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Good morning Reader,
Sometimes I think about what it must have been like, back in the day, trying to run a business without the internet. Or even a word processor!
Today, obviously, things are very different.
I thought it might be useful for you, if you're also a creator, to see what my tech stack looks like and if there's anything of interest for you to pick up here. I'll include:
- What I use it for
- The estimated price
- My favorite feature
Ah, the platform that started it all.
I use Medium as a home for my blog posts. I also use it as my top-of-funnel. If you're reading this, you may have read a Medium post of mine and subscribed to my newsletter using the link at the bottom. (I also have folks who come through YouTube or my own website.
Medium is free to use. I recommend it for beginners since you can use it as a free blog/portfolio when you're getting started.
My favorite feature is the partner program. When else on the internet can you get paid while you learn how to build your business, for just $5 a month? Compare to YouTube's partner program, where the entry requirements are much stricter, Medium offers a little sandbox where you can find your niche, grow a community, and get paid while you do it.
Read -> How much do Medium writers make?
Once I started growing on Medium (and once I'd been affected by a few of Medium's pivots, and knew I couldn't rely on it 100%) I needed a website to post my products, offer consultations, and try to grow beyond a single platform. I use Squarespace as my online home base.
I picked Squarespace as my website provider over the competitors because it is easy to use. It was easy to get set up and it's easy to maintain.
I pay $536/year for Squarespace. This includes:
- My business email ($72/year)
- The domain name ($20/year)
- The website itself ($252/year)
- Scheduling for consultations ($192/year)
My favorite feature is the blog aspect. It's so simple to open up a new page and start typing. It's clean, gorgeous, and intuitive. I'm a fan.
3. Final Cut Pro X
The final leg of my top-of-funnel content is YouTube. YouTube itself is a worthwhile tool, and you can get started with 100% free tools and equiment. My first viral video was made using my Mac webcam and using the free editing software.
But once I started taking it a little more seriously, I invested a one-time $300 payment to Final Cut Pro X to edit my videos.
My favorite feature is how intuitive it is to use. I never took any training or learned how to use it professionally (and I'm sure, at times, that shows in my YouTube videos). But I'm able to use it to make nice, engaging, fun videos.
Medium, YouTube and my website are mostly geared towards pointing new readers to my mailing list, where I can stay up to date with you, send you new content, and hear what's on your mind. I use ConvertKit to send emails.
ConvertKit is on the pricier side of newsletter hosting. The platform charges me $149/month for my 12k-ish subscribers. While there is a free version of the platform up to 1,000 subscribers, at that point you may as well use Substack which is totally free. It scales up as you grow.
My favorite feature is the reason I'm happy to pay: the automation functionality. I use automated email sequences to send a value-packed welcome sequence and a sales sequence to everyone who joins. Truly helps me run my newsletter on autopilot. The only thing I have to worry about is writing these weekly newsletters to you, which I love doing anyway.
SEO is so hairy to me. Despite making multiple videos and articles about it, linked at the bottom of this section, sometimes it still feels like a bit of a mystery.
However, around this time last year, I started taking SEO seriously. And I 4x'd my traffic. (Case study here).
I credit my growth to two things:
- Consistently posting high-quality content.
MarketMuse gives you a checklist of keywords to include, including the density. So, e.g. in an article about an editing checklist, it might recommend that I use a keyword like "sentence fragment" at least twice.
This helps me provide content that Google likes, and also gives me ideas for what kind of helpful content I can include in my article.
It's free to use if you're only writing 10 (or fewer) SEO blog posts per month. The next rank-up is $149/month, which gives you 100 queries per month, along with some extra SEO bonuses.
My favorite feature is that keyword density recommendation checklist. So easy and intuitive to use.
SEO further reading:
- SEO on Medium
- Simple SEO tutorial for beginners
- Secret SEO strategy: tomb raiding
- Keyword Research Tutorial for Beginners
- Review of Semrush's ContentShake (AI SEO tool)
I've tested plenty of AI tools. My favorite is SEOwriting.ai. It's the best that I've trialed (see the case study here). I use it to create SEO'd content when I am low on time or motivation but still want something half-decent.
It costs $19/month, though there is a free plan with up to 5,000 words if you want to try it out.
My favorite feature is that you can ask it to include certain keywords in the article. I normally use it in conjunction with MArketMuse -- I get MarketMuse to give me the list of keywords, get SEOwriting.ai to spit out a first draft, then paste it back into MarketMuse to workshop into something fun and readable.
I make typos! It's true. I make them a lot. My fingers move faster than my brain. And proofreading doesn't always catch them.
That's why I use Grammarly for everything. Emails, articles, client content. Newsletters like this one!
I use the free Chrome extension version of Grammarly, but you can opt for the pricier, more comprehensive version of Grammarly Pro that costs $30/month.
My favorite feature is that in Google Docs, you just get a feed of suggested corrections which you can easily accept or reject. Super easy to run through at speed.
8. Google Suite
Speaking of Google, I also use the Google Suite of products for everything.
I use Google Docs for client articles, drafts of newsletters, ideating copy, and invoices.
I use Google Sheets (linked to a Google Form) to track stats like Better Marketing submissions and acceptances.
I use Google Slides to create animations for my YouTube videos, record vidoes for my courses, and run workshops.
Best of all, it's free.
My favorite feature is that the products all talk to each other. Get a Google Form to auto-paste responses into Google Sheets, creating a pie chart that auto-updates in a Google Slides presentation.
I like to know how I spend my time. That's why I use Clockify to see exactly how much time I spend on what task, which I can then break down for an hourly rate.
Clockify is free, though I think enterprises can go for the Pro version starting at $3.99 per user per month.
My favorite Clockify feature is the report-making feature! Get a pie chart or a bar chart of how you spend your time, broken down by project (such as Client A) or task (such as editing).
Further reading: I appeared on the Clockify podcast and blog to talk about how much I love Clockify!
We all need a little community. Writing is a lonesome pursuit. I use Slack and Discord to have chats and groups of other writers and creators.
They're both free to use, though you can upgrade to Slack Pro for $8.75 USD per person/month to have a longer message history. Discord Basic costs $2.99 a month and Nitro costs $9.9
My favorite Slack feature is the reminders. I get a lot of messages and I'm not always great about following up. The reminders let me stay on top of my correspondence.
My favorite Discord feature is the Voice Chat. Every day, from 10-12 pm, I host an Accountability Writing Hour for members of My Writing Community Discord group. Anyone who's interested can pop in and work on their writing with anyone else who's doing the same. It's really nice and I love getting to spend time like that.
There are other tools, apps, products and more, but those are the ten I couldn't live without. I use them at least once a week to run my business. Most, I use daily.
Hope you enjoyed this and found it useful. Any questions, let me know.