Recommended Resources

These are tools and resources that I have used and highly recommend. Brilliant minds that I follow. And books I have read. Plus, some other stuff. Hope you find something useful in here that you didn’t know about before. 

Don’t go all paralysis by analysis and get stuck on the merry-go-round of discovering the latest tools, and reading the latest gurus just to feel like you’re accomplishing something. 

Find what you’re looking for and put it to use.

Index


Category: Site Building

Obvious. I love it and I love the plugin ecosphere. The vast expanse of free and paid tools make WordPress the obvious choice for me.

I built this site on Thrive Themes. I can’t sing its praises enough. The full membership, which is very reasonable, gives you access to so many tools, it’s ridiculous. I went deep on many of their offerings, because I use them and couldn’t be more pleased: drag & drop page/post building, lead generation, split testing, course building, quiz building, mobile-friendly responsive pages, SEO-friendly pages, etc.

Clickfunnels

I dabbled with Clickfunnels before I decided to go with Thrive Themes. If I had an eCommerce offer (i.e. a one-page sales letter with upsells, bumps, downsells, etc.) I would fire this one back up.

Category: Web Hosting

WPX Hosting

This is the Ferrari of WordPress hosting. I pay $25/month, which is a lot more than the bargain-basement hosting, but I get much faster site, and ridiculously responsive customer support. You only get 5 sites per account, which is fine if you’re focused, but if you build a lot of sites, this might not be the one. Use this one only for your serious WordPress money sites.

If you're not ready for premium WordPress hosting, then HostPapa is for you. I'm about to build some test sites on this super cheap host, so I'll keep you posted on the performance. It has received rave reviews from people I trust.

Category: Blogs

Conversion XL Blog

Amazing information about conversion rate optimization and related subjects on their blog. They sell paid courses, but their blog delivers tons of actionable material. 

Hubspot Blog

Brilliant content marketers. Thousands on articles on their blog diving deep into digital marketing topics.

Thrive Themes Blog

I’m jealous of how good Thrive Themes’ content is. Seems like if you’re brilliant enough to build the best WordPress themes and plugins on the planet, you shouldn’t also be able to create one of the best digital marketing blogs out there. I guess instead of being jealous I should be thankful, since I’ve learned a ton from Shane Melaugh and company.


If you want to go even deeper in the Thrive Themes world, sign up for their University, which offers fantastic free courses (along with some paid).

Brian Dean (Backlinko)

Brian’s whole MO is quality over quantity. He puts out a post every month or two, and they are amazing every time. He really has the process and formula down pat. Brian’s another guy with that rare skill of being able to do the work, then meaningfully write about how he did it. His focus is SEO.

Matt Diggity Blog

Matt’s stuff is sprinkled throughout this page. Why? Because he’s awesome. I love blogs by professionals that are amazing at two things simultaneously: executing, and detailing exactly how they executed and the results. It’s rare to have this combo. Matt’s got it.

Opt-In Monster Blog

Seems like whenever I’m researching a digital marketing topic, this blog pops up on page one of Google. They’re obviously doing something right. And, more often than not, the content is good. Very good.

Digital Marketer Blog

Check out the blog from the people that bring you the Traffic & Conversion Summit, which is the biggest conference in the digital marketing space. Russ Henneberry was tasked with launching the blog (he moved on), and he did a hell of a job. 


They have a great mix of guest posts and staff writing.

Category: Podcasts

Hustle & Flowchart

Matt Wolfe and Joe Fier team up to produce this amazing podcast. They have a great mix of big name guests, along with folks you’ve never heard of that have great stories and bring a ton of value you can apply to your business. I pick and choose which episodes to listen depending on what information I need right now. Don’t be scared off by the beat box intro. It’s goofy as hell, but power through. Trust me, it will be worth it.

Perpetual Traffic

Ralph Burns and Molly Pittman host this podcast focused on Facebook and Instagram advertising. At last check they’re over 230 episodes. I have listened to them all. You wouldn’t think there would be gems every episode, but there are whether they’re going solo, together, or interviewing fascinating guests. I guess when you run millions and millions of dollars in ad spend a month for clients you have a lot to say.

SuperFastBusiness

This is another podcast where I pick and choose the episodes I listen to according my current interest. Probably at my own peril. There are always useful takeaways. Seems like James Schramko is THE consultant to all the best marketers these days. 


He’s brilliant. He has articulate conversations with smart guests. Your marketing brain will benefit from listening in. Plus, he's got a great Australian accent.

Category: Social Follows

Justin Brooke (Facebook)

Justin shares valuable posts on Facebook. He also gets very smart people to comment below his posts. You get these amazing bits of knowledge for free. Follow him on Facebook.

Gary Vaynerchuk (YouTube)

He's got 2.47 million followers currently. Probably not a big, exciting reveal for most. But, if you can get past the bluster and hype, he drops a ton of gems. It's great to get free insight from a guy with his finger on the pulse of the industry.

Chris Von Wilpert (Facebook)

Chris has a whole content marketing scheme that includes putting out tons of micro-sized bits of valuable content on Facebook. Take advantage of this. I’ve learned a lot of stuff from his page.

Larry Kim (Twitter)

Larry is so good at content marketing. It's no surprise he cashed out of his first business, Wordstream, for millions, and is now successfully building up Mobile Monkey. You need to hear what this dude has to say despite the weird fascination with unicorns. 

Matt Diggity (YouTube)

Matt doesn't post often on YouTube, but when he does it is packed with value.

Category: Email Lists

The Edge - Adskills (Justin Brooke)

Whatever I can promote from Justin and his team, I do. He’s really good. Great marketing, sales, and small business mind.

Brian Dean (Backlinko)

One of my three go to’s for SEO information. Brian is so good. You want to know every time he puts a blog post out, so get on his list.

Andre Chaperon (TinyLittleBusinesses)

Andre is a master at email marketing. His course on the subject is killer: ARM. Get on his list and soak in what he does with storytelling and serialized emails. I’m actually having a hard time finding where to sign up for his email list. He makes you work for it, because that’s the type of people he wants on his list. People that are truly interested in his material. Go through his site. Read his stuff. Buy his products. You’ll end up on his list and you’ll be a better marketer for it.

Matt Diggity

This guy is so smart. SEO and affiliate marketing are his specialties, but I’m sure if you asked him any question about digital marketing, he’d have a great answer. He’s done it all. Owns an agency. Builds his own affiliate websites. Owns an ecommerce business. Listen to this guy. Sign up for one of his free resources and you’ll be on the list.

Glen Allsopp (detailed.com)

This was one of the first guys to blast out massive pieces of pillar content. Pure unadulterated value. Wise beyond his years. Get on his list and you get stuff he hides from the rest of the public: freebie tools, brilliant how to’s, and legit business ideas you don’t see anywhere else.

Ben Settle

Not for everybody. He has one of those rebel, bad boy personas. And he emails every day. It’s kind of his schtick. But, if you want to learn how to send emails with sales pitches that your list wants to keep receiving elBenbo is your guy.

Chris Von Wilpert

CVW launched onto the scene with a blast. He’s pure hustle, which put him on the radar of big players like Noah Kagan and Justin Brooke. He’s a content marketing whiz, and shares a ton of helpful material with his list. Get on the list by signing up for one of his free content upgrades.

Category: Affiliate Networks

There are a lot of one-off affiliate programs for products I love. Generally, I find this is where I get most of my affiliate links. But, there are a few affiliate networks of note.

Shareasale

Matt Wolfe and Joe Fier team up to produce this amazing podcast. They have a great mix of big name guests, along with folks you’ve never heard of that have great stories and bring a ton of value you can apply to your business. I pick and choose which episodes to listen depending on what information I need right now. Don’t be scared off by the beat box intro. It’s goofy as hell, but power through. Trust me, it will be worth it.

This place has been going forever. They specialize in info products. A great place to find out if you can find buyers in a specific market. If you can, then work up your own product or go directly to a merchant with a higher quality product.

I love Skimlinks for a few reasons. One it’s simple to set up. Apply. Get accepted for each site you plan on running Skimlinks. Then, search the 24,000+ merchants to see if the offer you want to promote is there. You can get better deals directly from merchants or sites but Skimlinks is great for testing offers quickly without applying to individual merchant programs or networks. It’s also a great work around if you’ve been denied for some reason. 


Example: I use it for Amazon Associates. There’s not enough commission from Amazon Associates to worry about signing up for their program, but adding an Amazon link to my site will automatically get picked up by Skimlinks and I’ll get a commission if someone buys through the link. Pretty slick. 


Skimlink takes a 25% of your commission. Reasonable for the convenience. If you have an offer that’s really popping you will probably want to go direct though. If you’re sending a lot of really high quality traffic to an offer for a specific merchant, you might be able to negotiate an even better payout than the list rate.

Category: SEO Tools

I like this tool more and more as I discover additional features. It’s great for competitive research. Find details on the best ranking pages for keywords, so you can reverse engineer what they are doing. Or finding the best performing pages on a specific domain, so you can see what content is really working for them.  


I also like their content marketing toolkit. Punch in a keyword and get topic ideas with example pages and search volumes. SEMRush analyzes the top search engine result pages (SERP) for specific queries and gives you suggested word count, along with semantically-related keywords to sprinkle into your post, and potential backlinks (because the link to the pages that currently rank).


This is all best practice SEO stuff and it will save you a ton of manual searching time. 

Moz is great for a quick page grade. I work with writers at my day job, and they love the ease of plugging in a URL and getting a quick grade of their work from an SEO perspective. 


I’ll use them for initial keyword research too. Can get a good idea of search volume and difficulty, and a load of related terms.

Ninja Outreach

Outreach CRM. You can use Gmail and a spreadsheet but if you want to get serious about tracking your email outreach efforts, you’re going to need a tool. Ninja Outreach is a very affordable option.


Especially useful if you have a team doing outreach for you, so they can see what messages have already been sent/received so everybody is on the same page and not sending redundant messages, or letting a good lead fall through the cracks.

Google Search Console

You can still get data about what keywords are driving traffic to your site through Google Search Console. It disappeared in Google Analytics, but if you dig into GSC you can find the keywords that are giving your site search impressions, plus CTR and total clicks. These probably aren't exact figures, but it gives you a good idea. You also get these numbers for specific page URLs. And, with a little filtering you can see the queries that are bringing traffic for specific URLs.


You also get the very important diagnostic info about your site that you want to pay attention to, since Google is most likely your top organic traffic source.

Category: PPC Tools

I mostly roll my own when it comes to PPC management on my day job. I use the admin areas of the channels, and two desktop editor tools: Google Ads Editor and Microsoft Advertising Editor. Plus, my favorite 3rd party tool mentioned below.

I use this for ad split testing mainly. They are also good add helping manage negative keyword lists and queries that should be added to your adgroup. There are actually many more features that help keep your Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising accounts in tip top shape.


And you can be confident in what they are doing, because the company is helmed by a legit PPC subject matter expert: Brad Geddes.

Mike's Marketing Tools (Keyword Tool)

​This tool has been around forever. Great for cleaning up lists of keywords that you're working with for paid advertising. Remove special characters, and leading and trailing spaces. Very helpful.

​Keywords Toaster

​​This is the best tool for adding broad mod (+ signs) in front of every keyword. Also, does phrase
(" ") and exact match ([ ]).

Category: ​Keyword Tools

​There are so many keyword tools out there. As mentioned above I use Moz for quick suggested keyword lists, and SEMRush to grab Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) terms. Those are paid tools.

The following tools have free versions that perform very useful keyword-related tasks.

​Also Asked

​​You know the "People also asked" blocks in the Google search engine result pages (SERPs). This tool grabs those for you. Good idea to sprinkle as many of those into your content as possible to make your page relevant and nudge Google to give you a higher ranking.

​Answer The Public

​​​This tool collects the auto suggests from Google related to the keyword you search. Again, it doesn't get any more relevant than this. Add these phrases to your content, or map out an entire cluster of pages that are optimized for the most viable options. Then, interlink them.


Also, very helpful collection of questions related to the keyword you search. If you add questions and answers to your content, you have a chance to grab a featured snippet.


Do be freaked out by the dude impatiently waiting for you to type in your search. He's harmless.

​Ubersuggest

​Neil Patel purchased this tool a while ago, expanded its capabilities, and offered it for free. It gives you estimated search volume and difficulty for both SEO and PPC. You also get a load of related keywords.


You can also do domain searches to find the top performing content on a website, which includes estimated traffic and Facebook and Pinterest engagement numbers. That's a lot of info to work with and it's all free.


​KeywordTool.io

​​Another Google Auto Complete tool. The free version used to give volume, trend, CPC, and competition. But, now only the Pro version gives this info. Still, it's great for giving you a ton of keyword ideas. 


This one separates itself with the option to search for YouTube, Bing, Amazon, eBay, Play Store, Instagram, and Twitter keywords as well. This comes in very useful when you want a full picture of the keyword space.


​Keyword Shitter

​​​For shear volume of keywords, nothing beats Keyword Shitter. It literally just keeps shitting out related keywords. Danger: you may be up to your neck in keywords, and get overwhelmed. Be careful with this one.

​SearchVolume.io

​​​​Some of the tools above don't give search volume, which is where this specific little tool comes in. Load up your list (up to 800 keywords) and it will find search volumes for you.

Exploding Topics

Brian Dean is involved with this project. In fact, I think he loved the technology so much that he acquired the company. Find keywords and topics that are about to pop. Get in front of the curve. Capitalize before the topic space becomes saturated.

Related Words

​This is like a really smart thesaurus. Great for finding LSI keywords related to your original query. I also use this tool, when I'm brainstorming product names or domain names.

​SeedKeywords

​Interesting ​service. I haven't used it yet, but it's unique enough that I wanted to share.


How it works: you set up a scenario (e.g. how would you search for information about conversational marketing?). SeedKeywords gives you a link to send to your contacts. They answer, and now you have real world data on how people might search for your product or content.

Google Cloud Natural Language Tool

​​Still wrapping my mind around this one, but it's powered by Google AI, so you're going to get insights if you know where to look. For example, paste a blog post that ranks for a keyword you want to rank for, and see what pops up.


Entities = equals things Google finds in the content like locations, organizations, people, etc. This goes beyond related keywords and latent semantic indexing.


Sentiment tells you if there's an overall positive or negative tone. 


​Take this ​info and try to emulate what you can, in order to give yourself a chance at ranking on page one too.​

Category: Email Tools

I've used Aweber, Get Response, MailChimp, and Convert Kit. Each have their merits and flaws. Use MailChimp to start building a basic list. If you need more functionality go with Get Response. And if you want to get the premium email service provider (ESP) for content marketers, go with Convert Kit.

I haven't used SendFox, but Chris Von Wilpert uses it and he's a bad ass. It looks interesting, because you can buy a lifetime subscription for as low as $49 (5,000 subscribers). 

ConvertKit

ConvertKit has a natural integration with Thrive Leads, which makes it easy to set up. There are a ton of features including segmentation of your list, which is important once you get fancy. They are also known as one of the best for deliverability, which is probably the most important piece. 


You want your emails to hit subscribers inboxes. Some of the cheaper email service provider servers naturally get more abuse by unsavory spammers, which hurts their email server reputation, and, eventually, can reduce their deliverability rate. Paying more for ConvertKit (smallest package starts at $29/month) will get more emails into inboxes.

​SendFox

SendFox is interesting. It looks like a barebones esp, but if you just do basic email marketing with autoresponders, send blasts, and basic segmenting that's probably all you need. There's a special deal on AppSumo where you can get lifetime access to SendFox for one payment. It seems like a ridiculously good deal. 


My only hesitation is that the owner of SendFox doesn't seem to like affiliates. He says affiliate marketers aren't allowed on the platform. This may have been bluster as he was explaining why his email servers have excellent deliverability rates. However, I'm an affiliate marketer, so I'll have to wait to use SendFox for a project that doesn't promote affiliate products.

Category: Content Tools

​There are great free tools out there that can you help you out with topic generation, headline and email subject line writing, grammar, wordiness, and more. What a great time to be alive as a decent writer!

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator

Add a few nouns and let the tool do it’s work. You’re not going to get tablets from God here, but you might get a seed of an idea that can grow into a full-blown great piece of content.

Portent Content Idea Generator

Again, not going to pull the best blog post idea in the history of the Internet out of thin air, but it might give you a nugget you can run with.

​Content Idea Generator

​You have to sign up to access this tool, but it could be worth it. I haven't used it, but it comes highly recommended. They ask you 17 questions about your business, and let their machine learning go wild. Could be a game changer if you're having trouble generating content ideas for your industry.​

​​Email Subject Line Analyzer

​​This is a solid tool from CoSchedule. Sometimes I think a lot of these automated tools are corny, but this one provides a valuable service very quickly. You can get great feedback on a subject line almost instantaneously.


Make it a habit to plug your email subject lines into this tool before every send, and you will improve your email success. That's a lot of value from a free tool.

Keep your writing tight and clean with this tool. Better writing lends itself to a more positive brand experience. This tool is like a convenient editor that will make sure you have the basics covered. For convenience get the Chrome extension and use it as you compose in Google Docs.


​Headline Analyzer

​​First off, you're writing at least five headlines for each post. Right? Chances are low you'll nail it on the first shot. Write multiple variations. Test if you can. And, plug them into this tool and take a look at what they have to say about it.


You have to fill out a form to get access to the results, but they are worth it. They talk about basic stuff like word count, but then they get into some really interesting stuff like ...

  • ​Sentiment
  • Words that skimmers are likely to read
  • ​Google search preview
  •  Emotional weight and how powerful the headline is

​You also get an overall score, which makes it easy to test multiple headlines and see which one is the best.

Swipe-Worthy

Need some copywriting inspiration from a master? Go to Swipe-Worthy, do a convenient search for the type of content you're writing, and soak it in. Lots of old-school material in here. Pretty cool. 

Category: Advertising and Copywriting

AWAI's Web Copywriting 2.0

Way back in the day I took AWAI’s The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting. It was fantastic. They have a course specifically for web copywriting now. I haven't taken it, but if the quality is remotely close to the course I took, then it's well worth the time and money. I'm going to guess it is, because it's written by all-around bad ass, Nick Usbourne.

The Gary Halbert Letter

Sometimes you have to recommend a degenerate, because the work is good. Gary may have been jailed for some shady marketing activities by the copywriting wisdom on this free site will take your understanding to the next level. Soak it in.

Category: P​roject Managment Tools

​This is an affordable enterprise project management solution. We use it at my day job and it works well across departments. There is learning curve, but once everybody is on board, it's a powerful tool. They continue to upgrade it, adding new useful features often.

​​We tried to make Trello work for a content team at my day job. It just didn't quite cut it. However, I absolutely love it for tracking my personal work to do lists.

Category: Images

Fresh stock photos. If you're not taking your own photos, do the next best thing. Use this site.

Compressor.io

Keep those page load times short. Compress your images with this excellent, free online image compressor.

Subtle Patterns

Building a banner. Use these subtle patterns as background to give them some peppy pop.

The free version of this design tool is so useful and easy to use, I kind of feel guilty not paying for it. I make all kinds of stuff with Canva: flyers, banners, display ads, etc.

Iconfinder

Awesome and easy-to-use repository of icons you can use to spice up your website or designs.

Category: Miscellaneous

This is a useful, free video capture tool. Download the desktop version or add the Google Chrome extension. Great for customer service. Working with contractors. Etc.

Very solid domain registrar. Good email and hosting services too, if you want to keep everything in one place. I have most of my domains registered here with no problems. Their customer service is great. Trick. Add the Honey extension to Google Chrome and find a currently working coupon code. This hasn't failed to snag me 10-25% off domains (even renewals!) every time.

Category: Books>Advertising

To be a true, well-rounded badass in marketing and advertising, you need to study the OGs. This requires more than binge watching Mad Men episodes.

Human psychology doesn’t change. Basic principles do not change. If you see stuff these old-time advertisers are talking about that still apply today, you know it’s timeless wisdom, and you should apply it.


It can give you an edge as most modern marketers chase after the latest shiny object. 

My life in advertising & scientific advertising
Claude Hopkins

The OG of testing. Learn the fundamentals from a giant. Two books in one. Allows you to get a glimpse into the work life of an old timer.

Ogilvy on advertising
David Ogilvy

You will improve your advertising chops reading this one from a great that did the agency thing for decades, but had a love for direct response.

tested advertising methods
John Caples

John was a tester, which wasn’t that easy back in the day. He wrote that famous ''They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano but When I Started to Play! ''

advertising secrets of the written word
Joe Sugarman

Joe sold millions of Blublocker sunglasses. And calculators. And all kinds of stuff with direct response ads.

Direct Mail Copy That Sells
Herschell Gordon Lewis

He wrote advertising copy and invented the “splatter” sub-genre of horror films. You’re going to learn something from a weirdo like that.

Roy Williams

Everybody references Williams as the guy. His books are great even if they look like young adult adventure books. This trilogy covers a lot of ground.

Category: Books>Business

Getting Everything You Can Out of All You Got
Jay Abraham

Read everything you can get your hands on by Mr. Abraham. Watch his presentations on YouTube. Very wise businessman. Great marketing and sales mind. 

The ultimate sales machine
Chet Holmes

Lot’s of major marketing players talk about how much this book by the late Chet Holmes transformed their business. It’s a holistic approach that includes building processes, tightening up your sales team, building a Dream 100 list for targeting the most lucrative segments of a market, educational marketing, and much more.

Ask
Ryan Levesque

Tremendous framework for zeroing in on what your customers really want using quizzes. If you ask the right questions your prospects and customers will tell you exactly what to sell them.

Contagious
Jonah Berger

This guy is an Ivy League marketing professor. Normally, I’m not impressed, but he brings academic rigor and great insights to his writing. Discover what he uncovered about virality and why certain products and content rocket launch into social popularity.

Storytelling Made Easy
Michael Hauge

Michael works in Hollywood. He knows what makes a good story, and he’s successfully transferred that wisdom to the marketing world. Listen to what he has to say and you will grab and enthrall your visitors like a classic movie.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vee is not for everybody. But, his dual message of really caring for your prospects/customers and offering them big time value, and hustling your face off are wise and inspirational. He has a terrific batting average of pinpointing coming trends and places to find undervalued attention. Keep up with this guy. See how his mind works by reading his older stuff. Amazingly, most of the stuff in his books is still applicable. 

Russell Brunson

Russell has put in the time. He made himself a tremendous marketer, and built up an impressive business. If he has wisdom to share I listen even if Clickfunnels is slightly cultlike. 🙂

Dan Kennedy

I learned a ton about direct marketing and copywriting from Dan’s books. He seems like he doesn’t give a shit what people think as long as he’s the best marketer on the planet.

Category: Books>Marketing

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
Al Ries and Jack Trout

This dynamic duo put out several books under the Immutable Laws brand. They’re all good. This is no exception.

Marketing Secrets of a Mail Order Maverick
Joe Sugarman

Joe makes this list a lot because he’s good. He was instrumental in introducing credit cards to direct response sales. Groundbreaking.

Category: Books>Psychology and Persuasion

This topic is so huge in marketing. I’ve read some of the classic books on the topic, but there’s so much more to learn. Getting really comfortable with human behavior and what causes people to act the way they do, is a very valuable skill for a marketer. Just don’t abuse it.










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