Over the years I’ve spent trying and testing different online business models, I’ve used a very wide range of tools including; courses, e-books, audio-books, forums, social media groups, payment gateways, eCommerce platforms, web hosts, audio & video equipment, keyword research programs, WordPress themes & plugins, VPN’s and email catchers… Just to name a few!
To save you the trouble of sifting through the minutiae to find the 1% that’s worth putting your hard earned money towards, I’ve created a list of tools that I personally use or have used that I believe are an attribute to my own success.
To be clear – yes, many of the links below are affiliate links enabling me to earn a percentage of the sale should you decide to buy the product.
But I suggest not to just take my word for these products and services and buy all willy-nilly.
Do your due diligence and ensure they’re going to be well worth your hard earnt cash.
Oh, and be sure to bookmark this page as I’m always trying new and exciting tools and updating this list!
Business Tools That I Personally Use
The Course That Changed My Life: Drop Ship Lifestyle
Drop Ship Lifestyle (DSL) is by far the #1 recommended resource on my list. Back in 2014 I joined DSL, followed the course and have since built 4 stores following this method, generating over $560,000 in sales in the past 12-months alone!
DSL is far more than just an online course. It’s a community and almost a way of life! If you join DSL you get access to the 9 online courses for life, invitations to the awesome yearly retreats, access to the private forum and Facebook group, a professional Shopify theme for your store, access to all the previous retreat videos and more.
Did I mention the retreats?
The 2016 Hawaii DSL retreat was amazing. I got some really great actionable advice and learnt a tonne of valuable info that has fast-tracked my journey. The best part by far is the people I met – many of which are now some of my closest friends.
Where to Start
My advice is to sign up for the free 10-Day DSL Mini Course to see if the course is right for you.
BONUS: 1 Hour FREE Coaching If you Use My Link!
I’m so confident that DSL really works that I’ll give each person who signs up using my referral link 1 hour of 1 on 1 coaching to help you fast track your DSL journey!
The Best eCommerce Training Online: Easy eCommerce Wins
No other membership has helped me greater than my Easy eCommerce Wins membership. With over 240 course hours (at the time of this writing) in 6+ courses, this is my #1 resource for growing my online stores.
Here are the courses that the guys at Easy eCommerce Wins are offering:
- AdWords For eCommerce
- SEO For eCommerce
- Email Marketing for eCommerce
- Data Analytics for eCommerce
- Facebook Groups For eCommerce
- Perfect Product Page
- … Plus bonus material!
And the best part is this list of courses is continuously growing.
Who is it best suited to?
Anyone who has an online store that wants to grow their business.
What package do I recommend?
Go for the lifetime membership. Believe me, this will pay for itself in no time. Not to mention you’re essentially getting every new course that EEW makes in the future for free!
eCommerce Platform: Shopify
Shopify is the eCommerce platform of choice for myself and everyone I know who has an online store. Plans start from just US$29/month. Most people’s stores start earning money after 2-3 months if you follow the DSL course mentioned earlier. Sign up for the free 14-day trial here.
Best Shopify Theme: Shoptimized
[Edit Feb, 2019. Although Shoptimized still is better than many other themes out there on the Shopify theme market, I do think that it’s become way too ‘gimmicky’ and is not the best option for high-ticket dropshipping. Shoptimized still will bring increased conversions but may do so by ‘tricking’ customers with gimmicky tactics which will end up harming your business in the long run. Listen to The Lifestyle Flipper Show episode where I go into this in detail before you consider Shoptimized as a theme for your dropshipping store]
My most successful store runs on the Shoptimized theme. In my opinion, there is no other theme out there that is more focused on the three most important factors of user experience: scarcity, load speed and responsiveness.
Shoptimized is loaded with features that you’d otherwise have to use apps that slow your site down for such as countdown timers, social proof popups, email capture popups, upsell popups and much much more.
When I swapped my theme to the Shoptimized theme back in August 2017 I saw an immediate 20% increase in the volume of orders compared to the previous month. The theme paid for itself!
Domain Registration: CrazyDomains (Australia) and NameCheap (Global)
I recommend both NameCheap and CrazyDomains for reliable and secure domain hosting. I personally have all of my Australian eCommerce stores hosted with CrazyDomains as they are an Australian based company specialising in .com.au domains. And I have my other .com domains such as this website and others registered with NameCheap for their fantastic rates and customer support.
I recommend adding the Honey Chrome extension before signing up for domain registration. Each time I’ve been able to save up to 50% off the cost of hosting, SSL certificates and WHOIS protection.
The Best Email Hosting for eCommerce Stores: G Suite
All of my drop shipping stores emails are hosted with G Suite for one simple reason: reliability. If you email goes down, essentially your business is blinded. I know – it’s happened to me before when I was using a free service called Zoho.
Another great reason I use G Suite is that it’s crazy-powerful. You get 30g worth of Google Drive storage for each user allowing you to keep your entire business in the safety of Google’s Cloud plus you’re able to access and run your business from anywhere in the world.
Although it may be a little tricky to first set up, Google’s support team is really helpful.
Bonus 20% off G Suite!
Reliable and Professional Phone Numbers: Velox Telco (Australia) & Grasshopper (US)
Each of my Australian drop shipping stores has a 1300 number with Velox Telco. Why? Here are just a few reasons:
- By using a 1300 or 1800 number you’re establishing your brand as an authority and giving the perception that your business is larger than it actually is.
- If you use your mobile phone number, customers can sometimes call (harass) you at inconvenient times of the day or night.
- If you were to use your Skype number this may make your customers think that you only service the state that you’re Skype number is based in. Eg. a (03) number may make a customer in NSW not buy from you thinking that you’re only local to Victoria.
I set my phone systems up like this:
- I have a 1300 phone number with Velox Telco
- When customers call this number it diverts to my Skype phone number
- I can answer the call on my mobile phone or laptop by signing into my Skype account OR I can have my VA answer the call by logging into my Skype account anywhere in the world! (pretty cool huh?!)
What I Like About Velox Telco
With Velox, I have the option to purchase or rent my 1300 number from them at a low monthly fee. I also have a voicemail set up so that if the phone isn’t answered, the caller hears a professional voicemail message (I get my professional voicemail’s done on Fiverr for just US$25). This voicemail message is then emailed to me so I or my VA can listen to it later on my laptop or my iPhone.
Not in Australia? Use Grasshopper
I know that many of you reading this aren’t from Australia so a 1300 number won’t be of any use to you. Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered 😉
99% of the drop shippers outside of Australia that I know all swear by Grasshopper for their phone system. Just like Velox Telco, with Grasshopper you can rent your professional phone number, have it routed to your Skype and set up an awesome voicemail message that’s emailed to you when customers leave you messages.
Protect Yourself With a Trusted VPN: Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access (PIA) describes themselves as;
The leading VPN Service provider specializing in secure, encrypted VPN tunnels which create several layers of privacy and security providing you safety on the internet. Our VPN Service is backed by multiple gateways worldwide with VPN Tunnel access in 24+ countries, 35+ regions.
In other words; they’re not your average VPN provider – PIA is the VPN provider.
With over 3,000 servers in 24 countries, you’ll feel like you’re on a round the world trip with the choice of server locations at hand.
Personally, I use PIA on 2 devices – my iPhone and my Mac. I also have it set up on my wife’s iPhone when we’re travelling through airports and I have PIA set up on one of my VA’s laptops for when she’s posting Gumtree Ads for my business.
I’ve found PIA to be quite reasonable on price compared to other VPN providers of the same calibre.
I’m currently subscribed to the $39.95/year package allowing me to work anonymously for as low a mere $3.33 per month.
Virtual Assistants: OnlineJobs.ph
Tim Ferriss opened my eyes up to the amazing world of outsourcing 10 years ago when I first read the infamous book, The 4-Hour Work Week. Especially after I read the line “Fun things happen when you earn dollars, live on pesos, and compensate in rupees”.
And today, I’m following that advice in my businesses. Right now my team consists of one full-time VA, one part-time VA as well as four freelancers that I use periodically when I need their expertise.
I consider my VAs as contractors that are exclusive to my business only and I tend to hire mainly from the Philippines for a couple of reasons:
- Filipinos are generally hard working and kind in nature
- They are in a similar time zone to Australia (-2 hours from Australian Eastern Standard Time)
- Their English is fantastic
I’ve tried hiring from other countries such as India, UK and USA but have always found the best people for my team in the Filipines.
OnlineJobs.ph is a great place to find Filipino VAs. What I personally like best is once you’ve found the right person for your team you don’t have to continue to pay fee’s to OnlineJobs.ph unlike Upwork and Fiverr (which I also use but more so for Freelancers).
Freelancers: Fiverr and Upwork
I mentioned before that I find VAs on OnlineJobs.ph. However, for smaller specialised tasks I tend to use Fiverr and Upwork.
Fiverr is fantastic for finding cheap $5 gigs for things such as logo design, background removal for product images and voice overs for videos to name a few.
Upwork I use to find more specialised Freelancers that are great at one particular task such as developers for website edits, creating videos, uploading products, or posting ads.
Both platforms are very easy to use.
Yep, I’m an Apple Guy: MacBook Air
All my life up until 2016 I’d used PCs. I knew them pretty well and thought they did the job just fine. It wasn’t until I read the biography of Steve Jobs that I’d considered swapping to a Mac. If you’ve read the book you’ll understand why.
Once I did swap to a Mac… I was hooked.
I love how everything seamlessly works together, how light the thing is and how there aren’t the constant crashing and virus threats PC users are all too familiar with.
If you’re in Australia like me I’ve found the guys at BuyMac to be the experts and to have the best prices on Apple products.
Other places to get a MacBook are of course from your local Apple store or from Amazon.
MacBook Software: CleanMyMac
Mac’s are so much easier to use and maintain than PCs but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need looking after. CleanMyMac is the only software that I’ve purchased for my Mac – everything else is either free or I use it online. The reason I got it though is that without my Mac I’m stranded. It’s a hugely important tool that I rely on and take almost everywhere I go. So, naturally, I want to look after it right.
That’s where CleanMyMac comes in. Here’s what it does: