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Have you heard of Matt Wadsworth? Up until last week, I had no idea who he was, but now, he’s one of my favourite people online. Matt is someone that has managed to build a 7-figure internet business in the space of three years. That’s impressive in itself, but what’s even more mind-blowing is that Matt is blind. He has no sight at all.
I instantly like Matt not only because of his achievements, but he’s someone that – like me – doesn’t make a living online by teaching people how to make a living online. Instead, his lessons are of providing value, staying consistent, and focusing on what you love.
To me, these are the core fundamentals involved in building a successful, legitimate business online. Whilst the fundamentals are the key, there are also some great tools and services to help you get the most out of your internet ventures.
My aim with this website is to be as transparent as I can in everything that I do, so today I want to take you through all of the tools and programs that help me to get things done. As with everything I share, I’m not saying that you have to use these, but if something looks useful or like a better alternative to what you’re currently using, then add it to your internet marketing arsenal.
In a survey across thousands of large companies who actively monitor their stats online, only 35% stated that they actually changed their website based on what they saw. If you’re going to use any of the tools below, I recommend you use them not only to give you an overview of your projects, but as indicators as to what you can change to increase your conversions.
Crazy Egg was created by one of my favourite guys in the internet marketing space, Neil Patel. Crazy Egg allows you to see the most popular areas of your website pages and find out where visitors from different sources are clicking on your site. There are three modes: Overlay (click data), Heatmap (popular areas) and Confetti (each individual click on the page).
Above you can see the Confetti view, and you can also open up the referrers box to see which colour matches which traffic source. If you see that a certain site is sending a lot of RSS subscribers, you can work to get more traffic from that source. If you find that your readers go to the top right hand side of the page, you can put an ad there or something else that you want to get viewed.
There used to be a free plan that comes with Crazy Egg but the cheapest option now is $9 per month. If you’re serious about your website, you can learn a lot from this tool.
Before Google Analytics came along there weren’t really that many decent tracking tools available. I started using this service back in 2007 after receiving a beta invite and have been using it ever since.
It’s completely free and one of the most powerful analytics tools on the market. It certainly isn’t 100% accurate (though no analytics tool is) and the only downside in my opinion is the delay in reporting. If you want to check the stats for today, you have to wait until tomorrow.
Get Clicky is another free analytics tool, but this one reports analytics in real-time. Instead of waiting around for Google to catch up, you can see what is happening on your website, right now.
Live analytics can be a crucial tool, especially if you’re experiencing a large wave of traffic to a certain web page. When you can see what is happening in real-time, you can tweak specific pages to get the most from the visitors there.
With Google Analytics, you would see huge traffic spikes the next day, and miss the opportunity to maximise conversions on that traffic.
If you’re a blogger and you’re not using Feedburner, I first of all want to know where you’ve been, and secondly need to say that you have been missing out. Feedburner basically provides the little yellow “chicklet” that you see on the top right hand corner of this blog.
You can see how many people are subscribing to your RSS feed and from which sources, and if you use the new Google Analytics integration, you can see how many clicks each individual post is getting from feed readers.
Other cool features include allowing people to subscribe to your blog via email, and being able to add email and social bookmarking links to the bottom of your posts.
I have been using Postrank Analytics for about 3 weeks now and find it really impressive. As a quick disclaimer, I was given a free membership for two months to try out the service, but will not be renewing my account until new features are added.
It integrates directly with Google Analytics, so each morning I get a summary of:
Content is given a score called Engagement Points so you can clearly see what type of content you are adding that your audience reacts to the most. Once they add functionality to sort my most tweeted, bookmarked, and commented posts, I’ll be happy to pay for the service.
When I’m testing the size of a market for pretty much anything, I like to use the Google Keywords tool which gives you an idea of how many people are searching for X (where X is your keyphrase) each month.
If you market via PPC it gives you a decent estimate of the advertiser competition as well. To give you more accurate results, I recommend you select ‘All Countries and Territories’ on the left drop-down box and then when the results appear, choose ‘Exact match’ from the right hand side.
Finally, click on the top of one of the column headings to see terms with the highest search volume first.
Wordtracker offer a paid keyword research tool, but their free tool is always enough for my needs. I don’t use it so much for the figures that they give, but it gives far better phrases that I wouldn’t think of using or typing into the Google Keyword tool.
I rarely build new sites these days (I buy profitable ones, instead) but my most recent was in December, with my $1m case study. Even if I find a niche with a large audience or a keyphrase with a large search volume, I won’t just jump into that market.
I like to use Google Trends which gives me an idea of whether an industry is becoming more popular online or if it’s declining. You get an overall look at search volume (which you can compare against other terms) and also see how many trusted news sources are talking about a subject.
I often find that similar phrases, even though they’re in the same niche, can have completely different results. One could be declining rapidly while another is gaining popularity. This is a great tool to use as it’s pointless trying to rank for a phrase that gets 5,000 searches per month if it’s going to be at 500 by the end of the year.
You might think that someone who makes a good five-figure income online each month has a ridiculous computer setup. Well, I kind of do now, but I didn’t for the last year. In fact, I used a Sony Vaio laptop that had no hard drive (really), ran from a Xubuntu Live CD, and every time it booted up I would be presented with a brand new operating system.
I like to think of a Web browser as the only tool that I need, but if truth be told, there really is some software that makes my life a little easier.
If you’re using Twitter in any way to build your personal brand or business, then Tweetdeck will help keep you organised. I use 3 columns in the service which show me:
I like to follow people back on Twitter who follow me, but when there are close to 2,000 people in your news stream, it’s hard to find the signal in the noise.
I created a Twitter list which currently has about 80 people in it, and I usually only monitor the tweets from these people. Not only does Tweetdeck keep things organised, but it also makes it very fast to message people and retweet good content.
When I ordered my Macbook Pro about 5 months ago (my first Mac) I didn’t think I would like their Microsoft Word alternative, Pages. Instead I opted for Office for Mac which is pretty bad compared to Office on Windows, but it does the job.
Right now I only use Excel for random spreadsheets and Word to grammar and spell check my articles. I haven’t installed it on my new iMac which I’m using now, and think I’m going to opt for iWork 09 instead. I use Google Docs for 99% of my file handling online, but the internet in South Africa is very unreliable, so I like to have an offline solution as well.
One thing that really bugged me about Mac OS X (I love everything else) was the lack of good FTP programs available. I used Filezilla on my Vista PC in the UK and found it perfect for my needs. For some reason, I had a lot of issues with it a few months ago.
I have literally tried 10 different programs and have been disappointed with each, but returned to Filezilla last week and I think they have fixed all of the issues I had. It’s available for both Windows and Mac, and is the best software I’ve found for uploading and downloading files to my servers.
I talked about Writeroom a lot in my post about minimalist internet marketing, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Quite simply, as I’m writing this, I see nothing but a huge area of black space and a lot of green text.
Writeroom takes over your screen – essentially eliminating any writing distractions – and just allows you to focus on the content. It does look quite geeky, but it’s also far easier on the eyes than black text on a bright white background.
Writeroom is for Mac, but there’s a Windows alternative called Darkroom.
I’m sure most of you know about Photoshop. In simple terms, it’s the best graphic design software for my needs, even though it comes at a hefty price. I have tried alternatives like Gimp, which is free, but I definitely prefer Photoshop.
When I ran PluginID, many people would ask me which script I used to add the black bar and text to my images (which is a style that many people started to copy, for some reason). I didn’t use a script, but used Photoshop to put the graphics together.
I also used it to create all the graphics you see here on ViperChill (such as the eBook cover), apart from the logo and little white men.
Last, but not least, is Skype. I used to use programs like MSN Messenger, Gtalk and other chat software, but they’re really unnecessary for me. My personal Skype account has about 300 contacts which can be really distracting, so about 3 weeks ago I created a new account.
This new account literally only has 5 contacts so I can leave it open all day without being overloaded with messages. As I live in South Africa alone and don’t have any family here, it’s also very useful to call my family back home and have chats with them for free.
When the web becomes more advanced and HTML 5 comes into play, I think that a number of the things I use offline are going to have equal or even better online alternatives. Here are the things I use online to help me with my internet marketing lifestyle.
Do you ever find a cool article or resource online and wish you had an easy way to save it? Is your browser bookmarks bar overloaded and hard to organise? If so, then Delicious may be for you. That is, if you’re not one of the 10 million + people using it already.
Owned by Yahoo, the site allows me to quickly save webpages I find and organise them using tags. I mostly use it for great blog posts I find so I can link to them later from ViperChill, but save quite a few other things there as well.
There are a number of alternatives, but Delicious was the first really big bookmarking site and the one I like the best.
Another tool I mentioned in a post recently, Teux Deux, was introduced to me by Seth Godin. It is a very minimalist to-do-list tool that helps me keep my life in order. The home screen is literally just the days of the week, with a column for your task items that day.
Again, this is very basic so if you’re looking for something with a lot of features, this won’t be for you. The simplistic nature of this tool is why I like it so much.
Google disappoint me in a number of ways (like allowing Mahalo to rank with all of their crappy, computer generated pages because it makes them more money via Adsense) but I can’t deny their services make my life much, much easier.
Google Apps means that you can control a ‘company’ online and use various Google services under that brand. For example, I use Gmail for my email, but I login with an @viperchill.com address and have even replaced the Gmail logo with my own.
I can also add new users, and then share documents with them via Google Docs, or create a custom start-page that everyone can see. There are a number of other tools in there so you may find more that are relevant to your needs.
This wont apply to most people, so I’ll keep things short. iDisk is a service from Me.com (owned by Apple) which makes it very easy for me to backup my important files online. I run a Mac application called Automater which automatically copies files from a certain folder onto my iDisk at 1pm everyday.
If you use Windows or just don’t want to use iDisk, then iDrive is a tool I would recommend. You can never have too many backups.
Google Reader is the most popular, free, online feed reader available and after trying a number of alternatives, is my clear favourite. Google reader basically allows you to subscribe to all of your favourite blogs in one place and see when they update their content without having to repeatedly return to their sites.
Around two years ago I had over 350 feeds in there as I was a total information junkie. Now there are less than 20 sites that I subscribe to, but it still makes finding new updates a lot easier. I know a number of people like to subscribe to blogs via email, but I find that just clutters up my inbox.
Rather than having to delete an email, simply scrolling past a new post in Google Reader will mark it as read.
Although I’m considering a move to Google Chrome now that it is out of beta for Mac, Firefox is still my browser of choice. I have a very nice environment in place, and apart from the occasional time when I can’t seem to close tabs, I don’t have any problems with it.
I use a number of extensions for the browser which save me a lot of time, so I’m going to go through the list now.
Alexa is an Amazon-owned service which gives you a guesstimation of how much traffic a website gets. You’ll find that the figures in the internet marketing niche are lower (lower means the site is getting more traffic) because it is mostly webmasters who have their toolbar installed.
In the status bar of my browser I can quickly see how popular a website is based on the graph and figures shown. I don’t rely on it for anything serious as it is not accurate, but you can clearly see whether a site gets a small amount of traffic or whether it’s popular.
I had to move a number of websites to a new server recently and anyone who has done this before knows it can be a real pain. When waiting for some domains to propagate, I couldn’t tell if they were on my old server or the new one.
To find out, I installed this extension which clearly shows the I.P. address for the server of the website that you are on. That way I knew when my sites had moved. You can also use this to check multiple sites that you think might be owned by the same people if you’re into spying on your competitors.
I do little bits of graphic work now and then, besides images in blog posts, and Colorzilla saves me a lot of time. It’s simply a colour picker tool which allows you to click anywhere on a webpage and work out the Hexadecimal value for that colour.
Once I have this, I can then copy that into Photoshop and have colours match up perfectly. This just saves me from taking a screenshot and importing that into Photoshop in order to work out colour values.
I probably save about 30 seconds each time, but when you’re doing this multiple times per week, it quickly adds up.
One of my favourite extensions, Search Status, was actually created here in Cape Town. At a party I actually met the guy who put it together. This tool enables you to do a lot of things, very quickly, such as:
If you’re buying sites, implementing SEO or testing markets, then this is a must have.
A tool that I have mentioned here a few times is Informenter. When activated, it adds a little blue box to any form fields that you see online. In the settings panel you can configure which values you would like to appear when you click on that blue box.
For example, if I want to leave a lot of blog comments, it’s going to be a hassle to constantly type in my name, email, and URL. Instead, I can make 6 clicks of my mouse and have the 3 fields filled in.
On a similar note, if you buy a lot of things online, you could set it up to have quick access to your name, address, telephone number and that kind of thing.
One of the biggest distractions for me online was my own browser bookmarks bar. I would constantly find myself clicking off to other websites, even when I didn’t need to and they weren’t relevant to what I was working on.
Created by Joost De Valk, Quix allows me to turn off my bookmarks bar and simply press CMD+1 (CTRL + 1 in Windows) and then type in a shortcut to access any website that I wish. It also has a lot of neat search features as well so to search Youtube I could just type yt search phrase and that would take me to Youtube with the search results displayed.
This is very easy to customise and because it runs off a text file on your server, you can have all of your favourite links on any computer, anywhere in the world.
Besides around 20 blogs in my feed reader, I also follow a couple of sites both to attain new knowledge in this space and to hire cheap staff for services that I may need. There are only three main resources that I use, and here they are:
As a side-note, at the start of the year I wrote about how I use Netvibes for pretty much everything. I had a number of problems with the service – such as feeds constantly un-marking themselves as read – and my 5 emails to the Netvibes team may as well have gone ignored as I just received generic replies. If it works for you, then that’s great, but I’m happy with how I operate now.
I’m sure all of you knew about some of the items here, but I hope you all found something you can add to your own internet marketing toolbox.