Some Recommended Tools, Sites and Services
Mentioned During Workshops and Consultations
Updated Oct 2021:
I hope you find this list helpful.
Whenever possible, I provide free alternatives to any premium/paid versions of the tools I recommend.
When there is no free option listed, I truly believe the paid option is worth the price. Of course, if you know a free version that does the same thing, please let me know.
I only like to recommend products I have tried and believe are good, solid solutions. Some links in this list are affiliate links (where I get a referral credit). Think of it as a way of thanking me for introducing you to these products.
If you like my suggestions, please consider using these links. Of course, if you prefer not to, just do a search in Google for the product I referenced.
Say Yes, to Credit Card Processing
Square, it's not just for paying for coffee.
It's for Getting Paid Faster!
Nowadays it is super easy to take a credit card payment and even provide a receipt, payment statement, or invoice to your clients/customers.
Whether you are a coach, consultant, practitioner, author, physical product seller, course creator, or app maker, there comes a time when someone asks “Do you take credit cards?“ And the answer should be a “Yes, of course!”
Cost-effective Payment Processing on your desktop, smartphone or tablet:
I have been using Square for years, but at first, I had to use the Square device on my iPhone. This meant I had to be with the client, and they had to have the appropriate card handy!
Now, I create full invoices for website projects right in the Square Dashboard.
What about repeat invoices?
I can even do recurring payments! That is correct, if someone has a monthly maintenance plan with me, I can automatically invoice them once a month or even once a year.
Why pay the processing fees?
I get it, as a small business it is hard to swallow the additional cost of doing business. But to me it is worth it, because I can get paid faster by credit card.
And my clients like paying with their cards.
It also reinforces to me (and my clients) this is a real business and not just a hobby. I provide a service to busy business owners and I should make paying their invoices as easy as possible.
But What If I Want to Accept Checks?
Even if clients want to pay with checks, I can forward them a statement showing they paid. And it keeps track of all my earnings – which is fun to watch grow – and gives me handy reports.
I highly recommend Square.
Fun Offer: When you sign up and use Square through this referral link, you Get Free Processing on up to $1,000 in sales.
That is correct! When you sign up, you don't get charged a processing fee for the first $1000 in sales. So it is a great way to try it out.
Let me know what you think!
Tools to design, crop and annotate pictures & graphics
Placeit: Have you ever wondered how people got pictures of their website on a device? Or maybe a logo on a t-shirt? Or a cover of an ebook on what looks like a real book? Well, in most cases they pay someone big bucks to do it. But I found this tool that I plan to start testing – and you should as well! Some options are free (but at small sizes), some are paid (seems worth it from the experiments I've tried already). And they even have pre-made videos where you can insert your product, website… Very cool!
Here is a free alternative option called Smartmockups – you can get a bigger version of their image choices for free (which is a plus) – but they don't have pre-made videos or other products (like books, t-shirts).
Below are images of one of my recent client's site redesign projects – children's' book author Julie Danneberg. I've placed a page from her website within in both options. What do you think? Email me and let me know which you like better.
PicMonkey: A great tool (for those without a photo editor) for cropping and resizing images – I use it almost every day and highly recommend it: https://www.picmonkey.com/
Canva: This is another great tool for creating things like header images or ads for your site (without being a graphic designer) https://www.canva.com/
They also have a free iPad version: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/canva-graphic-design-photo/id897446215?mt=8&uo=4&at=11lwm9
Pixlr: A free editing software in place of Photoshop. They also now have a premium version:
Skitch: It lets you take a Screenshot, Annotate and Edit it. I love Skitch, it is now part of Evernote. It’s Free and you can use it without Evernote, as well:
ColorZilla Eyedropper: Browser based way to find out what color is being used
Color Cop: Let’s you find out what color is being used from a PC/Window’s computer http://colorcop.net/
Da Button Factory: Creates buttons for use on websites and email newsletters – very easy to use
Make A Gif: This site lets you take a series of images and turn it into a short gif file (sort of like a Vine Video http://makeagif.com/
Tool to Manage ALL your long crazy passwords in one place
1Password: Remember and Manage ALL your long/secure passwords using one master password to log into this tool:
Tools to check responsiveness of a site (though you can also just resize your browser window to check it, as well)
Resizer Tool: Viewport resizer is a browser-based tool to test any website’s responsiveness.
Blisk: Let’s you do cross-device testing to see what your site will look like on almost any mobile device
Tools to measure something in your browser window
MeasureIt for Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/measureit/
Page Ruler for Chrome: http://blarg.co.uk/tools/page-ruler
Stock Image Sites: places to get images
Here's a great collection of free stock photo sites compiled by in an article. Some of these sites have stunning and/or fun, unique images. The one drawback of many of these sites is though they are generously giving away lots of free images, they don't tend to have a search function. With everything, there is a price for free, and this time it is Your Time to go through the sites. However, if you have more time than money, Christopher has provided a great place to check out some fantastic photographers whose work should be seen. Read the individual agreements – some do have different usage rights: 21 Amazing Sites With Breathtaking Free Stock Photos
Someone in the comment section for the above article mentioned Pixabay, which is another free stock photo site with a search option!
FreeImages.com: Free stock photo site. You can use these images online, but check usage/license agreement. It may cost to use in logos, ads, or products
Since FreeImages is a sister of iStockPhoto (which is owned by Getty), the top and bottom row are Premium images that might cost as low as $2. If you want free images, make sure you stay with images on FreeImage’s site. If you are interested in iStockPhoto images, you can buy credits to purchase their images:
Stocksy: This is a great place to look for ‘un-stocky’ looking stock photos. They are trying to share more realistic images. They are also giving the artists/photographers a more equal split of the profits http://www.stocksy.com/
Maintenance of WordPress
Sucuri.net – You can use their free scanner to make sure your site is safe. But they also offer a monitoring service, this is a great way to make sure your site stays secure. And, if you get hacked and do get malware, they can remove it for you!
BackupBuddy: A premium (paid) plugin that allows you to backup your full site, not just your database. You can also use this tool to MIGRATE your site to another server https://uniquethink.com/movewp
VaultPress by Automattic – https://vaultpress.com/ The company behind WordPress – VaultPress is not a plugin, it is a great backup solution with a one-click restore option. They also have security features (monitoring) in some of their plans.
HOSTING SERVICE PROVIDERS:
Quick Answer is:
GetFlyWheel – a WordPress exclusive hosting solution (that's correct, they only host WordPress websites – so they can be focused on the latest issues and advancements): http://share.getf.ly/e26w3g
- Free 30 days to set up your site!
- Managed speed and caching – it helps to have a fast site – which helps you get found better on Google and helps the person visiting the site
- Automatic backups and simple restores – makes sure your important content is backed up and easy to restore
- WordPress core updates – updating of WordPress is critical (but don't forget you still need to update themes/plugins)
- Malware scanning and cleanup – they monitor the site and if something goes wrong, and your site gets hacked, they clean it for you
Special Limited Time Offer: The friendly and knowledgeable folks at GetFlyWheel have extended an offer for you!
Get either 2 months free paying monthly OR three months free paying annually.
Make sure you use this code at checkout: flyunique
Get the Special Offer – use our promo code at checkout: uniquethink1
Regarding Email Addresses on the Hosting Accounts:
With GetFlyWheel, they DO NOT host Email – but I recommend – regardless of which hosting company you choose – you use Google Workspace to host your email. This lets you use the same secure, fast, and easily accessible services as Gmail to run your company (domain name) email address: http://goo.gl/2er1by
Regarding Domain Registration: Though some hosting packages offer 1 free domain registration, I typically encourage folks to purchase their domain registration somewhere else and then point it to your hosting account (think of it like forwarding a phone number). You can keep all your registered domains in one location and it could possibly be easier to move (if you change hosting) in the future. Some domain registration service to consider are Godaddy (just for Domain Registration, NOT for hosting), Name.com (which happen to be Denver), IWantMyDomain.com
Email Marketing Service Provider
Picking an email marketing service provider may require a deeper conversation, partly because it depends on what tools you need which provider will be best. Here are some reasons I like or may dislike some of the below companies:
Constant Contact is good for Low-Tech folks who need to be able to call someone on the phone. But they were bought by a company called EIG. Easily send out email newsletters. They also have tools for doing surveys, collecting email addresses on social media, signing folks up for events and auto-responder tools. https://uniquethink.com/go/cc
GetResponse – I was using this for a client who needed more features than Constant Contact (landing pages, for example), and though I like them, they were not as user friendly as I had hoped. My client found them a bit cumbersome for doing a standard broadcast email, but overall liked their landing page option and automation features. If you need those things, they are worth checking out. If you simply need email newsletters, stick with Constant Contact.
MailerLite – These are the guys I am watching. They offer a free plan, which is a great way to see if you like them without an investment. Though they aren't a household name, they have an easy to use platform for everything from an email newsletter to an auto email series. They also offer landing pages. So I'd say check them out for something more robust than Constant Contact.
Drip is another option that is new, but they seem to focus on dripping content (as the name suggests) based on actions and automation more than standard newsletters or RSS feeds. They are a child company of LeadPages (which is an expensive landing page tool, though Drip offers a free plan to try their autoresponder services out). The concept is promising, but requires a deep level of strategic thought. This is not a replacement for Constant Contact or MailChimp, this is about timed emails based on action or inaction of signups.
ConvertKit is more for automation email series, but does let you do broadcast emails (newsletters – in a stripped down format). It is the tool I tried last year for the client I mentioned I moved to GetResponse. We were both very disappointed with ConvertKit, after hearing so many people say they loved it. I think those folks were comparing it to Infusionsoft (which is a much more expensive and complex system for drip automation). My thought is that maybe one day ConvertKit's toolset will be worth using, but not quite there yet.
Focusing on the many possibilities… Bethany
*Some links in this list are affiliate link, I try to compare products and give recommendations based on options I have tried and believe are good, solid solutions.