22 Tools I use to run my business
Plus how much it all costs
I’m a giant nerd about digital business tools. Partly because I’m a giant nerd about organizing and efficiency — but also because if you run any kind of online business or do any work remotely, it’s only possible because these tools exist.
I love that creative people continue to develop these magical programs that make our lives run smoothly, and I love recommending them to fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs (especially the ones who are also giant nerds about tools, et. al.).
If you’re a paid subscriber, you’ve seen how much I spend on tools each month to run my business. For the curious, here are the tools that make up that cost, how much I pay for each one and how I use them in my business.
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Website building and hosting
Squarespace ($213/year): This is where I host the website for Dana Media. Squarespace is an easy drag-and-drop website builder that’s easy to blog on if you want to. (After reviewing a bunch of website builders for Forbes recently, I’m tempted to try a new platform next time I update my site, mostly to learn something new :)
Kajabi* ($1,908/year): This all-in-one platform geared toward coaches and online educators is where I host some classes and marketing for Healthy Rich. It comes with a hefty price tag that’s worth it for me to have everything in one place.
GoDaddy (varies per year with deals): This is where I manage all of my personal and professional domains (and the ones I buy on a whim when I have an insomniac business idea at 2 a.m.). The platform makes it easy to buy and sell domains and manage the information you need to use a domain for your site and email.
Substack (Free/10% of subscriptions): I host this newsletter on Substack, which is my favorite platform for any brand-new writers starting a blog or anyone who wants to get writing out there without designing and developing a website. It’s free regardless of your subscriber count; you just share 10% of subscription payments with the platform.
HTML Tidy (Free): This free online tool is a lifesaver for copying anything from a Google Doc to paste into another application (in my case, Kajabi). Docs adds a bunch of HTML that can wonk up formatting in sites like Kajabi, Mailchimp or WordPress, and HTML Tidy strips it out automatically.
Slack (Free): I use this communication platform for subcontractors and Healthy Rich contributors. The paid version (starting at $8.75/user/month) would let me work with clients via Slack Connect (without joining another Slack workspace). (I downgraded to the free version after a recent pricing change.)
1Password ($35.88/year): This is where I store passwords and can share them with team members. Personal and family accounts are cheaper and a good fit if you’re a one-person show, and the business tiers let you set varying access levels for team members.
Google Workspace ($24/month): I manage two accounts for email and Workspace tools, including Gmail, Docs, Drive and more. My tier is $12 per month per account, and I use two so I have one personal work inbox and one team inbox — and then I organize communications within each by creating aliases, which are free.
Google Tables ($10/mo): This is where we manage freelance and Healthy Rich projects as a team. Tables is like a spreadsheet combined with a project management tool. You can organize information and keep track of tasks, assign roles, etc. I use it because it’s easy for anyone with a Gmail address to use it, and the kanban-style views we use are familiar to freelancers. You can use it for free; I pay extra to have access to more bots that automate actions in the tables.
TextExpander ($39.96/year): This desktop tool lets you save snippets of text and auto-fill them into anything you’re writing in any app (like an email, document, customer service message, etc.). I use it mostly to save things I write over and over again in emails, but also to stick my bio into article drafts and other things I used to have to copy and paste frequently. I don’t use it with the team yet, but once I have a team member handling more outside correspondence, TextExpander will come in handy to keep our communications consistent.
Notion* (Free): I’m quickly falling in love with this project management tool that organizes tasks and information the way they look in my brain. I use it for my individual tasks instead of Tables, and I draft most of my articles here instead of in Google Docs (even when I have to paste them into a Doc to submit to a client). I’ll eventually move all Healthy Rich teamwork into this platform (and pay about $8 per team member per month), but I won’t require freelancers to learn a new tool until I’ve got a lot more work to give them.
Marketing and design
Canva ($119.99/year): This is a simple graphic design platform that lets me create kind-of-OK graphics when I need to. I use it as little as possible now that I have a graphic designer on the team.
Buffer (Free): I use this popular social media scheduler to schedule Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook page posts to promote Healthy Rich content and products. The free plan gives me three channels; I may soon upgrade to an Essentials plan for $5/month/channel to unlimited channels and unlimited scheduled posts.
Prezi ($180/year): This presentation designer is so cool! I use Prezi Design and Prezi Video to create graphics that spice up my live Zoom classes. Its flagship tool, Prezi Present, lets you design dynamic slideshows you can easily turn into professional-quality videos with some voice over.
SquadCast ($40/month): I use this virtual podcast recording platform to record interviews for the Healthy Rich podcast. It connects me with guests just like a Zoom meeting, but the recording is higher quality, and it creates separate audio and video tracks for each of us, which makes it easier for the podcast editor to do their job.
Calendly ($96/year): This scheduler is life-changing. It lets me avoid emailing back and forth to schedule meetings. I can also set my availability for different types of meetings, so it’s easy to only be available for Healthy Rich on my Healthy Rich work days and for clients on my client work days.
Gusto ($45 + $6/contractor/month): This is the payroll platform for my salary and contractor payments. A lot of business owners see tools like this as too costly, but it’s a lifesaver for me at tax time! Gusto handles ACH payments to employees and contractors (my salary is on autopilot 💖), and it collects W-9 and W-4 information to file and distribute 1099s and W-2s each year.
Zapier ($29.99/month): This automation tool helps me eliminate a lot of tedious steps and data entry to run the business. The price quickly pays for itself in saved hours I or a V.A. would have to spend doing these tasks.
Shift ($99.99/year): This desktop software organizes email and app accounts way better than a typical browser. I use it to keep my Gmail accounts, calendar, Notion and Slack in order, plus access ClickUp and Twist accounts I use with a client.
Fireflies ($120/year): This audio transcription platform does a lot, but we use it to transcribe Healthy Rich podcast episodes for repurposing into blog posts. (I switched to Fireflies from Otter this year, because it works with Zapier to automatically upload SquadCast recordings to the platform. Otter didn’t allow that integration.)
Grammarly (Free): I use the free version as a spell checker to catch what auto-correct misses, and for when I write anything in apps that don’t have built-in spell check.
Make It Happen ($39/month): I credit this group coaching program with keeping me focused to build Healthy Rich. (I’m grandfathered into this price because I’ve been a member since May 2021; it’s now $49/month or $490/year.) It’s not a digital “tool”; it’s a service and a space to connect, but I include it in this list because it’s a recurring cost like my software subscriptions, and I consider it just as integral to my business operations.
Fellow tool geeks, please share your favorite time-saving tools in the comments!! I’m especially looking for a new calendar recommendation to replace Google Calendar — what do you use?
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