Running an online business sounds a lot like sitting on a beach with nothing more than a laptop and sand between your toes.
Except, if you’ve ever tried to actually use a laptop on a beach, the glare is awful, you have a terrible wifi connection, and you’re constantly worried about sand getting in your ports (hehe).
In actuality, there tend to be more tools and services than you think you need when you have an online business. The list below is constantly being updated with the things that help me manage my many projects and ever-expanding to-do lists.
I use every single thing you see on this page and a handful of them have affiliate links. You pay the same amount if you click those links, I just happen to get a few buckaroos in my bank account (win-win!)
15” Retina Apple MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
That laptop I can’t see on the beach? It’s the 2016 15″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (in space grey). There’s no doubt the most important tool on this list is my laptop. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I’ve been using a MacBook Pro since 2007 and have loved every minute of it. Buy MacBook Pro with Touch Bar on Amazon.
Drip for Email Marketing
I’ve used NetAtlantic, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, ConvertKit and most recently ActiveCampaign for email marketing. While they’ve all served their purpose, Drip is the perfect fit for the latest direction of my online business(es). I won’t lie to you, Drip is an advanced email marketing platform that heavily focuses on automation. It can be used for broadcast emails and simple email courses, but it’s better served if you have a lot going on in your email world (which I do, since 98% of my revenue comes through email). Learn more about Drip or read my MailChimp vs ConvertKit vs Drip breakdown.
Flywheel for WordPress Hosting
JasonDoesStuff.com is the foundation of everything I do these days and I don’t ever want to worry about my website going down or having issues. I’m not a WordPress developer, but I choose to use WordPress because of its customizability and access to affordable developers. Flywheel’s WordPress hosting is not the cheapest out there, but their customer service and beautifully designed dashboard is worth every single penny! Learn more about Flywheel.
Chop-Chop.org for WordPress Development
I can hang when it comes to doing my own design work, but as soon as a design needs to actually move and become a website, I leave it to the folks at Chop-Chop.org. They are absolute wizards when it comes to building websites. They care about making things pixel perfect and are helpful at making sure designs are responsive on all devices and load quickly. Learn more about Chop-Chop.org.
Crowdcast for Live Workshops and Webinars
There’s something really powerful about live video. You can create a connection with people and deliver real-time awesome value. The folks at Crowdcast have built a solid platform for live workshops and webinars. They do automatic recording and have no-nonsense signup pages and email reminders. Learn more about Crowdcast.
RØDE Podcaster Microphone
You can’t do live video without great audio! I’m fine with the onboard video camera of my MacBook Pro, but the onboard microphone is no beuno. I’ve worked with RØDE multiple times over the years and know how much they care about the quality of their gear. The RØDE Podcaster microphone, boom arm, and shock mount are the perfect kit for slightly advanced audio aficionados. Buy the RØDE Podcaster kit on Amazon.
RØDE Smartlav Microphone
If you don’t want the cumbersome setup of the RØDE Podcaster, then the RØDE Smartlav will be perrrrrfect for you. I record all my podcast episodes with the RØDE Smartlav and love how simple it is to use. For under $80, you cannot beat this lavalier microphone! Buy the RØDE Smartlav on Amazon.
Acuity Scheduling for Calendar Scheduling
One of the parts of running an online business that drives me nuts is the question “what time works for you?” Between timezones and different schedules, finding a time to schedule a call with someone can be as difficult as solving a Rubik’s cube with your eyes closed. Acuity Scheduling solves those issues and has a boatload of features that can take your calendar scheduling up a notch. Learn more and get 45 days free with Acuity Scheduling.
Slack for Communication
A few years ago I never thought anything could replace the effectiveness of email. Then Slack came along. Not only is it amazing for small teams, but it’s also free! I haven’t paid a dime for Slack and I’ve used it for all my projects for years. Whether you work with one other person or 300, Slack makes online communication a breeze. Learn more about Slack.
Dropbox for Cloud Storage
There was a time when you had to have external hard drives to backup your computer. That time has past. I use Dropbox to backup all my files and am happy to pay them $199 per year to do so (in the cloud!) I can access my files offline and I can use Dropbox as a file storage option too. Learn more about Dropbox.
Seagate 2TB USB External Hard Drive
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I just said you didn’t need an external hard drive. However, I still spend some time filming and editing videos, and video files take up a crapload of space. With cloud storage, you can’t remove files from your computer and still access them, so that’s where the old-school external hard drive comes in. Luckily, these things have become small enough to fit in your pocket and extremely affordable (under $70!) Buy the Seagate 2TB external hard drive on Amazon.
Bear Writing App
I’ve dabbled with a few writing apps over the years, but when my friend Paul Jarvis told me about Bear, I was all over it. I enjoy writing in a simple, markdown writing tool, because it’s free of distractions (toolbars, images, formatting, etc). The Bear writing app is extremely well-designed and helps me get more writing done. Learn more about the Bear writing app.
Chantel Hamilton for Editing
Okay, obviously Chantel Hamilton is not a “tool” or “thing,” but she is critical to the success of my business. Chantel is my structural editor and has helped me crank out 100,000s of words. I love that I can cobble together a random thought and Chantel can help craft it into a legible and worth-reading article. If you need help with writing, do yourself a favor and reach out to Chantel! Learn more about Chantel Hamilton.
Desk items that help me stay productive and organized
A list of the things I use to run my business wouldn’t be complete without talking about the items on (or near) my desk at all times. Having a clean and organized desk helps me get more things done.
iPhone 7 Plus
Almost as important as my laptop, like many of you, I have my iPhone on me at all times. I was excited to upgrade to the iPhone 7 Plus to use it as my daily point-and-shoot camera. The only social media app on my phone is Instagram, but I still love text messaging and keeping my emoji-game going strong. Buy the iPhone 7 Plus on Amazon.
StudioNeat Material iPhone Dock
Most people are fine with laying their phone down flat and plugging it in. Well, I’m not most people. When StudioNeat released this walnut iPhone dock, I jumped all over it. This little guy looks great and is super functional. There’s also an option with Apple Watch, if you’re into that. Buy the iPhone Material Dock at StudioNeat.com.
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX10K Camera
I cannot believe the quality you can get from point-and-shoot cameras these days. I used to be a Canon DSLR guy. Then I moved to a Fujifilm mirrorless camera. While those cameras were great, they were still bigger and I had to carry lenses around with me when I traveled. Sure, I won’t take any long distance photos with the LUMIX camera (even though the digital zoom is impressive), that’s not what I use this camera for. I can toss it in my pocket, snap great-looking photos using impressive autofocus with 1.4 apeture, or put it on a tripod and get crisp 4K video all for less than $600! Learn more about the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX10K here.
Waxed Canvas Dopp Kit
Let’s face it, your desk can be a messy place. Mine had odds and ends scattered all over it and then I picked up a simple waxed canvas dopp kit. Now, all my miscellaneous cords, USB sticks, dongles, and other items have a place to live. Buy a waxed canvas dopp kit on Amazon.
If you would told me that I’d read 40-50 books per year a few years ago, I would’ve laughed in your face. But alas, as I’ve spent less time on social media and watching TV, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed diving into books on the Kindle. I still enjoy the touch and smell of a paperback book from time-to-time, but you can’t beat carrying hundreds of books in your pocket with a Kindle. Buy the Kindle Voyage on Amazon.
Minaal Carry-on 2.0
There was a time when I traveled 30 weeks out of the year. When you travel that much, any amount of time you can save navigating the airport experience is critical. When I first saw the Minaal Carry-on bag, I was hooked. It’s the perfect backpack for the minimalist traveler, and is versatile enough for the online business owner. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a company run by two awesome New Zealanders! Browse all gear at Minaal.com.
Anything by Ugmonk
I own t-shirts, leather goods, and anniversary sets from Jeff Sheldon, creator of Ugmonk. I love everything Ugmonk stands for and have enjoyed calling Jeff a friend for many years. Whether you need items for your desk, quality clothing, or high-quality leather goods, Ugmonk will not disappoint. Browse everything at Ugmonk.com.
That’ll do donkey, that’ll do.
Be sure to check back on this list from time to time! As my business and tastes evolve, so will the things I feature here.