Tools to Use (And Cancel!) in Your Business

convertkit email list technology

Starting an online business is exciting! Until you realize how many decisions you have to make... and you get stuck in analysis paralysis, spending hours researching tools and platforms to support your business. 

When I was a new online business owner, one of the first questions in my Google search bar was:

“What should I use for…”

  • A website
  • An email service provider
  • A course platform
  • A landing page builder
  • Project management

I found a million different answers to this question, plus learned about all the other business tools I didn’t even know I needed.

I spent way too much money, and I definitely had “shiny software syndrome”. If one blogger who had it all together said she used XYZ, I had to get XYZ. I was all over the place.

From website builders to email service providers and project management tools, the choices seemed endless.

In this guide, I'll break down essential categories of business software and provide recommendations based on different stages of business growth.

1. Website Builders
Squarespace - The Lean Option
For budget-friendly and user-friendly website creation, Squarespace stands out. It's ideal for beginners planning to sell digital or knowledge products. Squarespace offers easy setup, minimal maintenance requirements, and decent SEO capabilities, making it suitable for basic websites.

However, Squarespace has limitations in customization compared to platforms like Wordpress.

Squarespace has a few different pricing tiers, from $16 p/month to $40 p/month. You will also need to purchase a domain which are usually around $20 p/year. Squarespace offers a domain name free for the first year.

Wordpress - The All-In Option

Wordpress is open-source with unlimited customization and flexibility, but it comes with a learning curve. 

Unless you’re tech-savvy, there is quite a learning curve. You will likely end up hiring out both for your initial website build and for your ongoing maintenance because Wordpress doesn’t offer dedicated support, but they do have a big community where you can find help for just about anything.

If you go this route, you’ll need to purchase hosting from a site like Bluehost and a domain name (can also purchase this on Bluehost).

How to set up your Wordpress site:

  1. Go to Bluehost FIRST. (Or whatever hosting service you choose.) Purchase hosting (think of it like renting the land your house lives on) and your domain
  2. Follow the steps on Bluehost to set up Wordpress
  3. Download the Elementor plug-in to make website building 10x easier
  4. Find a theme that works with the Elementor plug in (Search “best themes for Elementor”)

2. Email Service Providers (ESP)

Lite Category:
MailerLite: Budget-friendly with basic features.

For budget friendly, MailerLite is a good starter option. Your first 1000 subscribers are free, and pricing ranges from $9 up based on number of subscribers.

You have the ability to build landing pages for your e-mail opt-ins and create automations, and they even share features around building a website and e-commerce platform with the option to sell paid subscriptions! (I have not tried or heard feedback on this.)

The email builder is a simple drag-and-drop template, and you can use automation and segmentation.

Downsides: Simple is easy, but if you want additional features and the ability to get into the nitty-gritty of managing your contacts or integrating other tools, MailerLite could fall short.

Flodesk: Visual appeal with simplified design options.

Think MailerLite but with more visual appeal. Flodesk is similar to MailerLite in that it is simple and easy to use. It also has some ability to add automations and segment contacts, but it does not have robust contact management.

A lot of business owners like it because it’s pretty! Its drag-and-drop builder has great design templates and makes it easy to create nice-looking emails. (Be careful about being too graphic-heavy! This isn’t great for deliverability.)

Robust Category:
ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign: Advanced automation, segmentation, and analytics for sophisticated email marketing strategies.


I used to only recommend ConvertKit. Since then, they’ve changed their pricing structure so that your price goes up as you add contacts. They aren’t clear about how that tiered structure works up front. I’ve seen that it can go as high as $100/mo for 10k contacts.

A few years ago, it was the best choice to build a strong email marketing strategy because it has advanced automations and segmentations. The analytics are better than the lite versions; you can build out simple visual funnels. 120+ integrations

$0 for up to 10,000 contacts (1 visual automation and 1 email sequence)
$25 a month for 1,000 contacts (unlimited visual automations and sequences)


ActiveCampaign is similar in its robust features and integrations, with a few more options than ConvertKit. (We use this for PopPD.)

The analytics can’t be beat- you can see who is opening your emails in real-time and can pull custom reports. Sometimes, when I’m coaching someone who doesn’t use AC, I forget how limited the understanding of your contact’s behaviors can be.

Build out complex funnels visually with triggers based on customer behaviors 940+ integrations.

Pricing is steep - starting at $49 a month for $1000 contacts and going up from there.

3. Landing Page Builders

LeadPages: Recommended for visually appealing and effective landing pages, especially for selling online courses or digital products.

If you sell online courses or sell bundles of digital products where you’d like more space and visuals to describe what you have for sale, your e-mail service provider’s landing pages are just not going to cut it.

I recommend LeadPages for this. They have templated, tested landing pages that are easy to use and can be set up in an hour or so.

They have good analytics, integrating with many platforms to make tracking conversions really easy.

Free trial - $37/month

4. Project Management

Trello: Visual task management for simplicity.

  • Boards, lists, tasks and cards to create visual task management
  • Offers a free plan with limited features, and paid plans starting from $10 per user per month (billed annually).

Asana: Clean and intuitive task organization.

  • Clean and intuitive views of lists, boards, calendars, etc.
  • Provides a free plan for basic task management, with premium plans starting from $10.99 per user per month (billed annually).

Advanced functionality with customizable dashboards and extensive integrations.

  • Advanced functionality- very flexible with the ability to customize dashboards, track goals, and create different views
  • Comments, chat, mentions, document collaboration, and task relationships
  • Provides extensive integrations with over 1,000 apps and services, including productivity tools, communication platforms, development tools, and more.
  • Offers a free plan with basic features, and paid plans starting from $5 per user per month (billed annually) with additional features in higher tiers.

5. Course Platforms

Teachable: Budget-friendly with basic course creation and marketing tools.

  • User-friendly, straightforward course creation; some customization and branding; basic marketing tools, including email integrations; affiliate marketing
  • Multi-media content uploads, drip content scheduling, and certificates.
  • Offers a free plan with limited features, and paid plans starting from $29 per month (billed annually) with transaction fees ranging from 5% to 0% based on the plan.

PopPD: User-friendly for teachers with built-in task management and multimedia uploads.

  • User-friendly, simple with a fill-in-the-blank landing page without the need for graphics. Create courses, challenges with built in task management for you and your students.
  • Multimedia uploads with the ability to add your own annotations. Space for learners to add notes to the content that will stay in their learning area. Certificates on completion
  • All your student’s learnings will be inside their learner dashboard rather than having a bunch of one-off courses.
  • Free to create courses, $10/month to create challenges (more templates coming soon)
    Free to list on the marketplace with 10% transaction fee

Kajabi: All-in-one solution for robust course creation, website building, email marketing, and more.

(Kajabi (45-day free trial expires soon- use THIS LINK if expired!)

  • Robust course creation, landing page builder, website builder, blog, podcast host, email marketing, affiliate marketing, certificates, quizzes
  • Ability to customize website and course platform with code and templates
  • Just released Creator Studio- choose an existing course video and turn it into marketing content in one click
  • Pricing:
    • $119/ mo no transaction fee - 3 products, 10k subs, 1000 customers
    • $159 - 15 products, 15k subs, 10k customers
    • Creator studio add on starts at $8/mo

Bonus Tool: Sunsama
Sunsama is a productivity tool that helps prioritize tasks, manage daily agendas, and integrate with popular project management platforms.

  • Prioritize tasks with guided daily planning, daily agenda, goal setting, and timeboxing tasks
  • Import tasks from Asana, Trello or Clickup and put them into your daily plan
  • Turn Slack messages into tasks
  • 14-day free trial; $16/mo billed annually

Choosing the right business software means balancing current needs with future growth plans. You can decide- will you opt for lean solutions or comprehensive platforms you can grow in to? Make informed decisions based on your business's unique requirements and goals. No shiny-software syndrome allowed!


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