This post was originally published on January 31, 2014. I've made some updates. Some tools that I use have changed.
We all use tools. In this post, I'm going to share with you the tools that I have in my information marketing toolbox. First, we start with the essentials.
Google. Yes, all of them 🙂
Well, at least it feels that way. It all starts with Gmail, the must-have tool for the information marketer! It's how I keep in touch, from anywhere and from any computer, even mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. I get ALL of my mail through Gmail.
Now, I'm not going to go through the setup of Gmail. That's a course all by itself. I will tell you this: It's easy enough to set up everything.
Next up: My browser is Chrome, another Google product. I used to use Firefox extensively but made the move (almost exclusively) to Chrome about a year ago. It's awesome. There's only one thing I need it to do that Firefox does better, and that's download multiple files at once from the same web page.
The next Google resource I use multiple times a day is Google+, the “new-ish” social network from Google. Well, it's way more than a social network. It's really the new Google ecosystem and if you want to leverage Google's offerings to the utmost, you'll want to get on board with Google+. (When you have a moment, please put me in your circles.)
When I want to talk with somebody, either through chat, phone, or video conferencing, my tool of choice is Google Hangouts. If I want to run a webinar, I will use Google Hangouts, too. They're far better than GoToWebinar, Any Meeting, or Meeting Burner (though I do like this one a lot). The reason: It's super easy to use, integrates seamlessly through Google+, and ties directly to YouTube (no renderings!). Plus, if you want to run an unlimited webinar, you can have as many participants as you want; there are no limits.
I wouldn't think of being on a direct broadband connection without a good firewall and anti-virus product, and for that, I use ZoneAlarm. Get the free version. I've used it on and off the past decade (or maybe 2!) and have recently returned to using it (I replaced Comodo, which grew bloated and crappy). It's easy to set up (install it and you're done) and just works!
My next “must have” internet marketing tool is Dropbox. God, I love this tool! It allows you to store things on your hard drive and in the cloud, simultaneously, and “syncs up” with all your other devices. So, all you need is one dropbox and you can access all of your important files from any device.
Plus, you can share files with other people. It's a definite tool to put in your information marketing toolset.
UPDATE: I am moving most of my business-critical stuff to Google Drive, for a couple reasons:
It's cheaper and ties in with all the other Google properties.
Now, if you're serious about your internet marketing business, you will want your own web site and an email list manager. I cannot stress this enough: You need to own your own web site. Don't take chances with “free” web sites. Your 3rd-party host, like Blogger.com, can shut down your site without notice and you're up Sh#^ Creek without a paddle. Plus, they just aren't as flexible as self-hosted sites. As for email marketing, you absolutely need an email list management system. You want to capture the email addresses of your visitors, prospects, and customers so that you can push marketing materials to them and keep them up to date on what you're doing that can help them.
I run everything on WordPress. You'll need a web host. Then, simply install it and configure it. I offer a full course on how to do that here.
The best theme framework is Genesis, and you get that through StudioPress.
Here's a great beginner guide on using StudioPress themes:
Last, but not least (possible “most”), I use Spartan Multiclip for my clipboard. I use this utility dozens of times per day. In my humble yet accurate opinion, this is a must-have tool.
The tools and resources above are essential tools for internet marketing, in my humble opinion. You really could start and successfully run a full-time information marketing business with those tools above.
The tools below are “nice to haves” or are only necessary if you want to create information products.
CCleaner – This tool will help you clean your PC of junk. In fact, it used to be called “Crap Cleaner” but they cleaned up their name so they could sell it to corporate accounts. Don't worry – there is a free version for personal use.
Hootsuite – I use this daily, but you may not need it. It makes posting to multiple social media accounts quick and simple. It also lets you schedule social media posts far out into the future, if that's your thing. It has a free version as well as a paid version; I use the paid version. I recommend starting with the free version for assessment. If you need more capabilities, then upgrade.
Skype – Lots of people still don't use Google Hang Outs, so if you want to talk to them over your PC, Skype is the default. I don't really like it but a lot of my contacts use it, so I have to. One day they'll switch over…
Camtasia – If you make how-to videos, like I do, Camtasia is absolutely necessary. It does “screen casting” so that your customer can watch “over your shoulder” while you show him how to do something on his PC. It's pricey, at $299 but after a few how-to video training sales, you will have paid for it.
UPDATE: Hybrid Connect is no longer. It was replaced by the aforementioned Thrive Leads. Remember the importance of email marketing? Well, this WordPress plugin will help you build opt-in forms quite easily. They're beautiful, easy to make, and easy to insert on your site. A nice-looking optin form will get you more subscribers.
A word on “Office suites” – You don't need one, but they are nice to have. I use Microsoft Office, but it's really expensive. You can use Google, again, to create Word-like documents, as well as spreadsheets and presentations. It's all part of “Google Drive”. The nice thing is, everything is saved in the cloud.
You may be wondering what I use for image manipulation. My sister-in-law used to work for Adobe, so that's where I got all my stuff 🙂 However, I rarely use it. The last graphics editor I used was the online tool called Pixlr. It's Photoshop without the price tag.
UPDATE: My sister-in-law no longer works for Adobe. But her fiance does 🙂 Still, I broke down and got a subscription to Creative Suite. I still don't use it often, but when I need to create a quick graphic or modify one from a client, I use it.
Now, I use a ton more tools for my information marketing business. But the ones above are what I use most frequently, and I wouldn't think of doing business without the essential tools up top.
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I've been an avid user of Dropbox for years. Yesterday, I transitioned most of my critical, “gotta have” data to Google Drive. Why? Is Dropbox no longer in my tool set?
Let me tell you a story. It all started when Dropbox appointed former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to their board. In case you don't remember, Rice was in the Bush administration, where they took torture and covert surveillance to new levels. Now, I know businesses have a right to hire or appoint whomever they want, and I also know that Google hasn't been a privacy champion, either.
I also agree with the author of the article I linked to above: Rice may have been chosen because she has unique experience with such things. I'm not bashing her here. I'll leave that for Facebook…
But just like security firms hiring hackers who've broken the law in the past, Dropbox may be doing something similar. No matter.
Her appointment got me to thinking. And looking for alternatives. I looked at a number of competing services and couldn't find anything better than Dropbox. But Google Drive is right on par and it's much cheaper.
So, in a way, yes, I chose price over country. There, I said it.
The good stuff about Google Drive?
So, I've switched most of the data I frequently need.
BUT, I will still use Dropbox for those files I need synchronized pronto – I have a copy/paste utility that I use on several computers and I put my “clips” on Dropbox. With Drive, it never worked properly because of the slow file syncing issue. And another reason I will continue to use Dropbox, if only sparingly:
It's more widely used, especially by my customers. So when we need to share files, it's plain easier to deal with Dropbox than Drive.
I'm not bashing Dropbox here; I'm just telling you why I chose Drive over Dropbox for my important stuff.
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Now, full disclosure:
Seriously, they've been working on voice recognition for decades and Dragon has always been at the bleeding edge. I'm looking forward to talking my blog posts.
Better yet, I can do videos now and this will do the transcription for me, on the fly. Nothing could be better than that.
(just not today)
Yes, it's time for another tool post. Like I've said many times, I'm a “systems guy” – I like setting up step-by-step systems that anybody can follow and edit to suit their needs. And as time moves forward and needs change, so, too, does my selection of tools.
We're talking everything from internet marketing software to desktop and mobile apps, as well as a host of other tools like “go-to” websites and people, books, and other cool stuff that can make you more productive and/or efficient.
Well, this post will not happen today. And it won't happen all at once, either. Most likely, this will be a series of posts spread over time. But stay tuned. I think you'll like what you see.