We’ve compiled this list of design, service and technology resources to help you on your path to a life and business you love. It’s taken us quite a while, along with some significant, costly trial & error to put this list together!
We haven’t included every company we could have on this list. This is because we choose to partner ONLY with companies that we know have integrity and who we trust will provide you with a valuable service.
In other words, we’ve spent the money to figure who you should trust. And more important, who you shouldn’t.
That said, I have an affiliate relationship with some of the products and companies listed below, so you’ll be buying me and Murray a nice dinner if you were to use our links below.
And if you do choose to invest in any of these services, make sure to mention our name to ensure you get the best service as a Live Your Message rockstar…
[h2_h4 h2=”BRANDING & WEB DESIGN”]
There are two ways to create a website for your business and your message online.
Option number 1 is investing in “Take Flight Now” — our “done-for-you” service where our professional, in-house team will create & build you a custom-branded website. This is, hands down, the best way to go if you want to be sure you have a site that looks like you, feels like you and most importantly, gets results.
Why should you work with us? Simple. We spend most of our time working on the websites of our premium $50K+ clients, so we know what’s working TODAY on the web to convert and turn visitors into buyers on every page of your site.
Unfortunately, this is something most web designers just don’t understand, meaning you run the very real risk of spending a lot of money and winding up with an ultimately disappointing site that serves as an expensive business card.
Take Flight Now is suitable for ANYONE who wants to do business online. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a site yet, or if you have a site already that’s not getting the results you want.
To have our team (re)design and develop your site from the ground up, the investment starts at just $4,997 for a gorgeous, fully responsive (that means it scales dynamically on mobile and tablet devices) custom-built website that CONVERTS. Because our time is limited to work with clients at this level, you’ll need to put down a $97 deposit to get on the phone with us to see how this can work for you. (Naturally, if you decide not to proceed that deposit is fully refundable.)
Yes, Marisa! I want to get started now!
Option number 2 if for those on a tighter budget and want to do it themselves. You can expect to spend about $70 on a “premium” WordPress theme. Make sure you look for a theme that works well on mobile and tablet devices too.
ThemeForest is a great resource for premium (paid) themes for any kind of website, whether you’re using WordPress or not.
Word of advice: We recommend steering clear of free themes and free website building services. They often aren’t built with the best code, and they absolutely send WRONG signals about who you are in the marketplace.
If you MUST choose an existing theme, here are 2 approaches to choosing the theme that’s right for you:
- The first approach is to find a theme that has the functionality you want and looks as close as possible to the design you want right out of the box — this approach works if you plan on building your site yourself and aren’t super tech savvy. Elegant Themes offers some great options for this too.
- The second approach is to choose what’s called a theme “framework”, which has lots of useful functionality pre-built behind the scenes making it easier to add features quickly. The challenge with a theme framework is that it often doesn’t look like much right out of the box, so you have to choose the theme framework based on its functionality rather than design. In other words, theme frameworks will allow you more control over the design, but they often require more work to look good. This is a great option if you’re somewhat technical or if you have the resources to hire a web designer or VA to support you. The top theme frameworks are “Thesis”, “Headway”, “Catalyst”, “Genesis” by StudioPress, “Canvas” by Woo Themes and “Builder” by iThemes.
For both of these options, you can still add a custom banner or logo to give your site a more unique, branded feel. It costs between $150-1000 to hire someone to design your logo for you using an outsourcing site such as Elance or oDesk, a design contest site such as 99Designs or simply by finding a designer you really like through a portfolio site such as Dribbble. Remember to check out the resources for YOU ARE YOUR BRAND for more specific design recommendations.
If you want support in customizing your theme, you can also find help on Elance, oDesk. You can find a solid non-US technician for between $10-25/hour or someone within the US/UK/Australia/etc from between $25-75/hour.
There are also small businesses that specialize in customizing WordPress themes, including many people that focus on specific theme frameworks such as Thesis or Genesis.
For 100% custom themes and complex websites you can spend anywhere between $3-20K depending on what you’re looking for.
Whatever you choose, website functionality you MUST have includes:
- search engine optimization
- web analytics
- social media integration
- email marketing
- site security and back-up
- responsive design
Optional website functionality includes: slideshows or image galleries, quizzes or assessments, online contact forms and video playback.
[h2_h4 h2=”EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDERS”]
As you know, one of the best ways to monetize your business over the long-term is by building your email list. There are dozens of email service providers out there.
Quick note: these recommendations are limited to email-only providers. If you have a product or service you sell online and need to take money and/or have a shopping cart, we recommend you skip these and proceed further down to the “Ecommerce” section!
Here are our top recommendations:
AWeber – Always a solid option starting at $19/month for your first 500 subscribers. AWeber did get hacked recently, but they’re back up and running.
GetResponse – More affordable than AWeber at $15/month for your first 1000 subscribers. GetResponse is one of the only ESPs that allows you to transfer in an existing email list from another service (such as AWeber or 1ShoppingCart) without requiring them to re-opt-in or confirm their subscription.
[h2_h4 h2=”DOMAIN REGISTRARS”]
Your own domain name is your place online. It’s a place where YOU make the rules. Where you can get your message out to the world. Here is the best service for registering your .com or whatever kind of domain you’re thinking of…
NameCheap – We love these guys! We just recently transferred all our domains from GoDaddy and are saving up to $4/year on each domain. That really adds up when you own dozens or hundreds of URLs like we do! They try hard to please, and also have amazing, personal customer service that actually makes you feel like a valued customer. How refreshing, right?!
[h2_h4 h2=”WEBSITE AND EMAIL HOSTING”]
If you’re going to project a strong, credible image, the first important signal you need to send is a fast-loading website. We have 2 options to recommend here.
Bluehost – A solid option with good customer service starting at $4.95/month or $29.99/month for a dedicated virtual.
LiquidWeb is our web host. This company is famous for its “fanatical” support. We were skeptical. Until we tried it that is. Our site load time went from 5 seconds to under ONE second, which is vital if you want good rankings on the search engines (site load time is something they take into account as they decide whether you deserve to be on page 1 or not.) If you want rock solid reliable and FAST hosting, coupled with support that will make you shed a tear (in a good way), then try these guys. My full recommendation if you have the budget. Dedicated hosting starts at $179/month.
[h2_h4 h2=”ECOMMERCE SOLUTIONS”]
If you’re selling anything from your website — whether it’s products or services — you’re going to need a way to take payments. The following are solutions we’ve used and been happy with here at LYM HQ.
PayPal Pro – The simplest option is to use PayPal Pro since it doesn’t require you to set up a separate business bank account, merchant account and payment gateway. At just $30/month plus a small percentage on each transaction, PayPal Pro is also affordable.
If you need more sophisticated functionality such as:
- an affiliate program (the ability to compensate promotional partners for sending you buying customers — highly recommended!),
- “up-sells” (the ability to offer your customers the option to purchase something else immediately following their initial purchase – again, highly recommended!),
- customer relationship management (CRM or the ability to track emails and phone calls with prospects and customers)
… then you’re going to need a more sophisticated e-commerce solution that will require you to have 3 additional services set up:
- a business bank account
- a merchant account
- and a payment gateway.
The simplest way to get a business bank account is to go into your existing personal bank and ask for a business account.
Next, we recommend DirectPay (merchant account). This is the merchant account and payment gateway combination that we use, as well as many of the top internet marketers, since they’re used to the online business/internet marketing model.
Our contact is Chrissy Schimmel and you can reach her at: email@example.com or on (800) 326-9897. Make sure to mention Marisa/Live Your Message for extra special treatment.
Directpay also have a white label version of 1ShoppingCart, with VIP-level support thrown in, if you need some help to get up and running. A nice benefit of this service is that it sends email email for you too, eliminating the need for a separate specialty email service such as AWeber or iContact.
1ShoppingCart – The simplest most popular entry-level option is 1ShoppingCart, which can handle most transactions and starts at just $59/month for shopping cart and email marketing. If you want affiliate management too, you’ll need to get a premium account ($99/month).
Infusionsoft – We use and recommend Infusionsoft. If you’re planning to go big, then this is the “big daddy” of the industry that will scale with you. These guys have taken seen us go from $58,000/year to over $1,000,000 and their tools are a big reason. Click to check out their packages.
We don’t recommend them if you’re just getting started though. If you already have a 6-figure business with multiple products (or expect to have one within 6-12 months), then it really is the most robust all-in-one solution out there for email marketing, sales and affiliate management. It’s known for being complex, but it really does allow you to do almost anything.
Awesome fact time: If you want to go with Infusionsoft, let me know because I’ve got a special relationship with them and I can get you a reduced rate.
We’re also an Infusionsoft Certified Partner, which means that if you sign up through us, you’ll be able to work directly with Mas, my personal developer, who’ll be able to set up your accounts and funnels. We’ve been working together since 2010, when I first got started online, and he’s the best programmer I know!
We’ll make sure you get the best rates possible and you’ll benefit from our direct experience of this industry.
To get started, contact our client rep Dawn Kenner at firstname.lastname@example.org on (586) 604-1292. She’ll be able to explain the entire process to you and get you taken care of.
Packages start at $197/month + $1997 for initial coaching and done-for-you set-up.
[h2_h4 h2=”VIDEO HOSTING”]
Before we talk about where to put your videos, let’s talk about WHAT to put in them.
If you’re new to video, or simply would love some awesome training on the 13 most profitable styles of video every business owners needs to know about before they hit record, then check out Andy Jenkins’ Video Genesis. I know Andy personally and this training program comes with my highest recommendation.
OK – now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about WHERE to put your videos.
YouTube – The most popular, free video hosting option that gives you the added benefit of making your videos searchable on the second largest website on earth. Of course, you can also choose to make your videos private. YouTube also integrates directly with Google Hangouts, making it easy for you to create your videos through a Hangout or upload a video directly to YouTube.
Vimeo – This is also a popular, free video hosting option that gives you higher playback quality then YouTube. You can upgrade for more storage starting at $59/year.
[h2_h4 h2=”EASY SQUEEZE PAGE & SALES PAGE TEMPLATES”]
Now, let’s talk for a moment about how to quickly build effective squeeze pages and sales pages. The best tool I know for ready made squeeze pages and sales pages is LeadPages.
They offer a limited number of templates, but the templates they have are so well-designed and sophisticated everyone will think you hired a 5-figure designer. They also give you several options for publishing your pages — publish to WordPress, publish to Facebook, or publish to a stand-alone site.
They’ll actually host the page for you, so all you have to do to get a product funnel with squeeze page, value pages and sales page up and running is log-on and use their simple drag-and-drop interface. As of now, they charge $200/year for this service.
OptimizePress – The competition to LeadPages and built for WordPress. For a one-time-payment of $97, it lets you create beautiful landing pages, sales pages, training & course pages, webinar registration pages, membership portals, product launch funnels, and authority blogs.
Note that OptimizePress functions as a WordPress theme. Since you can only have one theme installed on each domain, you can’t use it in conjunction with your existing site theme. You have to install it on a separate domain.
LeadPages, on the other hand, allows you to add their pages to your existing WordPress site, which gives you more flexibility.
Both tools make it super easy for you to get the core pages of your business in place for a small investment of time and money. We really do live in an amazing age where almost anything is possible.
Elance is the best choice if you’re looking for US-based contractors or 1st-tier creative & web talent.
oDesk is the place to go for non US-based outsourcers, web developers, programmers, VAs and other workers.
99 Designs is a site where you can post creative/design projects and have designers submit concepts for you to pick from. The theory goes like this: multiple designers take a hand at your design, then you simply pick the design you like the best and progress further with that designer to fine-tune and refine. In reality, you need to buy an “upgraded” package to attract the best designers, and even then, the best designers are leaving this service because they’re sick of working for free.
To sum up — work from Elance will cost more, but it will be a level of quality above oDesk. Avoid 99 Designs if possible and review portfolios to choose a designer you really like, or contact us about Take Flight Now.
[h2_h4 h2=”DIY DESIGN RESOURCES”]
eCover Creator 3D – Create stunning 3D eCover graphics in a single click, online, without needing Photoshop or mad tech skillz.
Box Shot King – Another lovely no-software-or-skills-required service to generate beautiful 3D product packaging graphics that they’ll love.
[h2_h4 h2=”EMAIL RESOURCES”]
Autoresponder Madness is a one-of-a-kind course that proves you don’t need to be a professional copywriter to write emails that not only get opened, but get acted on. If you want to write better emails (and you should), then go and at least opt-in for their email series. Do just that and you’ll 2x or 3x your current results.
Email Clockstar enables you to put graphical countdown counters into your emails. We use countdown counters to show people how much time they have left before their special offer/price goes away. This triggers a strong fear of missing out (FOMO) — and like it or not, everyone responds to this fear. This strategy alone added 12% to our bottom line profits during our latest launch of Message to Money!
[h2_h4 h2=”LEAD GENERATION”]
Contest Domination is a contest platform we use religiously in our Superhero Summits series and over the course of each 2 week event, it reliably generates us many hundreds of new, fresh leads who would never have found us otherwise. Contests are a great way to spark huge interest around what you do and encourage people to spread the word. You don’t have to be the one giving away the prizes either – you can easily have other businesses provide the prizes as a way for them to raise awareness for what they do.
Press releases are an amazing way to generate huge traffic and get yourself ranked highly on the search engines with no effort. Most people do press releases the wrong way, so they don’t see the results, but when you follow Michael X’s training, you’ll see the amazing power of press releases for yourself.
You may have heard of “automated webinars”? In case you’re not familiar, that’s when you record your webinar in advance play the recording back to people at a later date. Some people like to pretend they’re LIVE, but I like to call them “exclusive online events” or “online trainings”.
Stealth Seminar is the leading automated webinar provider on the market. They provide literally everything you need to put up an automated webinar and make money from it.
They give you the opt-in pages, the thank you & confirmation pages, the webinar replay pages, plus the “sorry, you were too late, but here’s a replay” page. And they look great too.
If, on the other hand, you’re keen to get into Google Hangouts, then check out Andy Jenkins’ and Mike Filsaime’s Webinar Jam. The list of features is impressive and people are raving!
[h2_h4 h2=”LEGAL TEXT”]
[h2_h4 h2=”SEO RESEARCH”]
Google Keyword Planner is a great way to see how popular and/or competitive keywords in your industry or niche are. This in turn tells gives you intelligence on the terms you target when you name your blogs, articles, videos and site pages. This tool used to be available free, outside of the Google Adwords ecosystem, but it’s now been folded in, which means you need to set-up a (free) Adwords account to use it even if you never place an ad.
Market Samurai — Most people never take the time to do enough research before creating their websites. So they often target keywords that are either too competitive or not searched for enough. That’s where Market Samurai comes in. Click for a free trial of the software now.
[h2_h4 h2=”WORDPRESS PLUGINS”]
WordPress SEO by Yoast allows you to customize your title tags and descriptions.
All in One SEO Pack – Another solid WordPress SEO plugin to check out.
Google XML Sitemaps – A standalone WordPress plugin to generate your Google XML sitemap – essential to get all your pages ranked properly on Google.
[h2_h4 h2=”WORDPRESS SECURITY PLUGINS”]
Moving on… I know this isn’t a sexy subject, but I do recommend installing some security plug-ins to protect your WordPress site from being hacked. Here are a few we use at LiveYourMessage.com that help secure our blog and repel attackers.
Acunetix Secure WordPress – free and comprehensive security tool that helps you secure your WordPress installation and suggests corrective measures for: securing file permissions, security of the database, version hiding, WordPress admin protection and lots more.
WordPress Firewall 2 – blocks the most obvious attacks against the server through WordPress.
iThemes Security — (formally known as Better WordPress security) gives you over 30+ ways to secure and protect your WordPress site with 1 click.
Block Bad Queries (BBQ) – a simple script that protects your website against malicious URL requests
Limited Login Attempts – locks out users trying to login with the wrong passwords too many times. Stops “brute force” password hacking attempts in their tracks.
Now for backups. Just in case something does go wrong it’s always good to have a back-up.
Backup WordPress – a super simple tool to do automatic, timed backups of your WordPress database. Essential in case your primary backups fail!
[h2_h4 h2=”OPTIONAL WEBSITE FUNCTIONALITY”]
Many slideshows are built right into your theme. If you want to add an image gallery and slideshow to your site that isn’t included in your theme, I’ve had success with Nexgen Gallery.
For quizzes and assessments, which make great opt-in gifts, I use WP Simple Survey.
Unlike other quiz plugin, this one lets you create a quiz, and then redirects a user to a specific page depending on the score. You can upgrade it to a paid version which will let you create more than one quiz on your site, and also give you more options. It’s not the most easy plugin to use, but it works well and it offers functionality that no other quiz plugins do.
Finally for online contact forms, I use Contact Form 7 combined with Really Simple CAPTCHA to make sure you don’t get spam form submissions. Out of all the free contact form plugins we’ve had the best luck with this one. It lets you create a form fairly easily and gives you a lot of flexibility, but it does require a good amount of HTML coding.
Next, if you’re going to be doing video on your site, then I recommend using YouTube or Vimeo. They’re both great, free options for hosting videos that also gives you the added benefit of making your videos searchable on those platforms.
After that, you need to decide how you’re going to capture email addresses on your website and send emails to your list. There are dozens of options out there, but the ones I’ve used that I can recommend are GetResponse and AWeber. They both make it super easy to add those little signup boxes to your site.
In addition to a custom opt-in box like the ones we discussed in video 3 of this session, many entrepreneurs choose to have an opt-in box pop up on their website after a visitor has been on their site a certain amount of time. Tools like PopUp Domination can increase your opt-in rate several hundred percent.
If you do use a PopUp, I recommend timing it to come up just under your average site visit time. For example, if your website analytics tells you that your average site visit lasts 2 minutes, have the pop up appear at the 1 min, 45 second mark.
That will make sure it doesn’t instantly appear and annoy people and ensure that only people who are interested in your content will see it, helping you build a high-quality list.
[h2_h4 h2=”SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION”]
Get a Facebook Like Box allows people to like your fan page from key pages on your website. Simple, but not really effective. See “Fanslood” for a better option.
Add This is the best way to add a full social share bar to your website. Get all the social buttons — Facebook Like, Twitter Tweet, Google +1, LinkedIn Share, and Pinterest PinIt. Unfortunately, each social network works differently and we haven’t found a single plug-in that does everything we want it to, so we usually hard-code this functionality.
Facebook comments at the bottom of your blog posts enables people to comment on your post through their Facebook accounts. This gives your blog posts a wider reach.
Note there are two main kinds of blog comments: Facebook comments or the built-in WordPress comments. I get way more engagement on Facebook comments than WordPress comments, but I still keep WordPress comments active since some people don’t want their comments to appear on their Facebook walls. This is especially true if you work in a potentially sensitive topic area such as health or relationships. It can also be true for people who prefer to keep business off their personal walls.
The problem with WordPress comments is that 95% of the comments you get will be spam. People sending out thousands of comments automatically in the hopes of getting a few good backlinks to their site. While I definitely recommend installing the Akismet plug-in to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam, you’re still going to get some spam. The only thing you can do is set your blog to require approval of comments and then manually spam the junk comments that come in. You can usually tell which comments are junk if they come from an odd email address, have a bunch of spelling and grammar mistakes or if they make little to no sense or contain a backlink to someone’s site.