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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things!

Margaret-Manning-400pxOne of the things that I found most frustrating as I was building Sixty and Me and my other online businesses was trying to figure out which tools and services were truly helpful. From choosing a hosting provider to hiring freelance writers, I spent 100’s of hours reading reviews, talking to friends and testing different options. Finally, after years of experimentation, I found a set of products that I can recommend. I hope this list saves you money, and more importantly, time.

Disclaimer: It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means that, if you purchase one of these services, I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Please keep in mind that I am recommending these products because I truly believe in them, not because of the small commission I will make if you buy something. In any case, I hope that you find these recommendations useful!

Hosting

As I mentioned in my article on blog SEO, if you want to get more organic (free) visitors, you need to make sure that your website is fast and reliable. I’ve tried multiple hosting companies over the last few years and I can tell you that there is a big difference in the level of service that they provide.

Blue HostBluehost: There are so many things to love about Bluehost. For starters, their customer service is approachable and competent and they make the process of setting up WordPress easy. All of my sites are on Bluehost and I highly recommend that you check them out. Don’t forget to click the chat bubble on their website if you have questions. They’re super friendly.

 

Blogging

WordPress: I use WordPress for all of my sites. Why? Because it is by far the easiest and most powerful free tool on the market for building a blog. I also love the fact that there are so many ways to customize your blog with themes and plugins. The only downside to WordPress was that it used to be hard to install all of the necessary files. But, hosting companies like Bluehost have made this MUCH easier!

Themeforest: All of my websites, including Profit After 50, use WordPress themes that I found on Themeforest. There are plenty of places to find themes, but, I love the selection that this site offers.

Shutterstock: This site is one of my secret weapons. You probably already know that visual content gets shared more and keeps people on your site longer. But, finding high-quality, licensed images isn’t always easy. For the last several years, I have been using Shutterstock for post featured images, quotes and much more. They also make it super easy to search for images, saving you time.

Keyword Research

Google Keyword Tool: As I mentioned in my blog SEO article, I use Google’s free keyword tool on a daily basis. If you’re going to spend 3-4 hours writing a blog post, why not make sure that you are writing about what people want to read about?

Market Samurai: This was one of the first tools that I used when I started getting into online marketing several years ago. What I find Market Samurai most useful for is finding out how much competition there is for certain keywords. The Google Keyword Planner shows advertising competition, while Market Samurai gives you a much more accurate picture of how difficult it will be to rank for certain terms.

Hiring Freelancers

Elance: This is my go-to resource for hiring freelance writers and developers. In fact, I am still working with some of the freelancers that I found on Elance 3 years ago. One of the keys to business success is learning how to build systems and hire other people to take over from you. Elance helps you to make this dream a reality.

Email Systems

Aweber: When I started Sixty and Me, I wanted to start an email list and newsletter as soon as possible. I looked into the various options and decided to go with Aweber. Over the course of a year, I built my list to over 5,000 contacts and didn’t experience a single problem. If you’re looking for a quick way to start building your customer list, Aweber is a great place to start.

Infusionsoft: Actually, putting Infusionsoft in the “email systems” category is a bit unfair. They are SO MUCH more than this! Infusionsoft is now at the very center of everything that I do with Sixty and Me. I use them to manage my contacts and emails. They handle my product orders and connect to my payment processor. They allow me to set up campaigns and build relationships with my customers. There are plenty of low-cost email systems out there that you can use to get started. But, when you are ready to get serious about selling your products, Infusionsoft offers an amazing set of integrated services.

Advertising

Google Adwords: Organic traffic is great when you can get it, but, if you want to scale your business you will almost certainly need to advertise. Google Adwords allows you to bid on keywords that your customers are searching for.

Facebook Advertising: Pay per click advertising has its place, but, what about if you want to advertise to a certain type of person, based on their demographics or interests? Facebook advertising is a great option for this. I was so impressed with Facebook’s advertising options that I even agreed to let them write a case study on Sixty and Me.

Google AdSense: Making a living by showing ads on your blog is almost certainly not going to make you rich. However, Google AdSense is still an important option for a few reasons. First, it gives new online business owners a way to start seeing at least some income, which can offset hosting and email costs. Second, and most important, it can give you a psychological boost to know that you are making money from your efforts.

Books

The 4-Hour Workweek: I still remember the day that I started reading Tim Ferriss’ book. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this one book changed the direction of my life. I didn’t quit my job right away, but, the seed had been planted. Now, several years later, I can’t imagine working for someone else, ever again.

The E-Myth Revisited: This is a “must read” book for anyone starting a business today. The first edition was published several decades ago, but, the core principles in the book are as true today as they were then. Buy this book and read it twice.

Audible.com: With so many things on my plate, it seems like I never have time to sit down and read a book anymore. That’s why I love audio books from Audible.com. Whether I’m at the gym, going for a walk, or on the train to a new exotic location, I always have my iPhone filled with amazing stories to listen to.

Video Production

Call Recorder for Skype: I use Call Recorder for the Sixty and Me Show. What I like most about this program is the ability to easily do split-screen recordings, which works amazingly for interviews.

Animoto: This video service is great for creating sharp-looking video intros and animated slide shows. I started using them this year and I’ve been really impressed with how simple their system is to use.

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