I get asked all the time "Hey Bryan! What do you use for...?
I totally get it - there's so much marketing tech out there, it's hard to know what's good and what's not. Here is some of the tech that I use that you might find useful. And please note, on some of these links I do get paid an affiliate commission - but even if I didn't - I'd still recommend them to you... and on many of the links, I don't get paid a single dime. That's how much I like what is being sold.
Audio Production Tools (for podcasts and videos)
Adobe Audition (Windows and Mac)
I use Audition (www.adobe.com/products/audition.html) nearly every week. It's my go-to program for sound editing. That said - it's a professional level editor and is NOT for the novice. There is a steep learning curve to this program (as is the case with nearly every Adobe product).
That said - it's undoubtedly the best and most featured audio editor you can buy. It comes either as a stand alone product or as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription (which I highly recommend if you are using more than two Adobe Creative Cloud products).
Adobe Audition is incredibly powerful and rivals any audio production that is hardware based. Not only does it have all of the functionality of an audio editing program, but it also has the multitrack recording and editing capabilities that are associated with digital audio workstations (DAWs). The layout of the software is intuitive, clean and customizable, and the software provides an impressive toolset to handle any type of audio editing job. HINT: If you are going to use and learn Audition - look up "Mike Russell" on YouTube. He's got a zillion great videos to unlock the power of Audition.
When I first started podcasting - Audacity (www.audacityteam.org) was really all there was to edit files. It's an open source (free) editor that is well supported and well documented. If you are new to audio editing - Audacity is probably a great place to start.
Audacity provides you with a full set of tools that you can use to edit audio files and add effects through a clear and accessible interface. Users of all experience levels will benefit from this app's intuitive interface and nice list of features. That said, it's not nearly as powerful as Audition - but it's also not hundreds of dollars. Until you start demanding studio-quality audio mixing and sound, Audacity will carry you through the early part of your podcasting or video production adventure.
WooCommerce (www.woocommerce.com) is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms worldwide. I use Woo on all my sites and typically use Woo for any new client sites (unless they already have a back end store). The WooCommerce plugin turns your WordPress website into a very powerful online store. So it is no surprise that Automattic, the company behind WordPress, added this successful plugin to its portfolio in May 2015. Unlike Shopify, Bigcommerce, and other competitors, WooCommerce is an open-source solution.
WooCommerce has everything you need to get your WordPress-based e-commerce business up and running. It lets you set up an online storefront on an existing website without all the fuss and costs of e-commerce software. WooCommerce is also a completely customizable, well-supported solution, so you can create an online store that looks, feels and works exactly the way you want it to. The final plus - nearly every financial gateway, product automation gateway, marketing automation gateway, and API connection from marketing and web software connects to Woo. It basically works with nearly EVERYTHING.
Most WooCommerce website themes and extensions are free, but there are also paid versions that offer more advanced capabilities. Website themes can run anywhere from $79 to $139, depending on the features you want to purchase. Pricing for paid extensions vary, but the small business owners we talked to said that with the massive collection of extensions available, you'll likely be able to find what you need for free.
With WooCommerce Subscriptions (woocommerce.com/products/woocommerce-subscriptions/), you can create and manage products with recurring payments — payments that will give you residual revenue you can track and count on.
WooCommerce Subscriptions allows you to introduce a variety of subscriptions for physical or virtual products and services. Create product of the month clubs, weekly service subscriptions or even yearly software billing packages. Add sign-up fees, offer free trials or set expiration periods.
A subscription-based model will allow you to capture more residual revenue — and all you have to do is ship the orders.
While creating a membership site with WooCommerce has been possible for some time, this setup has always been a bit complex and requires several plugins to get up and running.
WooCommerce is a great base for a membership site because you can integrate with almost any payment processor or use one of several WooCommerce extensions, but it lacked features that other membership solutions had, such as easy setup, content dripping, or expiring memberships.
The release of the WooCommerce Memberships (woocommerce.com/products/woocommerce-memberships/) extension ($199 currently on sale for $149) is geared towards simplifying this setup and creating a flexible, powerful membership solution to integrate with WooCommerce. It allows the web administrator to quickly restrict content and create plans that can be sold, integrated fully with the WooCommerce store, and with other plugins (such as WooSubscriptions).
Stripe (www.stripe.com) is a third-party payments processor built around a simple idea: make it easy for companies to do business online. It’s not just about processing credit cards. Stripe has a suite of tools that make it nearly effortless to handle everything from in-app payments to marketplace transactions. Its feature list is impressive, if maybe a tad overwhelming for the uninitiated. It has competitive rates, integrates nicely with pretty much everyone, and the best feature - no fees for international payment processing. It's what I use.
Learning Management Systems (For Courses)
Learn Dash (www.learndash.com) is by far and away the best learning management system (LMS) for WordPress. As much as I like Woo's stuff - Learn Dash is my go-to program for LMS.
If you are looking for a high quality and robust eLearning or Learning Management System plugin for WordPress for use in higher education or professional quality courses then this is a pedigree option that has been built with industry standards in mind.
Media Optimization Tools (For WordPress)
I use ShortPixel image optimization plugin for WordPress. It can reduce the amount of server overhead on your images by as much as 70% (however, 30% is more typical). It automatically handles the thumbnails as well. They have a pay as you go package, or you can get a subscription and always have your images optimized. This is essential to keep down load times if you have an image intensive site.
Sign up using this link and get access (affiliate link) to 100 free image optimizations + 100 more, because of this invite, and try it out for yourself.
Hosting: WP Engine
When I was looking for a solid, no-nonsense, up all the time, with "real" support (not just some clown on email), I ultimately came upon WP-Engine.
When I first started using WP-Engine back in 2011 - nobody had really heard of them. They were among the first of website hosts to optimize their services for WordPress installations (and this site runs on WordPress). When I was building site for clients with the possibility of high loads (with hundreds if not thousands of people simultaneously connected) - WP Engine was the only company that struck me as being able to handle it (and thus far they have with ease).
Over time, WP-Engine has grown into an extremely popular web host. The company is funded by a large group of investors including Automattic (the folks behind WordPress), and nearly every major blogger uses them as their hosting company. They are generally regarded as the best WordPress optimized hosting you can find.
Hosting: Libsyn (Podcast Hosting)
Libsyn (www.libsyn.com) is essential if you're going to start podcasting.
The reality is that hosting audio files is a royal pain in the butt. Even with high-end hosting (like WP-Engine), ensuring that you can have your files served on demand, even when thousands of people are listening and downloading simultaneously, is essential. Libsyn is one of the oldest (if not they first) podcast optimized hosting company out there. I first started using Libsyn back in 2005.
Libsyn has a few different packages centered around how much content you think you'll be uploading every month. Remember that MP3 files can use high compression, so with a package like their 250mb a month, you could easily do a 30 minute podcast weekly and have room to spare.
Libsyn hosts some of the largest podcasts on the web - including nearly every podcaster in the top 10 of every category on iTunes. John Lee Dumas made Libsyn a "household name" with podcasters, as have other marquee podcast hosts. Marc Maron, Joe Rogan, Adam Carolla, the Nerdist, and others are all hosted on Libsyn. You really can't go wrong with them.
My only complaint about Libsyn is that the stats package is ABSOLUTELY AWFUL. I mean seriously - it's truly horrendous. It's gotten better over the years, but it's clear they really don't care about providing detailed stats beyond downloads and geo-location. For deeper insights, you're going to have to use someone else (and I've got recommendations).
Hosting: Blubrry (Podcast Hosting)
The other podcast host that I recommend highly is Blubrry.com.
Now, I've never had a problem with Blubrry, and their PowerPress plugin is really quite good and undoubtedly the most featured Podcast plugin you can find.
The real nice thing between Blubrry and WordPress is with the plugin - everything can be seamless in hosting and serving podcasts. The stats package that Blubrry has is WAAAAY better than Libsyn (and honestly I usually use both - I use Blubrry's PowerPress plugin and stat package and then use Libsyn for hosting).
Managed Hosting: Rainmaker
I was among the very first to beta test the "Rainmaker Platform" (affiliate link) back in 2014. It's a very unique product that has some rather cool advantages.
Unlike WP Engine, Rainmaker is managed hosting. That means, you're not dinking around with the back end of things. It's all handled for you by the team at Copyblogger. You don't have to worry about updates, plugins, keeping things backed up, etc. All of the back end nonsense is done for you.
The key thing with Rainmaker is that you can only run Genesis templates (I'm going to get to that in another recommendation in a moment). You're also limited to whatever Copyblogger decides are useful plugins and apps to run. That said, it's got a lot of bells and whistles built in - like Learning Management Systems, podcasting, analytics, eCommerce (basically Woo Commerce built in with Subscriptions and Memberships added as well). There's a lot to like about this system - because if what you want to do is focus solely on SELLING (particularly if you're considering a membership site), it's hard to beat this platform.
The platform is backed by Copyblogger's Synthesis hosting package - which is actually subleased servers from Rackspace. It's pretty solid. The real downside of working with Copyblogger is you're going to pay a premium first-class price, and get a "United Airlines" level of customer service. It's really crappy. Typically you get an email back from a tech ticket in six hours - which can seem like an eternity when your website is down. That doesn't happen frequently - but it did happen to me several times. I'm fundamentally at odds with Brian Clark's approach on customer service at Copyblogger on all their products, and ultimately, I left Rainmaker for WordPress once again.
That said, for people who aren't going to tax their server as hard as I do, and don't want to futz with the back end of WordPress - it's pretty much the best inbound marketing platform and it's about 1/10th the cost of something like Hubspot or Marketo... and has a lot of bells and whistles neither of those platforms possess.
Duda (www.dudamobile.com) is a leading DIY website builder for web professionals and small businesses via its products; DudaMobile, a mobile-only site builder; DudaOne, a responsive website builder and DudaPro, which enables entrepreneurs, designers and agencies of all sizes to create personalized and dynamic web presence solutions without the need to invest in hours of costly development time.
I first started using Duda when I wanted to create mobile websites that looked as good, and were as responsive, as the desktop sites I was creating. It was drag and drop, and very easy to create highly customized mobile apps. I've been using it for over five years now.
The company has partnered with some of the biggest players in the tech industry including GoDaddy, AT&T, Yahoo!, Google, Homestead, OpenTable and DreamHost and expanded into DIY website design among other services. I don't necessarily know about those services - but I do know that their Mobile product is exceptionally useful and reliable.
Video Hosting: Vimeo
If you do much film editing and publishing online, then Vimeo Plus (www.vimeo.com) can pay for itself in no time. No waiting in line to have your video converted and published and unlimited HD video uploads. You also get advanced customization to your player and choose what shows at the end of the video (text, a link, previews of more videos or nothing at all). If you embed your videos on a website like a blog, they are also in HD and better yet you can use domain-level privacy to only allow people to view your videos on your website versus on Vimeo.
Plus, unlike YouTube, Vimeo isn't going to spam your videos, suddenly yank the rug out from under you, or suddenly deliver your video content against something shocking. I really believe in "own your empire," and if you're producing video content that you are using for your website - then you have to give up on YouTube and instead focus on a video host that you're paying to host videos. Personally, I like Vimeo better than Wistia - but they're pretty comparable.
Templates & Tools For WordPress
StudioPress (affiliate link) is the creator of the Genesis Framework — probably the most well-known theme framework for WordPress. Genesis is best described as a layer of code that sits between the WordPress software and your theme of choice.
The StudioPress team likes to describe WordPress as the engine of your car, Genesis as the frame and body, and the StudioPress child themes as the paint job.
Only child themes that have been built specifically for the Genesis Framework can be used alongside it. However, anyone is free to create child themes for the StudioPress Genesis Framework, and many developers make a living from creating commercial child themes for the framework.
This means that if you choose one of the themes from StudioPress, you’ll also be choosing the Genesis Framework. However, apart from ensuring you’ve installed the Genesis Framework before you install your chosen child theme, there aren’t any additional steps involved in running a Genesis Framework-powered WordPress website.
Choosing a StudioPress theme that’s been built for creating a specific type of website, along with a handful of plugins that are essential for your project, still has its upsides. Your site will still probably outperform a true multipurpose theme that includes every feature imaginable, and countless demo versions and templates.
This site is Thrive Themes (www.thrivethemes.com). That's how much I believe in this product. This is more than just a bunch of themes. It's themes and plugins that will turn your website into a lead and sales generation MACHINE. Seriously - the yearly price of Thrive is about 1/10th of the value of all the plugins you get.
They have Top conversion focused WordPress themes which is generally liked by bloggers and affiliate marketers who believe in generating lots of money. This is why there themes have taken place in the list of perfect Top conversion focused WordPress themes.
Thrive have best conversion optimized landing pages which are high-end sales and lead pages. With the help of Thrive content builder you can create Landing Pages which have eye catchy and attractive looks which can very useful in sustaining readers on site for long time.
Thrive content builder gives you very simple options of click and edit feature, which allows you to edit the building block which ever you feel like doing so. So simply you can say Its just drag-drop and click-edit then get started.
As soon as you run a website that has any amount of traffic or comments, you're going to start getting spammed... a LOT of it. You are also going to have people trying to brute force their way into your WordPress.
The best plugin I've ever used to combat login and comment spam is this little one - CleanTalk. It works seamlessly to stop spam without captchas, crazy forms, and mucking up your web design. It works behind the scenes to identify spammers, stopping their comments, form submissions, and login attempts from corrupting your site. It's truly elegant.
It works with all the major form plugins (for example I use Gravity Forms on this site) and it is well supported and documented. I get a readout inside WordPress as to what it's stopped and from where, as well as getting information generally about attacks on WP sites.
Best of all - it's really one of the cheapest plugins when compared to the ones developed by WordPress or other security firms. Try CleanTalk in a free trial with this invite.
Video & Webinar Tools
Webinars: Stealth Webinar (Automated Hosting & Serving of Webinars)
The question I get asked the most is "Bryan, what webinar software are you using? That thing is awesome!"
The system at StealthSeminar (affiliate link) is pretty slick. There are a fair number of these systems out there - but what I like the most about StealthSeminar is its ability to deliver high video quality on any platform and it's not dependent on Google (Hangouts). While there are other seminar systems that are more "Web 2.0" - Stealth Seminar has it where it counts. It is a fully automated webinar delivering machine that has a high degree of integration with marketing programs and delivers webinars on demand.