Resource Centre

Welcome to the Resource Centre

Tom Recommends!

Do you find there are too many tools available to choose from? Have you been confused or bewildered by the endless list of possibilities? It's like buying toothpaste at the drug store: An entire isle top to bottom with choices?! Who knew there were so many options! 

The tools available are exciting. For an online geek like myself it's an endless playground. I love it! However, having said that, the plethora of options needs to be narrowed down. That is what this list does. I hope it helps educate you on your search of the "right" tool.

This list reads like a blog post for each item. (And some will be linked to actual blog posts to explain the tools more). I educate you on what the tool is and in some cases how to use it. And affiliate links, if they are there, are treated as secondary. (For example, when I first created this page there were 23 tools listed and not a single affiliate link). In the future some will be added but is not the point of this page. 

Education and gaining understanding on the plethora of tool options out there is the point of this page.

Come back often as this Resource Centre will be added to on a regular basis. 

My desire is to share what I have either used and worked with, or researched and found to be useful. If you use a tool let me know how you like it. Or if you have question on it... hit our contact page and ask away.

Sooo, it's time to get your inner Geek on!     

Productivity


Productivity - Basic/Individual
Trello

The To-Do list space has more apps than you or I would care to name much less actually use. 

I have used many apps but find Trello balances ease of use... with capability to get the job done. It is a fun easy app to keep me organized syncing between both my desktop and my smartphone. And who doesn't love Husky dog mascot named "Taco" to help you learn the tool. 

An area that Trello accels at, in my opinion, is tapping into some Psychology that few other tools do. It uses "cards" for each item you list.

You physically move cards in the app along the way as you work on a given task. This simple process "physicalizes"  your list. In my humble opinion this is brilliant!

It taps into physical realm presence. Our brains and bodies are anchored in the physical realm. I will blog about it more but for now my point is this tool uses the equivalent of physical cards you tap on and then move and organize.

This engages way more centres and modalities in your brain and hence your list and will lead to increases in your completion rate. It is by the simple fact that you are more engaged with the material of your list. You are intellectually, visually and physically engaging with your list items.

Most tools are merely tapping into one modality of intellectually engaging with your list. Because of the cards that bumps to three modalities. 

The bottom line is to keep track of projects and tasks and all the things that roll around in your brain... do yourself a favour and get an app to help you keep it all straight. The tool I recommend and I'm using right now is Trello. 

(It does work for team environments, however, you may find it limited. In that case use Asana.)

Productivity - Advanced
Asana

Asana is a bigger more robust tool. Again there are dozens out there. I have used several and find Asana to suit me well. Find what works for you. Another alternative that I found that is more technical if you want a more competent, geeky, or maybe better phrased as detailed tool is Nozbe.

Productivity - Technical
Slack

For a team to collaborate and keeping track of all the things it keeps track of is daunting. One of the best tools I've used in the tech space is Slack. It is popular for a reason. It works well. 

It is different than the genre of apps like Asana and Nozbe. It is more along the lines of a Trello but serves the collaboration of dispersed work teams well. 

Online Storage

Online Storage
Dropbox

Online storage has been a god-send to the online business world. These guys do it well. (Google Drive is another I use). Both are good for different reasons. Perhaps use what your client is familiar with.

For those concerned about safety and privacy both these tools are safe especially if you use 2-Step verification, which I highly recommend. (See Google Authenticator in this list).

Online Storage
Google Drive

As just discussed with Dropbox, Google Drive is every bit as good of an online storage service. The benefit with Google Drive is if you are using Google Docs and their other online services it integrates directly with them. That is handy. I have and use both of these free services: Dropbox and Google Drive. 

Security

Password Organization
1Password

With the amount of online accounts you undoubtedly have, keeping track of passwords to access them can be a nightmare. However, not keeping track of them is a bigger nightmare. Take your pick.

Always be vigilant. Don't have a lazy or indifferent attitude to security. You never can be too careful. Hackers rely on lazy indifferent users. Use a system that balances ease of use with robust security. I find 1Password to be a great password tool. It has a free option. (As an alternative LastPass is good as well). 

2-Step Verification
Google Authenticator

For those that take security seriously, this might be your new best friend. When I worked in the corporate world the engineering department had a strict policy for authentication (ie control of whom gets access to what). I had to carry around a separate key-phob on my keychain or clip it to my ID lanyard. It was a pain. But it generated that all important random code to log in with.

When I logged into the company system from where in the world I was... that code was the secret weapon for stone-walling would-be intruders. Now, there is an app for that enterprise level security. Not to get too techy but verification is made using a Time-based One-time Password Algorithm that gets generated by this app. 

Get it and sync it up to the various accounts that use the technology. It is commonly referred to as 2-Step Verification. Is it an extra step? Yes. However, it significantly increases your security and will allow you to sleep better at night. Did I mention I highly recommend 2-Step verification. 

(Note: To be clear, 2-Step verification does not require this app specifically. 2-Step exists on many of your current accounts. For example, when a code is texted to your phone to input on the screen as an additional step to merely a password... that is 2-Step verification. Some sites don't have the text process set up but use third party apps like Google Authenticator to function as the 2-Step process. And yes I will say it again, I highly recommend 2-Step verification as it eliminates the worry of password hacking because this second step must be done to access your account... that a hacker most likely wont take the time for.)

Documenting / Publishing

A Digital Brain
Evernote

This is an amazingly useful app. An electronic brain if you will. There are few things in life that come along where one can say "I don't know what I would do without this." Yes it's merely an app and yes I'm saying I don't know what I would do without this app.

At first I downloaded it merely because so many raved about it. It sat on my desktop for about a year barely used. Then I decided to use and apply it and learn what all the rage was. I get it now.

Evernote is fluid way to document, organize, retrieve digital information. Whether it is clipping a portion or all of a webpage with the web clipper tool; or recording a voice note with its recording tool; or dictating notes with its dictation tool; or sending it an email of something important; or saving and organizing those PDF's you get as freemiums from opting in on websites; or snipping a recipe using their recipe tool; or recording business cards from that networking event that dumps right into your contacts on your phone... oh and pulls LinkedIn data on the contact as well. It is a handy tool and is like your digital brain. Oh, did I mention yellow stickies... why not use the digital equivalent! The better news is... they are all in one place and... searchable!

I could go on. Just get it and start using it. Don't wait like I did. Are there alternatives, sure. Microsoft's OneNote has attempted to dethrone Evernote. I don't think it is as versatile as has not been in the market for near as long. Evernote is free. I've used it for years on the free version. Storage is merely limited to monthly upload... not total storage... which is unique. In ten years I've only maxed out the upload limit a handful of times. Get it and most importantly start using it!

Documenting / Publishing
Scrivener

This is a documentation and publishing tool. It is like if Word and Evernote had a baby it would be Scriviner. It is a Paid app and some swear by it. I'm not quite in that camp but do have a healthy respect for it. 

If you are creating lots of content in general... or more specifically writing a book. This tool excels in keeping your information, research and ideas organized.

What I like about it is it holds all your information in one location. It is it's own environment. No wondering where you saved a particular document or file... it is all on one place. This is similar to Evernote. Evernote is a SaaS (Software as a Service which means it is stored in the cloud). Scrivener is not a SaaS but creates a zip file and stores is locally on your computer. You can have it back up that same file as well and store it for example in Dropbox.

It is robust and comprehensive in its ability. People write novels and large research projects with it. Bloggers have used it to create in and keep their content organized before publishing to their website. The uses of the tool are left only to your imagination. It is a writers playground. 

A few of my favorite features with it are it's ability to block out your entire screen and just write; stats on word counts and setting writing goals; and finally the writing environment it creates, everything has a place and is organized. You can just focus on writing. 

(Note: Scrivener is MultiMarkDown language friendly. See MultiMarkDown Composer Pro on this page for an explanation).

Online Grammar and Spell Checker
Grammarly

When you are filling out a form online... don't you just wish you had a spell checker to catch misspelt words? You are in Facebook, or LinkedIn or your favorite social media tool creating a post... and wish you could hit spell check like you do in Word or whatever tool you use a spell checker in. 

Well, you are in luck! This free online spell checker and did I mention grammar checker catches mistakes everywhere you write online and makes suggestions for your misspelt words and grammar corrections. 

I'm impressed with how non-intrusive and fast it is. It does not get in the way. It is one of the the first applications I install when setting up a new computer. It is a SaaS. So just set up a free account and start using it. 

Publishing Workflow
Multimarkdown Composer Pro

Geek Alert! This is admittedly geeky and long. (Skip this one if you are not a writer or want to be one. I will eventually move this into a blog post. But for now here it is so you know about it 🙂 )

When I found this gem and played around with it... I got it! What it allows you to do is to create a workflow for writing and focus on the creative side and not worry about the formatting of the words and text for publishing. Let that sink in a bit.

There are two parts here:
1. The simple text-based syntax language;
2. The app I'm listing here to learn and use that language with.

Let me explain. 

Bloggers will like this because you normally have a few steps to go through before you have a finished post to put on your website. Most notably the push and pull between the creative right brain activities of creating and writing a piece... and then the left brain activities of editing, formatting and publishing the finished piece.

This is helpful if you don't like writing on your platform directly. Many don't as access to solid wifi might not be where you want to create. In this case all you need is any text editing software and a cup of coffee and just write. 

The genius here is that a formatting language called Markdown (and it's evolution Multimarkdown) has been created. It is so simple that it slips the logical left brain formatting process right into the creative right brain exercise almost without you noticing. 

As I mentioned, there are two parts to this: A programming language, that I've described so far (that needs rendering); And a program like Multimarkdown Composer Pro to render it. 

MultiMarkDown (MMD) is a most basic syntax language designed specifically for writers. Who knew!

If you have never heard of it... I'm not surprised because like I said... it is geeky and very niche and specific to writers. 

The benefit of learning the syntax of this very streamlined and text-based (this is important) writing language is you can create your writings and they become application independent. 

The time-saving part about this is once written... no matter what platform you put it into... it will look the same because your formatting is right in the writing. 

What do I mean? A problem we all face is writing in a familiar tool say like Microsoft Word. A Word document is wrapped with all kinds of internal codes and hooks and bits and bytes behind the scenes. These are to do basic things like make lists or to bold or italicize... or both.

You can't just copy and paste from Word to your website and have it look the same. You have to strip out all the Word hidden formatting codes... then...  format it all back in again with the platform tool you build your site with. This is time consuming. 

Wouldn't it be great if you could just write and format in one step and not worry about the platform you were going to publish on? Then, when posted it would look how you wanted it in the first place.  

With the MMD syntax language, the simple texted-based not programming-code-based language, all you do is format as you write. As you are writing you drop simple writing triggers around your words and... as if by magic the formatting you had in mind is picked up and rendered just like you wanted when you publish on your website.  

Here are a few examples. Want a numbered list... no problem. A line started with any number renders as a numbered list. For example:

1. This is the first item
1. This is the second item
1. This is the third item

That list when rendered will look like this:

  1. This is the first item
  2. This is the second item
  3. This is the third item

What is great about this is if you had to add an item in the list as you created it... since it is not numbered yet... the order does not matter. You focus on the content... the simple yet brilliant syntax language will worry about the formatting for you. Just write!

Bulleted list are triggered with an astrix "*".

Want an H2 header? No problem. Simply put a hashtag "#" symbol immediately in front of the text.

Like this: "#My Heading".

Ops, did I say H2... then you use two hashtags "##". Want an H4 heading... use 4 hashtags "####". 

Like this: "####My H4 Heading"

Let's talk about the MultiMarkdown Composer tool. With this tool two windows open up: a composing window and a rendering window. As you type in the composing window with the triggers... it shows up in the renderinging window formatted as instructed by you without the triggers.

It allows you to actually see what your trigger syntax formatting looks like. 

It is not a requirement to use the MultiMarkDown Composer tool other than using it helps you learn the simple syntax triggers quicker. Once you know the syntax. Any text editor will do. Just get creative and then publish your work. It saves time needing to reformat... because you did that as you wrote. 

The tools that know how to render the MMD (or MD) syntax language are surprisingly many. For example, WordPress renders MMD. Scrivener mentioned in the list here renders MMD.

Ever wonder how on some apps other people's posts have formatting of the content and you wondered how on earth got that formatting?... most likely they used MarkDown or MultiMarkDown text based syntax language to do it!

It doesn't take long to learn the syntax of this writing language and once you know it... you know it! No more formatting! It eliminates the formatting step when publishing on your platform.

I've played with most of the popular tools on the market. I found this one to be the simplest and renders the best.  

Media

Video editing (MAC Based) 
Screenflow

Business videos are more simple and straight forward than videos with cinematic requirements. Cinematics have all kinds of bells and whistles. You just don't need all that stuff for marketing and business videos.

Screenflow is a powerful yet simple Mac based video tool that does two things: edit video AND capture video. (Camtasia is the Windows equivalent).

Anything that is on your computer screen can be captured... even your smartphone can be captured with this handy tool. 

Need to create tutorials on how to use any app on your smartphone? Screenflow will do the job. 

Want to know how those videos on YouTube are done with the talking head while they show you how to use a software program on the computer screen? Screenflow may be what was used. 

Video Editing (PC Based)
Camtasia

Basically everything I said above for Screenflow for Mac can be done with Camtasia for PCs. I've gone Mac and not looked back. I have not used Camtasia but folks tell me is it a great tool and I see it mentioned all the time in articles and blog posts. It is a popular and capable tool. 

Audio Recording and Editing
Audacity

This free and capable tool is great. You can capture and edit just about any digital audio file with it. 

Want to have that professional FM Radio sound to your voice... this is the tool to get you there. 

Want to clean up the ambient background noise of the room from a recording... this tool can do that. 

It has a few quirks, but once you get them sorted you are off to the races. People process the audio from their videos through Audacity. Some people use it for editing their podcasts. People use it for cleaning up and editing voice recordings like teleseminars or conference calls for their team. 

There are all kinds of uses for this handy audio tool. It is free and does the  job well.

Webinars
WebinarJam Studio

Webinars are a great way to build your audience. This tool is one that has rivalled the standard in the market place. GoToWebinar is fine but is pricy and limited to 1,000 participants.

WebinarJam rebuilt it's platform from the ground up in the early part of 2017 and it is a solid tool. Most notably it no longer relies upon the Google Hangout platform. It sits on it's own platform now. It is used by thousands and is a good tool. 

It does not have a 1,000 participant limitation and has mindfully added practical marketing features to it's tool set. 

Live Streaming (or Live Casting) Video

Platform
Facebook Live

This a fun tool to get your live broadcasting game on. Facebook is the dominant 900 pound Gorilla in the market place when it comes to Live streaming. You just can't beat the reach of a user base of over 2 billion users that the Facebook platform boasts. 

If you want to do live broadcasting... and I highly suggest you do... Facebook live is a great place to be. Not only that, but video is one of the best ways to increase your KLT Factor (Know, Like and Trust Factor).

With going live I've had to face my own insecurities. I can't tell you how many times I've prepared and even titled a broadcast... all to chicken out and not hit the Go Live button. Having said that... I've kept moving forward and pressed the Go Live button. I assure you it gets easier and easier. 

Live video is great for connecting and building your audience and increasing your KLT Factor. Facebook Live is a great way to do it. 

Platform
Periscope

I've used both Periscope and Facebook Live. There are advantages to both. You want to use the right tool for the job.

In short, Facebook Live gives you reach. Periscope gives you conversation and more intimacy or closeness with viewers. They are similar (broadcasting platforms) but different (the nuances of the experiences are unique to each platform). 

Non-Geeky - Software Broadcasting tool
BeLive

The landscape of Live broadcasting is new. It is only a few years old. This tool is less a platform (although it is, and more below) and more a broadcasting tool. 

As a broadcasting tool it integrates with the Facebook Live technology and can be used to schedule broadcasts on your Facebook pages both personal and business alike. 

What is handy with this tool is it's simplicity of use all while making you look very professional. 

It does lower thirds and can display your logo with a few clicks of a button. It can to split screen interviews and group discussions of up to 4 people at a time. 

Now it also is a platform in that it has its own following and influencers are invited to be doing broadcasts from the BeLive site. This makes it a platform. You can join in to view or participate in these broadcasts.

BeLive is a simple easy to use broadcasting tool. At the time of publishing this, it has a 14 day trial that turns into a monthly fee.

It is user friendly and good for the non-techies. If you want more control of your settings and broadcasts and don't want to spend the monthly fee. Then there is another tool in the market for that. OBS and I've included it in the list here as well. 

Geeky - Software broadcasting tool
OBS Project

This is a free and open source software tool for video recording and live streaming. OBS stands for "Open Broadcaster Software". 

Not for the faint of heart, but once you learn it... you know it! There is a setting in this tool for just about anything you would want a setting for.

I have not mastered it yet but in the process of doing so. 

Ever wonder how some folks are able to stream a prerecorded video... into a live stream session... as if it was live? This is the tool that does that. 

Not only can it stream live and non-live video... but some have used it to record video as a Screenflow/Camtasia alternative. Perhaps highly geeky to do so, but it is a free and capable software! 

Website development 

Content Management System (CMS)
WordPress

There are  so many choices but none are as well established nor have more Plugins, Themes, tools, and resources for growing ANY kind of business than WordPress.

Not to mention it is the most used platform in the world and that is because they are doing something right.

I heard Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, speak at a private function.  His approach to open source development and creating the community he has makes this an overall no brainer in my mind.

There are several stats in the market tracking and arguing on market share but I want to give you perspective. Some stats say WordPress has 60% Market share of the Content Management System (CMS) space. All well and good. 

For now, I don't want to get distracted by that number. So let's ask a different question... where are the other players? Compared to WordPress where is number 2? And where is 3 and 4?

In this study, if WordPress is number 1 at 60% market share... number 2 is ONLY at 6.4%. What! Number 2 spot is light-years away from this number one tool. That means WordPress has a factor of 10 times more market share than the number 2 position. That is astounding!

Number 3 spot is at 4.6%. Number 4 spot is 2.5%. Do you see how small we are getting. And how quickly. There are no other players in the field. WordPress is standing by it's self alone wayyyyy ahead of the pack. 

That means Number 4 spot and all others... are less than 3%

The stats of that study and again don't care about them as much as how it is telling of the landscape in the market. The other players in the market place are not even players.

To not leave you hanging the names of the Number 2, 3 and 4 spots I refer to in that order are: Joomla; Drupal; Magento. My guess is you have not even heard of them.

My point is that WordPress done right is a competent, robust, and secure tool that will literally take your business anywhere. It can grow your business from zero to 7 or 8 digits without batting an eye or breaking a sweat.

Here are examples of some notable brands using WordPress:

  • The New York Times
  • Bloomberg
  • Sony Music
  • Miscrosoft
  • Disney
  • Time Inc.
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Staples Canada
  • Target
  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Mercendes-Benz
  • Facebook

My point is, use the tool with confidence.

My recommendation is to work with someone that knows what they are doing to build a site for you so that it is done right. Because it is so popular there are many that claim they can build with it but... they don't do it right. 

Alternatively if you are doing it yourself. Get the resources you need to build it right. At the very least install a good security plugin (one that is known/popular, has many installations and backed by decent team of developers.)

Some folks have been frustrated but using the tool. It claims to be user friendly, which it is, but there are also a lot of moving parts to building a website properly and it may be overwhelming: that is where the frustration usually sets in. It is all relative to your knowledge, expertise and comfort with techy things. 

I have been working on creating a course that teaches you step by step to do it right, so stay tuned for that coming from the academy. 

Hosting
Site Ground

Hosting is a case in point of what I mentioned above of the plethora of choices available to business owners. I have tried several hosts and have landed on these folks. (My favorite part is guessing what happy accent the support people are going to have when I call in any time of the day or night. Polish, Finish, German, Czech?)

Accents aside, they are efficient, competent and reasonably priced. The even better news is they don't nickel and dime you with endless offers for this, that, and the other thing that you just don't need. (Some popular web hosting companies are trying to upsell you on all manner of things. My first hosting was for 2 domains and the bill was about $150.00. I got educated and moved to another service. What I needed was only about $40.00). 

Analytics
Google Analytics

So you are listening to what I say about tracking and measuring... that "you can't manage what you don't measure"... and that you are measuring so you can grow your business online... right!!

This tool is quite possibly one of the most valuable free resources you could lay your hands on. Are there dozens of analytic tools out there? Yes. Do you need to spend a second looking at them like you do any of these other tools? No, not until you have used it enough to know you want something else. 

My recommendation is this... just get it, set up, and start using it. Glean the value from it. This is a great place to start without worrying if it is valuable for you or not. It is valuable... it is free... just set up an account and start using it.

Why do I say "just set it up and start using it"? It is because if you don't set it up...  you won't have statistics to look at in the future. You have to start tracking and collecting collecting that data now.

For now,  you don't even need to configure anything. Simply getting a Google account and hooking this up to your site so it starts tracking will create a wealth of information.  6 months from when you set it up you will be glad you followed this advice. Your webmaster will say, "well done, you were smart for setting this up, I have something to work with!"

Is this one a bit geeky to set up. Yes it is. And if you need help setting it up this is a service we provide. Book a call with me and I can give you a quote for setting it up for you. 

Here are a few things it will track for your site:

  • Visitors Report
  • Web Traffic Report
  • Details of Keywords
  • Content
  • Conversions

Analytics
Google Search Console

So you are listening to what I say about tracking and measuring... that you can't manage what you don't measure... okay wait...

I just said this. And yes I'm repeating myself on purpose. 

This tool, like Google Analytics, is also a no-brainer. Get it. Set it up. Use it... until you know you want something else. 

This free tool was once called "Google Webmaster Tools" (the name change was in May of 2015). So if you are doing Google or YouTube searches and see the old name, know that it is the same tool.

And this too is on the geeky side. So if you want someone to set this up for you, book a call with me and I can find out what your website is all about and quote you to get this one sorted as well. 

Here are some things Google Search Console tracks for you. (Different than the Google Analytics):

  • Crawl Errors
  • Search Queries
  • Links
  • Blocked URLs
  • Malware
  • HTML Errors
  • Fetch as Google
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