthly subscription, and I’ll run that program into the ground. No shame in my photo game!
Alicia Bruce, Steer Your Ship alumni and artist extraordinaire, keeps my headshots updated annually and is responsible for the vast majority of images you see on this very website. She’s basically a miracle worker and will squeal with delight if you suggest anything even remotely interesting for your photo shoot!