Resources for Solopreneurs!
When I initially began my journey, I found myself constantly researching and experimenting with new tools, products, services, and courses (and I still do). For me, it’s important to have the very best products in my solopreneur tool box. There are blog posts on the site about many of these products, but I thought it would be helpful to give you a one-stop resources page for all your needs. I recommend bookmarking this page for your reference.
My Top 5 Must-Have’s
HostGator - All of my websites are hosted on Hostgator today. This is the first thing you need to get your website running. I highly recommend using Hostgator, with no reservations. They are reliable, easy to use, and offer top-notch customer support through phone and chat. They also have 1-click automatic WordPress installation, so you can set up a site in minutes. Click here to sign up, and make sure to use coupon code “wilghosting” to get 25% off your order.
Aweber – My favorite email marketing service. Don’t waste your time with anything else, I’ve tested many of them and they win. I use this to capture emails through opt in forms, build my email/newsletter list, and communicate with my readers. Building your email list is the single most important step you must take as a solopreneur or blogger.
Authority ROI - Looking to start a profitable blog/authority site? This is the best resource I’ve come across. There are a lot of “how to blog and make money” courses out there, but I wanted the best one — Authority ROI is that. The course was created by Digital Marketer, a leading multi-million dollar company in the online business space. The course provides you with step-by-step instructions on how to design, build, promote, and systematize your new business. I highly recommend this for anyone serious about blogging!
Screenflow (for Mac users) - This is the screen recording software I use, and I absolutely love it. I also use Screenflow to edit videos. You can record your screen or from your webcam, and export videos directly to YouTube, Vimeo, .mov, .mp4, and many others. The software is very intuituve and easy to use. PC users should check out Camtasia.
Autoresponder Madness - I’ve been through a lot of educational online courses. Autoresponder Madness (ARM) is indispensable. ARM shows you how to build a loyal tribe of readers/fans through your email list. You’ll learn how to use soap opera techniques to build a genuine, long-term relationship with your readers. You’ll then see how to take that relationship and monetize through products or services. I highly recommend checking out ARM.
Creating a Freedom Lifestyle
- Capitol One 360 - I can’t imagine managing my finances without the greatest bank on the planet! I said goodbye to old school brick and mortar banks years ago. ING Direct was acquired by Capital One, and not a thing has changed. 100% free. No fees, ever. Automatic savings, free checks, free person to person payments, and so much more. I highly recommend opening a free account with Capital One 360. Use this link to get a $50 bonus just for opening your account.
- Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking - You need a checking account with Schwab for one reason: Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide. Yes, you read it right. I haven’t paid an ATM fee in years. This is also an amazing hack for overseas travel, since getting cash from the ATM is the easiest and best way. Simply connect this to your existing checking account (use Capital One 360 above!), and transfer some ‘ATM funds’ over.
- FancyHands - U.S. based virtual assistant service. Oh Fancy Hands…how I love thee! This is the next best thing to having a dedicated personal assistant. At only $25 a month, it’s a steal, and will make your life so much easier. So far I’ve saved 23.5 hours and 130 calls were placed that I didn’t have to make. Unreal. Use this link to get 50% off your first month.
- Virtual Staff Finder - This amazing service helps you find, test, interview, and hire a virtual assistant. Chris Ducker is the man behind this operation, and he is leading the way in this space. He’s written a new book, Virtual Freedom, and will give you everything you need to get started with hiring virtual assistants.
- Elance – My favorite place to hire freelancers. I outsource technical tasks and projects as much as possible, so I can spend my time working on high lifetime value work. If it’s something someone else can do, delegate it. Focus on the stuff that fulfills you. I’ve always had great experiences with Elance. I’ve also used oDesk—a solid alternative—but find myself using Elance more.
- Envato Studio (formerly Microlancer) – A great place to get creative digital projects done. Logo/branding design, WordPress and website development, video, and more.
- Travel Hacking Cartel – Most of the flights I take and travel I do is free, thanks to this incredible service. I was always very confused by ‘travel hacking’ and how it all worked. It seemed like a lot of work to figure out which bonuses to go for and get a lot of my questions answered: is this bad for my credit, how many can I have, etc. THC changes that. It answers all my questions and gives me automated alerts when new bonuses are available. This has helped me travel to many countries for free, many times first class. Travel Hacking is real, and this is everything you need to get started.
- Airbnb - Stop. Just stop getting hotels when you travel. Grab yourself a room, apartment, bungalow, or airstream on Airbnb the next time you head out of town. I’m a traveler and host, and I love it!
- LessDoing - This is an awesome Udemy course by my friend Ari Meisel on how to make life easier by…doing less! I’m a big fan of Ari’s methods: optimize, automate, and outsource. I’ve learned a lot from him and his courses.
Virtual Post Mail - This is a must for the traveling or location-independent solopreneur. Never check your postal mail again. Live anywhere, manage your mail online, and get your mail sent to you anywhere. I love this service, and researched this in depth. You’re given an address in Los Angeles. If you can put up with that, go for it. It’s much cheaper than Earth Class Mail.
TaskRabbit (U.S. only) - Get practically anything done by using safe, reliable help from TaskRabbit. I use this service all the time to get things picked up or delivered, get help with projects, or handle random tasks. It’s fast, inexpensive, and easy to use.
- Podcasters’ Paradise – Check out this free podcast workshop webinar by John Lee Dumas, creator of the Entrepreneur On Fire podcast (best of iTunes 2013). Podcasters’ Paradise is an online community and video course that will teach you how to create, grow, and monetize your podcast.
- How to Start a Podcast: Pat Flynn’s Complete Step-By-Step Podcasting Tutorial – An amazing free guide by Pat Flynn, who has two of the top podcasts in all of iTunes. Everything you need to get started is in here, with videos and step-by-step instructions.
- Namecheap - Forget GoDaddy. This is the site to use when you buy your domains. They are a trusted name in the industry. To keep it simple, you can also purchase your domain through Hostgator when setting up your hosting—both ways work.
- Themeforest – Premium WordPress themes for any site—Themeforest offers a massive library of themes. The WILG blog runs off a Themeforest theme. After setting up your hosting, picking a theme is the next step. I like them for their commitment to quality and variety of theme choices. Make sure you pick a ‘responsive’ (mobile friendly) theme.
Shopify or BigCommerce (for e-commerce sites) – The best software platforms for creating online stores (e-commerce). Both have 24/7 support and offer easy-to-use features. You don’t need to be too technical to design a nice site.
WooCommerce (e-commerce for WordPress) – If you want to create an online store, but you want to do it through your own self-hosted WordPress site, WooCommerce is for you. This is a plugin with a robust feature set that helps you manage your products (virtual, physical, downloadable).
- Teespring - Create and sell custom apparel (like T-shirts) with no upfront cost. You simply design the product and sell it. This is much smarter than having to buy inventory upfront and then attempting to sell through it all. They handle all the fulfillment.
- E-Junkie - If you want to sell a product (downloadable or tangible goods) online and need a shopping cart, this gets it done. It’s a simple and efficient way to get the job done. E-Junkie integrates with PayPal and offers great support.
- ClickBank – A step up from E-Junkie. ClickBank is an all-in-one platform that helps you sell and promote your products. It includes a marketplace, affiliate program, good customer support, and analytics. When I created my first course and membership site, I used ClickBank. If you’re looking for ease of use and something to handle everything all in one place (for a very low cost), then this is it. Note from Arman: If you need something more advanced, like your own merchant account with more flexibility, send me an email with exactly what you’re trying to do and I’ll get you in the right direction.
- Slack - Brings all your communication and collaboration together in one place (great for working with your team, assistants, or freelancers). Slack is incredibly intuitive and easy to use, has a free version, and integrates with just about everything. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.
- Evernote – A no-brainer. Use Evernote everywhere, all the time. The more you use it, the more you’ll understand its power. These days, I can’t imagine working without Evernote. Make sure in addition to the standard desktop version you have the, mobile app, and most importantly, the web clipper.
- Evernote Essentials – Need help getting started or maximizing the potential of Evernote? Check out this e-book by my friend Brett Kelly, the Definitive Getting Started Guide to Evernote. He’s sold over 25,000 copies! And he’s a hilarious writer. It really helped me take my Evernote game to the next level.
- Workflowy – An organizational tool that allows you to sort ideas, to-do’s, projects, etc. in lists. My brain thinks in lists, and if yours does too you’ll love this. So, so simple. Yet so effective. Make sure you grab the mobile app also, it syncs across devices.
- Lift - A very cool app for habit forming/tracking. Lift is great for getting that dopamine release, the feeling you get when you check something off the to-do list or accomplish something. Add your habit—e.g. going to the gym—and ‘check in’ that you’ve done it that day. There’s solid coaching, a community, and data to keep you going.
- Everest - What Lift does for habits, Everest does for journeys and grandiose goals. This app has a beautiful and intuitive design that keeps me coming back. I use this in combination with Lift, because it does certain things that Lift can’t do. My ‘Everest’ (biggest dream) is a secret… :)
- Unroll.me - You’ll thank me for this one. Instantly clean up your inbox and unsubscribe from any emails you no longer want (or can’t get rid of). Note from Arman: I recommend deactivating the ‘rollup’ feature. It will only confuse your inbox more, and you can do a more custom organization through filters/labels yourself.
- Boomerang for Gmail – My favorite email plugin/extension. Boomerang helps me get to inbox zero faster by scheduling messages to return to my inbox later, scheduling emails to be sent later, and reminding me to follow up. A priceless (free) tool for any Solopreneur or Freedom Lifestyle Activist.
- YesWare – I love YesWare for its free email tracking feature and custom templates. Very useful for people in sales and business development. Also offers reminders for followups like Boomerang.
- Freedom & Anti-Social - The apps that save me from hours of distraction. Freedom locks you away from the internet so you can get real work done. Anti-Social blocks you from social media and any sites you designate that waste your time. You can purchase them together as a bundle.
- 1Password - Password Manager and Secure Wallet. This app has not only saved me time, but frustration. 1Password will securely remember your password, credit card/wallet info, personal details, and more. I highly recommend it! If you’re looking for a free alternative, LastPass is great and does the same job. I started using 1Password first and just prefer the user interface.
- Jing - Take a screenshot or record a video of your computer screen and share it instantly. So powerful, fast, and free!
- Feedly - A single place to collect, read and share content from your favorite sites. This replaced Google Reader for me. I compared Feedly closely to Digg Reader, and this won. Get the smartphone app also, and batch your reading time.
- Instapaper - My favorite ‘read it later’ service. Install the bookmarklet for your browser and download the mobile ap. Say no to distracting articles and read them on your time. Also integrates with Feedly.
- IFTTT - Think of this as an automation tool, that integrates multiple apps together. IFTTT = If This Then That. I didn’t try this for the longest time, simply because I didn’t see its use. Now I do, and I love it. e.g. “If I mark a YouTube video ‘watch it later’ send it to my Instapaper.” Brilliant!
- iA Writer (for Mac and iPad users) - This is what I use to write in Markdown, and is a very useful writing tool in general. If you’re writing for your website (or someone else’s) the best thing you can do is write in Markdown. You simply write in plain-text then instantly convert to HTML. And yes, I’ve compared it to many other Markdown writing tools—iA Writer wins. A solid alternative is Byword (Mac/iPad).
PerfectAudience – The best retargeting ads platform. You can retarget on the web, Facebook (including News Feed), and even Twitter. I love PerfectAudience because it’s so easy to use. Especially, compared to Adroll. It’s also much cheaper than Retargeter. If you’re ready for retargeting, this is definitely the winner.
Follow.net - My favorite (free) competitive intelligence and analytics tool. I’m proud to say this was created by my friend Wes Mahler, an awesome guy. This tool brings together all the intelligence you need for better understanding a website’s performance and analytics.
Compete.com - Gives you competitive intelligence on website. I specifically like to use this to find the number of unique visitors a website gets per month.
Buffer & Hootsuite - Publishing posts on social media takes a ton of time. But using these two free tools together really helps. I put them together, because each serves its own purpose. With Buffer, you load up your queue and it’ll automagically publish them throughout the day. Hootsuite also has similar features, but is priceless for keeping an eye on Twitter lists that you may be following. Pro tip: Install the extensions/plugins so you can grab articles to share on the fly.
Sennheiser HD-280 PRO Headphones - These are the headphones I wear when I’m working to cancel out noise and bump awesome tunes. I love ‘em!
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone - The best and most well-recognized microphone there is. The Yeti gets the job done, very nicely. In my opinion, sound is even more important than video.
Samson Go Mic Compact USB Microphone - I use this extremely potable microphone on the go. The Yeti is far too big to travel with, and this Samson mic is very high quality and easy to carry.
Logitech HD Webcam C525 Portable HD 720p - I upgraded from my laptop’s standard issue webcam recently to this very portable Logitech HD webcam. It was well worth it. I get compliments all the time on my video quality.
- Authority ROI - If you’re looking to start a blog/authority site like mine, this is the best resource I’ve come across. When I first started my blog, I really had no idea what I was doing. There are a lot of ‘how to blog and make money’ courses out there, but I wanted the best one, and Authority ROI is that. The course was created by Digital Marketer, a multi-million dollar leading company in the online business space. The course really helped me look at my blog as a media company, and gave me step-by-step instructions on how to design, build, promote, and systematize my site. I highly recommend this for anyone serious about blogging!
- The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience – If only I had known about this amazing free resource when I first launched my blog, by Neil Patel of Quicksprout. This free (complete) guide has been more valuable to me than 90% of the resources/courses I’ve paid for. You will be far ahead of the rest if you simply implement everything Neil shares in this guide.
CopyBlogger: Internet Marketing for Smart People – A free course from the very knowledgable folks at this awesome company. I highly recommend checking this out if you’re getting started online.
Unconventional Guides – “Practical resources for world domination”, gotta love that. These guides were all created by Chris Guillebeau, bestselling author and entrepreneur. Some of my favorite guides are: Get Paid to Write, Publish Your Book, and Travel Hacking Cartel.
I’m always reading books. These are just my absolute favorites.
- War of Art - This might just be my favorite book, ever. Steven Pressfield delivers an incredibly powerful message about overcoming your fears and learning how to cultivate your creative side. I’d recommend this book to just about anyone. But, if you’re a writer, entrepreneur, or artist—you’ll love this book.
- The Art of Non-Conformity – I recommend this book by Chris Guillebeau for one (big) reason: I agree and resonate with practically every idea in it. We all deserve to live fulfilled lives that we choose. Chris agrees, and he wrote an incredible story about it.
- The $100 Startup - Another one by Chris Guillebeau, this book is a massive part of what helped me finally declare my freedom and become a solopreneur. There are many books out there on entrepreneurship, but this one really changes the way you look at it. Chris gives you detailed case studies of businesses earning $50,000 or more with an initial investment of $100 or less (in most cases). Simple, direct, and full of interesting examples.
- The 4-Hour Workweek – This is the book that inspired a generation and created a massive shift toward freedom for many people’s lives. Tim Ferris shows you how to optimize your lifestyle, take mini-retirements, become a lifestyle entrepreneur, and create a niche online business. A must read!
- Think and Grow Rich – Understanding and implementing the principles in this classic book can change your life. This is one of the bestselling non-fiction books of all time, originally written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill, and still very relevant today. This book will show you the formula and philosophy to getting anything you want in life, and not just riches (don’t be mislead by the title). I reread this during the first year of my Freedom Lifestyle, while I was traveling in Southeast Asia in 2013. I can’t imagine where I’d be today without it. I’m truly indebted to this man, the lessons learned are priceless.
Note from Arman: It’s not always necessary to pay for fancy courses. Everything you need to get started and more is available online for free. Follow people whose teachings resonate with you and consume everything they put out.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are referral (affiliate) links, and at zero additional cost to you, I will receive a small referral bonus if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have personal experience with all of these companies. I recommend them because I believe they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please only spend any money on these products if you feel you need them or they will help you achieve your goals.