Have you ever wondered what the secret is behind an online business? (besides the awesome business owner hustling away behind the scenes!)
It is all about the tools, secret plugins and apps that we use to build an online business and make our lives easier.
And by tools, I mean the useful kind!
These tools are the very bones that help us cipher through all the data to find the silver lining around the clouds.
These are the tools that help us organise our time better so we can work on our business instead of in our business.
These are the tools that help us create masterpiece websites that lure customers and convert them.
These are the best online business tools that we love and recommend here at Business Jump:
Best Online Business Tools: Website / Theme
1. WordPress (Free one-click install with certain hosting packages) – We LOVE WordPress. It’s no secret. It is highly adaptive, there are endless themes you can add to give your website any look your little heart desires and there are plugins galore. And when it is the platform of choice for over 10% of the world’s websites, why wouldn’t you jump on the WordPress train.
2. ThemeForest – Our first choice for theme selection, there is a wide range of themes available and each one has been checked by Envato before being ranked. Our personal favourite is Primrose, it is clean, elegant and very easy to use. We highly recommend it for any first time WordPress website creator.
3. Elegant Themes – Another preferred theme library of ours and home of the most popular WordPress theme Divi. We are big fans of Divi over here at BJ HQ and you will see Divi pop up quite regularly on our new directory websites. Once you get to know it, you will love how easy it can be to build beautiful pages with each one different to the next.
4. Design Crowd – Have a ‘crowd’ literally design your logo and allow you to choose (and then pay) which one you like best. Pretty cool, huh! Even cooler is Design Crowd are offering a 20% discount for you right now. Click here to check it out.
Best Online Business Tools: Image Libraries
5. Stocksy – Another great resource library where you can use the images for personal use or commercial use (double check the licence just to be sure). Again, this is a paid service, but the quality is definitely there.
6. Pexels – A great free library where you can pick any image, download it for free and use it where ever you need. We tend to use the free libraries for blog images and content fillers on websites.
7. Pixabay – My personal favourite of the free libraries and the one I tend to gravitate to first when looking for a stock photo. I find the quality is pretty good for being free and you can use them anywhere.
8. Shutterstock – One of the most popular royalty free image libraries with the largest range and arguably some of the best quality photos. But you do pay a premium for this service, so make sure your blog is worthy of such royalty.
Best Online Business Tools: Hosting
9. SiteGround – This is our preferred hosting provider and one we use and recommend for all our clients. Their hosting rates are very competitive and their online support and service is great. With one-click WordPress install and a .com domain name included in the hosting packages, SiteGround are the hosting providers to go to.
10. Crazy Domains – We recommend Crazy Domains for all secondary domain purchases. Based right here in Australia, Crazy Domains are also very competitive in price and their easy to navigate control panel makes it easy to point domains to the SiteGround hosting account. We always recommend our clients purchase their .com.au domains through Crazy Domains.
Best Online Business Tools: E-mail / Marketing
11. Active Campaign – Here at BJ HQ, we use Active Campaign for both our newsletter mail outs as well as the automated e-mail funnel function. The service is reliable and you can create unlimited e-mail funnels within your account to go out to different mailing lists as well as set specific funnels for on-boarding new customers.
12. Mailchimp – Mailchimp is probably the most popular newsletter campaign service with it’s free service for mailing lists under 2000 subscribers. This generous limit makes Mailchimp the go to marketing platform for many small businesses. Their templates are easy to use and a drag and drop system makes it is very user friendly. Just be wary when using your gmail or hotmail accounts, Mailchimp prefers your newsletters be sent from your domain hosted e-mail address for spamming reasons.
13. Yesware – An e-mail tracking and scheduling program used by some of the biggest companies on the world. Automate e-mails and flag follow ups to improve productivity and efficiency.
14. Zapier – An amazing automation tool, Zapier moves all your important information between your web apps. For example, you receive an e-mail attachment in Gmail, link it to Dropbox and it will copy it into your Dropbox folder then alert you that you have an attachment.
15. Gleam – If you run competitions as part of your business to increase exposure or to celebrate an event, then you need to try Gleam. Not only does it help to keep all your entrants neatly in the one spot, you will also have the option to retain the e-mail addresses of the people who have entered your competition. So, your promotion all of a sudden serves 2 purposes, self promotion as well as building your mailing list so you can re-target those people again. And as it is a term and condition of entering your competition or giveaway, it is a genuine way to build your e-mail lists.
Best Online Business Tools: Plugins
16. Yoast SEO – This has to be one of the best kept secrets. If you are wanting your posts to rank in google and be geared for SEO, then this is the plugin you need. It is basically a dummies guide to SEO. It used traffic lights to tell you if you are on the right track or not. Green for good, red for bad and yellow for almost there. Follow the suggestions and the less red lights you have, the better your post will be for SEO.
17. PopupAlly – We use PopupAlly on all our websites. To some newsletter popus can be annoying, but stats show they are also a very effective way of building your subscriber list bu collecting e-mails. Make them catchy and give the customer something they just can’t refuse. Everyone loves a freebie or discount after all!
18. Updraft Plus – What is the point of spending endless hours on your website to only lose it in a 10 second system failure! I can’t even imagine how upsetting that would be. We install and use Updraft Plus on our websites and schedule daily website backups to Dropbox. That way, if the worst should happen, the most you will have lost is a days work. Updraft is a free plugin for WordPress and can be set up in a matter of minutes.
19. Product Vendors – Quite a few of our websites have been built on the Marketplace Model where vendors list their wares on your website and you as the website owner collects a commission for each sale. Akin to Etsy and Amazon. In order to set this up, you need a plugin that will allow for split payments and vendor logins. We have tried a couple and found Product Vendors to be the most rounded plugin with plenty of features and can be purchased for a one of payment of approx. $99.
20. Subscription – Another business model we love ant Business Jump is the directory set up where businesses pay a membership fee to list on your site while you the website owner promotes the site and stores to increase traffic. Again, this model revolves around a more complex payment set up in order to set recurring payments. We use Subscription on all our sites and we have found the features to be great and it is well supported.
21. Mailchimp For WordPress – A newsletter sign up area on your website is a must. You need a way to re-target your clients once they have left your website. We use Mailchimp to for our newsletter set ups as it integrates well with WordPress and as we said earlier, Mailchimp is a very popular marketing platform.
Best Online Business Tools: Graphics Art / Marketplaces
22. Pic Monkey – I personally love Pic Monkey. It is really easy to use and you can create professional looking graphics in just a few minutes. It allows you to touch up or edit existing photos or create a new graphic on a blank canvas. You can access most of their features for free or upgrade to their Royalty package, but to be honest, I have never needed to upgrade.
23. Canva – Another awesome free tool for creating professional graphics, flyers, newsletters and other designs. There are countless templates to choose from and it is super simple to use once you get the hang of it. You can even use it to start of your first eBook collection or printable downloads.
24. Creative Market – If you are looking for an image, background feature for your website or even a pre-made logo that won’t cost the earth, then Creative Market is the place to go. We use Creative Market to source exciting new fonts for logos and websites and with commercial licenses available, you can be sure you won’t get into any copyright trouble.
25. Etsy – Another marketplace we use for inspiration and even the odd supplier. It doesn’t seem to matter what you are looking for, you will probably find it on Etsy!
Best Online Business Tools: Admin
26. Calendly – Awesome for those businesses who have clients that need to book in a day and time for a call. Simply set your availability in Calendly and give them the link, even better, embed the click into an email funnel so clients can book themselves in and save all the time consuming back and forth.
27. Google Drive – We LOVE Google Drive. It helps keep Business Jump on top of files, websites and everything in between. With our team spread across Australia, we don’t have access to each others personal desk space, so our desks are in Drive. We keep the content for each business website we create in it’s own folder and then share the folder with the people who need access to it and then share it with the client when the reigns are ready to be handed over. You can access it on your desktop or mobile device and it seamlessly integrates and automatically updates, so no worries if you accidentally forget to hit save!
28. Asana – Yep, we are loving Asana as well. Similar to the above, with our team being spread far and wide, we needed a way to communicate without Facebook messaging every other minute. Think of Asana as one big to do list that everyone in your team can see. You can assign certain tasks to individuals and then you will be notified when they are done. You can even add notes and conversations onto tasks or projects so communicating is made super easy and transparent.
29. Grammarly – If you haven’t yet heard of Grammerly, have we got a new time saving tool for you! How many minutes or hours do you spend sitting there proof-reading your work only to miss simple grammatical errors anyway. Well, what if I was to tell you that Grammarly does it all for you! Yep, it will fix your grammar, add punctuation marks and even offer you better words to replace your existing ones. If you are writing blogs and eBooks, you might want to consider adding this to your repertoire. And it is free!
30. Evernote – Are you one of those people who has paper notes and post it notes all over your computer screen? Guilty here! Well, when they say there is an app for everything, there really is. Evernote is, well an app to store your notes. Whether they be written, drawn or to do lists, Evernote stores them all for you and integrates with all of your devices, so you will always have your notes wherever you go!
31. Freshbooks – We love Freshbooks because it integrates with Zapier meaning we can automate loads of little admin tasks. For example, we have setup a ‘zap’ so that when a new Business Jump client pays a deposit an invoice is automatically raised – without us having to do anything. This saves us approx 10 minutes per client and with Business Jump onboarding on average 10 – 15 clients per month that adds up to a few hours per month.
So there you have it, a list of our best kept secrets for the best online business tools to make your life easier.
Feel free to steal them as well and use them in your online business to kick-start your way to freedom and profit.