The Tech in Building a Business.

I get asked a lot about what tools/software/resources I use, when it comes to building a website, growing an email list, etc.

I’ve tried so many different things over the last 10 years. The list below is based on a whole lot of experience, and a whole lot of mistakes along the way!

Things that are important to me now when deciding to use a piece of software:

  1. it has to make my life easier
  2. it has to be easy for me AND my customer
  3. it MUST have good customer support. I am willing to pay a monthly fee for something with excellent customer support, than pay a cheaper, one-time fee, for something that may or may not even exist a year from now.

So, here’s my tech stack! I also have a Tutorial Library that will show you how to use some of these resources (it’s free).

I hope this is helpful to you.

CRM

Infusionsoft – This is the backbone of everything. Nearly everything else I’ve listed below revolves around Infusion as the core.

Infusionsoft is THE hardest software I’ve ever had to learn. They don’t call it ‘Confusionsoft’ for nothing.

It’s worth it though. It can do anything. You start with this blank application that is unbelievably overwhelming to figure out, but you build exactly what you want from there. This is not an application that you fit your business into. It’s an application that you build out to fit your business. It definitely takes a willingness to figure it all out.

Note: I only recently started needing a CRM like this, but it was VERY hard to switch into it with a business already in full-swing. I wish I had started using Infusionsoft much earlier. Live & Learn!

What does it help me with?

  • manage all sales and products in one place
  • manage my membership, automatically sends their login info when they join, handles the cancelation process when they leave, etc.
  • manage the fulfillment for my membership, which was an absolute nightmare prior
  • keeps records of absolutely everything you could ever need to know about customers – what they’ve bought, what email lists they are on, things they’ve needed help with in the past, reminders, and the list goes on and on.
  • set up task and reminders tied to customer’s contact record (i.e. This customer needs her package held until the 15th this month, then ship). 
  • figure my sales tax
  • and more that I don’t even know about yet. I learn new things every day in there.

p.s. Their customer support is stellar. I have called them like 87 times in the last few months, while crash-coursing my way through moving 2K club members into the system. Even though they are probably thinking “oh no, not this girl again,” they are never anything but supportive and wonderful. I’ve got their number saved on my phone, and I know their hold music by heart.

Customer Support/HelpDesk:

I used HelpScout for a long time and really like it. It’s very, very easy to set up and use.

However, I recently switched to FuseDesk, because it integrates with Infusionsoft (if I am in a contact’s record in Infusionsoft, I can see all of their prior emails to me, right in their record).

Shipping & Fulfillment

ShippingEasy (it integrates with both my shopping cart (listed below) and Etsy, so all my sales are automatically brought into the shipping app. It really makes life easier).

Storefront/Shopping Cart

I have tried every shopping cart under the sun. Infusionsoft also has a store/shopping cart, but it’s the worst part of Infusionsfot, and I didn’t want to use it.

I am finally delighted with my setup. Here it is:

WooCommerce This is a free plugin for WordPress, and if you know WordPress, it’s a piece of cake to set up. It integrates with ShippingEasy for super simple fulfillment.

InfusedWoo Plugin This integrates Woo with Infusionsoft. It records all orders in Infusionsoft (which makes life so much easier for figuring total sales, sales tax, etc), so it’s almost just as if I was using the Infusionsoft shopping cart and not my own. It even applies tags so I can trigger further automation after the sale through Infusionsoft.

WooCommerce is updated frequently, and InfusedWoo keeps right up with it so it continues to work properly.

The Membership Site

AccessAlly – This is the membership plugin I use now. (I used to use Wishlist Member).

AccessAlly is awesome. It works on WordPress, and integrates fully and completely with Infusionsoft. Members can self-manage their accounts and orders, right inside the website. I can set access levels for various pages of the site, easily, based on Infusionsoft tags. No hard-coding or crazy techie stuff needed.

They also have awesome customer support. At one point I sent an email on a Saturday night, not expecting a response until Monday at the earliest, and Robin himself (the developer) replied that very night with a solution to my problem. You can’t do any better than that!

Site/Blog Building

(and if you’d like to learn how, HERE is a starter guide I’ve written, just for crafters):

Buying your domain: GoDaddy

Hosting your site: Host Gator still hosts most of my sites, but I moved my membership site to SiteGround, and will probably begin moving everything else eventually, too. (HostGator was good for me for years. But, as the biz grew, I needed a little more.)

WordPress – the free software that I use as the base for all of my sites.

Simple contact form: Contact Form Plugin

Simple sharing buttons for your posts: Simplified Social Sharing Plugin

Backing up the site: Backup Buddy

Designing The Site

Page Builder: Beaver Builder

Email List

Infusionsoft.

Note: I used AWeber for years. They are great for starting out (HERE is an article I wrote awhile back about AWeber).

I stopped using AWeber recently because I moved to Infusionsoft. I moved to Infusion for the other benefits I listed above, but they do email marketing too, so there was no reason to continue with AWeber. If you are not ready for Infusionsoft, I still recommend AWeber.

PopupAlly – This is a plugin from the same people who built AccessAlly, and it also integrates with Infusionsoft. It’s an easy to use popup that you can install and design right in WordPress, with tons of options for customizing both the look and the functionality.

You can even create a sequence of popups. I.E. ask a question in the first pop up (Would you like to learn more about xyz?)… and then show the second box based on your user’s answer.

I am actually not a fan of popups in general – but you can create ‘polite popups’ with this plugin – popups that only appear at a certain time, or when the vistor is about to leave.

I used to use LeadPages for this, but I like PopupAlly much, much more.

Taxes/Payroll/Other Not-Fun-At-All Stuff

I use Quickbooks Online. Bleh.

 

*Please be aware that a couple of the above links are affiliate links. But, I recommend them because I use them myself.

2 Responses
  • Andrew Santos
    February 23, 2016

    Hi Staci,

    Let me start off by saying I love the fact that you are show people how to setup their blog/shop/website and you do it in terms that even a newbie can understand. Thank you for taking the time to layout the foundation for starting an online business in the simplest terms.

    I found the link for “Backing up your site:Backup Creator” under the heading Building Your Site/Blog does not send you to the correct page. Your missing the colon between the http and the two back slashes.

    I like to hear about the shipping software your using and the ones you considered. If you would like to use all or any part of this in your testimonials/comments please do. Thank again.

    Andrew Santos

    • Staci Ann Lowry
      March 25, 2016

      Thank for letting me know about the link, Andrew, I appreciate it!

      Right now I am using ShippingEasy (http://shippingeasy.com). It integrates with my Ecwid shop so that makes it really easy, and it’s also a very simple software to learn. I’ve been very happy with it.

      Unfortunately, I now also have a recurring subscription thing going, and Ecwid does not handle recurring payments. Other solutions I’m considering to take its place do not integrate with ShippingEasy. So, I might be trying out some other shipping softwares soon. (Sounds like a good future blog article 🙂 )

      Thank you again, Andrew!

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *