The InfoHound Smarter Marketing

Favorite Tools

The InfoHound’s Favorite Tools, Apps, Gear for
Smarter Solopreneur Marketing

Here’s my list of resources and tools for smarter
info pro, solopreneur marketing

I get asked to provide recommendations in the following resources all the time: website tools, email marketing, graphics tools, photo + video (apps, software, gear, cameras), social media, and anything to help you build your presence and your audience. These are all reputable companies, and I have personally used many of them with great results. Some links may be affiliate links, which mean I earn a small % of the total (a little $$) if you decide that’s a great tool for you too. However, please do your own research by checking out their websites, reading other reviews, etc. as we all have different requirements for resources that we use.

Keep this page bookmarked because I am always trying out, testing, and playing with new tools, so more could make my faves list.

An * = tools, software, apps I liked so much I purchased a paid version

Tools for Communication

  • Zoom* I used the FREE (yes, truly free for one-to-one video calls of any length and hosting small groups up to 40 minutes) version of Zoom for nearly 2 years before switching to the paid version. Their entry paid level is still a steal at $15/mo. I do client calls, coaching calls, and even my monthly webinars all on my $15 plan. So easy to use! I can’t imagine running my business without Zoom now.
  • AnyMeeting – screen sharing, online conferencing tool that has a simple to use, free version. I’ve used this with some colleagues and on projects – especially when you decide last minute while on a confernce call that you need to share screens and don’t want to sign up for some service.
  • Webinar Ninja* – I bought the tool on a special deal from AppSumo, doubt I’d have paid full price. I like certain features, but admittedly it tends to get wonky and unstable – so that’s why I haven’t been using it lately for webinars. But I’m willing to give them another chance.
  • Boomerang – an email app/extension to add to any version of Gmail; lets you control when you send an email, have it resurface (boomerang) back in your inbox at a future date, or know when an email was opened.

Tools for Websites, Web Design

  • Bluehost* – yes, they’re one of the big names in hosting and owned by some conglomerate. That said, I’ve been with them 5+ years and not had any of the problems I sometimes hear complaints about. Never. Their site and cPanel are easy to use when you have to go to the backend. I like them better than several other big names.
  • iThemes* (the Builder framework)  I have had a developer’s license with iThemes since 2015, purchased the plugin packages, and been a member of their training program. They’ve always given me good support, offer tools I need, clean themes and code, so I’m a big fan. (yes, both of my business sites are running on iThemes)
  • Studio Press (i.e. Genesis framework) – very solid themes built on the Genesis framework, from the Copyblogger company. If I weren’t regularly using iThemes, this would be my top choice.
  • Elegant Themes – e.g. Divi; I hear and see soooo many online entrepreneurs using and loving Divi from Elegant Themes (seems like lots of mompreneurs, female solos in the coaching, lifestyle, health related services)
  • Woo Commerce
  • ShowThemes – these are themes specifically for events, meetings, conferences; a type of modular, building-block style framework; using this for library marketing conference I’m heavily involved with.

Tools for Graphics, Design

  • Canva, Canva for Work*  – I’ve been using Canva for years, since it was in beta. I’m one of first 30,000 users. I LOVE Canva and would be a literal Canvangelist if that becomes a thing.

    My Canva portfolio dashboard

  • PicMonkey – filters, photo editing tools, add text, create collages – like a suped-up Instagram for your computer.
  • Creative Market – sign up for their emails, get notice of the weekly freebies (fonts, photo packs, vectors or illustrations, web themes, mockups – any and all things necessary for making materials look better)
  • Hungry JPEG – similar to Creative Market, a site that sells every kind of design goodies. Illustrations, fonts, files to use in Photoshop or Illustrator (or other programs), sometimes photos, etc.  They give away fonts each week, and sell deeply discounted bundles every month.
  • Photoshop*, Lightroom* – I’ve been a serious amateur photographer since I was a kid. I go through phases, and cameras, over the years, but for the past 5+ I’ve been back seriously into my pics. So while I LOVE Canva (and I still have practically no clue what I’m doing in PS), sometimes you need more resources. And I do all my organizing and processing of photos in Lightroom. I have the Creative Cloud subscription.
  • Gimp – (GNU Image Manipulation Project) free, open-source alternative to PhotoshopPhoto editing in GIMP.
  • Inkscape – free, open-source alternative to Photoshop and Illustrator; will open SVG, AI and EPS files; serious tool with a significant learning curve (unless you already know PS or AI).
  • Vistaprint – they always have a coupon or a deal, cheap enough you can have multiple business cards for different purposes.
  • My Fonts – THE place to purchase fonts. A great, premier site for classics, new fonts all necessary licenses; sometimes has free ones, also offers purchase of matching webfonts; get their emails for special deals. Also check out What the Font from MyFonts.com – when you’ve seen a font online or in an image or logo and want to find out what it is
  • Font Squirrel – why wouldn’t you want to get fonts from a place with this cool a name?! Tons of the best free fonts (including nearly all the ones you’ll see inside Canva – so if you want that font you used on a social graphic or poster so you can use it in a PPT or a report – get it here).

Tools for Social Media – management and monitoring

I use a combination of the free versions of Buffer, Hootsuite, and Social Jukebox – because each has its highlights and benefits.  No matter what you’ve heard or seen in offers, no one tool does all of social management and metrics for ALL the platforms. I use several because there’s no magic solution, and I’m cheap and not willing to pay yet for any of the tools!  I have done trials of CoSchedule and AgoraPulse. I use the free, limited versions of BuzzSumo and Moz’s tools.

  • Buffer  manage multiple social networks and schedule posts; I use Buffer in addition to HootSuite because I like how it handles inline images in posts better. Free plan lets you link 1 account per social platform, with up to 10 scheduled posts per platform. This may be quite fine for most solopreneurs. If you need team members or to schedule more posts further out, move up to the $10/month Awesome Plan.
  • HootSuite – manage multiple networks/platforms and profile; autoschedule posts; load posts months in advance (free account requires manual loading, paid accounts let you bulk schedule); collaborate with team members, save searches, monitor lists, more. HootSuite is one of very few tools that has official blessing from Instagram. All of that is possible with just a free account.
  • Social Jukebox – you load up your ‘jukebox’ with content (think ‘evergreen’ here) or choose one of the many jukeboxes already pre-filled with shareable content. You choose a schedule, and the jukebox automatically picks something from your list and posts it to connected social accounts. Keeps going until you stop it (that’s why you fill with evergreen content – you don’t know what gets shared when, and it can keep going and re-sharing over many months).

    Social Jukebox – Marketing quotes + tips ‘box’

     

  • Audiense robust social analytics by signing up for free account. I use for monitoring and adjusting my Twitter account.
  • Moz  – Try their Followerwonk Twitter tool for free
  • Social Mention – real time social media monitoring and analysis
  • BuzzSumo – analyze what content is performing well in a topic; see what gets shared most, who are the influential people sharing that content (so go create more like that!); Limited free searches; Paid plans are too pricey for most starting solopreneurs ($79/month. Ouch!).
  • CoSchedule – more than social media management, it’s a whole content management tool and scheduler. Integrates with your WordPress-based site, allows for team collaboration and project assignments, re-sharing of older content, and more. Robust – and you pay for that.

Tools for Email Marketing

  • AWeber* – I’ve had a paid account with AWeber since 2014. I pay so I can automate some things, like following up to send emails related to a free guide I give out, or a webinar, or a workshop someone paid for. But, their interface is dated and clunky, it doesn’t always intuitively do what I want, and going to a next level of automation is not easy or still in beta. So, I’m actively researching other options such as: Drip, Active Campaign, or gong back to MailChimp.
  • MailChimp – I started with MailChimp’s legendary free version. Free for up to 2,000 names on your list is a good place to start. Because when you’re just starting to build your email list as a solopreneur, you need to focus on list-building, not bells + whistles of automation, not selling things, not anything complicated. That’s why I recommend MC for anyone just getting started with email marketing and follow-up. [NOTE: If you are committed to using affiliate links to recommend products or services to those on your email list, MC is not for you because including affiliate links are against their terms.] I’ve used their paid automation version with other organizations and found it simple. Creating an email in MailChimp is just plain easy. PLUS, in spring of 2017 they have made some automation available FREE.
  • Drip – (From creators of LeadPages) Significant email marketing automation, for creating campaigns based on the actions or interests of someone who has signed-up/purchased/taken a specific action. This is where your advanced solopreneur business might head after you have built a list, have a variety of services, have added products or levels to your services, and want to build out funnels. If all those words sound like gobbledygook – don’t go to Drip yet. I understand all those tactics in principle and in action, I have a Drip trial, and I STILL don’t know how to use it to its real power.
  • LeadPages* – a paid software tool for creating landing pages, webinar registration pages, offering email gifts, showing videos for staged launches of products or courses – all without you needing any web-building skills. Slick. LP can even handle delivering your email opt-in goodie to your new list members. But it’s on the pricier side.
  • Sumo–  (was known for a long time as SumoMe) free and paid tools to help build your email list, improve your website, and otherwise track and optimize actions on your site.
  • OptinMonster – landing pages, pop-up’s, email sign-up forms, and more; a paid WordPress plugin

 

 

 

Disclosures, Disclaimers, Legal Stuff