How $2,081.39 in Software Allows Me to Run My Business From Anywhere
It wasn't all that long ago when I got a call from one of my mastermind clients urging me to make some upgrades to my landing page software. Back then, the thought of spending $97 on a WordPress plugin was ludicrous.
Want to listen? There's an audio version below
Now, nearly four years later, my business is built on powerful software that allows me to access, manage, and grow my businesses from anywhere in the world. Today, I'll share with you how $2,081.39 a year pays for the software I use daily to power my business.
How much does it cost to start an online business? Is it hundreds of dollars? Thousands? And, how do I decide what I need and what I don't need?
If you have questions like those, check out my post called, The Real Cost of Starting an Online Business, where I outline how you can get started the RIGHT WAY for less than $1400.
And by the way, the image shown above is one I took while in Costa Rica, where I was able to create content and market my business from out bungalow.
Ok, let's get down to business. Let's look at what software I have, and what I pay.
The $2,081.39 that Allows Me to Run My Business From Anywhere
But before we do that, real quick, I have two things I need to point out. First, what I've outlined below are only recurring fees, not one-off purchases I make. The amount also doesn't include hardware like computers, cameras, or recording equipment. Second, some of the links below are affiliate links, but, I only recommend resources after I've used and tested them myself.
UPDATE Feb. 21, 2018: I now no longer use the add-ons for Stripe, ActiveCampaign, or Recurring Payments from Easy Digital Downloads. Stripe is now a free add-on for WooCommerce, and I now use ThriveCart to integrate with ActiveCampaign and to handle my recurring payments. Switching to ThriveCart saves me $332 each year.
ThriveCart - $595 (one time)
I purchased ThriveCart to handle upsells, downsells, and my affiliate program. Since ThriveCart operates primarily on its own website, you don't need an SSL to use it. Plus, with its deep integration with ActiveCampaign, I can add or remove tags from contacts, add purchasers to automations, and other cool stuff. I've only started using it, but I can already see how ThriveCart can help me make more money.
Easy Digital Downloads - Stripe 2-5 Sites Add-on - $82/yr
Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) is freemium software. I started using them back in 2012 when I was selling my first ebooks, and I've stuck with them. The Stripe add-on is a paid service that allows me to take payments directly on my site through Stripe without having to send people offsite to complete the transaction. Keeping clients on my site creates a better (and more controllable) user experience.
Easy Digital Downloads - ActiveCampaign 2-5 Sites Add-on - $23/yr
While you could connect EDD to ActiveCampaign through Zapier, that method just adds another link in the chain and one more possible point of failure. This add-on is pretty simple - it allows new purchasers to automatically subscribe to my email list at their time of purchase.
Easy Digital Downloads - Recurring Payments 2-5 Sites Add-on - $227/yr
When I started hosting mastermind groups in 2014, I needed a way to bill customers every month without having to send them an invoice and hope they pay it. This add-on allows me to auto-bill my clients and not have to worry about it. Plus, I never have to worry about someone saying, "the check is in the mail."
Calendly - Premium - $96/yr
I never schedule anything myself. I use Calendly to schedule podcast interviews, coaching calls, lunch meetings, and anything else that might need to be on my calendar. If you're still doing the back and forth of "are you free on X day, no? how about Y? no? Well, when are you free?" STOP. Get Calendly.
Zoom Web Conference - Pro - $108.14/yr
I host all of my coaching and mastermind calls with Zoom. Though their video quality leaves something to be desired, I like how I can record calls with just a click, share my screen, and even make annotations when other people share their screen with me. Zoom also works well for hosting webinars. Zoom also has a free plan if you'd like to try it out.
Buffer Awesome Plan - $102/yr
To automate and scale your business, you (sometimes) need to automate your social sharing. Buffer also has a free plan if you'd like to try it out.
ActiveCampaign - Small Business - $410.76/yr
I've tried several email marketing services over the past several years, and none of them are as powerful as ActiveCampaign. And, none of them have as good of a price. You can get started for less than $8/mo if you pay a year in advance. I use ActiveCampaign to send all of my email campaigns, and autoresponders and their site tracking features enable me to track the activity of visitors on my website and send them targeted follow-ups. ActiveCampaign also has a 14-day trial you should definitely take a look at.
Post Office Box - $120/yr
While not software, a Post Office Box does allow me certain freedom to operate online. Every time you purchase a new domain, and sometimes when you sign up for other services, you have to share your address. I'm not ok with having my home address listed, so I got a Post Office box. With a P.O. box, you can get some privacy as well as have someone collect your mail so it doesn't pile up on your doorstep. Some boxes will even forward your mail anywhere in the world.
ThriveThemes - $228/yr
I have the full suite of plugins from ThriveThemes, and I use almost all of them. Their visual editor, Thrive Architect, is amazing and makes building landing pages easy. Their Leads plugin allows me to split-test almost every opt-in box I create which allows me to increase conversions. I'm also using Thrive Apprentice to manage eight weeks of lessons for 8 Weeks to Exit. ThriveThemes is probably the best software out there for new website designers, as well as those of us who've been in the game for several years.
WP Rocket - $99.50/yr
Having a fast website is critical in today's world of instant streaming. Nobody waits anymore! With WP Rocket, I can get pages to load in under a second in most cases. After trying W3TC and several other free plugins which left me unimpressed, I gave WP Rocket a try, and I'm very pleased.
Smart Podcast Player - $67.90/yr
A couple of years ago, I went on a search for a better way to show podcasts on my site. After a fair amount of research, I found Smart Podcast Player. One of the main reasons I chose this player is for the speed-up option; I love that people can listen to whatever speed they want. SPP looks great and their support team is fantastic.
WPEngine WordPress Hosting - $309.14/yr
I wrote about why I switched to WPEngine here, but since then, I've been thoroughly impressed with not only the speed of my site but with their support too. My website has never been faster. If you use this link you can get 20% off your first payment.
Grammarly - $139.95/yr
If you write, you need Grammarly. I first signed up for Grammarly Premium when I started writing Exit Strategy, and I'm so glad I did. Grammarly checks for more than just spelling, and it has helped me correct grammatical errors all over the web. Grammarly has a free plan too.
Additional Software I Use:
WPForms - $499
WPForms is the best form plugin available for WordPress. They keep adding features, and through their blog, they share valuable tips on how to get the most out of the plugin. If you're relying on the form built-into WordPress, you're going to LOVE WPForms. With a connection to ActiveCampaign through Zapier, I can do amazing things.
In the context of debating a $97 purchase in 2014, $2000 a year seems like a lot. However, in the context of my entire business, and being able to log in and manage everything I do from a laptop with an internet connection, $2000 a year is nothing. I wouldn't trade my life for anything, and I'd love to teach you how to do what I do. If you're interested, go to http://www.8WeekstoExit.com and ENROLL!