Here are a number of systems I use for my business. There are lots of resources out there for software, hardware, and technique. I’ve seen less about these (critical) items. There may be affiliate links below—I regularly use and wholeheartedly recommend anything listed. There is nothing added to the cost of these services.
ConvertKit – Newsletters and Sequences
- Start with up to 1000 subscribers for FREE.
- This is the system I use to run multiple projects—excellent automations, segmentation, or just general broadcasts to your list. You ARE building a list of fans, authors, and others, right??
Pobox – for branded emails
- Create up to 20 personalized, branded emails ([email protected]) for just $20 per year.
- A best practice is to have your EMAIL, your DOMAIN, and your website HOSTING at different places, so that if any service goes down, you haven’t lost access to everything.
- When you sign up and add a domain, they walk you through the process of how to transfer the mail settings to Pobox.
- How I use this
- I have ALL my addresses forward to my personal Gmail address and then all are filtered/routed to the appropriate tag
- I setup each branded email address in Gmail to “send mail as” using the Pobox settings, so I can use any of them to create new messages or reply.
GMass – personalized mail merge right in Gmail
- Get started for FREE with sending 50 email messages per day. All other features work with free accounts.
- Want to send and track personalized emails to individuals not on your mailing list? (Like publishers?) GMass is a browser extension you can use RIGHT in Gmail!
- How to setup
- Use cases:
- Email publishers or others that can hire you – those *not* on your email list
- If you’re using AudiobookBoom, take the spreadsheet you receive and email all the codes to recipients
- Create additional columns in your Google Sheet and add additional fields or notes (personal items to be included in emails, or just for you)
- You can either write the same email and personalize to each person, or write a customized email to just 1 person, but you can still TRACK all of it!
- Advanced ideas: select a sheet and FILTER only certain people to receive; you can also re-use previous emails you’ve sent via GMass as a template
I’ve been designing and building websites for 10+ years, including this site and Simon Vance’s site.
What I recommend
- SOFTWARE: WordPress – one of the most powerful, flexible, and customizable systems to build your site
- THEMES: Studiopress (using the Genesis framework) – well-built and solid designs, this company has been around for years. Straightforward to work with, yet complex enough to not make your site look like a million others.
- DOMAINS: Google Domains: register a .com domain for just $12/month, privacy included; has all the tools you need to point it anywhere for your website or email
- WP Engine (for WordPress)
- Get 3 free months when you sign up.
- A premium option for good reason: backups, speed, and excellent customer service
- If you can afford this, you won’t regret it. Both my site and Simon’s run on WP Engine.
- Need other recommendations?
- MDD – I use this for several other website projects; they have excellent response times for customer service
- Siteground – another solid hosting service
Compressor – upload high-quality yet small images to your site!
- Totally free to use, I regularly run images through this before adding to my site. No need to pay for more storage or bandwidth than I need. It’s similar to audio: most people will NEVER notice you’re not using the original hi-res version!
Other website tools/plugins for WordPress
I use all of these (and more) on this site:
- Cue player: great looking audio players, either standalone or playlists
- iThemes Security: strengthen your website from vulnerabilities and hackers
- WPFront Notification Bar: create messages that highlight recent news, audiobooks, etc.
- Yoast SEO: easy to use tools to make your site and content even more SEO-friendly and powerful
Better Proposals – to close the sale
- Start your 14-day free trial right now.
- A web-based system to create dynamic and engaging proposals. I use these for almost all audiobook projects I initiate, and absolutely when I’m approaching a “cold” author. Recipients have been hugely impressed by what they receive.
- And even better: create a “template”, then plug in the specifics and get a proposal out in 15 minutes! More info here.
Headliner – for audiograms
- Get 2 free weeks of Pro
- A super easy video editor online—create videos of different sizes for various social platforms: square, tall, wide
- Upload an audio clip, add a graphic, text, and you’re done!
- Grab the retail sample and cover using Steven Jay Cohen’s great Audible finder!
- Pro/Bonus tip
- Dig into the code for the Download/Share page to grab the embed code of the video to feature on your site (how I’ve done that on my home page under “Featured Audiobooks”)—no need to host the videos anywhere else (including your site!)
Canva – for social media graphics and videos
- Get started for free.
- You can also use this for Audiograms (videos with audio and pictures) to post on social media
Later – for social media scheduling
- Get started for free; get 10 more posts per month when signing up
- Post to LinkedIn, FB, Twitter, and Instagram – ALL for free
- If you have business accounts on Instagram and Facebook, you can also schedule videos and galleries through Facebook Business Manager
Visualping – monitor website (Audible) changes
- Get started for free.
- Want to know when your new audiobook is actually released? Have this site tell you!
- It can monitor in a variety of ways and you can get as specific as you like (in terms of what to watch)
- Not only will it tell you when a new book has been listed, but when it actually arrives, and if you have new reviews or ratings.
- Pro tip: use the URL from your Audible page where the books are sorted by “Newest Arrivals”
Unsplash – for photos
- Great for royalty-free, high-quality photos, for your website or social media
Backblaze – unlimited cloud backups
- Get started for free
- I use this to backup my computer *and* my external hard drive. I can download individual files or—when one of my external drives crashed—they sent me a whole drive filled with my data so I could get back up and running!
Mega – cloud storage and sharing
- Get started for free with 20GB
- Mega syncs a local folder with my computer; I use this as the “home” for all my VO/Narration work—everything is simultaneously on the cloud and on my local drive (like Dropbox or Google Drive)
- I can also quickly and easily create secure links to folders to share content—with proofers, clients, and more!
Amazon Glacier – super inexpensive backup!
- Learn more and get started here—you’ll likely also want/need a software client to interface with Glacier. There’s Freeze for Mac and FastGlacier for PC.
- This is great for “deep storage”—projects and files you really don’t need access to anymore (like completed audiobooks!), but they also aren’t taking up precious storage space elsewhere.
- The one “catch” is that your files aren’t immediately available—you “request” them and then they are slowly (like a Glacier) delivered to you.
- So cheap! Only $0.0036 per GB / Month (many regions) for storage, and then only $0.01 per GB to retrieve your data.
Don’t forget used!
- eBay.com – where I picked up my current Sennheiser MK4 and Audient iD4 MKII for 35% off the retail costs!
- VO Gear Exchange (Facebook group of narrators and other artists)
- Sweetwater Used Marketplace
- Facebook Marketplace
Inspired by Karen Commins and her Narrator Roadmap—also a great resource!
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases