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The question from clients that I probably hear the most:

"what tool would you recommend for (insert whatever problem here)?"

In the 10+ years that I've been working online, I've found some great tools and services to help me to be more productive, host and run websites, and enjoy my free time. Here are a few of the tools and products that I totally love.

Everything listed here has genuinely proved valuable to me. If something outlives it's usefulness to me or declines in quality, it won't be on this list any longer. If you've checked this page in the past, you might notice that my hosting recommendation has changed more than once. I won't bash my old hosts too much but if I can't use them then my clients can't use them. It doesn't matter how good their affiliate program happens to be.

Some of the things here are free or have a free or sometimes trial version available and others require an investment. The term investment is key. You should plan on getting more of something (like time or money) or less of something (like stress) when you invest in a tool. I don't list anything here that has turned out to be more trouble than it's worth.

Before signing up for any of these services or buying any tools that I know and trust, here's an important disclosure:

I have an affiliate connection with some of the products I recommend. This means that if you click on the link here and purchase the item or sign up for a service, I may receive a small affiliate commission. If you're adamant that you absolutely don't want a single penny to go into my pocket because of my recommendation, then just go directly to the website of the tool you like and sign up there. Problem solved.

Please only buy a product after you decide that it would help you to achieve your goals. You absolutely should never reach past your budget.

WordPress Hosting

SiteGround

What cinches the deal with SiteGround is their truly awesome customer support. I've gone through more than a dozen different hosting companies over the last 10+ years. I recently started using SiteGround and the improvement has been amazing! They've been consistent with their service and offer a range of of WordPress hosting packages starting at $3.95/month for their StartUp account.

All their packages also come with premium support. No more "upgraded support" packages like some other webhosts offer. When I've needed customer service or tech support, their representatives have always been helpful and courteous. I can't recommend them enough.

Plans start at $3.95/month
Host with SiteGround

Competitor Research

SEMrush

Spy on your competition! See what's working for them and what isn't. SEMrush gives you a detailed report on their organic and paid traffic, online advertising strategies and budget, keywords, and so much more. Their free option is more information than most people know how to process. The Pro plan is a little pricey if you're just curious. For the more serious among us, it's a great value at $699.40 per year. It's worth every bit of its cost and gives you access to their best features.

Free with pro options available
Visit SEMrush

Speed Up Your Website

CloudFlare

CloudFlare's content delivery network (CDN) will make your website load super fast. Setting up the CDN is easy and can be done in less than 15 minutes. For most blogs and smaller websites the free option is the way to go. Larger sites will want to pay for CloudFlare's enterprise features

Free with premium options available
Visit CloudFlare

GTmetrix

GTmetrix gives you the page load speed of your website using the two industry standards: Google PageSpeed and Yahoo's YSlow. Alongside your site's scores, GTmetrix provides actionable advice for improving your loading times. If you're using WordPress, GTmetrix will also advise you to use a few specific plugins to speed up your site.

Free with pro options available
Visit GTmetrix

Email Marketing and Newsletters

ConvertKit

After you get to the limits of MailChimp, ConvertKit is the next level. Create responsive opt-in forms that look great on desktops and mobile devices, build drip mail systems, create great email courses for your readers, and automate your email marketing to recover sales that would have been lost. ConvertKit is one of the greatest values out there.

Starts at $29 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers
Visit ConvertKit

Mailchimp

As a rule, when you're just starting out you should keep your overhead low. Rushing out and signing up for a half-dozen premium services and buying a bunch of software is a recipe for budget failure. What are you really doing with all those services anyway?

With a free account up to 2,000 subscribers, Mailchimp is a fantastic starter service to manage your email marketing. They've even recently added some basic automation features to their free account. I still use it for some projects.

Free account up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails
Sign up for Mailchimp

Mindfulness and Relaxation

Calm

Take a few deep breaths and remember that you and your body are at the heart of everything you do. The benefits of a regular meditation practice are far more numerous than simply peace of mind or increased productivity. Stress, whatever it's source, damages our outlook on life, our personal relationships, and our bodies.

If you're not already taking a few minutes a day for yourself, I highly recommend that you start. And if you are already, then take a few more. 🙂 Calm has created a great app for iPhone and Android that will get you started. Their guided meditation programs and background soundtracks create an immersive experience that will help you turn down the static in your head.

There are plenty of other meditation apps out there like Headspace and 10% Happier. Both of these two are great options as well. I'm also looking forward to Sam Harris' new app. I'll be trying it when his team releases the Android beta version.

Free with paid programs available
Download Calm

Education

Audible

The foundation to future success is constant learning. I had the good fortune to get a very good university education. However, the education from the books that I've read has truly been world class.

The only way to make it even better is by listening to those books! That's working smarter and not harder. Audible has over 180,000 titles in many genres. With and apps for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, you can take them everywhere.

Free 30 day trial, then starting at $14.95 per month
Get Audible

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