Here are some products and services that I use, trust and recommend. I hope that some of them can help you in your own business.
Note: Some of the links to the products and services below are affiliate links, which means if you purchase them, I may receive a referral fee. Rest assured that this fee never increases the cost to you, and that I only recommend products that I fully believe in.
Michelle Hunter Creative
Copywriting is hard, but it's probably the most important thing to get right in your marketing efforts. A beautiful website with the wrong words won't get you anywhere. I highly recommend Michelle as someone who can help you effectively communicate your value to your audience. She's organised, friendly, and efficient, and an absolute pleasure to work with. The copy she creates with you will be your voice -- only better! Do yourself and your business a favour, and contact Michelle. I'm not an affiliate, just a fan!
WP Engine or Kinsta
I used to recommend Siteground for hosting, however recent changes to their system have caused caching-related problems that lead to inconsistencies in user experience, such as users being denied access to pages they should have access to, or being redirected to the login page. AccessAlly (as well as other LMS and membership systems) have not been able to resolve these issues through Siteground support, and so Siteground is no longer a recommended hosting provider for use with membership or LMS sites.
To go along with WordPress, you’ll need a theme. I believe it’s always worth getting a premium theme; they tend to have better documentation, testing, support, and potential for customization.
I used to recommend the Headway theme, but since Summer 2016, the company has gotten into financial trouble, and is no longer actively supporting their theme. As a result, I’ve been on the hunt for a replacement. And I’ve found one: Beaver Builder!
This is a great theme for people who are looking for a highly customisable, well-supported, theme. It’s got an easy to use, drag and drop interface. Once big bonus that makes BeaverBuilder better than Divi and most of the other drag and drop theme builders out there, is that it doesn’t leave any nasty shortcodes behind if you ever decide to switch themes later. (But why would you?).
Backups: Save yourself some potential heartache and make sure your WordPress site is backed up! I use and recommend Backup Buddy from iThemes on my own site and my client sites. It’s saved my bacon on numerous occasions, and is the first plugin I install when I’m setting up a new site. Can’t. Live. Without.
The AccessAlly family of plugins
As a proud AccessAlly Certified Partner, I recommend all of the following plugins, created by Nathalie Lussier and Robin Li. These two care so much about creating the best products to serve their user community. You can always be sure that their plugins will be of high quality, with new features added regularly.
If you want a polite popup for your website (i.e., one that converts rather than annoying your visitors), and you want it to be easy to configure so that it looks professional, look no further than PopupAlly!
Building a Membership site? AccessAlly is hands-down the best membership plugin for you if you are using ONTRAPORT, Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, or ConvertKit. It’s packed with cool features, and easy to use. The Pro version of the plugin includes a rich set of gamification features that make your online courses and membership areas interactive. Visitors can track their progress through your content. Oh, and did I mention that you can now use this plugin to create simple quizzes, certificates, and social sharing? Get a 7-day free trial of AccessAlly here.
Need help implementing any of the above? I’m an AccessAlly Certified Partner. Contact me for a chat to see how I can help.
AccessAlly supports vimeo, Wistia, and YouTube for hosting your videos, and integrating with video progress objectives (i.e., progress objectives that are automatically checked off when someone watches your video). Of all of these solutions, I recommend vimeo. It hits the sweet spot, balancing reasonable pricing with a rich feature set.
Email Marketing & Lead Generation
ONTRAPORT is an all-in-one marketing automation solution. It houses your email system, your CRM database, your landing page builder, your marketing funnel manage, and more, all under one roof. It automates, personalizes, analyzes, and makes your toast for breakfast! (Okay, I’m kidding about the last one, but it does everything else!).
I love the way the interface lays out sequences in a logical, step-by-step fashion. ONTRAPORT is made for the way my brain works :-).
If you’re thinking of getting started with ONTRAPORT, make sure to contact me. As an ONTRAPORT Certified Consultant, I can help you find the right plan, and get you started with some onboarding services.
Freshbooks Accounting Software
I love, love, love my Freshbooks accounting software! My favourite feature is how it lets me track my time for each client project that I have on the go. It’s even got a timer that I can start when I’m working on a task. I press “play” to start, “pause” if I’m interrupted, and then I log the hours when the task is complete. I get to see a calendar of the hours that I’ve billed each day, shown in a one month view. There’s every kind of report you can imagine for keeping track of the money in your business. I use it to send out all my client invoices, too. Since I log my hours as I go, when I’m ready to bill, I can generate an invoice with one click of a button, and it pulls in all the unbilled hours I’ve logged for that client. Highly recommended! Give the free trial a go — you may just get hooked, like I did!
Website Analysis Tools
GTMetrix and Pingdom
Visitors will click away if your website does not load within a couple of seconds. Google is starting to tag web pages with a “SLOW” tag if they are slow to lead, which indicates that they will start to use page load speed as a ranking factor. Check the responsiveness of your own site with these free tools:
GTmetrix (checks website performance)
pingdom (checks page load time)
If you don’t know where your visitors are coming from, or what they’re doing on your website once they get there, then how can you improve? Get yourself signed up for Google Analytics and start tracking! It doesn’t cost anything, and you can learn a lot about your site.
Peek User Testing
Want to know what a real human being thinks of your website? Try peek. You can get a 5 minute video review of your website from a real person. And it’s free!
I recommend WordPress.org as the platform for creating your website. WordPress powers 30% of the Internet; that’s over 75 million websites! WordPress is extremely flexible, and comes with loads of great plugins (extra bits of pre-built functionality for your site), many of which are free. If you use WordPress, make sure to create a self-hosted WordPress.org site, as opposed to a WordPress.com one. Although WordPress.com offers free hosting, you end up with many restrictions and lots of advertising on your site in exchange. I think it’s far better to have control of your own website by using WordPress.org on your own host.