I often get asked what tools I use to build and grow a platform. Below are a few of the many resources I find helpful for authors, speakers, thought leaders, and anyone else trying to expand their influence online and off.
Disclaimer: While many of the tools listed are free, some are paid resources using affiliate links. If you purchase through them, I might earn a commission (thank you) at no additional cost to you. Please note that these are resources, tools, etc., that I’ve either used in the past, or continue to use now; or come from helpful companies or individuals that I know and trust… That’s why I’m listing them here for you!
IF YOU ARE NEW HERE, BE SURE TO ALSO CHECK OUT SOME HELPFUL POSTS:
7 Helpful Marketing Tips for Authors (and Those with Something to Say or Sell)
4 Step Guide to Writing / Publishing Your Book
Why Most Authors Should Not Have Social Media Accounts for Their Books
14 Platform Building Tips for Authors
If you have any tools you’d suggest, leave a comment below and let me know.
PLATFORM BUILDING TOOLBOX
Web Hosting & Support
Bluehost: Need help hosting a blog or website? For as low as $3.95, you can get set up on Bluehost. Bluehost is one of the leading web hosts on the Internet, and they offer 24/7 customer service. They also help you register a domain and install WordPress, and you can get set up in minutes.
HostGator: Another great resource for hosting website and domains.
WordPress Service Squad: If you have a WordPress site / blog and need help in any way, from small fixes to bigger needs… WP Service Squad is a great trustworthy solution.
Courses & Communities
Platform University: Michael Hyatt’s Platform University is by far one of the best communities for platform builders to join!
WordPress: This is the free blogging software that we use and recommend. It’s the best. Best of all, it’s FREE! That link will take you to the Bluehost page where you can get a self-hosted blog set up.
Principle Design: If you need help getting your WordPress site off the group or customized to look awesome, Principle Design can help.
Compfight: This is the resource I use every day to illustrate my blog posts with beautiful photos that don’t cost me a dime.
How to Launch a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less: A great guide from Michael Hyatt.
The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your Own Blog: This free guide will teach you everything you need to know to launch a blog.
Membership Sites & Generating Passive Income
Wishlist Member: One of the best and easiest membership site solutions out there. Integrates with WordPress easy.
SmartPassiveIncome.com: Love Pat Flynn’s knowledge and how he shares it on his site. If you don’t subscribe to his site and podcast yet, you should. Tons of ideas to help you monetize.
Get Paid Daily: My friend Casey Graham is behind this one. Casey is fastly become the go-to guy in this area. He has created millions in recurring revenue via membership sites and will show you how as well.
I’ll be eventually providing additional support and training for authors / platform builders in this area but in the interim, check out the resources of Amy Porterfield and Jon Loomer.
As far as social media management goes, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are what I use.
You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One): This best-selling eBook by Jeff Goins offers practical tips and inspiration for how you can start living the dream and become a real writer by believing you already one.
Bird by Bird: Anne Lamott has a wonderfully unique and frank way of describing life, faith, and writing. This book is worth it if for no other reason than it helps you understand that every first draft is terrible. The job of a writer is to keep going.
The War of Art: Quite simply, this book is a must-read for any aspiring writer.
On Writing Well: This writing classic is a must-read for any aspiring author who wants to write nonfiction.
On Writing: This more contemporary approach to writing by Stephen King is essential for anyone who wants to be a novelist or writer of fiction.
Email Marketing & List Building
Mailchimp: Super easy to use and free for the first 2000 subscribers. Ideal for writers and artists who just want to share their art.
Aweber: Similar to Mailchimp. Easy to use.
Infusionsoft: The most robust solution there is. It’s like the Ferrari of email, shopping cart, and customer management all into one. This is a solution usually best for the more advanced user.
LeadPages: One of the best solutions out there to help you capture leads (email addresses). You can easily create landing pages, webinar registration pages, etc that work seamlessly online and can integrate with Facebook.
Optin Monster: A Great solution to help you add effective email optin boxes to your website.
Online Shopping Carts & Product Distribution Systems
E-Junkie: Easy-to-use online shopping cart. Great for selling eBooks and other simple products. Super cheap and has an easy-to-use affiliate program to help sell other people’s stuff.
Paypal: Basically an online bank account that makes it easy for you to receive payments.
MoonClerk: You’re just 5 minutes away from accepting recurring payments and one-time payments online. Explore for Free. No credit card required.
Gumroad: Another great, simple online cart to sell digital products.
1ShoppingCart: A fairly simple cart to use for e-products and physical products.
Webinars & Teleseminars
GoToWebinar: What most of the pros use for hosting webinars.
Instant Teleseminar: Webinars are effective but so are teleseminars. I love them. Easy to implement, low tech (so less support issues) and can be done fast! Instant Teleseminar is what I use.
LeadPages: You can easily create landing pages, webinar registration pages, etc that work seamlessly online and can integrate with Facebook.
Permission Marketing: Seth Godin is renowned for turning traditional business thinking on its head. In his classic, Permission Marketing, he puts the customers, not the marketers, in control of how products are advertised. It’s a classic.
Platform: Michael Hyatt tells you exactly how to build a powerful platform that will get you heard in today’s noisy world.
Internet Marketing for Smart People: This free course from Copyblogger is all you need to learn how to start marketing your stuff online.
Get Published: A 21-part audio course on becoming an author. This program from my friend Michael Hyatt is one of the most thorough guides to publishing I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend it!
The Unconventional Guide to How to Publish Your Book: In this guide, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to get a book, self-publish your work, or do both. For anyone who’s ever dreamed the dream of publishing a book, this is a great resource.
Writing a Winning Book Proposal: Publishing veteran Michael Hyatt walks you through the process of crafting a great proposal for your book (whether it’s a novel or the next nonfiction best seller).
Virtual Assistants & Outsourcing
Virtual Freedom: The complete guide on how you can use virtual assistants to help you grow and thrive!
Virtual Staff Finder – A great virtual assistant match-making company (run by Chris Ducker) that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses bring calm to the outsourcing chaos, by finding them the best Filipino VA’s in the country. If you’re looking for a part-time, or full-time virtual assistant solution, this is where you need to go.
Fiverr, Elance and Odesk – Never outsourced tasks before? Start on one of these sites and then look for a more permanent solution, such as the aforementioned Virtual Staff Finder, when you’re ready to take it to the next level.
I suggest finding a freelance designer who you can use on a regular basis to help you with graphics, print design, web, etc. Helps to create consistency with your brand. You can find freelancers on Elance or by asking people you know who they use. Beyond that, you can also use services like below for needs as well.
99Designs – Marketplace for graphic design, including logo design, web design and other design contests.
Crowd Spring: An alternative to 99Designs
Online Video Software & Services
Splasheo – Want a cool video intro, outro or lower-third animation for your video? This is the service to get your videos look ‘pro’ for very little investment.
Screenflow – Editing software you can use to get your videos online. It’s only available on the Mac, but is so simple to use.
Camtasia: Gives you the tools you need to record on-screen activity, edit and enhance your content, and share in high-quality to viewers anywhere. (PC)
Podcast Answer Man: Check out the resources by Cliff Ravenscraft. He’s one of the go-to guys for podcasting expertise.
Blue Nessie Mic: If you aren’t ready to go super-pro yet, I suggest starting with the Blue Nessie microphone. It’s what I use and I love it. Simple and easy to use + low cost.
Dropbox – The quickest, easiest and most reliable way to share documents (written, photos, audio and video files) with your virtual assistants and co-online buddies and partners. I seriously use this thing almost hourly during my work day!
Evernote – Great note collector that can help you become super productive. Available on the web, iPad, iPhone and everywhere else where you need to make a note, clip something to read later and then move on. I love this thing. Read how Michael Hyatt uses Evernote to stay super productive.