When I initially began my journey, I found myself constantly researching and experimenting with new tools, products, services, and courses (and I still do). It’s important to have the very best products in your tool box. There are blog posts on the site about many of these tools, but I thought it would be helpful to give you a one-stop resources page for all your needs. I recommend bookmarking this page for your reference.
The Best of the Best
ThriveThemes – Is everything. Thrive Themes is WordPress Themes and Plugins focused on making your website convert more visitors into subscribers, customers & clients. I have a full membership and use all their products — Themes, Leads, Landing Pages, Headline Optimizer (so amazing for bloggers), and more. Everything is super customizable and they are constantly evolving the product. Note: Yes, I’ve used them all — LeadPages, SumoMe, OptimizePress, etc. Thrive wins, by a lot.
Neil Patel’s Free Blogging & Online Marketing Webinar – Neil is the co-founder of four multi-million dollar companies (Kissmetrics, Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and Quick Sprout) and in this free webinar he breaks down his 9 best marketing tactics for growing your blog (without paying for ads) and acquiring new customers and raving fans. I personally helped put this webinar together, and believe this is one of the most valuable free resources out there today.
HostGator – All of my websites are hosted with Hostgator today. This is the first thing you need to get your website running and I highly recommend them, with no reservations. Check out my free tutorial video on how to start a blog or website in 7 minutes. Click here to learn more, and use coupon code “wilghosting” to get 25% off your order.
Screenflow (Mac) – I absolutely love Screenflow. I use it to create screencast videos, and it’s even great for light video editing. You can export videos directly to YouTube, Vimeo, .mov, .mp4, and more. The software is really intuitive for non-technical people like me. Windows users should check out Camtasia.
Creating a Self-Directed Life
- Capitol One 360 – I can’t imagine managing my finances without the greatest bank on the planet! I said goodbye to old school brick and mortar banks years ago. ING Direct was acquired by Capital One, and not a thing has changed. 100% free. No fees, ever. Automatic savings, free checks, free person to person payments, and so much more. I highly recommend opening a free account with Capital One 360. Use this link to get a $50 bonus just for opening your account.
- Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking – You need a checking account with Schwab for one reason: Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide. Yes, you read it right. I haven’t paid an ATM fee in years. This is also an amazing hack for overseas travel, since getting cash from the ATM is the easiest and best way. Simply connect this to your existing checking account (use Capital One 360 above!), and transfer some ‘ATM funds’ over.
- Fancy Hands – U.S. based virtual assistant service. Oh Fancy Hands…how I love thee! This is the next best thing to having a dedicated personal assistant. At only $29.99 a month, it’s a steal, and will make your life so much easier. I’ve saved countless hours of my time. See my full review and use this link to get 50% off your first month.
- Virtual Staff Finder – This amazing service helps you find, test, interview, and hire a virtual assistant. Chris Ducker is the man behind this operation, and he is leading the way in this space. He’s written a new book, Virtual Freedom, and will give you everything you need to get started with hiring virtual assistants.
- Upwork (formerly Elance and oDesk) – My favorite place to hire freelancers. I outsource technical tasks and projects as much as possible, so I can spend my time working on high lifetime value work. If it’s something someone else can do, delegate it. Focus on the stuff that fulfills you.
- Envato Studio (formerly Microlancer) – A great place to get creative digital projects done. Logo/branding design, WordPress and website development, video, and more.
Virtual Post Mail – This is a must for any remote-working, traveler, location-independent types. Never check your postal mail again. Live anywhere, manage your mail online, and get your mail sent to you anywhere. I love this service, and researched this in depth. You’re given an address in Los Angeles. If you can put up with that, go for it. It’s also less expensive than Earth Class Mail.
TaskRabbit (U.S. only) – Get practically anything done by using safe, reliable help from TaskRabbit. I use this service all the time to get things picked up or delivered, get help with projects, or handle random tasks. It’s fast, inexpensive, and easy to use.
- Hotel Tonight – If you need to book a place last minute, Hotel Tonight is your new best friend. This wonderfully designed app gives you incredible deals at hotels worldwide. The app now also allows you to book in advance, not just the same day. You can download the app here and use my promo code AASSADI3 to get $25 off your first booking.
- Airbnb – Stop. Just stop getting hotels when you travel. Grab yourself a room, apartment, bungalow, or airstream on Airbnb the next time you head out of town. I’m a traveler and host, and I love it. Sign up now with this link to get $25 toward your travel.
- Lyft – The days of traditional car rentals are long gone, and the on-demand economy is here to serve our every need. Want a car to pick you up from anywhere in minutes? You need Lyft. I find that the drivers are sociable, and the experience is similar to getting a ride from a friend of a friend. Lyft is currently only in the U.S., but expanding globally. Here’s a full list of cities. You can download the app here and you’ll also receive $20 in Lyft credit towards your first ride.
- Uber – The more widely available, professional cousin of Lyft. Uber is available in 58 countries. Not cities. For example, I used Uber all throughout Rome during a recent trip for cheaper than a taxi. Here’s a full list of cities. Uber is a fast, reliable service you need to keep in your back pocket (smartphone). You can download the app here and even claim a free ride worth up to $20.
- TripIt – This all-in-one travel app stores your entire itinerary and all pertinent information in an easy to use interface. Stop sifting through your email to find your flight number or hotel’s address—TripIt can handle it for you.
Solopreneur & Marketing Tools
- Follow -My favorite (free) competitive intelligence and analytics tool. Get insights and a high-level overview about any website across a variety of sources (I love this part). Follow is the fastest and most dependable way to get intelligence about any website, including your competition.
- HostGator – Once you have your domain, you’ll need hosting (this is what stores all your website’s information). All of my websites are hosted with Hostgator today. Here’s a free tutorial video on how to start a blog or website in 7 minutes. Sign up here to use coupon code “wilghosting” and get 25% off your order.
- Namecheap – Forget GoDaddy. This is the site to use when you buy your domains. They are a trusted name in the industry. Keep your domain registrar (Namecheap) and your hosting (Hostgator) separate. You may outgrow your hosting, but you’ll want to always keep your domains in one place.
- Podcasters’ Paradise – Check out this free podcast workshop webinar by John Lee Dumas, creator of the Entrepreneur On Fire podcast (best of iTunes). Podcasters’ Paradise is an online community and video course that will teach you how to create, grow, and monetize your podcast.
- How to Start a Podcast: Pat Flynn’s Complete Step-By-Step Podcasting Tutorial – An amazing free guide by Pat Flynn, who has two of the top podcasts in all of iTunes. Everything you need to get started is in here, with videos and step-by-step instructions.
- Themeforest – Premium WordPress themes for any site—Themeforest offers a massive library of themes. The WILG blog runs off a Themeforest theme. After setting up your hosting, picking a theme is the next step. I like them for their commitment to quality and variety of theme choices. Make sure you pick a ‘responsive’ (mobile friendly) theme.
Shopify or BigCommerce (standalone e-commerce sites) or WooCommerce (e-commerce for a self-hosted WordPress site) – These are the best platforms for creating online stores. Shopify and BigCommerce have 24/7 support and offer easy-to-use features. You don’t need to be too technical to design a nice site. WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin with a robust feature set that helps you manage your products (virtual, physical, downloadable).
- Gumroad – If you want to sell digital products online, this gets it done in a beautiful way. Gumroad is a simple and effective tool for independent writers, designers, software developers, musicians, artists, teachers, filmmakers, and anyone in-between.
- ClickBank – A slight step up from Gumroad. ClickBank is an all-in-one platform that helps you sell and promote your products. It includes a marketplace, affiliate program, good customer support, and analytics. When I created my first course and membership site, I used ClickBank. If you’re looking for ease of use and something to handle everything all in one place (for a very low cost), then this is it. Note from Arman: If you need something more advanced, like your own merchant account with more flexibility, send me an email with exactly what you’re trying to do and I’ll get you in the right direction.
- Wave – Accounting. Not the sexiest topic, but something every solopreneur needs. I discovered Wave during my search for a free, modern, and simple accounting and invoicing software. My bookkeeping team now uses QuickBooks, but Wave was great when I was managing it all myself.
- Buffer & Hootsuite – Publishing posts on social media takes a ton of time. But using these two free tools together really helps. I put them together, because each serves its own purpose. With Buffer, you load up your queue and it’ll automagically publish them throughout the day. Hootsuite also has similar features, but is priceless for keeping an eye on Twitter lists that you may be following. Pro tip: Install the extensions/plugins so you can grab articles to share on the fly.
PerfectAudience – The best retargeting ads platform. You can retarget on the web, Facebook (including News Feed), and even Twitter. I love PerfectAudience because it’s so easy to use. Especially, compared to Adroll. It’s also much cheaper than Retargeter. If you’re ready for retargeting, this is definitely the winner.
- Mixmax – This is genius — by far the best Gmail add-on out there. Mixmax essentially brings together all your favorite features and does it in a beautiful way. I no longer use Yesware, Boomerang, or Sidekick thanks to Mixmax (although they’re still great). Read receipts on emails, an incredibly simple meeting scheduler, email templates, send later, awesome integrations, giphy’s and more.
- Wunderlist – This is my one and only to-do app, and it works oh so well. I’ve tested around a dozen different solutions and have landed on Wunderlist. It’s free, works with every device, and syncs instantly.
- Workflowy – An organizational tool that allows you to sort ideas, to-do’s, projects, etc. in lists. My brain thinks in lists, and if yours does too you’ll love this. So, so simple. Yet so effective. Make sure you grab the mobile app also, it syncs across devices.
- Slack – The ultimate tool — all your communication and collaboration together in one place (great for working with your team, assistants, or freelancers). Slack is incredibly intuitive and easy to use, has a free version, and integrates with just about everything. Use this link to get $100.00 in free credit.
- Evernote – A no-brainer. Use Evernote everywhere, all the time. The more you use it, the more you’ll understand its power. These days, I can’t imagine working without Evernote. Make sure in addition to the standard desktop version you have the, mobile app, and most importantly, the web clipper.
- Coach.me (formerly Lift) – A very cool app for habit forming/tracking. Coach.me is great for getting that dopamine release, the feeling you get when you check something off the to-do list or accomplish something. Add your habit—e.g. going to the gym—and check in that you’ve done it that day. There’s solid coaching, a community, and data to keep you going.
- Unroll.me – You’ll thank me for this one. Instantly clean up your inbox and unsubscribe from any emails you no longer want (or can’t get rid of). Note from Arman: I recommend deactivating the ‘rollup’ feature. It will only confuse your inbox more, and you can do a more custom organization through filters/labels yourself.
- Freedom & Anti-Social – The apps that save me from hours of distraction. Freedom locks you away from the internet so you can get real work done. Anti-Social blocks you from social media and any sites you designate that waste your time. You can purchase them together as a bundle.
- 1Password – Password Manager and Secure Wallet. This app has not only saved me time, but frustration. 1Password will securely remember your password, credit card/wallet info, personal details, and more. I highly recommend it! If you’re looking for a free alternative, LastPass is great and does the same job. I started using 1Password first and just prefer the user interface.
- Snagit – a complete tool for quick screen capture and screen recording, then share instantly. You can easily edit images/videos and share through a variety of methods. For a free version check out Jing.
- Feedly – A single place to collect, read and share content from your favorite sites. This replaced Google Reader for me. I compared Feedly closely to Digg Reader, and this won. Get the smartphone app also, and batch your reading time.
- Pocket – My favorite read it later service. Install the bookmarklet for your browser and download the mobile ap. Say no to distracting articles and read them on your time. Also integrates with Feedly.
- Outread (iOS) – A speed reading trainer for iPhone and iPad. I sync Outread with Pocket and speed read all my articles. I don’t believe in speed reading books, but for articles this is a fantastic tool
- IFTTT – Think of this as an automation tool, that integrates multiple apps together. IFTTT = If This Then That. I didn’t try this for the longest time, simply because I didn’t see its use. Now I do, and I love it. e.g. “If I mark a YouTube video ‘watch it later’ send it to my Instapaper.” Brilliant!
- iA Writer (for Mac and iPad users) – This is what I use to write in Markdown, and is a very useful writing tool in general. If you’re writing for your website (or someone else’s) the best thing you can do is write in Markdown. You simply write in plain-text then instantly convert to HTML. And yes, I’ve compared it to many other Markdown writing tools—iA Writer wins. A solid alternative is Byword (Mac/iPad).
Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones – These are the headphones I use daily, they are essentially a wireless version of the QC 25. I especially use them for work and traveling to block out noise and bump awesome tunes. I love ’em!
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – The best and most well-recognized microphone there is. The Yeti gets the job done, very nicely. In my opinion, sound is even more important than video.
Samson Go Mic Compact USB Microphone – I use this extremely potable microphone on the go. The Yeti is far too big to travel with, and this Samson mic is very high quality and easy to carry.
Logitech HD Webcam C525 Portable HD 720p – I upgraded from my laptop’s standard issue webcam recently to this very portable Logitech HD webcam. It was well worth it. I get compliments all the time on my video quality.
- Neil Patel’s Free Blogging/Marketing/Customer Acquisition Webinar – This is likely one of the most valuable free educational resources you’ll ever come across. Neil is the marketing and online business expert in the world (co-founder of four multi-million dollar companies: Kissmetrics, Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and Quick Sprout) and in this free webinar he breaks down his 9 best marketing tactics.
- Authority ROI – If you’re looking to start a blog/authority site like mine, this is the best resource I’ve come across. When I first started my blog, I really had no idea what I was doing. There are a lot of ‘how to blog and make money’ courses out there, but I wanted the best one, and Authority ROI is that. The course was created by Digital Marketer, a multi-million dollar leading company in the online business space. The course really helped me look at my blog as a media company, and gave me step-by-step instructions on how to design, build, promote, and systematize my site. I highly recommend this for anyone serious about blogging!
- The Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience – If only I had known about this amazing free resource when I first launched my blog, by Neil Patel of Quicksprout. This free (complete) guide has been more valuable to me than 90% of the resources/courses I’ve paid for. You will be far ahead of the rest if you simply implement everything Neil shares in this guide.
CopyBlogger: Internet Marketing for Smart People – A free course from the very knowledgable folks at this awesome company. I highly recommend checking this out if you’re getting started online.
Unconventional Guides – “Practical resources for world domination”, gotta love that. These guides were all created by Chris Guillebeau, bestselling author and entrepreneur. Some of my favorite guides are: Get Paid to Write, Publish Your Book, and Travel Hacking Cartel.
I’m always reading books. These are just my absolute favorites.
- War of Art – This is a top five book for me. Steven Pressfield delivers an incredibly powerful message about overcoming your fears and learning how to cultivate your creative side. I’d recommend this book to just about anyone. But, if you’re a writer, entrepreneur, or artist—you’ll love this book.
- The Art of Non-Conformity – I recommend this book by Chris Guillebeau for one (big) reason: I agree and resonate with practically every idea in it. We all deserve to live fulfilled lives that we choose. Chris agrees, and he wrote an incredible story about it.
- The $100 Startup – Another one by Chris Guillebeau, this book is a massive part of what helped me finally declare my freedom and become a solopreneur. There are many books out there on entrepreneurship, but this one really changes the way you look at it. Chris gives you detailed case studies of businesses earning $50,000 or more with an initial investment of $100 or less (in most cases). Simple, direct, and full of interesting examples.
- The 4-Hour Workweek – This is the book that inspired a generation and created a massive shift toward freedom for many people’s lives. Tim Ferris shows you how to optimize your lifestyle, take mini-retirements, become a lifestyle entrepreneur, and create a niche online business. A must read!
- Think and Grow Rich – Understanding and implementing the principles in this classic book can change your life. This is one of the bestselling non-fiction books of all time, originally written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill, and still very relevant today. This book will show you the formula and philosophy to getting anything you want in life, and not just money (don’t be mislead by the title). I re-read while I was traveling in Southeast Asia in 2013. I can’t imagine where I’d be today without it. The lessons learned are priceless.
Note from Arman: It’s not always necessary to pay for fancy products and courses. Everything you need to get started and more is available online for free. Follow people whose teachings resonate with you and consume everything they put out.
Disclosure: This website contains no advertising, and takes countless hours of research and writing in an aim to create useful, insightful content. You can support my work is by using my links when purchasing products/services I recommend. Some of these are referral (affiliate) links, and at zero additional cost to you I may receive a small referral bonus or commission if you make a purchase. And of course, I only recommend products I have personally tested and use, and believe will be helpful/useful for you too. Cheers!