Lukey Luke Moulton is back and in this episode we compare our top list of tools. Every business in the online space will be using certain tools to get up and running, We cover a range of hardware and software.
James’s Tool Rules
- Review tools often (billing notices can be a great prompt for regular reviews) to see if you still need it
- Get the best tool for the job even if it costs a little more
- Commit to using tools to the best of the ability of the tool
- Research and test to determine continued effectiveness and comparable others
- Less is more. Have the minimum tools possible
This transcript is sponsored by www.BuyWithBonus.com get many of the products and services mentioned in this interview with a special BONUS.
James: James Schramko here and I’ve got a special guest back for the second interview mainly because it stirs my other good buddy Timbo Reid from my FreedomOcean podcast.
Welcome back Luke Moulton, Lukey, Lukey, Lukey…
Luke: How are you James?
James: Good, it’s always good to catch up and especially fun because we get to, I guess remember the good times of Jewel Podcasting. I used to podcast with Tim a lot but he’s traveling all over the place these days so I thought I’d bring in a backup. Welcome back.
Luke: Thanks buddy. He’s been a busy boy I think he’s been all over Australia for the last month actually so… yeah it is nice to annoy him a little bit. He did comment on the last podcast that we did together James. It’s always good to hear our Tim’s in a bit of a stir.
James: It is, and we’ve come back on the premise of talking about tools. We’ve always had a little bit of back and forth. I remember, you were always the tool spotter and trend spotter and you don’t mind the techy stuff. And I think you’ve joked with me that I’ve probably used more tools than you. So we’re going to pull out the evernote and have a trump off and see what tools you’re using and what tools our listeners should use for various circumstances and I guess compare some notes and maybe we’ll learn something along the way about what a tool does do or doesn’t do or discover a tool that we’ve never even heard off.
Luke: Yes, if we’re not careful James I think this episode could be a very long one.
James: We’ll do the short version. Let’s just say there are a couple of things that we should be aware of. Firstly, for any decent online business and I’m talking about a business that’s let’s say generating 5 figures a month. Let’s just pick that $10,000 a month mark.
There will be a required investment in a certain amount of hardware and software because it is a business and most businesses are going to need tools. Even a plumber or an electrician’s going to need drills, hammers and things. So you will have tools.
The minimum possible tools
The name of the game really for my perspective, my philosophy around tools is I want the minimum possible tools, I want the best tool for the job in its category and then we have to know how to use it. And one way we keep fresh on this is every time I get a recurring invoice or every time I clean up my computer, I just question my assumptions. Do we still need this tool? Is it working? Is there a better version? Do we know how to use it? And I send this off to my team. The other context is that, in some cases there’s two parts to this.
I’m here operating a business but I’ve got a lot of team members in another country who uses a different operating system. So that’s meant that there are certain things that we’ve had to decide, for one I only use Mac so I’m not going to very good with the Windows tools even though I have them in my business, my team use them. I don’t use them. We might talk about which ones we have but I don’t use, and also I’d like to get your philosophy on how you choose whether you use a tool or not. When you’re sitting there at the shopping cart in front of you.
Luke: That’s a good one James and many of us probably wasted a lot of time and money on useless tools that I might have used in fits and spurts and then just let go. I’m very much these days I’m very much of the philosophy of less is more and much like yourself I also review, go and check online, hang on a second, let’s have a look at PayPal and look at what recurring subscriptions I have and just be really critical about questioning what’s really required and what’s not. And I certainly have gone through that process recently. Even things like hosting, having separate hosting accounts all over the place and I’m looking at I guess consolidating, that sort of stuff as well. It’s certainly not more is more; it’s really more about less is more.
James: One of the big things is when we take on a tool we’re actually committing not just to the upfront expense but we have to dedicate time to learn it and there can also be an error curve where we make mistakes. It can actually consume a lot of energy to adapt to a new tool so I’m very careful in choosing what I accept because I know I’m pretty much going to stick with it until something way better comes along or until the tool no longer does what it’s supposed to do. I think we should rip straight into it and the way I’m treating this is I’ve basically done a short list of things that if I would’ve start tomorrow, I would probably have to go out and purchase. That’s sort of where I’m approaching this from.
Luke: You want to kick it off James?
James: Alright, I think I want to tackle content because all good web marketers are going to be creating some form of content to put out there whether its information products or news updates or podcasts or even just writing stuff. What sort of tools are you using in your lab to create content?
Luke: Well right now I am speaking on a Blue Yeti Microphone and I’m actually using Garage Band on my MacBook Pro so these three that I’m using currently and James we’re using Skype of course I’m recording at my end and you’re recording at yours so there’s four already.
James: Okay, and I’ve got a different set of bits and pieces to do the same thing so there’re some choices. I’m using a Rode Podcaster which is suspended on a shock mount and it has a pop filter to stop the “T” and the “P” sound from distorting and it’s on a swing arm so that I can swing it away from my workspace when I’m not using it. That’s going straight into my computer and I’m recording the audio on ScreenFlow because it means I don’t have to learn Garage Band and I use ScreenFlow everyday for videos. That’s my preferred editing device. And yes I’m definitely using the same Skype.
Luke: Nice, very nice.
James: Now what is this attached to? Using a Mac obviously for Garage Band?
Luke: Yes, I’m using my MacBook. My MacBook’s currently years old now I’m certainly eyeing off the Retina display James but that might be a little while off. It’s not really required that I upgrade at the moment. This MacBook has been fantastic and I literally work on it every day.
James: Yeah, I’m just trying to go from 3 to 2 now. I’m using an iMac here and I’ve got this set up a nice big 27” screen with a 16GB worth of RAM and it’s really good for crunching videos which I mentioned I do every day. So there’s a case of choosing the right hardware for the job because the difference in time it takes for my 4GB MacBook Pro to crunch a video is substantial. And if you’re doing it over and over again, you’re saving time. I’m actually taking everything off my MacBook Pro now to send it down the line, to the long line of kids in the family. And I want to just use the Air with the 27” Thunderbolt monitor as my second computer.
Another reason I need 2 computers is I have such exceptionally poor internet; I need 2 separate lines coming into the house so that I can upload on one and work on the other.
Luke: Good productivity tip there in itself, James. I might have to do the same thing as we; I think we mentioned last time mine’s probably as bad as yours.
James: Well when you have two it really is literally going to save you days of your life, in waiting. Now, let’s talk about more content creation. What are you using for… do you make films? Are you using a camera?
Luke: I do, certainly not way near as you do James but I’ve got a Canon 550D SLR which does take a beautiful video. When I need to put a shotgun mic I’m on top of that. I think you… do you use a lapel mic James?
James: Well I’m using the Canon 60D which is a very similar camera and I use a Sennhieser wireless transponder and receiver. It’s a camera mounted receiver on the Canon. It plugs straight into the audio for the Canon and in my end I stick a transponder in my pocket with the lapel mic. I’ve got all the shotguns, I’ve got all the wired stuff, I’ve got the backup Xoom recorder and all of that. But the very reason I’ve come back to this very simple setup is it’s just extremely portable and easy and much faster to edit when you have the sound and the audio on the same file.
Luke: Your videos are looking beautiful James, do you want go a bit more into the setup that you’ve got going there, what sort of lighting and backdrop and into making such beautiful video?
James: Yup, great question. I went to a place called Dragon Image and I got a three roller system for the back of the lab. So it’s black velvet, white paper, and green velvet sort of green screen. I only use the black and the white and I intend to use the black more because there are a lot of white videos. Everyone’s copied the Apple thing. So I use the black backdrop with the light pointing onto it and then a light pointing back over my shoulders so it gives that contrast. And that’s the one everyone responds to.
So you only need 3 lights. A little 3 light kit and they’re not expensive, you can get the cheap softbox kit. So you have one light in front of the camera pointing at you, one light pointing back to your head and shoulders and then one pointing up onto the black. And I’m using that camera, the Sennhieser mic and a nice sturdy Manfrotto stand and I’m using a little RC6 remote controller so I can flip the little screen out, point it to me and I can auto zoom my picture and I can flick a switch and hit record and stop so that I can film by myself and that’s important coz I’m quite often the only person here. So I don’t need a production crew. I can setup within minutes and away we go. And these cameras work with just about no light so if you didn’t even have lights. You can literally stick a Canon 60D anywhere and get a good looking film as long as you don’t have big black shadows under your eyes.
Luke: I like the remote, I think it’s a good idea too because it also cuts down on editing time for your team as well. If you’re going and pressing the button on the camera and walking back and the same when you turn it off, it’s always just going to be adding some of that extra editing time I think. So that’s a good idea.
James: It’s really good and it’s so easy. I’ve got the system now, when I finish filming I walk over to my computer, and here’s a tip, I’ve got a 3 meter extension USB cord and it’s permanently plugged in to my iMac. So I just have to plug it into the camera on its stand. I don’t have to dismount the camera to get the film off it. I just suck the video straight into ScreenFlow and edit it and export it into Dropbox and the team does all the rest. I do that because to take a 1.6Gig file and Dropbox it on my connection is not going to happen.
Since I’ve got to re-export it anyway I actually just do the edits because I have very few “uhm’s” and “ah’s” I always do my films in one take and with the remote to turn it on and off and self-focus it’s a very fast thing. And because I’m doing a video every day, that’s how I got the system down to like a 15 – 30 minute exercise.
Notes and feeds
Luke: Do you use a prompt at all James?
James: I use a white board. I’ve got a very light large whiteboard, it’s cardboard and I just write 6 bullet points and stick it at the end of the room.
James: High tech.
Luke: You never seemed to skip a beat so I’m sort of wondering what you’re looking at, obviously you just know your topic very well James.
James: Yes, I do know my topic but yeah just 6 prompts or 3 prompts, just to make sure that I cover the things that I want. Now if you’re wondering where I got those topics from, it comes from an RSS feed which I’m using SpeedDash, which is a software that I’ve got and I really should turn it on and make people actually have access to it.
So I’m pulling in RSS feeds and I just scan my feeds and I put anything useful during the week into Evernote in a news tab. I’ve got a separate notebook called News and I just jot down the notes. When I want to film, I just open up my news tab, write the topics onto the whiteboard, delete the Evernote, stick the whiteboard at the end of the room, setup the camera, record and then edit and upload to Dropbox. That’s it and I do that every day, it’s quite an easy routine.
We’ve just covered some more tools there. Evernote. Evernote is just absolutely the best and the whiteboard cannot live without. I love my whiteboards.
Luke: Yeah, I too use Evernote. Evernote is a fantastic tool and for RSS feed reader, mainly Google Reader as well as Reeder on the iPads as well which I love and I think just on the RSS feeds one of the other ones that I use is Buffer App. Quite often on consuming content in one period of the day and I’ll see a lot of the stuff that I’d love to share with our listeners instead of just retweeting it Facebooking an ad I use Buffer App to sort of drip feed to my Twitter feed.
James: Now you’re getting techy on me. I’m just a simple man.
James’ video setup
Luke: Hey you’re technical. All your video gear James. Please.
James: Well you know it’s really quite simple. I’ve just got a good camera and a good mic and basic lights. But I actually film outdoors a lot you might have noticed. So I don’t have to setup lights or backdrops when I’m filming outside. I just carry the tripod, turn the camera on, film, turn it off, come back in. It’s done. It’s very simple.
Luke: And you’ve done that for quite a long time too.
James: I’ve been doing it for about 10 weeks in a row lately and I found the routine of it quite good. I look forward to filming every day. Now in terms of low tech gear, let’s just talk about what someone can do if they don’t have any of that. You can just use the camera in the iMac or MacBook or you could use your iPhone to get perfectly good film and audio with just an iPhone is a good start.
if you don’t have the super duper mic, then just go down to the local Harvey Norman or gaming store and get yourself a Logitech USB headset. It’ll set you back like 30 or 40 dollars and that’s what I used for the first 6 years and I’m also talking to you on this now. My headset is something I use pretty much every single day because its light weight, the quality’s fine for a Skype conversation and when I’m finished I can take it off that sort of for me symbolizes freedom again. And I’m not picking up all that background noise of having, trying to speak on the speakers of the computer.
Video and audio software
Luke: One that you mentioned, you touched on before which you were actually using to record your audio but is also fantastic for doing screen casting is ScreenFlow.
James: One of my favourite software because I use a template. Every day when I want to edit my video, I just open up the template and it’s already got my opening video it’s got my media in the folder there that I can drag down and it’s got the watermark of my name. So you’ll see it’s always the same. Same opening, same watermark and I just drag my video into it. It’s got this great function called ripple delete (shift, command, delete) so I just highlight the bit of say I look away I do an um or an ah, I just highlight that on the timeline and then shift, command, delete and it just chops that out and moves the pieces together. And I can also pre-do the transition; you’ll see a white flash on my videos. Well that’s built in. So I really can edit a video in just a little more time that it takes me to watch it.
Three or four ripple deletes, drag in the end bumper and then export to Dropbox and I’m out of there. ScreenFlow is like a billion times easier for me to use than iMovie. It seems very lightweight on the computer. It doesn’t suck up a lot of space. And it is also great for audio. I just delete the picture out of a recording like this and then export the movie and I do use one other tool to convert it into MP3. I could use the call recorder for Mac that we’re using to record these Skype calls that comes with stripping out the MP3 sort of files and it also has a great thing called split sides of conversation so I can pull out your side and my side and I can delete your side and wait for your good quality one and pop that back in.
Luke: I thought you were just going to say delete it; full stop.
James: No, I’ll sharpen you up a bit and make you sound Hollywood. But I use iSkysoft to convert MP3’s it’s so fast I can drop a really large like a 1 hour long webinar recording that I’ve done on ScreenFlow and hit convert, and it will just rip that thing into an MP3 that is a beautiful size to load up to Amazon S3 which is where I put all my podcasts.
Luke: So, just on storage we’ve got a couple, I guess they’re used for storing and also serving up media, you’ve mentioned Dropbox , Amazon S3, any others James?
Video hosting and analytics
James: Well I’m putting my videos on Wistia. So we could say that that’s a video hosting. It’s like a private YouTube. But it’s more than that. It saves me about 4 other tools. Now I don’t have to convert my video into MP4 using Handbrake. I can just load the video straight up into Wistia and it will multi encode. It’ll encode it into high def, low def, different sizes and that means and it’ll also create a player. Now I don’t have to use EZS3 or JW Player or EZVideo Player, all these different tools that make video players. All I do is load up the video and it’s hosted, encoded and the player is created and it’s all stored with fantastic analytics and tracking on Wistia.com. My absolute favourite at the moment.
Luke: James you have actually given me a quick demo of Wistia and I’ve subsequently looked at the product. It is unbelievable. It is an amazing… I guess video publishing platform doesn’t really do it justice but the analytics’ incredible.
James: It makes me want to create products just to use it. I think that’s partly responsible for my video wave is just how easy it is now. Before when I think I’ll make a video then I’ll have to edit it, convert it, upload it, make a player, embed the player, it does sound like a lot of steps and it is a lot of steps. Now, I just record the video, upload to Wistia, paste player.
Luke: And then you basically got… I guess the analogy is the power of Google Analytics built into video essentially.
James: And it’s far more powerful than that because I can pass email variables from my emails so I can tag every single customer to the videos and watch their viewing habits so that I can now create better messaging for them, more relevant. It’s all about relevancy and Wistia is a tool for relevancy. It shows you where they drop off the video, it shows you which videos they watched which videos they didn’t watch. And in real time as well so I’ve never seen anything this amazing. I just love it. I’m not even an affiliate for it and I rave about this tool every 5 seconds.
Luke: I did actually make sure that I went and watched some of your recent videos James having clicked through from an email in case you went and checked.
James: Yeah I do, I’ll ring you up and say, “Luke, why did you only watch a third of that video? I’m kind of disappointed about it.”
Luke: “The end bit was the best bit, what are you doing?”
James: Now you actually see spikes, and then when you go into your analytics you see this huge spike halfway through a video. You think what’s that? And the last one that I saw it was when I mentioned the word Penguin. So I know that my SEO audience are interested in what I’ve got to say about Google Penguin. Then I will use that in my next post as a headline or a tag because I know that’s what they’re interested in.
Luke: Now I don’t want to bring on too much about Wistia but one of the fantastic things that you’ve mentioned is how powerful, looking at TrafficGrab and all the other videos that you’ve got in there being able to see not just which were the most popular video but which one’s being watched right through or where people were losing interest and that’s been able to let you refine that product is that right James?
James: Exactly. I’m making better products because I’m eliminating waste and I’m reinforcing the things that people are most resonating with. Combine that with a survey, and I think there’s zero chance that I can put out a bad product for my second version of it because I’ve got all these data. So in terms of collecting data, it really should be under the analytics section more than anything. But for easy content creation what we’ve talked about so far will get someone studio quality sound, picture and viewing and I think we’re on a great path here.
Just finishing out content, what else you’ve got?
Luke: First of all I just want to remind the listeners that you heard it here first. James could not possibly put out a bad product so it’s something you’re going to live up to James.
James: For my second version I said. I just want to specify that.
Luke: Okay. No worries. Perhaps moving on from there just diving a little bit into some of the analytics products that I use. I spend a lot of time in Google Analytics. I don’t know where I’ll be without it. Just being able to dig deep and see you know obviously traffic sources, where the people are going but certainly I have on some of the sites that I use Google Analytics I also have ecommerce tracking which is extremely powerful. Also particularly if you’re using paid advertising you are going to find out where your most, your best ROI is in terms of traffic whether it be paid or it be non-paid.
James: No doubt about it. The name of the game online I think is conversions because traffic‘s easy. It’s easy to get traffic you can buy traffic. If you can make it convert. If you can turn a dollar into a dollar twenty or dollar fifty or two dollars or more, you’re going to get rich. So the best way to find out what’s working is your analytics. I also use Google Analytics, I think from memory they bought Urchin or something a very high quality analytics company, they bought it and it’s a full enterprise level solution. They now have real time as well as….
Luke: And it keeps getting better.
James: Yeah, they’ve got heat maps and stuff. They show you the sales funnel where people click through your site, which page they go to, where they went next. They have which people came from multiple traffic sources. They actually say well this person came to social and direct and to SEO and through a paid campaign. It can actually see the overlap, the conversions graphs.
Luke: Yeah, I know, it is fantastic. And just perhaps moving on from there in regards to conversion James and conversion optimization is there are a couple of tools that I use to help improve conversions. One’s Optimizely which is a pretty powerful tool. I think you use VWO is that right?
James: I use VisualWebsiteOptimizer, which I think is probably the closest to Optimizely.
Luke: Yeah it is. And there’s another one that’s called Unbounce as well which is pretty good. There’s another one called Zentester which Brent Hodgson is one of the founders of. And I actually use that recently James. Quick story, I was getting some paid traffic from Facebook. I’ve narrowed it down to males aged 30-40 years old who like fishing, for example. And I was sending them to a squeeze page. Now, this squeeze page is obviously just an email signup form using MailChip, there you go there’s another tool. And I had a headline, and so I actually what I did with Zentester was split test it against basically the identical page with an identical headline but it had a woman in a bikini standing next to the headline. Now that increased conversions by 34% and it does prove to me that sex does actually sell.
James: Nice, do they end up buying something. That’s the big question.
Luke: They were dropping into the top from the funnel James.
James: Well, you know I learned a big lesson last year, I deleted about 12,000 emails out of my system who had opted in but they never opened a single email after that. And I discovered that when I migrated my system from Aweber which is another email software to Office Autopilot and I was running tests to see how clean my list is and how responsive they are, and I think the cause was I had a very high converting opt-in it was really sexy bait and I suspect people were giving away their fakey or their second priority email address that they use to get the download and then they never go and visit that account again.
When I’m measuring opt-ins now I’m actually measuring them to the second goal which is a purchase, rather than just the first stage of opt-in because you can see quite a difference over time.
Luke: Yeah, I suppose it’s where the lifetime value of an email address and those calculations come in and deploy.
James: You might find that the non-bikini opt-in even though it’s a lower percentage might be better buyers.
Luke: This could be true… I should keep that test with me for a while.
What are people clicking?
James: Yeah well set a second goal. Like another success. You could set another test from the opt-in confirm to the sales confirm. Okay, that’s conversion, and I’ve been using CrazyEgg which is a very simple heat map tool for a number of years but a lot of the tools that we’re using now include heat maps. So I suspect that it’s not as valuable as it used to be. But it’s really simple and low priced tool just to get us an idea of the navigation on your site. What things are people clicking on your site.
Luke: Yeah, definitely, I’ve been using CrazyEgg too and occasionally not recently but ClickTale is another one that’s pretty good that will actually take records user sessions and literally so you can play them back in video and see what they’ve been clicking around and where their scrolling and where their mouse is moving over the page so that’s another good one.
James: Yeah, I’m using ClickTale now and I’m going to stop CrazyEgg but the ClickTale is really good. I used to use one, years ago; like five years ago called StopTape or something and then it went out of business. But it was one of the first video on site things. It’s amazing to see how much people do or don’t scroll and stuff.
Luke: Right, I think ClickTale has also something that I’ve been wanting to look at, again with ClickTale I think is they also have form abandonment tracking so literally at what stage in the form are people abandoning and dropping out.
James: Yeah and percentage of people who scroll or not. You know above or below the fold. I just did an interview with a conversion expert covering these things in detail. And that ClickTale was the weapon of choice there.
What else are you using to analyse your business?
Luke: Well Putler is one that you put me onto James. Putler’s great for basically analysing sales on PayPal. That’s a good one.
James: Yeah I love Putler. Massive tool for me because it shows me my top customers and my top products, my repeat purchase rate which is a great metric to know and I can just punch in any product line and see what my month to day or date daily sales are and I communicate that to my leaders every day. In fact the two I see, my number one boss of the team is also connected up to Putler. Now she can make reports so we have a dashboard for our business that shows us our sales and we can use it to basically measure our real growth and make predictions as to how many staff we need and stuff. Because we punch in the number of sales and that shows us how many jobs we have and that tells us how many hours we need to complete the jobs and we know how many hours each person can work so guess what spits out in the end… The number of people required. And then it’s a plus or minus. If we have too many people we redeploy them into a different team. But more often than not we have too few people so we start another recruitment drive and using that system, we’ve been able to organically add staff members to our business as if the sales come in today, then it might trigger recruitment notice tomorrow.
Shopping cart software
Luke: Brilliant. In terms of carts, James, I know you’re a big fan of Nanacast. Is that the main one that you use?
James: Yes, it’s the only one I use. I just use Nanacast for my entire business. It’s literally processing millions of dollars and it’s so good for me because it talks to everything. It works really well with PayPal, with eWAY and the credit card facility.
If you’re in Australia or the UK I think eWAY is the gateway of choice and it has upsells and downsells, it’s got affiliate programs, it has reporting and it’s got memberships so I could go to Wistia load up 10 videos make a nice sweet multiplayer stick it in a Nanacast membership and call it a membership. Basically I could sell that on a sales page, send people to their login and they get access to all the videos.
There’s really no WordPress mucking around, there’s no extra stuff, it’s very easy for my support desk to access it and look up customer details and resend logins and the API which is the programing term for the way that it talks to other programs is quite easy to use so we’ve been able to integrate it with our membership communities of which I have 3. So it talks to everything.
Luke: Just on membership communities James what do you use?
James: vBulletin is my preferred community software. It’s a really robust commercial grade form platform and it’s very stable, it is functional, it allows you to embed videos in posts and people can thank each other and stay on top of new threads, and it works with mobile devices it’s a great platform.
Luke: Not unlike WordPress, they’re continually updating it and just as important they’re keeping it secure.
James: I think it’s like the WordPress for forums for me.
Luke: Yeah. I know it is. It’s a fantastic tool. I have an ecommerce site and I use Interspire Shopping Cart, they’ve also got a self-hosted version called BigCommerce. So it’s one of the one I use. They’ve actually got pretty good analytics built in as well so it’s showing best returning items, purchases over time. So combining that with something like Putler certainly gives some good insights.
James: I’ve heard BigCommerce mentioned quite a lot. I think that must be a pretty good thing and I’m also tipping that ecommerce is a good business model to be pursuing in the current and future climate.
Luke: Yeah, you can certainly see the way retail’s going. I’m lying ecommerce is not going anywhere. I actually surveyed my list who tend to be over the miles. One or two marine based sites and just surveyed them around their spending habits. 75% have purchased online in the last 12 months. And about the same sort of numbers said they will continue to and the average price that they’re willing to spend is around $200 per transactions. Yeah, so ecommerce is not going anywhere.
James: It’s a big one. Alright let’s talk about where you get your domains from?
Luke: Well I use GoDaddy. And I probably wouldn’t mind changing over to NameCheap but it’s, I’ve got so many domains with GoDaddy that I’ve tended to stick with them. Their upsell process is quite a bit annoying. I don’t think they’re as powerful management platform as what name cheap is James. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
James: Yup, you might be surprised. I’ve got over a thousand domains with GoDaddy and I have over a thousand domains with NameCheap. I can tell you, NameCheap is very difficult to use for bulk domains. It’s a pain in the ass. With GoDaddy, you’ll get an account manager and you can just ask them to do this or that and they’ll just do it for you. You’ll get preferential renewal prices. They’ll scan for lists of certain things, they’ll do lots of bulk transactions and I wish I could just send all my NameCheap ones to GoDaddy for ease of management. So stick where you are.
Luke: I will.
James: There’s no way for me to bulk export a CSV file from NameCheap to send them all back to GoDaddy. They won’t do it. They’re just not geared for high level volume. They’re really good for someone with 10 or 20 or maybe 50 domains, no good once you get volume so I’d just stick where you are but I’ve got my eggs split into 2 baskets there primarily and then I’ve got a couple of dozens here and there, just inevitable with the amount of domains that I’ve ended up buying. But I will actually probably end up back down to maybe a core five or six hundred domains. I’m about to start processing the rest of my surplus and release them through my own market place. So that’s pretty exciting.
Luke: So you are setting up your own marketplace James?
James: Yes. Just to sell my stuff. It’s called Marketplace and I’m just listing stuff, I’m describing it and I’m putting a price. I got a core customer base who know me and trust me and they know I’m going to support my sale and they can ratify things and talk to me about, I don’t really need to go to the bother of learning Flippa and dealing with a whole sale market and stuff.
I just have a nice little market. I did my minimum viable product, my first sale sold out instantly for a price that I was happy with and the buyer was delighted. I’ve proven the platform and I’m just starting the second wave now and I’m going to continue a good quality supply of mature domains and websites and actual businesses from there that I support with the same level of support that we do with all our other products. I’m pretty keen for it.
Luke: Nice. Any thoughts of opening it up to others to sell?
James: it’s a good question. I haven’t thought of it because right now it’s just serving my need. As almost all my products start out it usually always just me fixing things for myself and then other people invariably ask things like that, could you help me? So yeah I haven’t been asked yet but I’m sure it’ll happen. We’ll see.
Luke: Watch out Flippa.
James: We have a web development business, we have an SEO division, it’s inevitable that it’s so easy for me to groom up domains, put sites on them get them traffic and I don’t need all of them. I literally have hundreds of sites surplus. Since we sell custom sites and instant sites, why not sell pre-done ones that are 3 or 4 years old that people can do more with than I’m going to be able to put towards them. So that’s sort of the idea.
Hosting service of choice
Luke: Ok, following on from domain registry. What about hosting James?
James: I really like Host Gator. I’ve got most of my sites with them in one way or another. I mostly use dedicated servers for my selling sites and reseller accounts for just my standard content sites and I’ve got lots of SEO hosting which is a sister company.
Luke: I am the same, I am solely with Host Gator and have been for probably for 5 or 6 years I think. Their service is fantastic. When something goes wrong it’s usually fixed up pretty quick.
James: I’ve had several other companies and they all sucked. Every single one of them sucked bad. So Host Gator has been outstanding for me and I’ve had had thousands of sites and I’m sure I’m not special in their eyes. But for me they’re special to me because they’ve been very reliable and consistent and service is great.
Luke: They will help you move too which is great. If you’re moving from another provider and you’ve got quite a few sites on another hosting provider they’ll actually help you move everything across which is fantastic.
James: They certainly will. Using PayPal to process everything or do you have a merchant facility as well?
Luke: I’m solely using PayPal. I have looked into a merchant facility and might go down that path but at the moment PayPal. Certainly be interested in looking at what happens with conversion rates by adding a merchant facility but yeah it’s certainly something for the future.
James: Yes and I suspect there are some subtleties between US dollars and Australian dollars. So depending on your currency it makes quite a big difference in terms of the rate that you’ll get charged and the way that it’s processed. I’ve just been through the process and PayPal as it turns out is actually pretty well priced and very easy to use for customers and for you. The only bit where they get you is trying to get your money back to your account. If you have to change currency or whatever you’ll get quite a slug. But the upfront merchant rate is like 1.1% and is really not bad at all.
Luke: Yeah it is. And when you compare it to some of the bank charges it’s not too bad.
James: Well if I want to take US dollars with a bank it’s going to be two point something per cent. That’s like double the rate. But you get your own foreign currency account and your own forex trader. So you can get market rates for conversions. It will probably end up being cheaper on the back end, in the long run. But I’m more interested in the conversions as well. Whether people would rather just pay with a credit card and in cart upsells without having to check out and come back that sort of stuff should be quite interesting.
Luke: Yeah definitely. Speaking of which I would suppose you’d call it a tool but I’d certainly been doing some testing with lightboxes, in carts and doing upsells just as people are about to purchase and that’s been fantastic . Had average order value increases of reasonably significant, so that’s another one to consider. Really simple really, you can use Java script with plenty of scripts out there that are available CodeCanyon and DotCom has some available and be doing upsells as people are going into through your carts.
James: Well you know I use Wistia videos and they also have a lightbox thumbnail option. You can have a thumbnail video that people click on and then lightbox that video and you can have a call to action at the end of the video with a clickable link. So for straight out info marketers it’s very simple. You can say, “Oh hi Luke, thanks for buying the whatever, there’s also this companion pack or bulk order or additional service. It’s just extra. Click on this link to get going.” And that will take them straight to the upsell. Bang. These things are working really well and the best thing is I can go and look at the stats to see if people are watching it and now I can split test face-to-camera vs. slides etc.
Luke: Fantastic. Now James we touched on Evernote previously let’s have a chat more on your productivity tools.
James: Well Evernote’s the main one, whiteboard and Evernote. I’m mainly using a whiteboard and Evernote. Evernote is split up into notebooks that makes sense to me and within each notebook, I’ve got my core notes. That’s where everything goes, it’s my electronic filing cabinet and I don’t use things, I’m not using a personal Basecamp anymore for that. Everything’s in Evernote.
Luke So what’s your team using in terms of project management?
James: Depends on the team. Because I’ve got several different business divisions and they’re using different platforms now. A lot of them are using Google Docs. We use Google Docs because everyone can access it straight from their Google Apps or Gmail you know corporate Gmail. It’s searchable, it’s easy to backup and export and put formulas so the spread sheet functions good. The word type function is great for standard operating procedures and that combined with Dropbox where we store videos.
We could use the Google section of Google Apps I guess the video section but we mainly use Dropbox for video storage, for standard operating procedures which is our way of showing new people how to do stuff and because we’re scaling, we use them quite a lot.
One of my teams uses Basecamp but they could just as easily use their teamwork program. Which is where my web development team have ended up using because it has superior time tracking to Basecamp and it’s easier to use and it looks nicer. And they’re very design driven so. The teamwork HQ is probably better than Basecamp is the opinion we’ve had and we’ll most likely migrate our other team across from Basecamp to that as well so that we’re back to just two platforms.
Luke: My team’s loving… well I don’t know if they’re loving it but I am. Trello. Trello’s been fantastic in terms of… well first of all I can’t believe it’s free but it’s basically like a pin board you basically move things from left to right on cards and each card you can actually have, it’s basically like a stream of conversation on the back of the card and you can upload files, you can attach team members to each card, and I’m really enjoying Trello.
James: It’s a kanban system right?
Luke: Yes. Correct.
James: So like to do, doing, done, that sort of stuff. Yeah I like that sort of system and that’s effectively how we run our tools. Like in our Google docs, we’ll have a to do, doing and done tab at the bottom and we can move things across that way.
Okay, we’ve covered Google Docs which is great. What about we talk about passwords and stuff. What are you using for that?
Luke: I’m using one password. I am looking at I think it’s PassPack to implement for teams at the moment but certainly for a personal stuff its one password.
James: I use one password as well and Google Chrome to synchronize my bookmarks, you can synchronize it via Gmail. But I’ll give you a tip. I think LastPass is better than PassPack.
James: Because we have everyone on PassPack but it is a little bit buggy and LastPass has done better with our usability test. And I mean we thrash stuff we have nearly 70 people in there destroying things so I think LastPass will be my recommendation now based on our experience with both.
Luke: Do you want to just quickly explain the benefit of LastPass, James?
James: LastPass is basically an online password management system. Say you had 10 websites, you can have an administrator go and load up all the passwords for those 10 sites that your users can use but they may not see the password.
Luke: Yeah so it’s great for when you have a team and for example if someone should leave your team you can just take them off of LastPass and they can’t get into anything any longer. Instead of having to go to all of the different sites that you have given them access to and remove them from each of them.
James: And also you can remove them from your Google email system which will automatically prevent them from accessing any of your Google Docs and you can also remove them from Team Dropbox and turn off their Dropbox. Team Dropbox is sort of the extension of Dropbox but I’m interested to see if Google Drive replaces this for us.
Luke: Yeah, have you started using it?
James: Haven’t started using it but it seems to avoid the conflicted upload system that we have and again with so many users, we’ve found some foibles with Dropbox. We’ve had entire Dropboxes delete, you know 50,000 files and stuff a few times. I don’t know if its operator error or the system just starts deleting and we’re like “oh shit.” And what it does is it means that everyone’s computer is locked up for the next week and a half while it reuploads.
Luke: Of course.
James: Coz none of us have good internet.
Luke: You’d have a truck load of files.
James: I have 10 TB worth of storage on Team Dropbox. We don’t use all of it but it’s a phenomenal amount of data in the cloud. Like the iMac that I’m using now, it’s attached to most of our Dropboxes and it’s got about 750 GB used.
Because we’re a content heavy company. We have thousands of customers and we’re creating videos and text files and audio and stuff so we do a lot. And you know we have a stock library to die for. Pictures and audio and stuff. It’s just so much content there.
Luke: Fantastic. Alright I am, I’m going through my list and I reckon we’ve covered most of mine what about you?
James: Come on, we haven’t even started.
Luke: Well I’m discussing about the ones that I use regularly. I mean there are literally hundreds out there but the ones that I use on a day to day basis, I think we’ve covered most of mine. What else have you got on your list?
Social media tools
James: Well, I use Facebook and Twitter but I want to talk about how I access them because this is the main thing that I focus upon coz I don’t use fandangle gadgets or whatever. I mean I login to Facebook.com from the Facebook app and Twitter on the Twitter app on my iPhone. So I’m wondering if I can learn something here or you’re using something else right?
Luke: I actually use a couple of different clients I guess you’d say. I use HeatSweep. HeatSweep’s pretty good for being able to post to Facebook and to Twitter. Bit of a caveat on that, previously Facebook has penalized people for posting from other clients. I think they’ve changed that recently but just a little bit of beware there.
I use Tweetdeck as well because of a couple of different Twitter and Facebook accounts. I like to keep them separate and keep them in separate clients just so there’s no confusion. Just so I’m not posting personal message to a business account. So I’m a bit careful about that.
I really love HeatSweep and HeatSweep’s got some great integrated analytics as well. It actually pulls in Facebook insights. It also has its own link shortener so it’ll also do the tracking. It’s nice to keep all of that in the one spot.
James: Cool, I do use a link shortener that I’ve got from Yourls. Y-O-U-R-L-S.org, it’s my own Bit.ly or whatever so that I can track links. So that’s a good tracking tool to use. I will mention the mind map software that I use coz a lot of people ask me about it from TrafficGrab. It’s made with bubbl.us. It’s a really easy online drag and drop mind map maker. It’s a good way to plan things out if you want to create high quality content to put into training products.
Here’s a great tip.
As you know I run a Mastermind and I do a weekly call and I help people in their business. But I’ve made a really good bubble map that is sort of like a “everything you need to know to run a million dollar business” and I’ve set it as my back drop on my spare computer monitor. So when I’m on these calls, I can just glance at it and reference anything to do with the call and put it back to its respective area. So make a good bubble map stick it as your desktop background and you’ve got that focus ability that’s why I’m always on topic, I know what I’m talking about because I’m looking at it.
Luke: That’s a good tip. Get rid of the photo of your kids and put a bubble map out there. I like that one.
The advantage of a second screen
James: Exactly and the second screen is a big clue. If you’re not using a second screen when you’re making products like running webinars or building slide decks or whatever you’ll find that gives you a lot more leverage in that screen real-estate makes a big difference in productivity.
Luke: I think there have been tests done James. Apparently I might be pulling this number out of somewhere but second screen can increase productivity by up to 30%. I think I’ve read the stat somewhere.
James: I’ve heard that.
Luke: Yeah definitely second screen’s a big one.
James: I will say most of the time I’m working on one 27” screen these days.
Luke: There’s splitter 27” James, you can fit a couple of windows side by side.
James: I plug the second one in when I’m making content. The reason I unplug it and I’m almost ashamed to admit this but when I plug this 27” screen into my 27” iMac sometimes if I leave it, it starts squealing and it starts making this screeching noise and then it shuts down. So it’s a hardware problem. And I have taken it to the shop and they weren’t that helpful about it. So I just leave it unplugged most of the time. One day I’ll probably have a hardware sell off of all the things I’ve tried and tested that just didn’t work out.
Luke: I can see another website James.
James: I will, I have to have like a hardware direct or something. I mean I’ve got shotgun mics and lapel mics and I’ve got excess equipment which is the whole point of this call. It was just to say well what am I still using? What’s good?
And I think we’ve dropped a lot of product names and tool names here one other one that I love is OnlyWire. And I don’t use it but my team do. It’s just a really easy way to bookmark a post to a bunch of places with one click. And that’s just one of the few tools that we still use in our SEO business other than some forensic and analytics tools like Ahrefs and MajesticSEO.
Luke: Yeah that’s something we have in common. All the SEO tools.
James: There’s not that many though Luke. That’s the thing. If you were to look at our business you’ll find that it’s remarkably simple. We hand create videos with PowerPoint, stock images and audio and we render them on Camtasia. We hand type articles, we hand create PDF’s. There’s no auto gen content stuff anymore and there’s no auto submit stuff anymore. We hand submit to YouTube and we hand submit to selected article directories and we hand post to websites. So really the only tools we are using are tools to help lookup link profiles and stuff. And you know to bookmark occasionally and that’s about it.
Luke: Now one of your favourite tools I’m pretty sure it’s one of your favourite tools James, SEMRush.
James: Yeah and I just got a subscription to Ahrefs because I think it’s a good blend of SEMRush and MajesticSEO but SEMRush sometimes doesn’t update as often but it’s such a good tool to see what you’re ranking for or were ranking for recently and if you type in your key phrase it’ll show you who else is ranking and you can just go and do some analysing of their site.
Get ideas for things to rank for. The easiest exercise is plug in your website, see what you’re ranking for on #6 – 16 and work on those phrases to lift them up to the top 2 or 3 and you should experience an increase in sales because it lists the cost per click for those keywords. Pick ones with a commercial value that are relevant to your business and target the ones that have been doing positions 6 and 16 and then put an article or post in your blog for that particular phrase. Get some links to it and before you know it, you’re getting really targeted traffic in your analytics and we should point out Webmaster Tools is a great tool as well for SEO.
Luke: Yeah. Definitely Google Webmaster Tools another one James, manageWP.
James: Yeah, I don’t use it, didn’t like it, wasn’t able to handle our sites.
Luke: Too many sites?
James: Too many sites.
Luke: I do use manageWP. Basically it allows you to manage all your WordPress sites in one place and do bulk updating of plugins. And so unless you don’t have thousands of sites like James, it’s pretty good.
Backing things up
James: Yeah, people say good things about it. We just use Backup Buddy and version 3 is pretty good now. Auto backups and I’ve got a team, I’ve got a husband and wife team and their job is to manage our fleet of websites. Update plugins, check the Webmaster Tools, make changes, and just having that sort of hands-on approach I think has been putting our sites in a good position.
Luke: Nice, good stuff. James, well we have been talking tools for around about an hour now so I think we should probably let the listeners rest. There’s a fair bit in there. There’s good stuff, certainly some ones there that I’ll have to go and check it out. I am after a bit of mind mapping too. So I’ll have to check out Bubbl.us.
James: Yup, alright lukey. Thanks for getting back together and hopefully we can catch up again with another topic based on listener feedback.
Luke: Sounds good. Thanks very much James.
James: Thank you.
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