I'm a huge believer in the massive leverage you can gain by a great tool, app, or extension. Just take a peek at my AppSumo account and you'll see that I love buying and testing tools. Here are some of my absolute favorites!
Note that many of the links below are affiliate links, meaning we'll earn a commission if you buy them (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support!
ThriveCart- I absolutely love ThriveCart because it allows you to create landing pages, enroll students into your courses with their high-converting checkout pages, and set up sales funnels. But the best part is it's also an LMS (learning management system) meaning you can build your course right in "Thrivecart Learn" (included with ThriveCart) and deliver it to new purchasers without having to integrate with another platform. It checks so many boxes - shopping cart, affiliate manager, online course platform. Oh, and while other services charge $150+ per month for all this, ThriveCart offers a 1-time payment for a lifetime subscription. Learn more.
Hubspot - I use HubSpot as an all-in-one marketing, sales, and service platform that provides tools for customer relationship management (CRM), email marketing, analytics, and content management (therisetothetop.com uses the Hubspot CMS which is like an alternative to Wordpress). When it comes to online courses, we use HubSpot to manage and nurture leads on our email list, create targeted marketing campaigns, and our support email goes to Hubspot where we manage customer support. Learn more.
Vimeo - I use Vimeo to host all our instructional course videos which I embed into ThriveCart. Depending on the course platform that you use, you may not need video hosting. It's included in some platforms like Kajabi - or at least, they partner with 3rd parties like Wistia or Vimeo to host the videos, but you don't have to pay. For me, the combination of Vimeo and ThriveCart is a lot less expensive than any other option and offers a clean, video viewing experience. Learn more.
Dropbox - Dropbox is a cloud storage service that allows you to store and share files and documents. In our courses, I use it to share course materials, such as lecture notes, presentation slides, chat transcripts from live recordings, audio downloads, and other reading materials. Learn more.
Envato PlaceIt- A fantastic tool for creating realistic mockups and promotional images. I use it to showcase course previews across various digital devices and monitor sizes, which adds a professional touch to my marketing materials. Learn more.
Paypal and Stripe - Essential for processing payments seamlessly. These both integrate with ThriveCart in a couple of clicks as well as most course platforms or shopping carts. I rely on both to handle transactions for course enrollments, ensuring a smooth and secure payment experience for my students.
Closely related to online course tools is the video recording tools I use. If you're going to do screen recordings (just recording Powerpoint slides, for example), all you need is a screen capture tool and a decent webcam with solid sound quality, along with an audio editor like Descript. If you plan to record videos of yourself, you should also consider a DSLR camera and lighting. For most courses, prosumer level (high quality but not professional), will suffice.
Basic Video Setup:
Logitech Brio 4K Webcam - This is hands down the best webcam on the market. Even if you don't have great lighting, it makes you look like a star and the audio is fantastic. If you're on a tight budget, you can get by just creating videos with your Brio. If you then run it through an audio editor like Descript's "studio sound" effect, you come out sounding amazing. See price on Amazon.
Snagit - Best tool for screen capture, not only for recording online courses but excellent for sharing clips with your team or VA's. Learn more.
Descript - For a simple and fun-to-use video editor, I have been loving Descript lately. I use it primarily because it creates a transcript of your video and you can cut segments of the video out by deleting the words in the transcript. This is SOOOO much easier than watching a video back and finding the spot on the timeline that you want to cut. I also use Descript for it's professional "studio sound" audio effect which can take average sound quality and make it sound professional. It's pretty awesome. Last, I've been playing around with an "eye contact" feature it has which allows you to read a script without looking at the camera and it corrects your eyes to make it look like you're looking at the camera. Learn more.
StoryBlocks- for high-quality background videos, although Canva and Descript have a nice selection as well. Learn more.
Castmagic - Once I'm done creating a short video, my VA runs it through Castmagic which "magically" provides everything they need to post the video on our channels like catchy titles, keyword rich descriptions, and hashtags. Learn more.
More Advanced Setup:
I like adding personalized videos to my courses on top of the screen recordings. For that, and not to mention for high-quality video for YouTube, Tiktok, Instagram, etc, you need something higher quality than just the Brio. Here's my set up.
Canon Rebel T7i - I've had this DSLR camera for a few years and love it. You can see it below. I use it with my Takstar mic and DivaRingLight and it produces super high quality videos. I'm no video expert and honestly just shoot using the automatic settings which works great for inside my office. But if you want to dive in, it has a ton of manual settings for shooting in different lighting and settings. See price on Amazon.
Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone - Just plug it into your USB and get a boom arm like this along with a with a wind screen or pop filter. It's the best quality, low priced prosumer mic on the market. If you use this with the pop filter, you can get professional level sound as long as there is no ambient noise or echo where you record, which can help you avoid having to run it through an audio editor. I've honestly not been using mine lately as I've been using primarily my Brio or Takstar and then cleaning up the audio with Descript. See price on Amazon.
DivaRingLight by Nova - This ring light has been a game-changer for my video quality. When I started looking into lighting, I was overwhelmed with the complicated set ups that included multiple lights. Honestly, all I do is use this ring light now to enhance my recordings. I use it with my Canon Rebel T7i when recording both course videos and social media content. It's easy to set up and makes a noticeable difference in video clarity and appeal. See price on Amazon.
Camtasia - For Mac or PC, it's the perfect prosumer level video editor. Simple enough for a non-techy person to use for critical editing and robust enough to do some killer editing if you know what you're doing. Learn more.
You also need a tripod for your camera and ring light. I don't love my Digital Concepts tripod, so I can't recommend it here. Once I find one I like, I'll add the recommendation.
Active Campaign - I've tried Aweber, Constant Contact, Mailchimp, and more. I just find Active Campaign the easiest and most intuitive to use, especially when it comes to tagging, segmentation, and creating if/then automations. Learn more.
Hubspot - For email marketing, Hubspot is a powerhouse, offering personalized email campaigns and insightful analytics to better engage with our audience. Learn more.
Social Media Management:
Buffer - I've used this in the past to schedule videos and posts to Tiktok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter/X, and LinkedIn. It's a real time-saver for maintaining a consistent social media presence. I'm just ramping this up now for RT3.
SEO & Article Creation:
ChatGPT- A game-changer for content creation. I'm now using ChatGPT to help with content planning, article writing, and image creation, among 1,000 other things I use it for. It's like having an AI assistant for brainstorming and generating content ideas. Learn more.
Dall-E 2 - An AI image creation tool that I use to design unique, visually appealing graphics for blog posts and social media. Note that if you have a ChatGPT pro account, you can create Dall-E images in there. If all you need is the image creation though, Dall-E is amazing. Learn more.
Canva -A go-to for creating stunning visual content. It's incredibly user-friendly, perfect for designing everything from social media graphics to featured images for blog posts to thumbnails to course materials. Learn more.
DepositPhotos- An excellent resource for high-quality stock photos and graphics, which I use to enhance the visual appeal of my courses and marketing materials. AppSumo usually runs a deal every year to buy 100 image credits for $47. It's a fantastic deal. Learn more.
Ahrefs - A powerful tool for SEO research and keyword tracking that I literally check every single day. It's instrumental in planning our content and optimizing our website content for better search engine visibility. Learn more.
Grammarly - Essential for ensuring error-free, professional writing. I use it to proofread course content, emails, and blog posts. Learn more.
Google Console & Google Analytics/ GA-4 - These tools are crucial for monitoring website performance and understanding user behavior, helping me to understand our traffic sources and behavior and make better decisions.
Siteground - Reliable hosting with excellent customer service. It's the backbone of all of my Wordpress websites. It ensures fast load times and minimal downtime. Learn more.
Godaddy - I use it to register new domains and then for domain management, primarily its DNS access. It's straightforward and efficient for managing and renewing our domain names. Just watch out for the automatic renewals on all the domains you register. I'm up to over 30 domains, most of which I don' t use, and they're starting to add up! Learn more.
Thrive Themes - Great for building conversion-focused WordPress sites. Check out bartehrman.com to see it in action. I built that entire site with Thrive's "ThemeBuilder" which allows you to customize everything in the theme from the fonts and colors to the look and feel of the header, footer, nav, sidebar, body, and more. I also use it to create appealing and effective landing pages. Learn more.
Leadpages - A powerful tool for creating landing and opt-in pages. It's so versatile that you can practically run a digital marketing business without even having a traditional website. Learn more.
PushEngage- I use this for collecting push notification subscribers and to send updates about new posts, keeping our audience engaged. Learn more.
Accessibe - An accessibility tool that I've implemented on most of our sites. It improves user experience for those with visual impairments and protects against accessibility-related lawsuits. Check it out.
Zoom Webinar - My preferred platform for hosting webinars. The recordings are great for creating online courses or evergreen webinar content. Learn more.
ClickUp - A versatile project management tool that helps us organize tasks, track progress, and collaborate efficiently as a team. Learn more.
Slack - Essential for team communication. It's where all our project discussions and quick updates happen. Learn more.
Upwork - A great platform for finding freelancers and professionals for various tasks, from web development to content creation. Learn more.
Fiverr - Similar to Upwork, I use it for quick, small tasks or when I need something done urgently. I think of Upwork for longer-term contract work and Fiverr for quick hits. The range of services available is impressive. Learn more.
DarrenDaily - Darren Hardy is my "success mentor." If you're a high achiever and want daily tips on productivity, team building, attitude, and success with money, life, or relationships, you should sign up for his free daily video. You're guaranteed to be inspired. Learn more.
1440 Newsletter - This newsletter provides a concise and unbiased daily news summary, saving me hours of reading time. Learn more.
Flipboard App - I use it on my iPhone for staying updated with the latest marketing and business news. It's like a personalized digital magazine. Learn more.
Brain.fm - Darren Hardy, mentioned above, taught me to work on critical work during dedicated, distraction free time slots of an hour to 1.5 hours called "jam sessions." During my daily jam sessions, I put my phone on "do not disturb" and wear headphones playing brain.fm's "focus" audio file. It helps me to block out the outside world and keeps my mind focused on the task at hand. Learn more.