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One of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome to get started in the online business world was overcoming the idea that I didn't know how to use technology. By that I mean I felt like I didn't know how to build a website, how to record a course, how to start a podcast, how to edit it, where to host it, etc? The list goes on and on.
Plus, I had no clue how much running an online business actually cost.
In this blog post I want to share the exact tools and systems I use to run my online business remotely from anywhere in the world so you know exactly what you need and how much it costs. Hopefully this will save you some of the headaches I went through trying to figure it out on my own.
Keep in mind, when you’re first starting out you don’t need to be using everything I use. Obviously if you don't plan on podcasting, you don't need any of the tools I mention in the podcast section, and so on. It's also important to know that I started with the bare minimum and added subscriptions, software and memberships as my business grew (and also depending on the direction my business went in). I suggest you do the same.
What I use to run My website:
Everything you see over at michaelcarbone.ca is done with the following tools:
This website was built using Squarespace. It’s my absolute favorite tool when it comes to building a professional-looking website. I use it, my girlfriend uses it, and I suggest everyone uses it as well. When I first launched michaelcarbone.ca, I used Wordpress to build my website but I never really liked it. I think I simply didn't like the theme I was using so I don't want to say it was fully due to Wordpress (I still use Wordpress to host my online courses) but I switched over to Squarespace in February 2016 and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made. The platform is very easy to use and their drag-drop options make it really easy for anyone to set up a website in a matter of hours. If you're not happy with your current website or you haven’t launched yet because you don’t know how to create a website that's nice enough that you'd actually be proud to tell people about it, Squarespace is your solution.
Price: I have the business membership which costs me $20/month but you can get started with a personal membership (maximum 20 website pages) for about 12$/month.
Once you have a website created, you need to host it. I use Glowhost as my hosting provider and have been really impressed with their reliability and customer service. I don’t know much about hosting providers (and you don’t need to either), and I’m sure there are many similar options available but the only thing I care about when it comes to my hosting provider is that when something goes wrong, they’ll fix it. FAST. Glowhost does this extremely well. Every time I contact them with an issue, it’s usually fixed within 20 minutes. They might be a more expensive option but their service gives me peace of mind and it makes it worth every dollar.
Price: I pay $24.95/month for their option but you could get started for as low as $4.95/month.
Leadpages is one of the most valuable investments you can make for your business. I spent months trying to decide if I needed Leadpages and tried doing things without it which was a HUGE mistake. Please don't do that. Buying a Leadpages membership changed my business and I 100% regret not buying it sooner. Today, nearly every opt-in box you see on my website leads to a landing page that was made using Leadpages. Why? Well, they allow me to create pages that convert traffic into email subscribers at a very high conversion rate (%) so I'm building my email list faster that I would be without it. Plus, all their templates are already tested so you know everything is structured properly. This is super valuable because you don’t need to worry about not knowing what to put on your landing page, launch page, sales page, or webinar page. All you need to do is pick the right template and change the colours to match your branding, put in your own text, and you’re done. Plus, they sync seamlessly to virtually all major email list providers like MailChimp, Activecampaign, Aweber, etc.
Price: I use their Pro Membership which costs me $49/month but you could get started for as low as $25/month.
My email list is one of the most important aspects of my entire business so I wanted to make sure it was being taken good care of, that's why I'm using Activecapaign. Although I started on Mailchimp, I decided to move to Activecampaign because of their higher level of sophistication, funnel automation capabilities, and because they offer a more detailed look at my subscribers tendencies and how they interact with the material I send them. If you want to take list building seriously you'll want to start with a higher-level service like Activecampain so you can avoid switching provider down the road. Trust me, moving from one provider to another is a massive headache and a huge waste of time.
Price: I currently pay $73/month (price varies based on the size of your email list) but you could get started for as little as $9/month.
What I use to create my Podcast:
Here’s everything I use to create the Unleash Yourself podcast:
This is the microphone that Tim Ferriss uses for the Tim Ferriss Show, so if it’s good enough for him it’s definitely good enough for me. I used to use the Blue Yeti but switched to the ATR 2100 because I travel a lot and the Blue Yeti picks up way too much background noise (even your own echo in a quite room). This mic is super affordable and I really recommend using it.
Price: $79 on Amazon.
I host 95% of my podcast interviews over Skype and I record them with Ecamm Skype Recorder. It’s a super simple software to use and it allows me to record both my voice and my guest’s voice with one click. It’s been very reliable and has never crashed during a call or given me any problems whatsoever. If needed, it can also record a video call and assemble both your video and your guest's video beautifully into a split screen video which you can then upload to Youtube (although I haven’t done that, yet). It's available for both PC and Mac.
Price: $29.95 on their website.
Simultaneously with Ecamm Skype Recorder, I also use Audacity. Here's how I use it: While recording both my voice and my guest’s voice with Ecamm Skype Recorder, I also record my own voice by itself in Audacity because it allows me to record higher quality audio compared to Ecamm. Then I simply import both files in Audcacity, align my Audacity voice with my Ecamm voice and then delete my Ecamm voice, leaving me with my Audacity voice and my guest’s Ecamm voice. Make sense? Audacity is also the software I use to edit my podcasts because it’s super easy to use. I’ve edited every episode of the Unleash Yourself podcast with Audacity.
Libsyn is the platform I use to host all my podcast episodes. Here's how it works: every time I publish an episode of the podcast, I upload it to Libsyn and get a download/embed link which I then use on my website. I’ve found this to be the best way to share your podcast (or audio files) on your website without overloading your own server and making your website run super slowly. It's highly recommended you take this approach if you’re podcasting. It's the same as if you were to upload a video on Youtube and then embed the video on your site rather than uploading the entire video file itself directly onto your website. With Libsyn, I’ve also set up an RSS feed so iTunes can find every new episode I publish and can instantly publish it on iTunes as well. Basically, Libsyn in your backend podcast ninja that no one sees but takes care of all your “dirty” work while your website and iTunes get all the glory.
Price: I pay $20/month to upload 4 episodes/month of about 1hr each but you can get started for as low as $5.
All of my podcast graphics are created with Canva. If you're like me and have no clue how to use Photoshop or any other picture editing software, this is a great platform to use to create promotional graphics for social media because it allows you to create custom graphics for different social media platform based around the perfect dimensions for each platform (Instagram pictures are a different size than let’s say, Pinterest pictures). I’ve also used Canva to design the cover of my 17-page ebook about launching an online course and my entire digital magazine about Instagram was made on Canva as well. Really important tool to have as a part of your arsenal.
What I use to host live Webinars:
Here’s everything I use to host live webinars:
See reasons listed under the podcasting section above.
Leadpages makes hosting webinars easier and more effective than any other platform I’ve ever tried. Ever since I started using them, my webinar registration pages convert higher than before (that means more email subscribers), I’ve been able to create awesome Thank-You pages that allow my subscribers to share the webinar with their own audiences with 1-click (which gets me even more visibility without doing any extra work), and the live pages allow my attendees to buy what I'm selling right off the live webinar page (which I haven't seen elsewhere else) which instantly increased sales. You can also find more reasons in the "what I use to run my website" section above.
Price: I use their Pro Membership with costs me $49/month but you could get started for as low as $25/month.
3. Google Hangouts:
When I host a webinar, I use Google Hangouts for my live broadcasting. I’m able to set up my live event and embed it into Leadpages in just a few minutes and it allows me to share my webcam or my own screen (depending what I want) super easily. It’s also great if you have a co-host with you and want Google Hangouts to take care of all the interaction between the two of you.
I collect payments made from sales on my webinars with Digital Product Delivery. This can be especially helpful if you sell an ebook (or digital product you can upload) because you can set it up to deliver your ebook/product directly to your client, instantly upon their purchase giving you a 100% hands off experience. If you’re manually emailing your buyers, you need this asap. DPD also allows you to create really nice checkout pages (or cart pages) which are much, much, much nicer than sending someone directly to a Paypal checkout page. Nicer checkout pages mean more sales. Plus, it allows you to receive payments with both Paypal and Stripe which is super important so you don't disqualify any customers who prefer one service over the other..
What I use to Create and Host my Online Course:
Everything I use to create and sell online courses:
As I mentioned earlier, my course Webinars: Unleashed is currently being hosted on Wordpress via the OptimizePress plugin. I found the OptimizePress templates to be especially nice for creating private members’ areas and allowing you to put content behind a log-in screen. They have a lot of step-by-step tutorials as well so you’re able to get your entire member’s area created in less than 1 day. It’s clean, efficient, and a really good tool to use if you want to host your online course on your own platform rather than putting it up on Udemy or Teachable.
Price: One-time fee of $97 to use on up to 3 different websites.
I upload all the videos that I created for my course on Vimeo and set the privacy to “only show to people who have this link”, which I then sync to OptimizePress. In my opinion, the service is way better than Youtube if you're using it for business and it's also very affordable. It's basically doing the same thing for your business as Libsyn, but for video instead of audio. Again, you don’t want to upload your videos directly onto your platform or you risk making your website super slow.
Price: I have the Vimeo Pro membership which costs $49.95/year and gives me enough storage but you can get started for as little as $0.
--> In case you're wondering how I create the content for my online courses, it's actually very simple: 1. I use keynote to create a presentation for every module that requires a slide-show and 2. I record my screen with Quicktime, which is free for Mac. If you're not a Mac user, check out Camtasia for screen recording.
P.S. *I love some of these tools so much that I became an affiliate for a few of them. So, every time you see an "*" it means that the link provided is an affiliate link. If you decide to buy using my link, I will receive a small commission. So, if you plan on buying anything you see here please use these links - it's a free and easy way to support the blog. Thanks in advance! (By using it you will NOT be charged more than if you used another link, so why not eh?)
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