Start, scale and automate your online business with the right tech
The technology tools listed below are ideal for the small business entrepreneur who needs powerful capabilities that are free or at a reasonable cost.
Every small business is unique so what worked for me may not be the case for you.
I share technology that I have personal experience with and recommend based on the cost, value, and ease of use.
The intent is to reduce the learning curve for people with limited technical expertise.
I value tech independence to reduce lock-in and the autonomy to move to another tool or service at any time.
See business coaching if you need help learning and quickly implementing technology for your small business.
Earn passive income from ads delivered on your engagement channels
Adsense offers a free method to earn income from displaying ads on your website. Right now I am using this very sparingly to experiment, but the income expectations are very low when compared to other forms of monetization.
Amazon Associates enables you to earn commissions when a person engages with a product advertisement on your site and a purchase is then made on Amazon.com. I use this program to provide value to my audience with products that I have used and recommend.
Amazon Influencer Program
The Amazon Influencer Program is an extension to the Amazon Associates program specifically designed for social media influencers. If you qualify based on engagement metrics across your channels, you get your own Amazon page URL to showcase your product recommendations.
Use insights to grow and optimize your business
Google Analytics is the standard for analyzing the traffic that comes to your website. It enables you to segment users across many different dimensions to learn more about your audience. Insights on the acquisition, behavior, and conversion of users help to optimize content and the experience I offer.
Google PageSpeed Insights
PageSpeed Insights analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster. Optimizing page rending is essential for improving your Google search rankings and a positive online experience for your audience.
Interact with people via video and chat
Microsoft Teams is how I enable a secure, private video and chat collaboration experience with my customers and audience. This is bundled in the Microsoft 365 subscription, so it’s tightly integrated with my Office calendar and tools.
Slack is an easy to use collaboration platform that is highly effective for remote teams and communication among people inside and outside the organization. I use it to collaborate with people in organizations I do business with.
Chatra is a messaging service that enables you to talk with visitors on your website via live chat. It also integrates across your other channels including email and social messaging to have a seamless engagement with your audience. There is a free plan available.
CONTENT CREATION & MANAGEMENT
Create and manage content used across all engagement channels
Grammarly is an online writing assistant that plugs right into all of my content creation tools to check grammar, improve the clarity and effectiveness of my writing. I use Grammarly within WordPress to author posts, Word docs, all web experiences, and my iPhone to write content.
OneDrive securely stores, manages, and synchronizes my content across all devices so I can easily work from anywhere and each device that is suitable for the task. You will likely not use the 1TB that included in the Microsoft 365 subscription.
Unsplash is a great source of freely usage images when you provide attribution to the creator when you use it on a website. I have found this to be a valuable source of photos that enhance the visual experience of my audience.
Run your business from anywhere
The MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and iPhone are my essential devices in the Apple ecosystem.
Schedule events and sell tickets
The Events Calendar
The Events Calendar is a WordPress plug-in that makes it easy to manage and display all of my virtual and in-person events on my website. This provides a one-stop-shop for my audience on where we can engage online and offline.
Eventbrite is a standard for managing ticket sales (free and paid) to virtual and paid events. It’s super convenient and you can integrate the Eventbrite checkout process into your website.
Engage, grow, and convert your audience
Google My Business
Google My Business provides a free Business Profile that lets you manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps. This enables you to increase brand awareness, increase leads, and deliver targeted offers on Google.
Mailchimp offers a marketing platform for small businesses and they offer a free plan up to 1,000 subscribers.
Increase brand awareness and user acquisition with paid advertising across Google Search, Google Maps, and other partners. You only pay for results that deliver clicks to your website or calls to your business.
ConvertKit is the ideal email marketing platform for creators that are building online businesses. The user experience is easy and intuitive. I find their online resources very helpful for growing your audience.
$ This is an affiliate link.
Hootsuite is a social media intelligence platform that enables you to spot, track, and analyze trends in real-time. Schedule and publish content to the right channels at the right time, and manage all of your social content in a single collaborative calendar. Get started with a free plan.
Record and distribute podcasts
Anchor is a free podcasting platform that is operated by Spotify. As a new creator, I have found Anchor very easy to create content (with my iPhone!) and then Anchor handles synchronization to all major podcasting platforms. A great way to get started at no cost.
Optimize your productivity and impact
For $5/month, I use Microsoft 365 Business Basic for business-branded email and the full power of Office applications. 1TB of storage and OneDrive to dynamically sync your content across all devices. This is a lifesaver as I use multiple devices including my iPhone to access content on the go. Collaborating with customers via a private, secure video conference using Teams offers live interaction. The capabilities for the price is incredible.
Enabling prospects and customers to easily schedule a meeting based on our mutual availability is essential to my business. I use Calendly on my website to enable people to book meetings events during specific windows on my calendar. I use specific links in email communications to provide prospects and customers an easy experience to book time.
Airtable is a productivity platform with spreadsheet-like capabilities but the power of a database to power key processes using premade templates. I use the free version as a simple sales CRM for direct sales services and plan my content calendar. The possibilities are endless. Save yourself time and money from buying specific apps such as CRM when you can do most of what is needed in Airtable.
Pocket is a convenient app that easily enables you to save a link and page to read at a later time. When are on the Internet or mobile device and don’t have time to engage in the content, Pocket builds a custom page in a browser and mobile app.
Sell products and services that deliver money to your bank account
If you run a WordPress site and want to extend it with e-commerce capabilities, then WooCommerce is a free plugin to power your online store. This enables customers to browse my products and services and purchase securely using a credit card. There are paid add-ons such as subscriptions and memberships that will be valuable as my business grows over time.
Paypal Checkout provides the capability for customers to purchase products and services using PayPal, Venmo, PayPal Credit, and major credit cards and debit cards – on almost any device. This particular Paypal service does not require a monthly fee as all fees are based on transactions.
I use the Teachable platform to host my online courses and coaching products. It’s an incredible, easy to use platform that includes all of the tools you need to sell your digital knowledge products and deliver money to your bank account.
Stripe is the leading e-commerce platform and you can create an account for free that can be integrated with e-commerce platforms such as WooCommerce. I have used Stripe to process payments for my coaching service.
Shopify is one of the leading e-commerce platforms to build an online business. This is an ideal solution for entrepreneurs that do not have to deal with managing technology as Shopify handles all of it so you can focus on selling.
Increase traffic to your site through search
SEO is critical for increasing site traffic from search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Yoast SEO is the top WordPress plug-in for optimizing your website content for search. I use the free version until I have a need to upgrade to paid.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console provides tools and reports to help you measure search traffic to your site, fix issues, and optimize content for search. For example, you can see which queries bring users to your site. The console can also help your monitor and improve how your content shows up as rich snippets on Google Search.
Google Structured Data Testing Tool
Google uses structured data to understand the content on a page and improve the context and relevancy of search results to the user. The Google Structured Data Testing Tool validates the correctness of the structured metadata on your pages.
Stay safe and secure while running your business
Creating, managing, and accessing passwords across all my devices is solved with LastPass. I used the free plan for many years and recently upgraded to LastPass for Families so that my family can manage their password but also provide them with easy, secure access to mine in the case of an emergency.
When you are on the go and need to access public WiFi, a VPN is essential to protect your communications over a secure channel. IPVanish secures internet connections on any device which is critical when you access WiFi from your phone on public open networks.
Engage your audience on an experience specifically designed for them
DreamHost offers a compelling set of hosting options and I have found their user experience amazing. The documentation is comprehensive and the customer support has always been helpful in answering questions and resolving issues. As a customer, I highly recommend DreamHost for powering your WordPress site.
$ This is an affiliate link.
The Extra, Divi, Bloom, and Monarch products from Elegant Themes power the experience on my website. The content creation and configuration experience are fantastic. The theme customization options are endless. I have found the customer support team super responsive. Absolutely love Elegant Themes.
$ This is an affiliate link.
Bluehost is one of the most popular and respected WordPress hosting platforms. They offer a complete set of capabilities including hosting, domains, and advanced tools to optimize the site performance. The Cloudflare CDN capability is also integrated into your hosting plan.
$ This is an affiliate link.
Cloudflare offers a portfolio of networking products including a global Content Delivery Network (CDN) that protects and distributes your content to optimize performance. They offer a free plan for individuals for projects that aren’t business-critical. It’s easy to use and configure services regardless of where you host your domains and content.
WordPress.com is a fully managed WordPress platform that also offers domains and e-commerce capabilities. This is an ideal solution for solopreneurs that want to use the power of WordPress but not consume time managing a self-hosted implementation.