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!
First, the software.
Things that are important to me now when deciding to use a piece of software:
- it has to make my life easier
- it has to be easy for me AND my customer
- 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.
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.
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).
I like that part, but I am still not sure how I feel about FuseDesk as a whole. It’s not as simple as HelpScout, I don’t love that they charge extra for a FOLDER (they call it a ‘Department’, but come on – I just want to organize!), and simple things like forwarding an email is totally over-complicated. I have been trying to stick with it because of how much I want these records stored permanently in Infusionsoft, but I have been actively searching for alternatives.
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.
It does NOT integrate with Infusionsoft out of the box (boo). But, I simply upload my fulfillment list from Infusionsoft (for the membership) to it each month, and it’s pretty painless.
All other (non-membership) product orders are automatically brought in to ShippingEasy.
I have tried every shopping cart under the sun. Infusionsoft also has a store/shopping cart, but it’s the worst part of Infusionsoft, 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!
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.) UPDATE: So, last Black Friday, I had a major influx of traffic, and my site totally crashed. I ended up having to get a dedicated server, and I went through Host Gator after all. I like their support. I am NOT so fond of SiteGround’s support – although, in their defense, I haven’t needed it much. But, when I DID Need it, the person I spoke to acted like I was stupid. Well, he was right.. I AM stupid.. about THAT kind of stuff. Which is why I was calling! Derp. Anyway… I just like Host Gator. It might just be that I’ve used them for so long. (<–okay, rant over.)
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
Blog Theme – SugarBlog
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.
And second, the physical products:
(shipping supplies, office products, photography equipment, etc, coming soon!)
*Please be aware that a couple of the above links are affiliate links. But, I recommend them because I use them myself.