Tools I Use
I’ve tried a bunch of different strategies to make money on this side hustle journey. When I worked for MBB, I had little time to waste so I’d default to just paying for tools in order to help save my own time.
Fast forward to leaving big consulting for a startup, I started to learn which tools were the best and which weren’t. But, I still spent money on them to help save me time on a day to day basis.
By my math, I’ve spent over $20,000 on different software tools out there to help save me time and accelerate things.
I’ve stopped doing a lot of different types of income streams, like Amazon ebooks on KDP, Amazon Affiliate Marketing, and Dropshipping. Each of those required a different set of tools.
Right now, everything on this list is something I actively use and pay for.
I don’t intend to break any trademarks or have infringed on any copyrights. I do not own the rights to any of these company names below!
Tools I use to increase productivity
It’s the buzziest start up in SF right now for a reason. It’s an email client that, while expensive to use, saves me a shit ton of time. It’s built similar to Excel, in that you can hotkey your way to success. You never need to take your hands off the keyboard to fly through your inbox and you should live on “inbox zero.” It’s a big time-saver for me and my biggest productivity trick.
I hate productivity online to-do lists. I really do. I much prefer a paper and pen to write out my to-do lists. However, I now have a fair number of freelancers working for me. Building out common Trello boards for us all to use allow me to see who is working on what. It simplifies things a lot for me to have this.
I put the screenshots in each case study post, but it really allows me to see how productive I am and where I'm wasting time. It's a good coaching tool to help me zero in and become a bit more focused on the day-to-day.
It’s my favorite calendar because it’s just easy to use. I’m a big fan of it for that reason. I have it on my computer and phone in order to track allow with what I’m doing and what I’m not doing on a day to day basis. It’s helpful as my time gets busier and busier.
This is my repository for everything. I have an Evernote page for most of my plans, businesses, notes from books I’ve read, and just about everything in between. It’s helpful to have it and I spend a ton of time here each day to map out what I’m doing and what I’m not.
I write constantly to communicate with clients, outlining materials, and more. With that in mind, Grammarly makes my life easier by checking to see if I have anything glaringly wrong with my writing.
Tools I use for consulting
This is my secret weapon. I close nearly 80% of projects once I get prospects on the phone. Crystal is a huge reason why. In short, it’s a personality evaluation tool that works as a Chrome extension. If you go to someone’s LinkedIn page and then pull up the extension, it will give you really accurate insight into how that person thinks/what they care about/how to sell to them. I’ve tested it on friends and it’s quite accurate. It’s an absolute gem that isn’t talked about enough.
The first thing I do after selling a consulting engagement is to hire my guy. I have a guy overseas who is a fantastic researcher. I pay him $5/hour USD, which has the equivalent purchasing power of $150 USD in his country. It’s affordable for me, and he lives in the nicest building in his town. Better yet, we’ve worked together for a long time and I trust him.
Many of my clients, in particular the private equity firms and startups, want me to talk to prospective customers. Let’s say the private equity firm is thinking about buying a company that has a unique product to help guys shave, but it costs $1,000. They’ll hire me to interview people to understand if guys will pay $1,000 for it. Woodpecker is an email automation software that folds onto Gmail. I’ll hire my Fiverr guy to find me email addresses, I’ll check them on Neverbounce (see below), then load the into Woodpecker. Woodpecker sends hundreds of emails a day, but drips them out normally so it stays within Gmail rules. I’ve easily saved hundreds of hours of manual email sending emails with Woodpecker.
My Fiverr researcher found hundreds of emails online. That’s great, but sending emails that “bounce back” can flag your email address as a spam account. When that happens, you’re screwed because all emails you send will start going to spam. Neverbounce prevents that from happening. I drop the email list into Neverbounce, it removes crappy emails, and I protect my email from getting black flagged.
After I’ve finished building the content of my presentations, it’s time to make these presentations beautiful for clients. Prettying up these decks can take a few hours on a Windows computer with the right software, namely Efficient Elements. Since I have a Mac, it would take me a dozen hours and the end result would end up being not that attractive. Instead, I use UpWork to send it to my slide guy. He takes my content and makes it an attractive deck in ~5-10 hours and for $50. Absolutely worth it.
Tools I use for real estate investing
We don’t use Appfolio personally, but we won’t hire a property manager who doesn’t use it. This is the ultimate software that allows property managers to run property. What’s great about it though is it automatically sends us a monthly P&L to allow us to see how much a building is making through a plugin with Stessa. This also will make life easier for an accountant to do taxes come tax time.
It’s the famed real estate investment app and it is supposed to allow us to see all our properties and units, how much we’re spending, and how much we’re making. It doesn’t work super great, but there isn’t a better option out there right now.
We buy in LLC’s to protect our liability. As part of our process to buy real estate, we buy everything in an LLC that is set up by Legal Zoom and uses Legal Zoom as the registered agent.
Tools I use to track income and expenses
It’s Mint on steroids. I use Personal Capital religiously to check to see what our income and net worth look like, as well as monitoring our collective returns in the markets. It saves me a lot of headache on a day to day process.
This hooks up with my credit cards and allows me to see what I’m spending money on. It’s super useful because it allows me to see my total spend each day and month, which allows me to recognize and cut unnecessary expenses ASAP.
Tools I use for $10K a day
It’s everyone’s favorite entry-level hosting site. It’s cheap, easy to set up, and works great. I no longer use it for hosting, because it’s not fast enough for what I’m looking for. That being said, I do use Bluehost for all of my domains because the prices are good and it just works. As a result, I do pay Bluehost money almost each month.
If I’m not using Bluehost for hosting, then I need to use something. For me, that’s Kinsta. It’s the “Rolls Royce” of hosting. It’s more expensive, but it’s the best in the business because it keeps the website incredibly fast. That’s incredibly important because it keeps the website easy to use for everyone.
Speaking of fast, Astra is a key part of that. Astra is the theme for my website and a ton of others on the internet because it’s extremely fast and easily customizable. I use the paid version because it comes with a bunch of others.
It’s a “drag and drop” builder for WordPress, which allows the site to easily be built and adjusted as needed.
It’s my favorite site thus far to work on getting links. I spend a few minutes on this site each month to order a new link or two and start building up the site.