Full Transcript: MOTM #469 The Best Software and Platforms for Online Business

[Transcript starts at 1:24]

Hello, hello, hello, my podcast people and thank you for joining me for yet another episode of my favorite podcast. Today we are talking about the best platforms and software, both, for online business. This episode, if you're watching it or listening to it, when it drops, it will be Monday, April 24th. I have been not the greatest business owner because tomorrow, Tuesday, April 25th, I am running a two hour webinar called The Audiovisual Upgrade.

It is a brand new training and I am going to be talking all things tech in that webinar and how to upgrade your audio visual setup and essentially stand out on social media. Today's episode, we're gonna break down platforms and software, but if you are wondering what kind of mic I recommend, what kind of camera I recommend, how do you get the most out of your phone?

That's what I'm gonna be going over tomorrow in the webinar. It just requires that visual component and allows me to actually teach people, um, and answer your specific questions. So if that's something that you're interested in, you know, whether you are looking at, you know, how to upgrade your content for Instagram, or how to get better sound for your podcast, maybe you're thinking about starting a podcast.

You should, if you are thinking about that. Um, you wanna up-level your sound and your video for your Zoom calls, or maybe you run, you know, fitness classes and things like that and you're just like, Hey, help me out with the tech side. I got you .Going through all things audio visual on The Audiovisual Upgrade. Link to register is going to be in the show notes.

If you're listening to this after the fact, the recording will always be available. So the software that I use and we're gonna get into this is called Crowdcast. Uh, and that allows you to purchase it and watch the replay or the recording at any time. So if you're like, dude, I want to take things to the next level, or I just wanna get started, but there's a zillion options for cameras and microphones out there.

I don't know where to start. I don't really feel like doing all the research. Don't worry cuz I already did it. Join me, The Autovisual Upgrade, April 25th. It'll be at 4:00 PM Pacific. It's gonna be 40 monies. I say that kind of with hesitation because sometimes I raise the price afterwards because, well, I can do that.

Uh, but if you're listening to this on the 24th, you still have time to register. If you listen to this on the 25th, you still have time to register. If it's before 4:00 PM. And if you're listening to it after the fact, yes, you can actually still register. It just may be a little more money. Alright. All that's in the show notes.

Let's hop on into the episode and we are gonna break down, I'm gonna break down, I say we, who's that? Like me and Rupert, right? We're gonna break down the best platforms for soft, excuse me, the best platforms and software for online business. Now, technically you can start an online business without having any of these things, but if you're like me and you wanna have a little bit of, you know, some officialness in place first, these are the things that I recommend. 

Of note, you do not have to have all of the things that I'm going to recommend. There are a handful that I would say, yeah, when you're starting off, we're looking to have these things, but you do not need to have all of these. And as you grow and evolve and you know you're offering new services, then you can come back to this episode and you know, lean on those, those new things.

The suggestions that I'm gonna give you, these are based on each of these platforms and these, you know, particular types of software being created for the problem, they're, that they are designed to solve. Meaning I want an email marketing software that is made for email marketing. I don't really love all in one platforms because it really does become that kind of master, excuse me, Jack of all trades, master of none.

I want the master of one and I don't mind having a, you know, a bunch of different things. With that in mind or with that being said, I also want things to integrate nicely, so that is a big thing when I'm looking at software. Does this play nice with everything else? And I don't wanna have to use Zapier or Zapier, however you pronounce that.

Okay? With the things I'm giving you, I'm not here to debate, so I'd rather you not email me. Don't email me, period. But I'd rather you not like hit me up and be like, okay, but I'm thinking about using this other thing. Why don't you use that? I'm telling you what I use. And then you can go into your own research after that, right?

If you wanna use something else, by all means go ahead and use something else. I'm not here to convince you, I'm just sharing with you what I have found to work the best for me and for the people that I coach and work with. Understands that I understand that I have literally done hours and hours and hours, probably hundreds and hundreds of hours of research on all of these things.

And now I've been using them for years and, you know, comparing it with products and services that people that I coach come in, you know, using and, and where things may fall short. Um, so it's not that I'm just kinda like picking this stuff out of my ass and being like, Hey, use this. This is literally based in all the research that I've done and, you know, my personal usage of these things in addition to the people that I work with.

I will say one little caveat there is that there are maybe two things on this list that I don't currently use, and that's because I have switched systems. But if I was starting right now, I would use these things. Um, and we'll get into that. Um, where I'm at in my business is obviously not where I started and some of these things maybe didn't exist or just didn't make sense to use at the time, and it's kind of too late to change.

Um, but everything that I recommend was if I was starting right now, if you were working with me, these are the things that I would recommend. Lastly, I have affiliate links for a lot of these things, meaning if you use the link to sign up for the platform or the software, I will get a small kickback sometimes, like one penny.

Um, so if you wanna support me, thank you. You can head on over to themovementmaestro.com/partners, and you'll see everyone you know, all they fill- all the affiliate links are there, but they will also be in the show notes, but if you wanna see it in one spot, it'll be there. All right. Alright, so let's hop on in and let's talk about these recommendations.

So right off the bat website. Do you need a website to have an online business? I'm just gonna say yes, right? Because it feels weird when you don't like, yes, I guess you could kind of like not have one, just be like, you know, just send me a Venmo. Things like that. But like you should probably have something.

All right. It's 2023. Have something. So what I'm gonna recommend for building your website is gonna be Squarespace. My website currently is on WebPress. WebPress Wow. WordPress. But my first website I built and did everything with on SquareSpace. If you don't have a website yet, if you're thinking about switching, you know, what you currently have, if you're finding limitations with your current website, Squarespace is my number one and only recommendation. Your best resource for that if you're like, okay, but I'm not that techy. I don't know how to do things myself. That's my girl, Lex, Lex Lancaster. We brought her on the podcast. Um, you can check out that episode.

Thank you, Courtney. Uh, and you can also go to lexlancaster.com and she has all the things there, whether you wanna enlist her services for, to actually build the things for you. If you wanna use we, uh, templates and make it yourself, you got tons of options there. But when it comes to a website, yes, you should have one.

And I actually like having it from the beginning, uh, because it forces you to organize your thoughts. And it doesn't have to be this big, robust site or anything like that. Um, but I'm gonna recommend that you go with Squarespace and if you need help, Lex is your. 

Next thing, an online scheduler. This is like imperative and will get you so much of your time back.

Number one scheduler that I recommend is Acuity. I have used Acuity for years and years and years, and I truly believe it is the best online scheduler out there. It's super simple to use. It integrates with all of your calendars. Um, it's easy to create different appointment types, so you know, I have like my Maestro meetings, I have podcast recording,

I have the Mafia dinners. I have you know, Zoom calls, and I can create all of these very easily. Each one can have its own types of reminders. It can send email reminders, it can send text reminders, and it cu- you can customize all these things and it integrates with not just the calendars, but your other software.

If you're using Squarespace, lucky for you, Squarespace actually purchased Acuity however many years ago. I don't know, 2, 3, 4 time escapes me now. Um, but it purchased Acuity. Uh, so you pay for like the next tier up on Squarespace maybe. And um, it's included. If you're not using Squarespace website, that's fine. Um, acuity is still going to be my number one recommendation for your online scheduler.

You gotta have one. It's gonna get your time back. I know you've all been there where you're like trying to set up a call with somebody and you're like, what time works for you? Oh, Monday, Wednesday. Oh, Tuesday. It's too much. I actually will not go on someone's podcast if they do not have an online scheduler. I will say yes to anyone's podcast, right?

I don't care your audience size. I'm cool to have a conversation, but it has to be, you have to have an online scheduler. Doesn't have to be Acuity, but you gotta have an online scheduler cause I can't be going back and forth with things. Okay? So number one, recommendation for online scheduler, Acuity. 

Next thing, how are you gonna get the monies? You need a payment processor. My favorite for that is going to be Stripe. I have tried out all the things. Yes, I still do have PayPal as well. I used Square at one point as well. Stripe reigns Supreme. It is sleek. The dashboard is great. It integrates with everything, uh, you can actually like, kind of create offers within inside of it.

Meaning you can send out, um, invoices, you can have recurring payments, which is a, a big thing for people as well. And kinda like, how do I do this? You can do that all natively inside of Stripe. Um, and of course, and I said it, but I'm saying it again, it integrates with everything and it does it seamlessly, which is huge for me. 

All right, so payment processor stripe. 

Next up we got email marketing software. Y'all know I love me some e mail. Remember, if you're gonna have an online business, you're gonna wanna have an email list and you wanna be able to communicate with your people. My number one recommendation for that is always ConvertKit.

Check out episode 4 68 of Maestro on the Mic. That is titled How to Grow Your Email List. I take a pretty deep dive into ConvertKit, and you know why I like it. Uh, but to summarize that, number one, it's built for people like us. So these, you know, solopreneurs, creators, it's made for us. It integrates with everything.

And you don't need to use Zapier. Zapier. It is affordable. It has a, uh, free tier. Do not recommend that because you're gonna outgrow it quickly and you know, it's gonna require you to do like workarounds for some of the more simple things, and it's just, you're gonna lose time there. So just pay for the, you know, the, the most basic tier.

Um, it has all the bells and whistle on that most basic tier,. It is subscriber based, not list based. And this is huge. For those of you that care about, ya know, the pricing of things, many email marketing software, uh, softwares out there are list based, meaning you could have the same person but they signed up for the list on through different, they sent up for your email list through different landing pages, and you're gonna get charged multiple times cuz they're on, on each of these landing pages. 

Whereas ConvertKit only charges you for the email. How- wherever this email address is, how many different or unique email addresses you have, that is what it's charging you on. Doesn't matter what they're subscribed to in terms of your different landing pages. Um, it has a good sender reputation cuz it's made for email.

Um, good deliverability. It's easy to make things like landing pages. I know this may be over some of your heads. You want to be able to create those pages where people put their input, put their input, put their email and name, and then they know they can join your list that way, or you can send them a freebie.

You need that to be something that's pretty seamless and easy to do and ConvertKit allows for that. Lastly, and this is a actually a really cool feature, is that it allows for e e-commerce. So you'll need to integrate with the payment processor, which is gonna be in my, you know, suggestion Stripe. Um, for those of you that are like, I don't, you know, I can't have this natively on my website yet cuz it is another step.

You're like, I just wanna sell this thing. I wanna sell seats to this webinar that I'm running. Something like that. You can do that on ConvertKit and you, it will grow with you and get you to the point where you're like, okay, I'm ready to pay for the next, you know, kind of payment processor or integrate it with my website, something like that.

So two thumbs Way Up for ConvertKit and it is the only email marketing software that I recommend. 

Lastly for, and as it relates to the kind of things that I think you need to have when we're, when we're starting out that online business, it's gonna be a way to communicate with your clients. If you're doing, if you have like a coaching based business. For me, I prefer Voxer.

If you're in like the fitness space and maybe you're using like, you know, you're programming for people, that's gonna be a little bit different. And I actually don't have a set recommendation for that because I don't use that personally. Um, there are different things out there like, Trainerize and True Coach, and I've heard from people that I coach, sometimes it's better from the user experience to have one of them, but from the actual coaching side, it's better to have another.

So I am staying away from recommendations with that. This, what I'm recommending now is purely if you're like, I do coaching and I wanna be able to communicate with my clients, um, and coach them that way in between, you know, official sessions. Voxer is my number one recommendation there. Voxer is a text and voice messaging platform.

Uh, I recommend that you pay for Pro, so this way you can keep all the past messages. I like to have this, you know, outside of, you know, like DMs cuz it keeps everything separate. I also don't wanna like give my phone number out. Um, so I think my favorite feature of Voxer though is that you can speed up the messages. 

This way, if people speak slowly- I know I speak very quickly- but if people speak slowly, you can speed them up, can listen while you're out for your walk and things like that. Um, like I said, it is a text and voice messaging platform, so, you know, people prefer to com to communicate in different ways. Some people prefer voice, some people prefer text.

And this affords you the ability to do both. And yes, you can send pictures as well. So I think it's a nice way to, you know, stay in contact with your clients. Um, and that's gonna be my number one recommendation for that. 

Alright so everything that I've just listed, those are the things that I suggest that you're pretty much gonna need, like from the get-go, if you're using, doing some kind of coaching based online business. 

The remaining things are gonna be, uh, as the business grows and we're looking to do more, whether it's from the creative side or the, the offer slash services side of things, right? 

So podcasting: Number one, if you wanna start a podcast, don't forget I have that free download that free e-book.

All the things I recommend are gonna be in there from the tech side and things like that. But for a podcast host, you have to host your podcast somewhere. The the files have to live somewhere and they can't just be in the computer. Okay. That's gonna be Buzzsprout. It is super simple. It has a lot of features.

This is the second thing on my list that I recommend that I don't actually personally use. I started my podcast using Blubrry because I have a WordPress website and Blubrry is a, uh, offers a really simple power press plugin for WordPress. Um, so it just made sense to use that. Um, and actually Buzzsprout came out after I started doing things.

Um, but if you're just starting out with podcasting, Buzzsprout is going to be what I recommend.

As it relates to remote podcasting software. So, right, so your podcast actually lives. You're hosting it with Buzzsprout, but the software that you're gonna use to have these calls and have guests come on to your show, I recommend Riverside.Fm.

Yes, I have an affiliate link for that. Um, the reason that I recommend Riverside, one, it actually just looks very cool. They upgraded things. It's very, very sleek, but, um, the reason that I like this better than things that I've recommended in the past is the ability to create clips for social media. Um, we are in a time where vertical video is kind of reigning supreme and the things that allow us to do this most easily without post-production editing, that's gonna be what I recommend for most people. Yes, I like to do a lot of the post-production editing and using Adobe and things like that, but most people don't. And I don't want this to be a barrier if you're first starting or if you don't like doing that kind of stuff. So Riverside does allow you to do that natively.

Um, and that is why it's going to get my vote over other things. Uh, it also as an aside, we're getting a little more in the weeds here, it will export individual tracks. So everyone that's on the show you and that guest get individual tracks exported so you can edit those and separate video as well. So just have a lot that you can do if you wanna do a lot of that post-production edit, uh, editing.

Um, the connection and things like that. Or I shouldn't say the connection. The quality, the sound quality, things like that, that's actually gonna be most dependent on your own personal internet connection. So if you're doing an online business, number one, get a wired connection. Alright? My computer is wired to the modem. It's not going on through wifi. Um, and, and pay for the highest speeds. That's what's gonna ensure that you don't have like skipping and things like that. It's not necessarily the software, it's what is your specific connection? Okay. All right. 

Next thing. Online courses. I love me a good online course. The only thing I recommend for this is Kajabi.

It is slightly more expensive than other things, and that's because it is actually an all in one platform. And theoretically you could host your website with Kajabi, but I am just putting this in the online course category. I do have an affiliate link that will also give you a 30 day free trial. So if you wanna tappy tap, click that, you can.

Reasons I love Kajabi: Number one, it integrates easily with all the things, plays nicely with all the things, and it's very, very, very easy to create the actual course. I know people get really overwhelmed by things and they're like, oh my gosh, how do I actually make the thing? And I always say, making the thing is the easy part.

Attracting the eyes and building the trust, that's the hard part. Kajabi makes it easy. It hosts all the videos there. It's drag and drop. If you wanna do, um, you know, video, you wanna do downloads, you wanna do audio only, you wanna allow people to actually download the video and things like that. You can do that natively.

You can break things up into chapters and modules very, very easily. There's a whole community on Instagram. Uh, so you can get support. Not Instagram, sorry, on Facebook, so you can get support that way. It is just, uh, in my opinion, superior to all of the other things. I know people try to kind of cut corners and be like, well, this thing is cheaper.

This thing is cheaper. And I will say, you get what you pay for. It also allows you to make sales pages really, really easy and really nice sales pages. So if you're looking to sell things, it's just, it's super, super sleek and super easy. Um, and the end product just looks really, really nice, right? It's gonna allow for that e-commerce side of things.

And yes, I'm saying I do with my e-commerce outside of my website, um, because it's just easier and you can have a bunch of courses and things like that in there. I believe it's also nicer from a user standpoint. There is an app. Um, and just like I've gone through courses, you know, with different hosts and I'm like, I like Kajabi the most, right?

From a tech side of things, if you're looking to do a video recording and you want that picture and picture, kind of ties into this, this little section here, you can do this in Zoom, right? Where you have slides and then your picture in the corner. I actually use a thing called Screencast-o-matic. I know it sounds a little chaka chaka, but it actually works phenomenal.

The big player out there is gonna be Loom. Again, I recommend Screencast-o-matic. You can pick between those. Um, but this section here was just to suggest what I recommend for online courses, and that's going to be Kajabi. 

For webinars, I love me a good webinar. We're all on Zoom, folks, right? We all have it.

Just use that. Start with Zoom if you wanna have it be paid, this is where ConvertKit is nice because ConvertKit has that e-commerce side of things, right, where you can create a little landing page, you can have people pay, and then you can just send them the Zoom link. Uh, so start with Zoom.

If you want webinar specific software, my recommendation here is going to be Crowdcast. Yes, I have an affiliate link for that. Uh, and actually, if you register for the, The Audiovisual Upgrade, I'm hosting that with Crowdcast tomorrow on April 25th. Why do I like Crowdcast? Well, number one, it's built for webinars. The difference to me between a webinar and a workshop is with a webinar, I cannot see the attendees, right?

They're there, but I don't see their little window, don't see their video. A workshop I could, they could very easily host that on, uh, Zoom. And then you can have people, you know, where you see their, their, uh, their video and things like that. I love Crowd Caster- Crowd Caster. Wow. I love Crowdcast because it has a payment processor built in and the registration page is built in.

It just stays hosted on, on Crowdcast. It's just all right there, tied together nicely. You can continue to resell it after that. Like you can put a link, obviously on your website and then it can click through and it takes them over to Crowdcast, where that, uh, where they can actually pay. Um, I love the ask a question feature that Crowdcast has, which is if people can't join live, they can submit questions beforehand.

How awesome is that? And then you can answer the question live on the webinar, and you can timestamp it. You just hit the little button, it says record and people can go and you know, navigate directly to that time on the recording. Lastly, probably one of the biggest reasons I like it is that the chat feature, the chat, remains on the screen when people watch replays.

I have used other software in the past where the chat goes away and I'm like, that's kinda one of the down downsides of using been like something like, um, Zoom, right? You can send out the recording to people, but they can't see the chat. Yes, you can send out the chat file, but I want people to be able to scroll it really easily because I use the chat a ton when I do my webinars.

So that's a feature that I really want to make sure that people watching the replay would be able to have easy access to the chat. Um, yes, you can download the recordings as well. You can put 'em over on Kajabi if you wanted, after that. I just leave them on crowdcast and continue to sell from there. 

You can also, this is a new feature, you can pause your, like, your subscription, and I think for $10 a month you can still sell the things, but you're not actually gonna be charged each month to be part of the, you know, to have Crowdcast. So the, they will still live there, people can buy them, um, but you're not being charged that monthly fee.

I will say that the fees are a little annoying for Crowdcast. They went up and I was, I was checking something on Stripe and I was like, why is this so little money for this web, this webinar that I did? And it was because the fees have gone up. Um, but I'm sticking with it for now until I find something better, because I really do like the product ultimately.

Uh, last thing and then we're gonna wrap it up is, memberships. This is, when I was outlining this episode, this is where I kind of had the most difficulty because I personally use MemberPress, which is a plugin for WordPress, and I said earlier that as it relates to having a website, I recommend Squarespace.

My first website was Squarespace. I built the whole thing, loved it. I switched. I hired a, um, a website builder, Joe. I love him. Not, not, not the Joe that I talk about. This is a different Joe. I've got multiple Joes in my life. Um, and so I'm on WordPress and I, I really do like it. But that is what I recommend, number one, if you do have a WordPress website and you want to have a membership, I love Member Press. You could also have a membership through Kajabi. Um, you can do some things through, um, Squarespace. I believe Memberspace is like one of the recommendations. I cannot speak to this a hundred percent. I put it in here, kind of like put this section in here, kind of like hesitantly, but I, I know that people are gonna have a question around this.

The biggest thing that you wanna think about, if you're going to have a membership site, is that the transaction side of it needs to be hands off for you. All the payments need to be hands off. Where people can sign up, they can cancel, they can upgrade, they can downgrade, things get prorated. The, uh, payments happen, you know, on an recurring basis.

If they, if there's a failed payment, it will retry. It will email them that the payment is has failed. If their credit card is expiring, it will email them that it's expiring. That all needs to be hands off. Otherwise, this membership will kill you. This is why I love Memberpress, cuz it does all of that. So I will say, if you're like, all right, I'm gonna have one, look for those things where all the transactions happen automatically, all the reminders and things like that, happen automatically and it is hands off for you.

From the community aspect side of it, right, cause that's a big part of having a membership. I use Facebook, right? I have a Facebook group for my Mafia. Why do I continue with Facebook? Because everyone's already there. I know there are other platforms out there, Circle and things like that, but it's another login for people to remember, and then they don't go onto these things and then you don't have that community side of things.

So with that, when you're making that decision for like, where do I want the community aspect to live? Let it be easy. More logins to remember typically is more problems. All right, so think about that. 

All right, I'm looking at my outline here. I know I spoke really fast in this episode because of the tech stuff, the software, platform, it gets me really excited. I love this stuff. You know, I'm always like, oh, what a time to be alive. Cuz we can run all of these things and do all these things from home. Like we can do it ourselves. It's like super amazing to me.

Uh, with this list, remember, you don't need to have all of these things at once. You can look to expand and, and acquire as you grow. That beginning part of the list I definitely recommend is those are the first things to get. Pay for the things.

Remember that online business has incredible profit margins, especially when we compare to brick and mortar that has significant operating expenses, namely that the overhead for the physical space. Um, so don't be afraid to pay for these things. You will make it back. You may know that notice, and may have noticed that I didn't include a CRM.

For those of you that know what a CRM is, that stands for Customer Relationship Management Software, you don't need it. It's unnecessary complexity. Your business likely isn't big enough to actually need this thing and all of the other tools that I listed out, you can use those to, you know, onboard your people and give them information, have information automatically sent out without needing to buy and learn and implement this other thing.

Okay? I think that's it, right? We're gonna start with the website, the online scheduler, the email marketing software. The payment processor. That's it. Do not let those things hang you up where you're like, I can't start until, I can't start until. You can absolutely start before, but these things will make that transition smoother for you and when you really are like, yeah, I'm doing this thing, those are the things that you're gonna need initially.

All right, don't forget, if you wanna learn the tech side of things, you wanna learn, like, what I actually use, the microphone that I have in front of me. The microphone I use for videos, how to get the most out of your iPhone. Should you be using a camera? I record all of this with a DSLR camera. You wanna learn the difference between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera.

I got you. Tomorrow, April 25th, 4:00 PM Pacific, The Audiovisual Upgrade is going down. If you can't make it live, don't worry. There is always a replay, a recording. Always. If you're listening to this after the fact, don't worry. You can still go to the link. I almost said link in the bio. It's not in the bio.

You can go to the link in the show notes. You can still purchase the replay and watch at any time. All right. That's gonna do it for today's episode, as always, endlessly, endlessly, endlessly appreciative for every single one of you. Until next time, friends, Maestro out.

Links & Resources For This Episode:

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Join me for the Audiovisual Upgrade webinar!
MOTM #324: How Lex Lancaster Can Help You Build A Life You Love
Check out Lex’s work on her website
MOTM #468: How to Grow Your Email List
Grab your copy of the How to Start A Podcast E-book!
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