50+ Essential Tools for Running an Online Business

50+ Essential Tools for Running an Online Business

I was asked by a reader if I had a checklist for all of the essential tools of running an online business.

I didn’t have an updated one, so here is what will now make up my new resources page for the blog.

There are literally 1000’s of apps, plugins and platforms to choose from. So many in fact it can become incredibly overwhelming.

So I have simply picked all those that I use, a few of my favourite alternatives and some new sexy looking gizmo’s that I have yet to test.

If as you’re reading through this guide you can think of anything I have missed out, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll add it in!

We’ll just keep on building this guide until it becomes a rolodex for anything and everything one could need!

Now please note, as this is going to become my main resources page, here at Jo Barnes Online, some of the links I have used are affiliate links. They are easy to spot as when you hover over them they start with – www.jorecommends.com. As always feel free to go to the sites directly, but if you do choose to use one of my links. https://yourlifestylebusiness.com/affiliates

So on with the check list!

Getting Started

Now please note there are umpteen ways you can get your business going online. These days, because of the technology handed to us it’s completely possible to create a successful business without even having your own website.

However for the purposes of this article, firstly, it would be impossible for me to describe all the different ways of creating an online business in one report (and it would overwhelm and confuse you), secondly I highly recommend you DO have your own website. Somewhere to call home, where people can find you and where you will house the bulk of your content, while using social media platforms etc as tools to drive traffic to your home.

So that’s where we will start!

To have your own website, you need the following:

Your hosting space on the web for your website etc. I used to highly recommend Hostgator, but their service has dramatically reduced in the past few months having been recently bought out. So having done a fair amount of research, I have moved all my hosting over to;

Liquid Web.


We have only just migrated our site across and I have to say their customer service is phenomenal! 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Plus all of my sites are loading at double the speed they were previously.

I highly recommend these guys!

You will need to grab your own unique website address, so that people can find you.

Domain Names can be found fairly cheaply at;

Go Daddy or

The quickest and easiest way to create a website is using WordPress. Please note however, there is a difference between wordpress.com & wordpress.org.

WordPress.com is hosted on their servers. This means that you don’t own the space on the web, they do. This is a great option for getting off the ground fast and cheaply, but is far less flexible and as your business grows you will want your own self hosted site.

That’s where WordPress.org comes in. This requires setting up on your own server and is then hosted by the hosting company you’re using.


Once you’ve installed wordpress, you’ll want to make it look pretty by adding a theme. Here are some great sites for beautiful looking themes:

Lastly in the getting started section, it’s important that you invest in an auto responder. You’ll want to start building a list of potential customers as soon as possible, so don’t dilly dally with this.

Sign up for an auto responder, create a web form, add it to your site and start collecting names and email addresses from Day One. I use and recommend;



List Building / Product Creation

Once you have your site all setup and are starting to publish content, it’s time to move to the next level. We need to give visitors a reason to leave their name and email address with us and also create something to sell.

List Builder – This is your free gift or compelling offer you will offer in exchange for a name and email address. It might be a PDF, a Video, a piece of software etc. Here’s an example of one of mine, feel free to sign up!;

Click Here to Download The 10 Biggest Mistakes Marketers Make on Facebook!

For PDF’s you will need:

  • Pages/Word – whichever word-processing platform you use for your operating system
  • Graphics – either free or stock photos for use in your PDF. I use – 123RF

For an Audio Giveaway you’ll need:

For a Video Recording:

Other General Tools;

Keynote (Mac) / Powerpoint (PC) – For creating presentations

Webcam – For recording yourself on camera (many computers have them in built now)

Mindmapping Software – For mapping out presentations or even for creating a free mind map as your compelling offer. I use – MindNode. There is also – FreeMind or bubbl.us (all Free)

For any of the above, you will need to upload your list builder or product somewhere. Now for PDF’s, mindmaps, images or any smaller files the best way is just to upload directly to your server. You can do this through:

  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – for uploading your PDF’s/Software etc onto your server – FileZilla (Free)

For free video files, it’s best to put them straight on to;


For paid or protected videos/audio and bigger files, you’ll want a second very cheap hosting account with a huge and reliable organisation who have massive servers! The best and cheapest in the business is;

Amazon S3.

In order to easily embed and play videos from Amazon S3, you will also need player software. I use;


Then lastly, to encourage people to optin to your free gift or buy your products, you will need Squeeze & Sales Page Software to easily build your pages. I use and recommend both;

Leadpages and


However there are many more options out there. It will come down to personal preference.

Also if your copywriting skills are a little rusty and you’d like a helping hand to create easy sales pages, I absolutely swear by this little piece of kit;

Click Click Letters.

Plus as an extra I have a plugin on my site that allows me to place optin forms all over the place, in posts, at the bottom of posts, at strategic points in the conversation;

[ois skin=”Online Monster”]
To do this I use;


Membership Sites

Perhaps you’re thinking of adding a membership site to your business. If so you’ll want either a dedicated membership platform or a plugin for your wordpress site.

I use;

WordPress – as my platform,
OP2 – as my member theme and
DAP – as my member plugin

WordPress is the actual site. OP2 makes the pages all look good and houses the videos, navigation links etc and DAP connects with paypal and aweber and manages the customer database as people sign up.

Other member plugins are:



Alright so we have our site, we have an optin funnel and we have something to sell. Now it’s time to start driving that traffic and attracting leads to our offers!

Where do I start with this one! In fact this is an entire post all on it’s own so until I create that, here is a slide of 21 different traffic ideas to get you going!



A huge traffic driver and sales tool are webinars. Here are some recommendations for webinar platforms and the tools you need:

Still my main webinar platform. Hangouts are amazing, but if your internet is in the slightest bit weak, you won’t get a strong enough signal to run them and your event is hosed!

Although weak internet can cause delay issues with GTW, no matter where I have been in the world (and I have been many places!), they have never let me down.

Please note if you use GTW, it doesn’t hook up with your auto responder so you will need a registration page platform to ensure when people register for GTW, they also get added to your list. I use; Leadpages for that.

For a brand new and super funky platform you may want to look at;

It works with hangouts and although I haven’t tested it properly yet, early feedback is very good. Their reg forms hook up to your auto responder.


Also there’s;

Easy Webinar works with GTW & Hangouts. It’s a cross between the two! Hangouts you can run live, GTW you can automate playbacks. Very user friendly and the support from Casey & his team is unbeatable.

This also works with your auto responder.

Other webinar tools required;

Headphones – I use;

Logitech USB Headset H390

Webcam (If you want people to see your face!)

(Proxy – If you live in Thailand where Hangouts aren’t allowed) – I use;

Tunnel Bear

Keynote / Powerpoint for presentations.

Please note if you use Keynote with GotoWebinar, the record function will not work properly for your slides unless you change a button in your keynote preferences.

If you simply go to:

    1. Keynote Preferences
    1. Click on Slideshow
    1. Then Tick the Button that say “Allow Missions Control, Dashboard and others to use the screen’, it will be recorded correctly.


Affiliate Program

At some point in your business you’re going to want to run an affiliate program. To do that you can either use a platform that manages all the affiliate commissions and payments for you, or you can use something that tracks the commissions but you have to pay manually.

For the first 3 years of my business I used;


It’s a bit of a pain getting your product approved, there are a lot of hoops to jump through, but once you do, it’s easy for affiliates to sell your products for you!

Other options are;

Deal Guardian

I’m now using;


This is so I can offer lifetime commissions to any affiliates on all my products. However, I do now pay my affiliates manually and it’s a bit more technical to setup. If you would like to affiliate for any of my products, please see further details here;



It’s important in your online business to be monitoring where you’re leads and sales are coming from. The most basic numbers you should be tracking are:

  • Visitors
  • Optins
  • Sales

If you do nothing else just start tracking these numbers so you can see whether your squeeze pages are converting and also your sales pages. For simple, easy and FREE tracking you can use;

Google Analytics of course.

I use something a little less complex, but it is a paid for service;



You may also want to create an excel spreadsheet with your important KPI’s on it to monitor the numbers.

So there you have it. A pretty comprehensive list of essential tools to run your online business. I’m sure I’ve left loads out, so like I said if there’s anything you think I should be adding in, please let me know in the comments below!

Jo :)

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