In the past two years I've spent winters in Thailand and Hawaii.
This coming winter will be split between a 45 day road trip across the United States and a few months in South America. I'm able to do this largely because of the incredible array of software and contacts that I'll include in this post.
Everything that I'm sharing below is what I currently use. That doesn't mean that it's the best or the least expensive. I'll do my best to explain why it's become my go–to and what I use it for in each case.
These are my go-tos:
My Personal Organization and Support
I don't go crazy with efficiency tools. Below is how I organize my life and business.
Courtney is the awesome assistant that keeps me sane. We got paired together through a service called Zirtual. It's the best $199/month that I spent.
This article describes the system that we developed for her to manage my email.
Why Zirtual? Assistants can be hired much cheaper but it's important to me to have somebody who has a great education (she's got a master's degree in English). In addition, when she takes a vacation Zirtual fills her in with a replacement that has access to all of my notes.
She helps with admin tasks, customer support, booking travel, and even random research assignments like how to get from one remote area in Indonesia to another.
Cost = $199/month
A note on email: Don't become a slave to it. I'll go for weeks without responding to my email (my assistant handles admin tasks). Sure I miss stuff. That stuff might be important. But nothing is more important than my own projects.
Register for Zirtual here
A lot of the programs on thePTDC are collaborative efforts. Dropbox is where we share files back and forth. In addition I maintain a shared folder with all my social media managers where I'll update things
like status updates and links to post in the future.
Cost = Free
Register for Dropbox here
TimeTrade is the tool that I use to schedule meetings. It integrates with my calendar (I use iCal). Instead of back and forth trying to organize a time for a call,
I'll simply create a block using TimeTrade with a few available times and share a link. This link will show a calendar with available spots and they can book directly in.
I can request any information that I need for the call (i.e. phone number, Skype, etc.).
One great benefit of TimeTrade for me is that it shows the time to the recipient in their local time. This makes scheduling calls with people in other parts of the World a cinch.
Cost – $49 / year
Register for TimeTrade here
I back up all contents of my computer to Backblaze on an ongoing basis. For $5/month (or $50/year) you have unlimited storage.
It'll take about two weeks to back up your entire hard drive and then it runs every minute that you're on your computer.
The contents on my computer are my livelihood. In the event of a crash I can download everything right back. Even better is that if my computer is lost or stolen while traveling I can request an external drive shipped overnight to me anywhere in the World.
Cost – $50/year
Register for Backblaze here
All notes, emails, and F.A.Q.'s that I write are done using TextEdit on Mac, which is the basic word processor that comes with Mac.
I dislike Microsoft Word, especially if I need to have multiple documents open. When I think, I think fast and when I respond to emails, I respond quickly. TextEdit allows me to open and close a lot of documents quickly and sift through materials quickly.
Cost – Free
No need to register for it. It's already on your computer.
This blocks me from accessing websites for whatever time I set it to. When I'm working I'll block social media, email, and a few news and sports sites.
Cost – Free
Register for Self Control here
Website Management and Support
I don't cheap out on this stuff. Figuring out the tools, software, and support to make everything run smoothly and provide me peace of mind is priceless. Take it from a guy who has gotten hacked, had to threaten lawsuits towards low–integrity contractors, and suffered from multiple sleepless nights.
I have a lot of crazy ideas and they require a lot of custom development. The talented team at Copter always figures out a way to make my idea work on the web.
They built the most recent iteration of thePTDC site and have developed my payment processing flow from start to finish.
With websites you get what you pay for. I started with a $500 site, progressed to a $1,500 site and followed with a $9,000+ site. Start with a basic site that meets your needs and allow it to grow with you.
Cost = Varies
Apply for a free quote / strategy call here
The other half of my team. It took me two years of searching for a company to help with SEO that I trusted. Even with Cloudsurfing Media we started our meetings about it a year and a half before I ended up hiring them.
The work that they've done has been exceptional so far.
Cost – Varies
Apply for a free quote / strategy call here
Oh man, I've been through a lot with hosting companies. WPEngine is a breath of fresh air. The service is more expensive than a number of other options but it's blazing fast, easy to use, has excellent customer service, and, most of all, it's secure.
The system automatically backs up all of your sites every night externally meaning that your valuable content and site is always safe. Even if you are hacked, you simply revert to a backup from 24hrs earlier and the problem is solved.
I've had too many headaches to count from other hosting companies ranging from poor security to slow loading speeds to website down time costing me many thousands of dollars. An extra few bucks a month for peace of mind knowing that your site will always be fast and will never be at the mercy of spam, malware, and hackers is worth it.
Cost – Starts at $29/month (I'm at $249/month)
Register for WPEngine here
Email marketing is central in my business model. I've been with AWeber from the start and they've never given me a reason to change.
Deliverability and reliability has always been good. The price increases as the list grows, which makes sense because as the list gets bigger, I make more money from it.
Cost – $19 / month to start (I'm at something crazy like $500 / month)
Register for your first month at $1 here
This is a plugin for AWeber that I pay separate for. In addition to some extra segmenting functions (allows me to move people from one list to another much easier) it backs up all of my emails every night.
If something were to happen to AWeber I know that I have my entire list backed up externally every day.
Cost – $29/month
Register for a free trial here
This is a simple service where you connect with your email and upload a headshot so that when you comment on a blog your picture and link to your site shows.
Cost – Free
Register for Gravatar here
I use Optimize Press both for squeeze pages (pages meant to extract an email from a reader) to membership sites.
I've no knowledge in coding yet have been able to create beautiful sales page, squeeze pages, and membership platforms.
Honestly, I don't know what I'd do without Optimize Press. It's saved me many thousands of dollars in programming, designing, and developing costs.
Cost = $97 one time
Register for OptimizePress here
Since day 1 all of my domains have been purchased through GoDaddy. Their support has always been good and their interface is clean and easy to use.
In addition, anything that you'll need to connect with GoDaddy (like hosting) will already have documentation because it's such a common service.
Cost – Varies. Domains are cheap though.
Get domains at GoDaddy here
Writing Books and Creating Online Products
Below is a list of the tools, companies, and software that I've used to write / publish 5 books (a few aren't released yet) in addition to 10 DVD's, 2 workbooks, and 3 digital programs in 3.5years.
The purpose of these is not necessarily profit maximization but productivity maximization – that, and producing the highest quality premium programs possible. At this stage in my career it's most important to produce tremendous work then try to squeeze every penny out of each one. Because of that, I choose delivery mechanisms that cost me more than others, but save me time and headache.
Design matters. Cassie's the fantastic designer who does the majority of the high end concept work for me.
She's designed logos, book covers, DVD jackets, and everything in between. Design will range in price from very cheap to very expensive. It truly is an industry where you get what you pay for.
Cost – Varies.
You can find out more and contact Cassie here
I've put together two very complicated workbooks with dozens of different documents spliced together. Amy did the designing, typesetting, and formatting for each. She does sensational work and is very reasonably priced.
Cost – Varies but generally $500-&$36;2,000 for a book.
You can find out more and contact Amy here
These are the two payment processors that I use:
Paypal is basic and very easy to use.
Link to Paypal
Stripe is made for developers and, unless you're a developer, will take one to implement it into your site.
The reason that I use Stripe as my primary payment processor now is two fold:
- First, it allows direct deposits of American currency into an American dollar bank account situated in Canada.
- Second is that with it I was able to design and host my own check out pages enabling me to increase conversions and run retargeting ads to them.
Link to Stripe
Cost – Both free (you're charged a percentage when you make a charge).
We run Facebook ads all day, everyday. Used properly they are immensely profitable. The key is to use Facebook ads to find people who might be interested in your service and then blow them away with value on your page.
ThePTDC's Facebook page is a prime example. We use a combination of ads to gather an audience and retargeting ads to return people to our sales and checkout pages if they don't buy.
Cost – Budget varies. $3–5/day is enough to get started but the more you spend, the more you can do.
After a lot of pressure we produced a course to help fitness professionals crush it with Facebook ads for both local and online businesses. You can learn more at http://www.1kfitnessfans.com.
This is the company that prints and distributes all of my physical products. An order comes in and they're forwarded the email. At that point they print and ship the order and send confirmation to the consumer.
I'm charged a set amount and keep the difference from what I charge the consumer. From start to finish it's hands off on my end. They have fantastic customer service and handle all of my multimedia products.
Cost – Free (you're charged when you make an order)
Register for Vervante here
Be careful with surveys. In Henry Ford's words (paraphrased), “If I asked people what they wanted they'd have said faster horses.”
We used to do a ton of survey's and have since stopped because we've recognized a significant difference between what people say they want and what they're willing to pay for.
The only surveys that we still do are follow–up to figure out why people did or didn't buy.
Cost – $29/month
Register for Survey Monkey here
While I have a content manager / editor for the blog, scribendi is the service that I use for editing a lot of my minor to medium size projects.
I particularly like it when I have a project with a lot of small documents because they charge based on word count.
It's as easy as uploading the documents, pay the bill, and get it back in 2–7 days fully edited with notes.
Cost – Varies based on word count. The final quote given before job commences.
Register for Scribendi here
All of my videos for my digital products in addition to thank you videos and a host of other types are stored on Vimeo.
The pro account allows me to protect my videos by only allowing them to embed on certain sites, with passwords, or by disallowing downloads.
Cost – $219/year
Register for Vimeo here
I mentioned earlier that I dislike using Microsoft Word and that dislike happened soon after I discovered Scrivener.
Simply put, Scrivener is the best word processor on the planet. I've written entire books in a single file in it and saved for print, Kindle, iBooks, and .pdf all from a single file.
If you remember my post on how I beat procrastination, it's based on breaking down large projects into smaller chunks. Scrivener makes this easy.
Cost – $45
Link to Scrivener
This is the company that I've self–published all of my books through. They also did the typesetting for Ignite the Fire and the cover design for both Ignite and Race to the Top.
Similar to Vervante, CreateSpace is a print on demand company meaning that when an order is made through my site, Amazon, or me personally, the book(s) are printed and shipped. No inventory or administration.
Cost – Varies. You pay for editing / publishing services if you want them and a percentage of the book sales.
Register for CreateSpace here
All of my email accounts flow through a gmail account that Courtney manages. The filters keep it organized.
For example, when a purchase comes in for a product the email is automatically (1) filed in receipts, (2) marked as “read–, (3) forwarded to Vervante, and (4) if I have a partner forwarded to him or her as well.
Using basic free filters the entire project is hands off start to finish.
Everyone that needs it has a copy and we keep it organized so that we can go back and check into any order if need be.
Cost – Free
A lot of the presentations that I give in my various products were recorded using screenflow – a service that allows you to record whatever is on your computer and save as a video file.
I use it for products and also for sending Courtney instructions on how to handle a certain admin task.
Cost – $99
Register for Screenflow here
It's much quicker and more personal for me to respond to an email question about a product with an audio recording.
When a question comes in I'll simply speak an answer into my computer while recording using SoundCloud and email back the link.
Cost – Free
Register for SoundCloud here