Recommended Services & Resources
There's no shortage of fantastic tech products and services out there. The challenge is sorting through all of them to find the one that actually fits your needs.
Here's my list of "go-to" places for the products and services I've found to be the best-in-class. As always, caveat emptor, "let the buyer beware" - be sure to review the plans, pricing and terms before making your purchase.
Pick your category:
**Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links below are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive a commission. You don't pay any more to use my links, and sometime you can pay less if there's a promotion. I only recommend products or services I have used personally and believe will add value to others. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”**
Email, Calendar, Contacts
There are lots of free or included email services out there, but in my opinion you should pay for business email. This is because it is such a critical part of your business, and $50 a year is a reasonable price for reliability and peace-of-mind. My personal choice is Google Apps for Business due to the price ($50/user/year) and the value of getting all of Google's services with your brand. If you are a hard-core Outlook user, you would be better off going with Microsoft Office 365. You can get Exchange Online for $48/year/user which covers email, calendar and contacts.
I use and recommend NameCheap for domains. I previously used Go Daddy because they included additional products and services with a domain purchase. They no longer have this and no longer offer the best prices, so I switched.
The most important thing when choosing a web host is to know what you need. While that can be a little hard when confronted with a list of numbers and features like bandwidth, here’s the cut to the chase.
SiteGround - Shared Hosting+
If you are just starting out and looking for the best value, want to have the flexibility to have multiple sites, multiple platforms and like using CPanel, then I highly recommend SiteGround. I use them and recommend them to my clients.
WPEngine - WordPress Managed Hosting
If you are using WordPress and are looking for a fully managed host, then WPEngine is the way to go. They do cost more than typical shared hosting, but that is because they are set up from day 1 to be able to handle lots of traffic, give you kick-butt support and keep your site running smoothly.
For a full function, do-almost-anything website, there is no better choice than WordPress. Every shared hosting account I know of already comes with the WordPress application, you just have to install it. There is a fair amount to learn to get started, so if you aren’t all that interested in learning the platform, you can have someone build it for you. Be aware that while WordPress is an extremely powerful and flexible platform, it will require regular upkeep and maintenance.
If you want something simple with great design and easy to maintain on your own, then check out Weebly. You can build a free site to start, but for around $4 a month you can remove their branding and get a few more features.
BackupBuddy from iThemes
There are lots of options out there for backing up your WordPress site. For me, the restoring features are just as important as the backup features, and that is why I use BackupBuddy from iThemes.
There are many choices for Email Marketing services, and the right choice for you depends on what you need.
I'm personally using ActiveCampaign now because it is amazing for automation and connects to a ton of other services. It's affordable to get started at $9/mo, and has just about every feature I want. For businesses that are in growth mode, this is an indispensable service.
I've found that the best all-around option for beginners or those in "bootstrap" mode is MailChimp. It is easy to use, offers an extremely robust feature-set and integrates with many other services.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Private Internet Access
A VPN connection protects your Internet traffic from prying eyes when using public WiFi. I prefer a VPN service that uses the built-in network connections of an operating system (thus will work with nearly any device), so I use Private Internet Access. It is $39.95 a year, which is less than $4 a month to keep your information safe while enjoying the convenience of being connected anywhere.
If you need a free password keeper, then LastPass is a phenomenal choice. It is free for use on a computer, but if you also want access to your passwords on your mobile devices, it will run you $12 a year. The other unique feature of LastPass is that you can share passwords with other LastPass users without revealing the password. Great for working with assistants and other contractors.
Booking meetings can be a huge time and energy drain. That's why so many people get their assistants to do it. Turns out, if you already have your calendar digitally (especially Google Calendar), then just let the robots do it for you.
Perhaps the kindest thing you can do for someone else is make it easy-button simple to schedule a meeting with you. Whether it is a podcast interview, free assessment or paid consultation, Acuity makes it so easy to keep control of your schedule while enabling others to schedule time with you.
Acuity connects to your Google calendar(s) and then allows you to select specific times and dates for your availability. There's a free level and paid levels if you want to also sell products or services that then can be scheduled with you.
If you are just getting started with online scheduling, YouCanBook.me has a fantastic free plan. It syncs to your calendar, enables you to set your available times and you can sell your products or services that need to be scheduled.
If you just want to kill the back and forth of emails to get a meeting scheduled, then check out Assistant.to. It is a Chrome extension that shows up in Gmail and enables you to add times to an email that are links. The recipient clicks the link to book the time. And, if a time slot gets booked before the recipient responds, that time slot is removed from the email.
If you have a Google account, and you probably do, then you already have 15GB of free storage with Google Drive. You just need to log into your Google account to set it up. To get the most out of it, install the Google Drive app on your computer. You can also use Google Docs with Google Drive, but even if you don't use their Office suite, you can use the Google Drive storage just like any other drive.
Windows Live OneDrive
Another full-featured and surprisingly cross-platform option is Windows Live OneDrive. OneDrive offers 15GB free and very reasonably priced plans. If you have Office 365 you get 1TB of storage space included with your subscription. Be sure to download and use the OneDrive app on your computer and mobile devices to access all the features.
Dropbox is the industry leader for online storage provider and I have used their service for years. You can get 2GB for free and can earn incrementally more storage. Their plans start at $9.99/mo for 1TB, so they aren’t the lowest cost provider, but they have great features and lots of integrations.
All of these cloud storage providers have apps for Android and iOS so you can access your files while on the go.
There are lots of options for online printers, but the best quality cards for the best price I've found are at Moo.com. Despite the funny name, these guys mean business delivering seriously awesome cards and other printed materials.
I needed accounting software that would easily allow me to create invoices, have clients pay online and do basic expense management. I found what I needed and more with FreshBooks. It is an online service that is free to get started, and has lots and lots of integrations. I recommend it because it is super easy to use and has all the features I need.
At some point, an Excel estimate is no longer compelling enough for potential clients to really understand the value your service can deliver. When I hit that point, I went looking for software that could help, and found there are lots of options out there. After initially using BidSketch, I settled on Quote Roller because it strikes the balance between great features for me and great usability for my clients.
Social Post Scheduling
This is my go-to scheduling tool for social posts because it is easy, intelligent, affordable and just works. You can queue up posts and they are sent out on a schedule.
It is important to share content that comes from other sources. Quuu makes that seriously simple by doing all the hard work for you and finding share-worthy content and putting in Buffer for you. It is a fantastic service that saves you tons of time and creates great value for your followers.