I often get asked which systems I use to run Free Range Humans. Good question.
There are so many resources out there it’s hard to know which are good in reality (vs those that look good on the outside, but will leave you screaming ‘gah’! at your computer screen).
I’ve been there and tested them out for you and below are my recommendations. Starting with…
1. File back up (and sharing): Dropbox
Get this if you would like to access your files from more than one computer (or phone)… or simply if you don’t want to collapse in tears cause you lose all your files when your laptop gets lost/self-combusts at the most awkward moment possible.
Plus they have a great phone app so you can get to your files from anywhere, and the first 2GB is free with this link.
2. Taking Online Payments: PayPal
This is the standard online and the simplest payment solutions I’ve seen. (And yes people can even pay by credit card on here). Get a business account and you can even set up subscriptions.
If you want a traditional credit card processor, we occasionally use Stripe. But there’s a bit more tech involved and TBH you can run off PayPal for your first year (and pretty much forever after that too!).
3. List building/email marketing: Convert Kit.
If you don’t have a way for people to give you their email address so you can build your own list, you’re missing a trick.
Social media is great – but ultimately it means Facebook/Instagram or whoever own your audience and they can reduce how many of that audience actually sees you in their feed with a flick of an algorithm.
Email is the approach you get to control – so no matter what, you can build a relationship with your customers, let them know when an offer is coming up and more . So what to use?
There are a lot of list building options out there, but the only one I recommend today is Convert Kit.
Without boring you with the tech side, it’s just stunning: the team are all about creating exactly what you need for you to make your thing work (I moved to them after 7 years with another system and a lot of people are making the move too).
It lets you do so many things the right way – right from how you gather emails, to how you see your info and communicate with people (you can even deliver an online course this way!). Check out Convert Kit here.
4. Working on a project with someone who is not in the same room as you: Google Docs
You can both work on the same document at once and see each others’ updates as if they are typing on your computer. Nice.
5. Web hosting (including domain name and email address): Bluehost
Bluehost is what I used to host all my website for years – and it’s a solid place to start. Once you get a Bluehost account (which comes with a free domain name) you can set up as many sites as you like. And I’ve found their support good too. Solid value across the world.
6. Website: WordPress
My personal go-to for a new site is WordPress – and it is what most online business people use.
You can set it up yourself at first, then if you want a super-swish web design down the line almost all designers work with WordPress so you won’t have to move your website (yay!).
Bluehost has a ‘one click installation’ for WordPress which is a big part of the reason I recommend them – you just follow the directions and click a few buttons to install WordPress. Hello website!
Top tip: WordPress can be a faff to learn – but it is much easier with the right “WordPress theme” installed. By far the easiest and best designed on the market right now is the Divi theme.
It’s what this website is built on, as well as my www.mariannecantwell.com website.
In fact I personally created this Resources page on Divi – without any web designer input – so you can see what it can do!
To get this:
1) get Bluehost
2) click in there to install WordPress – then
3) get the Divi theme and follow their instructions to install it and you’re good to get started (their tutorials are great too!).
Alternative website option: Squarespace
This has a less steep learning curve than Wordpress and lets you get attractive results fast. Now, compared to WordPress Squarespace is not as good on SEO right now so if being found top of Google is key then go with WordPress. (More and more designers are working with this platform too so it is pretty easy to get it customised even more down the line if you want).
To me, the Divi theme on WordPress is similar to Squarespace when it comes to ease of building the site and has the advantage of being on WordPress so I’d choose that, but everyone has their own preference.
Final option: if what you want is a page online with contact details and a bit of info… then you can just whiz up a fast and simple one page about what you do with about.me which has a few simple but good formats.
7. Hosting virtual events or classes: Zoom
This is what I use to run online group classes (with anything from 2 to over 200 people) with people dialling in from around the world. Zoom is my top recommendation right now: it came on the scene the other year and zoomed right past everything else out there.
It’s easy to use and very reliable video conferencing (yes, you can turn video off and use it as audio only!). Bonus tip: you can even use this for 1-2-1 chats. Plus the screen-share tool is really handy.
Start with the basic version free now, and upgrade to the Pro (that’s what I use) as needed: check out Zoom here.
Note: Some of the links here are affiliate links meaning that for some of these recommendations, I will sometimes (but not always) receive an automatic percentage from the seller when you buy. This does not cost you anything (in fact sometimes you get a discount through the above links!) but I just wanted to let you know.
I only recommend services I both use and love (I do not list things that pay out nicely, but are actually blah to use… which is why you may see a rather different list here compared to others online!). I also include things if they are free, so long as they are the best.
This is stuff I’ve tested and rely on personally. And I’m pretty picky. If you think something is relevant to you, don’t get lost in analysis paralysis for months – the recommendations you need are here. That is all 🙂