Our Recommended Online Business Tools and Resources
While online business success comes down to hustle, persistence, and consistency – the tools we choose (and the ones we ignore) also play a large role in how fast we reach success.
Choose the wrong tools and you’ll find yourself plagued with unnecessary stress. And growing your business will prove to be a challenge.
Choose the right tools, on the other hand, and you’ll skyrocket your efficiency. And reach your income goals faster.
So, how do you know which tools are right for you?
We’ve tested the most popular tools and included the best tools we’ve come across below.
DISCLAIMER: We personally use the tools from this recommendations list for all our web properties. And that’s because they’re great and make our lives A LOT easier.
Nonetheless, some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning, if you click on the link and make a purchase, we will make a commission (this commission comes at no additional cost to you).
It’s important you make your own decisions – if you think a tool could benefit you – purchase it. If not, save your money for the things that truly matter to you.
Our Must-Haves & Essential Tools
Every business has tools they can’t live without – below are our must-have tools. We use these tools everyday in all our businesses. Without these, we’d be totally lost and building authority sites would be a HUGE pain.
NameCheap - ($10.69/.com domain/year with free private whois)
All of our domains are registered and managed using namecheap.com, simply because the registrar is very simple and easy to use (not to mention – really cheap). One of the things we love about Namecheap is unlike other domain registrars – they don’t use aggressive marketing funnels to hard sell you. In fact, they won’t bother you much at all. You’ll receive everything you need with zero issues.
WPX Hosting - ($24.95/month for up to 5 sites)
Formerly known as Traffic Planet Hosting, WPX Hosting offers great managed WordPress hosting at affordable prices. They’re extremely reliable, offer awesome 24/7 support (we always get help for every ticket we create…in 5 minutes or less), and they provide 100% free site migration services so you’ll be up and running very fast.
Thrive Themes Membership - ($25/month paid quarterly)
Thrive Themes Membership is simply one of the best investments you can make - they provide everything from tools to themes to landing pages to plugins. We have Thrive Themes integrated with all our web properties and they’re truly an awesome service – use it and turn your WordPress site into a lead generating machine.
Ahrefs - (starting from $79/month)
Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO tool we use every single day for all our businesses. When they first started, they were simply a back linking tool. But now, they’ve grown into providing: keyword research, backlink checking, rank checking, content idea generation and more. Overall, it’s the best package of SEO tools available for any business owner.
Active Campaign - (starting from $9/month)
Email marketing is one of the most important activities for your online business. But finding an email system that’s easy to use, affordable, and very powerful is usually a struggle for most business owners. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be anymore – with Active Campaign you get very powerful email marketing tools at great prices. And you can put these tools to use from day one and automate all your email marketing tasks, instantly.
Asana - (free for up to 15 people)
We use Asana exclusively to assign tasks and manage progress for all our team members. It’s a great tool, allowing us to easily keep tabs on who's doing what and seeing how far (or close) they are to completing their respective tasks (plus, it eliminates the confusion and uncertainty that comes with most task management tools).
Payoneer - (free)
If you’re not from the US, Payoneer is a real life-saver – it provides you with an U.S. bank account that you can use to receive payments from tons of different companies (i.e. Amazon, Clickbank, Commission Junction etc.). If you’re not using Payoneer, sign up for your free card using our link and you’ll get a $25 bonus when you get your first $100 on your account.
Domain Registrar & Web Hosting
When it comes to any type of online business, you’ll need to register a domain and secure hosting. Fortunately, it’s very cheap to do so. Below are the services we recommend using:
Namecheap - ($10.69/.com domain/year with free private whois)
Namecheap is good for so many different purposes - not only can you use it as a domain registrar, but you can also register your ssl certificates and host your emails with them. All in all, it’s the best domain registrar out there.
If you’re running an online business, chances are you’ll be using WordPress. But when it comes to picking the best theme – which one should you choose? Ultimately, you want to make sure your theme grants you the ability to collect emails, create awesome looking pieces of content, and does what you need it to do. Here are the themes we personally use:
MyThemeShop - (free & paid plans starting from $29)
Here’s another WordPress theme provider we really love – it offers great themes at affordable prices. With over 100 WordPress themes and 20 plugins, you have a large selection to choose from…meaning you’re bound to find something that truly fits your needs.
If you don’t have a knack for coding, WordPress plugins will soon become your best friend. And that’s because you can use them to easily increase the functionality of your site. Here are the plugins we can’t live without:
Yoast SEO - (free & paid plan available for $69)
There’s a reason this plugin is consistently rated as the #1 SEO plugin for WordPress by many experts and users. And that’s because it helps improve your site with a wide range of features which include: optimized XML sitemaps, content duplication prevention, SEO friendly blog posts, and more.
Thirsty Affiliates - (free & paid plans starting from $79)
If you’re looking for an affiliate link management for WordPress, Thirsty Affiliates has you covered. It helps you organize and cloak affiliate links. What’s more is it’s extremely fast and easy to use (it’s also free).
SumoMe - (free & paid plans starting from $29/month)
When it comes to growing your traffic, there’s nothing quite like SumoMe. And that’s because SumoMe comes armed with a set of tools to give your traffic a real boost. You’ll find tools ranging from social sharing bars to image shares and everything in between.
W3 Total Cache - (free & paid plan for $99/year)
If site speed is a problem, we recommend using W3 Total Cache to optimize your server’s performance, page load times, and provide easy CDN integration. You’ll experience tremendous benefits from using this plugin, simply because sites that load faster are known to rank higher and receive more organic traffic.
Akismet - (free & paid plans starting from $7/month)
Spam can be a huge problem for most WordPress blogs. Fortunately, Akismet does a great job at monitoring your comments and filtering out the good from the bad. It comes as a default plugin for every new WordPress installation, but if you want to experience the full benefits of Akismet, you can upgrade to their paid plan (we recommend upgrading only if you’re a heavy user).
SEO will either be something you absolutely love…or something you can’t stand. Regardless, it’s very important since your site’s success will depend largely on your SEO efforts. Here are the tools we use to give our SEO efforts a boost:
KWFinder - (free & paid plans starting from $12/month)
If you can’t afford the steep price tag of Ahrefs ($79/month), KWFinder is a great alternative – it’s cheap and it works great. One of the things we love the most about it is the exceptional user experience and interface.
Click here to get KWFinder at 10% discount (exclusive for Cloud Living readers)
Content Creation Tools
One of the most important aspects of your online business is the content you create. If your content isn’t high quality and up to speed, you won’t be making money anytime soon. Here are the content creation tools we use to give our content an extra spark:
Coschedule Headline Analyzer - (free)
If your headlines suck, your content won’t get read. And your sales pages won’t convert. Coschedule Headline Analyzer is the tool we use to ensure our headlines are optimized for clicks – we brainstorm a bunch of headlines and subject each to the analyzer – we then pick the headline with the highest score and discard the rest (it doesn’t get any simpler than this).
Thrive Content Builder - ($67 for a single site license)
Thrive Content Builder is one of the plugins included in the Thrive Themes Membership. And it’s our favorite tool for spicing up any piece of content. With just a few clicks, we’re able to make our content more engaging and easier to consume.
DesignBold - (free & paid plans starting from $19/month)
Creating great looking featured images is very important when it comes to getting your content clicked and read. Fortunately, Design Bold makes things very easy - it’s the online software we use to create beautiful images for both social media and all our blog posts.
Social Media Management Tools
Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your site’s traffic – the problem, however, is it can be very tiresome and time consuming. Here are the tools we use to automate as much of it as possible:
Email Marketing Tools
If you don’t have an email list, you don’t have a business. You’re going to need tools to not only build your list, but to also communicate with your list on a regular basis. Here’s the tool we use for all our email marketing efforts:
Active Campaign - (starting from $9/month)
Simply one of the best (and easy to use) email marketing tools available. The value you get in exchange for your money is truly remarkable – you can easily set up automations, create campaigns with awesome designs, and connect with most apps in a matter of minutes. The power of Active Campaign is second to none.
CRO & Analytics Tools
How do you know if your online sales tactics are working? It starts and ends with tracking. The proper tracking tools will give you the information you need to make simple tweaks to your website, which ultimately contributes to increased conversions. Here are the tools we use for tracking:
Google Analytics - (free with premium option available)
Not much needs to be said about Google Analytics – it’s simply one of the best analytics out there. We personally use it to collect and measure data so we can make the right business decisions, every time.
Hotjar - (starting from $89/month)
You’ll receive full access to heat maps, customer surveys, funnel analytics, customer page usage recordings and a lot more. It’s truly the one stop shop for understanding visitor behaviour. And making simple changes to your website to increase conversion rates.
Nelio A/B Testing - (starting from $288/year)
When it comes to increasing conversions on WordPress, Nelio A/B Testing is the best optimizer available. Unlike other optimizers, it works perfectly and can do a lot more things to help you sky rocket your conversions for your WordPress website.
It’s so easy to get distracted online, but you must resist the temptation…or else you’ll never reach your goals. Here are the tools we use to get stuff done:
Asana - (free for up to 15 people)
Simple task management tool that lets us easily assign tasks, keep track of who's doing what, and measure progress for all our teammates. Without Asana, we’d have a tough time keeping track of everything and staying on track. It makes task management a hundred times easier.
Screencast O-Matic - (free & paid plan for $15/year)
Great tool we use to record and share screencast videos amongst our team members. So many times things get lost in translation via text, but this tool allows us to share exactly what we mean by recording our screens and overlaying it with audio – this results in increased productivity and decreased errors in communication.
Evernote - (free)
When it comes to note taking, Evernote is the best. It allows us to keep track of all our notes in a very simple and easy to use application. We use it to create personal to-do lists, identify articles we want to read, and to jot down ideas to help grow our businesses.
LucidChart - (starting from $4.95/month)
When it comes to visual communication, LucidChart is simply the best. It’s our most trusted resource for making work flow processes and creating processes for our businesses. Not only that - it also grants us the ability to create flowcharts, diagrams, UML sketches and ER models.
Digital Marketing Training & Courses
The number one skill required for online success is marketing. If you can’t sell, you won’t be around for long. Here are the training resources we use to stay one step ahead of the competition:
AMZ Affiliate Bootcamp - (starting from $497)
Here’s Cloud Living’s own training program for ranking, building, and monetizing Amazon affiliate niche websites. There’s nothing else like it on the marketplace. It’s truly the best product out there, helping both newbies and seasoned entrepreneurs take their affiliate game to the next level.
Digital Marketer Lab - ($38.60/month)
This is a great resource for advanced marketers looking to improve their knowledge of digital marketing. You’ll receive execution plans, actionable guides, and everything you need to take your digital marketing skill set to the next level.
Digital Marketer HQ - (starting from $295/month)
Certification program that covers all the basic digital marketing skills you need to grow your business. It provides comprehensive training sessions, followed by quizzes and full length exams to make sure you’ve mastered and understand the material fully so you can immediately apply the knowledge towards your business.
Best Business Books
With how fast online business works, you constantly have to be learning and growing. One of the best resources to consult are books. Here are our favourites:
Similar to Anything You Want, Rework also introduces a bunch of new philosophies to help your business achieve success, faster. What I love the most about this book is the fact that it’s not like typical business books – it goes much deeper and truly identifies the frameworks needed to become a success in today’s ever changing business environment.
Everything you need to know about business, from marketing to hiring to productivity to team management can be found in this book. Whether you’re just starting out, looking for a crash course in business…or you’re a seasoned professional looking to brush up on a few things, you’ll find exactly what you need in this book.
Really important, especially for boot strap entrepreneurs. Most entrepreneurs don’t have financial intelligence and don’t understand numbers. If you don’t understand your numbers, you won’t understand your business. And you won’t do well. It’s really that simple. Pick up this book and learn the financial skills you need to take your business to the next level.