Technology that powers Writerville
Writerville is a self-hosted WordPress website. That means WordPress provides the foundation and a variety of plugins are added to provide specific functions. In addition, I use a small collection of other products to help create content, and manage my community.
Core Platform Tools
Thrive Themes provides a suite of tools that let me build my websites without having to write code. They also provide frequent tutorials. You can read more about how I use them here.
Active Campaign is one of the new style communications management systems. It is built to handle complex email and other needs that individualize communications. It is sometimes described as a cheaper and easier to use system than InfusionSoft.
I have only started learning how to use it, and there is a lot of work ahead of me. However, it is clear this is the direction internet marketing is going and the sooner I get up to speed the better.
Active Member 360
Active Member is a Plugin which is specifically designed to work with Active Campaign. It is the puzzle piece that handles memberships. It hides content so only members can see it. It tracks who has paid, who is signed up for what, etc. It is essential if you have content which you want to restrict to paying members.
Thrive Cart is a new format shopping cart that currently only supports digital products. It is easy to use, very powerful, and the developers promise many improvements. It is probably more than a small operator like myself needs, but there is no question is would scale well.
Product Creation Tools
If video is part of your plans you need Camtasia for sure if you are on a Windows system. If you are a Mac user either Camtasia 9 or Screenflow will work for you.
Office 365 Word, Excel, Powerpoint
Powerpoint is the sleeper here. It has way more power as a product creation tool that I realized. I heard so many jokes about "Death by Powerpoint" I discounted it for years. That was a big mistake. For the kind of work I do, it let me drop my $50/mo subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud.
Presenter Media is a constantly updating site that offers all kinds of animations, templates, clip art, etc. to liven up your articles or videos. I have discovered that when the emails about the latest and greatest new presentation products show up in my inbox, I should check with Presenter Media before I buy. Frequently they already have something as good or better. They just don't beat you over the head with fake scarcity and constant email blasts.
System Management Tools
I knew WordPress is on a four month upgrade cycle, but had no idea how many other plugin updates and other changes constantly happen. Sync sends me a daily email that shows me if there are updates available for any of my sites. If there are I click "Update" and Sync updates all of them at one time. SInce my business plan involves a lot (25-50) small websites this is a really useful service.
iThemes Security Pro
You may have heard about how hackers are always looking for ways to get into your websites, but until you install a security plugin you have no idea how common this is. Some of my sites have had an attempted login every few minutes for hours. They all come from different IP address so you can't just block them. You need a service that locks them out for a while.
Most of the hack attempts come from "Script Kiddies" who don't really know much. So making some changes to how you name and store files will stop many hack attempts. Don't use "admin" as your WordPress user name for example. That's the name they all try first.
iThemes Backup Buddy
Backup is important. Most, including me, don't do it as often as we should. Many others THINK they are doing regular backups, but they never test to see if they can actually restore from their backups. Frequently it comes as a really ugly surprise when they find out they can't.
For me the most valuable feature of BackupBuddy is the ability to restore a site to a new domain. I can build an updated site on some domain and when I am happy with it, change the name and replace an old website without having to worry about errors.
Dropbox is a popular cloud storage company. Most services you might use will support reading and writing files to/from Dropbox. I use it as a combination backup site and convenient way to find my files no matter what physical location I am working from.
Evernote clips and stores web pages of all kinds. It is a premier research tool. It makes it easy to save interesting articles as you happen upon them. They get stored in a logical way that you control and are available when you are ready to write on a topic.
WiredTree or Siteground or DigitalOcean
You need a place to host your website. Selecting a provider is not easy because there are hundreds of hosting companies who want your money. Many will promise anything to get it. Many fail to deliver on their promises.
You need a way to collect money that is trusted and secure. You do NOT want to store anyone's financial information on your own website.
Vimeo Pro or YouTube or Wistia
If video is part of your product or service you need a place to host them. Because video files are so large you probably do not want to host them directly on your own site. In addition, services like Vimeo or Wistia recode you original video so it is optimized for playback on all different kinds of devices.
LMS system or Thinkific
If you need a Learning Management System will have a choice of 30+ to select from. If your course includes video you will need a video hosting provider such as Vimeo or Wistia. If you choose to use a LMS platform like Thinkific they provide the hosting as part of their monthly fee.
Smugmug is a really convenient place to host photos and videos. It was designed by photographers for photographers so I trust them to take good care of my images. If you have Dropbox or some other cloud storage available they are not required, but I will keep using them.
Steve Dotto is an educator who teaches the use of video for education and marketing. It includes green screen techniques, equipment advice, and a lot of other helpful material.
He attributes his online success to YouTube marketing. He claims it is as easy to produce a good video as it is to write a good blog post. He puts his efforts into publishing a lot of good YouTube videos that drive traffic to his website where he sells courses. I have found his advice to accurate and helpful.
I have been buying video courses from him for years. They are always very good. Unlike so many, he is realist about what is actually required for online success. His courses also stand the test of time. I find myself frequently revisiting two or three year old trainings because they still provide valuable reminders.
Answer The Public They provide suggestions for blog posts that will be popular in every niche. I think I could use them to find topics with which to populate websites in niches about which I know very little. Its a free service and they offer a mini-course on how to best use it.
Beacon looks really interesting as a tool to quickly make attractive PDFs for sale. It may also have some use for developing scripts for my videos. I am still not sure if I need this tool, or if PowerPoint would do everything I need.
This is another case where I may not need a new product. The old standby (PPT) may already have the same fetures; I just didn't know that.