+49.69.5979255-0 info@extantacademy.com

Resources

I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page that you can always come to for all of your needs. This personal recommendation is filled with products and services that I tested myself and that I use on my (30+) websites. Obviously, there are alternatives for some of the suggestions below – this is just my recommendation based on my experience.

I’ll add to it as I learn more, but you’ll notice that in the future I will reference this page quite often. Enjoy!

(This page is not complete yet … much more to come.)

 

I use the plugin PrettyLink to make the links more memorable and manageable. It also allows me to see which links are being clicked most often, which helps me figure out what my readers are most interested in. If you know anything about building a platform and offering valuable content to your readers, then you'll understand that this information is very important. Only if I know what you are interested in, can I offer content that is valuable to you. This is why I am using PrettyLink. And you should, as well.

 

As I mentioned in the long disclaimer at the bottom of this page, a few of the links below are partner links. Most are NOT.

A lot of the products I use and recommend are free, or at least free if used in a basic version – and there is no commission for anything that is free. In any case, partner link or not, the commission is never paid by the customer. So, even if you click on a partner link, you will never have to pay a cent more – sometimes a partner link even offers you a discount that you would otherwise not get.

BUT, to be completely transparent, and because you cannot identify partner links when PrettyLink is in use, I'll identify them for you. Ok? I would obviously feel very grateful if you used a partner link in case you'd want to purchase a product I recommend – also to help me finance the content creation for this page – but it is totally up to you. Total transparency is important to me. 

0. Keep Calm and Work on

Introduction

Introduction

Sound Wall

Rainymood

Rainy Mood

“The internet's most popular rain experience.”

Let's just say that when I'm working and not listening to audiobooks, then I am listening to Rainy Mood. It is a wonderful sound wall against random audible interruptions that get me out of flow.

I still hear the doorbell. I still hear the phone. I still hear the snoring dog (or man), but it is a “far away” event muffled behind a curtain of gentile sound that allows me to decide if I want to tune it out or not. It helps me to keep concentrated even if other people are in the studio. It also helps me to keep focussed if I have to work in a fast pacing that does not allow me to enjoy an audiobook. • The basic web-app is totally free. Just visit the website and turn it on. • There is a paid app for mobile phones (currently €2.99) with additional features that you can use offline. It has 4 different sound walls you could choose from. When downtown chaos stresses me out or when I am sitting in a busy coffee shop trying to write something that makes sense, that is what I listen to.

I always loved thunderstorms and rain. Now more than ever!

Audiobooks

Audible

Audible

This is my secret sanity saver for high stress projects and nightshifts. I used to get nervous or aggravated over working long hours instead of sleeping or going to the movies – now, instead, I listen to a good and fast paced thriller to distract me and to keep me going.

After skipping my reading practice for over 10 years – simply due to lack of time – Audible now allows me to combine pleasure with the demands of my artistic endeavour. The only thing you need to be careful about, is to look for a story with the right pacing, because, inadvertently, you will end up working in the same rhythm. So, if you are working on a tight schedule, thrillers are your friends!

You can download audiobooks to your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Kindle or other listening device, or listen online.

There is a 30 day free trial period – and if I were you, I would definitely check it out! (Amazon partner link) 

Bluetooth Speaker

Bose ® SoundLink ® Bluetooth ® Speaker III

The only thing I regret is that I did not buy it when I first thought about it!

Once again it shows that I am a reluctant buyer! It took me two years to get this thing and I regret every day without it! The reason it took me so long is that I actually prefer silence to sound. With one exception: when I actively want to change my mood. Then I either watch some TED talks and see, where they lead me, or I listen to audiobooks/feelgood music.

This Bose device is small, portable, connects via Bluetooth to wherever you store your music, be it on the computer or on your phone. And the sound is pretty much amazing! Still not sure where all the bass comes from, really.

It is perfect for travel (I could have used it on our Bretagne vacation last winter, during that hurricane), it is perfect for visits to the airstream, it is perfect for moving around in the studio or simply working at my desk without constantly having to have my headset on. Mostly because I like to wear glasses while working (instead of contacts), and wearing headsets in combination with glasses tends to hurt after a while.

Happiness is a state of mind I guess… A nice pick-me-up song, by the way. (Amazon partner link) 

Inspiration

TED logo

TED Talks

“Ideas worth spreading” – my morning motivation

Ok, I am NOT a morning person.

It might just have to do with the fact, that for years I've been going to bed around 3-4 am. It might not. It's the typical chicken or the egg causality dilemma. Admittedly, I have no problems getting up at 4 or 5 am, I did that for a couple of years as well, but it resulted in me “existing” in a zombie-like mode for the first couple of hours of the day. That is perfectly ok for doing numb stuff, like taxes, but not ok for creative work.

Still, you do not always get what you want – nor what you need. So the goal is to find workarounds.

In my case, I do have a exceptionally useful morning and evening routine. In addition to that, if I have to get up before I got enough sleep, I usually add a session of TED talks (instead of reading, which is part of my morning routine). So, while I have my hot, black coffee I browse the TED talk libraries for something that could inspire me that day. The talks are very short and quite inspirational. It's my perfect morning drug (in combination with coffee) to get me fired up despite a lack of sleep and focus.

TED “Ideas worth spreading” – hopefully a motivation for you as well!

1. Research, Planning, and Following-up is Key to Success

Introduction

Introduction

Collecting & Sorting Data

Evernote

Evernote

Evernote is my collecting and sorting tool of choice.

Everyone who knows me knows who scatterbrained I can be. I remember every image and every funny sound, but I will definitely not remember a name or date or number. Heck, I often won't even remember the correct sequence of things!

Maybe it's because I think in images, or maybe it's because I have too many things going on at any time, but I need a sorting mechanism that helps me stay on top of details.

Evernote is it!

IF you open an account through my partner link, you'll get a free month of PREMIUM (valued €39.99 per year). You can then downsize to a free account, if you like. For me, the free account is enough. Yeah, that's a bit sneaky, I know. But I know people who chose to keep the pro version because of its added feature. It is really useful for some. Less useful for others. As everything in life.

Planning Complex Constructs

Scapple

Scapple

I use Scapple to plan & document all my funnels. While it allows for unlimited complexity and easy changes, the available styles are a bit limited.

Then again, more important for me is the non-linearity, the total freedom of associating elements, and – for documentation purposes, you can drag all kinds of images onto your plan.

I found this very useful when documenting my marketing and sales funnels with screenshots. It does not take 1 hour to do, it takes one minute.

Scapple is one of my most used and most appreciated tools.

Planning Linear Content

Scrivener

Scrivener

I would not write another book without Scrivener. It is one of these tools that once you know about it, you can never live without it anymore. At least for the moment. :)

I use it for everything that requires research, planning & organizing of written content: series of blog posts, email sequences, sequenced training … and yes, books. Everything from collecting tidbits for research, sequencing via index cards (or however you'd prefer), to scheduling the project and project parts, to writing drafts, to actually converting the final book into whatever you want to convert it into. And so much more.

I could write a whole book about Scrivener. Then again, best you check it out yourself.

Planning & Organizing Projects

Trello

Trello

This little app (also available for the iPhone) is my quick & dirty project planning tool. For each project, I collect a task list that is quickly assembled and assigned. Everything can be rearranged quickly via drag and drop, tagged, and archived.

For people like me, who love the planning process so much that we need to make sure not to spent too much time on it, this is a wonderful tool.

There is a paid team-version. I use the free one. Check it out.

2. Make Great Art

Introduction

Introduction

Precision Working & Health Aspects

WACOM

My oversized Wacom Intuous tablet was my very first investment when I started to draw for commercial agencies. That was over 15 years ago. I still have it. And it still works!

Back when I started with storyboarding and did not have clients yet, this was a very expensive investment for me. I had to borrow the money (which does not come easy to me), and I made a point to drive to the Wacom headquarters, because back then you could get “used” tablets for a discount. These were usually tablets that were on display during a show event. So they were new in a sense but could not be sold as such.

Compared with the newer editions, that old WACOM tablet was ugly, clunky, and had only the minimal features necessary. But I loved it! And I actually used it day-in day-out until April 2016 (!) when my main computer (which was old as well) went over the computer-rainbow-bridge. Unfortunately, my new Mac required a hardware upgrade. So for the time being I am using my small travel Wacom tablet, which is a newer generation, while I have stored my faithful old tablet in the corner of the studio. How sad! I do get attached to things. And, as you might have been able to tell, I am NOT an early adopter. I like to leave the first round to others – especially if it is a tool I need for work – and get it during the second or third round, when all the bugs are eliminated. It is just better for my nerves (and for my cash flow).

Still, when I started with storyboarding, I new I'd be sitting at my computer drawing for 10+ hours a day. There was no alternative to buying a digital tablet, otherwise I would have killed my tendons. Apart from the fact, that there is no easier and more controlled way to draw.

If you are drawing on the computer, you need a good digital tablet for best results AND to keep your arms & hands healthy! It does not need to be a big one. It does not need to be oversized. I personally would go for a medium sized. (Amazon partner link) 

 

Putting Together Quick Visuals

Canva

Canva

If you are on Pinterest or other visually heavy social media platforms, or if you need to piece together lots of little online products / ads / other visuals for whatever reason, then you probably know how long this can take – especially if you do not have templates available. Canva can really help you out when the schedule is tight and and you need your visuals in no time. But, to be fair, it can also help you out if you have more time on your hands.

It's really also helpful for people who are not artists, and who are too early on in their career to have the money to outsource the work.

  • Need templates? They have it.
  • Need typefaces? They have it.
  • Need icons? They have it.
  • Need background photography? They have it.

Canva can help you (and your fans) find a cool common visual ground, a first step, that you can later develop further with outsourced and more individualized work.

It is also perfect for all these little quote-images flooding social media right now … :)

Canva is a really nice stepping-stone. And – for now at least – it is free.

Image Tools

Adobe

Adobe

Ok, seriously, I do not use the Creative Cloud. I'm sticking to my Adobe Creative Suite 6 package with the individual apps. Problem is, you cannot officially buy CS6 anymore. Therefore, those who are new in town will most likely need an alternative.

One possibility is the Adobe's Creative Cloud. From a business standpoint, it was a clever move by Adobe to start a subscription-based service – always providing the newest versions for each application. Users, who do not need everything all the time, or who do want extreme mobility, will most likely be happy to only pay for the subscription when they have a job on the table. It is an advantage for them not to have to buy the hugely expensive packages if they just need the software for a few weeks.

On the other hand, people like me, who need everything all the time, well, it does get expensive after a while. On the other hand, it is always the newest versions you are working with – and from a cash-flow perspective, it is more convenient to deduct these expenses from your taxes than it was before with the expensive one-time expenses for the packages. If you have enough jobs, this can be a nice move for you. But certainly, it is not a clever move for everyone out there.

So, this is your choice, and you have to check your circumstances. There are a lot of free tools out there, and some of them are not too shabby.

 

 


GIMP

This is a free alternative to the Creative Cloud that has a lot of fans among my colleagues. The name is derived from what it is: a GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP).

I have never used it myself because I'm rather happy with what I got and I have little time to experiment, but if you are looking for something free, it might be worth a look.

In their own words “GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and more operating systems. It is free software”.

“Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to many customization options and 3rd party plugins.”

Libraries / Textures

Textures

Textures

This is my texture pool for commercial work. Formally called CGTextures, this has been my place to go for years whenever I needed a quick texture for my assignments that I had not photographed myself. Everything from wood, to water, to paper, to grunge, to single plants, or buildings – and it is being expanded on continuously. Also, thousands of seamless and masked images that have already saved me a huge amount of time.

I used to have a yearly subscription that allowed me to download a certain volume daily.

With the new name, they have changed their approach slightly, now using “credits” for downloads. If you have a free account, then you get a certain amount of credits each day that you can use to download smaller files. In case you need more textures than that or if you need larger images, then you can opt to buy credit packs of several sizes or a yearly subscription.

My advise is to check on the textures first and see if they are what you are looking for. Then you might open a free account first, and, if necessary, upgrade later.

Quick 3D Renderings of Books, DVD Packages, etc.
Backups, Downloads 4 Clients & Cloud Storage

3. Prepare your Website & Portfolio for maximum Impact

Introduction

Introduction

Website Hosting

1&1

Domain-Provider & Hosting via 1&1 /Germany

My recommendation for Germany.

If you want your own domain, you will need two things first: a domain-name (something like yourname.com – you have to rent this on a yearly basis via a provider) and domain-hosting (these are servers permanently connected to the internet where your actual website-database is stored).

Years ago, I used to spread my domains over several providers. I had a .com-domain with provider #1, while the respective .de-domain was at provider #2, and the .eu-domain went to provider #3 – all in the name of redundancy and backup-security. I always needed to be able to reach my clients during high-urgency assignments, and many connections did not seem totally reliable. In my first years I often had to resort to provider #2 (once or twice even to provider #3). But these days seem long gone. In the past 5 years my redundant setup merely generated a lot of redundant work and a lot of additional costs. 

While I am a careful person, I would always have a Plan B, especially if you work on high maintenance projects. But keep it reasonable. You cannot secure everything 100%. Remember the 80/20 rule.

I'm personally not an expert in domain-hosting, but I know people who are. And I follow their advise because they know a lot more about this stuff than I do. It is their job to know. 

So, I'm moving all my essential backup-domains from my previous providers #2 and #3 over to 1&1. And if I were starting now and did not already have my trusted provider #1, I would start with 1&1 as well.

If you are just starting out or you need a backup-provider just in case, 1&1 is an inexpensive and reliable web hosting company that offers all necessary services and is totally easy to use!

WordPress

WordPress

WordPress by WordPress.org

WordPress is a free web software you can use to create a your website, blog, or app.

All my websites run on WordPress by WordPress.org. There are thousands of free and paid plugins and themes available to make your site into almost anything you can imagine.

With WordPress, you define the look & feel (the style) of your website separately to the content. The style you define affects the whole site (unless you override it, which is possible) and each new content you put up, will automatically look the same as the rest. Likewise, you can change the style of your whole site in a heartbeat by adapting entries in the style sheet, or switching over to a new theme (basically a new, predefined style).

Do not confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com!

While both are free, WordPress.org provides the WordPress web software to run on YOUR domain, WordPress.com is a platform where you can host a blog without having a domain. I would always recommend growing your own platform on your own domain!

WordPress is easy and powerful and once you get the hang of it, you'll enjoy the control!

WordPress Theme

Divi

Divi (WordPress theme by Elegantthemes

This is the WordPress theme I use for 95% of my websites.

I started programming my own websites by the end of the nineties, because, back then, that was the only way. I know HTML and CSS but nothing more. So when programming became more demanding, I started to outsource it.

Today, you do not only have to keep on top of things for security reasons, you also need to constantly adapt your sites to keep up with events. Thankfully, with WordPress themes like Divi, everything became easy and flexible – making coding unnecessary unless you want something totally off the charts.

With 30+ domains to my name in various markets, many of them for experimental projects, the demands on my time and my finances would be beyond acceptable if I had to outsource it all to 3rd party companies. Designing my websites myself also allows me to quickly implement changes and test new ideas. In the future I plan to outsource website maintenance to a personal assistant.

While I still have a couple of websites not (yet) running on Divi, I am slowly moving most of them over to this theme. (partner link)

WordPress Anti-spam Plugin

Akismet

Akismet by Automattic

A WordPress plugin against Comment-Spam!

There is a free version (for non-commercial sites), but I actually recommend the “Backup”(9EUR/month) or “security” (29EUR/month) that includes Vaultpress (see below)! Check if it makes sense for you to get the services separate or combined.

More info coming up. Until then, in their own words:

Akismet is an advanced hosted anti-spam service aimed at thwarting the underbelly of the web. It efficiently processes and analyzes masses of data from millions of sites and communities in real time. To fight the latest and dirtiest tactics embraced by the world's most proficient spammers, it learns and evolves every single second of every single day. Because you have better things to do.

Quick & Easy Explanations for all things HTML / CSS

w3schools

Do you have a HTML or CSS question? Go to w3schools.com

W3schools.com is the place I go to if I need some code reference for my website. 

It is free. It has tutorials. It has examples. And it never let me down.

Now that I use Divi for most of my sites, which is really intuitive and allows you to build 80/20 websites without coding, I hardly ever need to code anymore. So, today, if for some reason I actually have to come up with some code – maybe because I want to change the color of a small snippet of text within my standard text – I have to look it up. I am just not a programmer. It is not a priority and I do not do this every day. I have other things on my mind. So, if I actually need a piece of code, I go to w3schools to check it out. Quick & dirty – well, actually quick & clean! One thing less to worry about. :o)

As long as I do not totally outsource this task, I'm happy that w3schools.com is around as a convenient place for code-reference.

Feed

feedburner

Manage & Promote your RSS feed

This is a free service provided by Google. I used to use it to manage and promote the RSS feeds on my old blog (now inactive). I will be installing it here as soon as I officially reactivate the blog (Mai-June 2016).

Feedburner also makes it easier for your readers to subscribe to your blog via RSS. If you don’t know what this means, read Feed 101. It will get you started.

Link Shortening

Pretty Link

Link Shortening & Redirecting

There is a free version and a paid version of this Plugin – and I use both on different sites.

WordPress Website Backup

4. Connect With Your Fans and Clients Online – Start Your Email List

Introduction

Introduction

Opt-in Forms & Analytics

Leadpages

LeadPages

Not a programmer? Me neither. I never would have thought that I would be in the position to need a lot of sign-up forms and thank-you pages. But I do. Sometimes daily. And I need to test them and see which works better (A/B testing). Because while I might BELIEVE things to be one way, they are often quite different.

LeadPages is what I recommend in a heartbeat without any hesitation. It is simple, it is fast, it has all these amazing templates (that you can adapt) … Nothing else to say. (partner link) 

(Watch out for a blogpost about this)

Email Marketing Program USA

Mailchimp

Mailchimp

It is free. It has tutorials. It has examples. It has humour.

Even if you do not know it yet, believe me: nothing is more important than building your own e-mail list! NOTHING!!! Not kidding.

I used MailChimp to manage mine when I started out, because it is free for your first 2000 sign-ups – and with all the costs you have when you start out a venture, it makes sense to try a free service first.

The service works just fine – you should set aside a bit of time to read through some tutorials, though, if you have never worked with email campaigns before.

In my opinion, you should stick to this service while you are starting out and need to watch your cash-flow while testing your positioning.  Once you know what you are focussing on and start earning some money, it is time to move on to a paid service like ConvertKit (below). 

Convertkit

ConvertKit

This is for serious business. More information and details to come. (partner link)

How to Whitelist eMails

 

 

Email Whitelisting 

The more spam is sent the more filters are created to deal with the issue. 

The problem: a lot of valid emails get penalized by the filters while much too much spam still passes through.

Therefore, more and more subscribers who are actually waiting for your emails, will not get them. 

One possible approach is to let subscribers know that they can whitelist your email address: this tells email providers that a specific recipient actually wants to receive emails from you — even if some spam flags go up for whatever reason. 

This, unfortunately, requires some action by the subscriber herself. You cannot do it for her. Worse, the action is different depending on the email provider she uses. 

The easiest way is to link to a site that explains whitelisting to your subscribers.  

Here is one page you could link to.

(There are probably others.)

Feed

feedburner

Manage & Promote your RSS feed

This is a free service provided by Google. I used to use it to manage and promote the RSS feeds on my old blog (now inactive). I will be installing it here as soon as I officially reactivate the blog (Mai-June 2016).

Feedburner also makes it easier for your readers to subscribe to your blog via RSS. If you don’t know what this means, read Feed 101. It will get you started.

Datenschutz (German Privacy Policy)

 

 

 

Datenschutz Muster Generator

Solltest Du Kundendaten sammeln – zum Beispiel um ihnen LeadMagnets, Newsletter oder Sonstiges zuschicken zu können – benötigst Du bestimmte Datenschutzangaben auf Deiner Website.

Und das ist erst der Anfang! 

Zum Glück gibt es hilfreiche Tools wie den Datenschutz Muster Generator einer Kanzlei, die sich auf das Thema Social Media und online Marketing spezialisiert hat.  Es empfielt sich, die Datenschutzerklärung regelmäßig zu erneuern, da sich von Jahr zu Jahr die Gesetze ändern und die Texte angepasst werden müssen. 

Fazit: Gold wert!  Aufwand? 1-5 Minuten. 

Ich habe übrigens auch das Buch Social Media Marketing & Recht von Thomas Schwenke und würde es allen ans Herz legen, die einen Teil ihres Geschäfts online haben (und wenn es auch nur Kundenakquise ist). Allerdings ist das Buch derzeit vergriffen.

Es ist immer schwer mit solchen Büchern, da sich die Gesetze ständig ändern. Wichtig ist allerdings, ein bestimmtes Fingerspitzengefühl für die Sache zu entwickeln. 

5. Write, Publish, Repeat – Blogposts, Social Media and More

Introduction

Introduction

Collecting & Sorting Data

Evernote

Evernote

Evernote is my collecting and sorting tool of choice.

Everyone who knows me knows who scatterbrained I can be. I remember every image and every funny sound, but I will definitely not remember a name or date or number. Heck, I often won't even remember the correct sequence of things!

Maybe it's because I think in images, or maybe it's because I have too many things going on at any time, but I need a sorting mechanism that helps me stay on top of details.

Evernote is it!

IF you open an account through my partner link, you'll get a free month of PREMIUM (valued €39.99 per year). You can then downsize to a free account, if you like. For me, the free account is enough. Yeah, that's a bit sneaky, I know. But I know people who chose to keep the pro version because of its added feature. It is really useful for some. Less useful for others. As everything in life.

Planning & Writing Content & Sequences

Scrivener

Scrivener

&nb

English Grammar
Clever English Dictionary Search

OneLook

OneLook

 

Coming up.

Translations (in Context)

Linguee

Linguee

 

Coming up.

Planning, Writing & German Grammar

Papyrus Author

Papyrus Autor

 

Coming up.

Scheduling Social Media

Scheduling tools help you manage your social media profiles, organize content for future publication, and collect feedback data to optimize your content feeds.
This is a tool for people who (generally speaking) already have a strategy, something to sell, a plan to sell it, and everything set up and running smoothly. This is for people who tested & optimized everything on one channel and let all their existing subscribers from their existing email lists run through their funnel. This is for people who need to scale up and get new traffic into their funnels by using ads & social media strategies. When you are at a level that requires better analytics, more planning, and definitively more consistency despite the increasing complexity, then these tools will prove to be helpful.

I have used both Buffer and Hootsuite. There are more. All these tools are constantly being developed further, so, depending on what you are looking for, sometimes one is more helpful than the other. That might change half a year later with a new version of the other tool.

Don't let this drive you crazy. Like with any tool, there is no perfection. Check what social media channels you are using and which tasks specifically you need solved. Then check which tool fulfills your needs best and try the free version to see if you like to work with it.

Remember, you are not married to these tools. You can always switch later.

 

 

Datenschutz (German Privacy Policy)

 

 

 

Datenschutz Muster Generator

Solltest Du Kundendaten sammeln – zum Beispiel um ihnen LeadMagnets, Newsletter oder Sonstiges zuschicken zu können – benötigst Du bestimmte Datenschutzangaben auf Deiner Website.

Und das ist erst der Anfang! 

Zum Glück gibt es hilfreiche Tools wie den Datenschutz Muster Generator einer Kanzlei, die sich auf das Thema Social Media und online Marketing spezialisiert hat.  Es empfielt sich, die Datenschutzerklärung regelmäßig zu erneuern, da sich von Jahr zu Jahr die Gesetze ändern und die Texte angepasst werden müssen. 

Fazit: Gold wert!  Aufwand? 1-5 Minuten. 

Ich habe übrigens auch das Buch Social Media Marketing & Recht von Thomas Schwenke und würde es allen ans Herz legen, die einen Teil ihres Geschäfts online haben (und wenn es auch nur Kundenakquise ist). Allerdings ist das Buch derzeit vergriffen.

Es ist immer schwer mit solchen Büchern, da sich die Gesetze ständig ändern. Wichtig ist allerdings, ein bestimmtes Fingerspitzengefühl für die Sache zu entwickeln. 

Feed

feedburner

Manage & Promote your RSS feed

This is a free service provided by Google. I used to use it to manage and promote the RSS feeds on my old blog (now inactive). I will be installing it here as soon as I officially reactivate the blog (Mai-June 2016).

Feedburner also makes it easier for your readers to subscribe to your blog via RSS. If you don’t know what this means, read Feed 101. It will get you started.

6. Build a Sales Funnel – Landing Pages, Sequences, LeadMagnets, Shopping Carts

Introduction

Introduction

Opt-in Forms & Analytics

Leadpages

LeadPages

Not a programmer? Me neither. I never would have thought that I would be in the position to need a lot of sign-up forms and thank-you pages. But I do. Sometimes daily. And I need to test them and see which works better (A/B testing). Because while I might BELIEVE things to be one way, they are often quite different.

LeadPages is what I recommend in a heartbeat without any hesitation. It is simple, it is fast, it has all these amazing templates (that you can adapt) … Nothing else to say. (partner link) 

(Watch out for a blogpost about this)

Email Marketing Program USA

Mailchimp

Mailchimp

It is free. It has tutorials. It has examples. It has humour.

Even if you do not know it yet, believe me: nothing is more important than building your own e-mail list! NOTHING!!! Not kidding.

I used MailChimp to manage mine when I started out, because it is free for your first 2000 sign-ups – and with all the costs you have when you start out a venture, it makes sense to try a free service first.

The service works just fine – you should set aside a bit of time to read through some tutorials, though, if you have never worked with email campaigns before.

In my opinion, you should stick to this service while you are starting out and need to watch your cash-flow while testing your positioning.  Once you know what you are focussing on and start earning some money, it is time to move on to a paid service like ConvertKit (below). 

Convertkit

ConvertKit

This is for serious business. More information and details to come. (partner link)

Backups, Downloads 4 Clients & Cloud Storage
Feed

feedburner

Manage & Promote your RSS feed

This is a free service provided by Google. I used to use it to manage and promote the RSS feeds on my old blog (now inactive). I will be installing it here as soon as I officially reactivate the blog (Mai-June 2016).

Feedburner also makes it easier for your readers to subscribe to your blog via RSS. If you don’t know what this means, read Feed 101. It will get you started.

7. Track & Measure Results

Introduction

Introduction

Opt-in Analytics & Performance / Split Testing Opt-in Forms

Leadpages

LeadPages

Not a programmer? Me neither. I never would have thought that I would be in the position to need a lot of sign-up forms and thank-you pages. But I do. Sometimes daily. And I need to test them and see which works better (A/B testing). Because while I might BELIEVE things to be one way, they are often quite different.

LeadPages is what I recommend in a heartbeat without any hesitation. It is simple, it is fast, it has all these amazing templates (that you can adapt) … Nothing else to say. (partner link) 

(Watch out for a blogpost about this)

Email Open Rates, Click Rates, Segmentation & More

Mailchimp

Mailchimp

It is free. It has tutorials. It has examples. It has humour.

Even if you do not know it yet, believe me: nothing is more important than building your own e-mail list! NOTHING!!! Not kidding.

I used MailChimp to manage mine when I started out, because it is free for your first 2000 sign-ups – and with all the costs you have when you start out a venture, it makes sense to try a free service first.

The service works just fine – you should set aside a bit of time to read through some tutorials, though, if you have never worked with email campaigns before.

In my opinion, you should stick to this service while you are starting out and need to watch your cash-flow while testing your positioning.  Once you know what you are focussing on and start earning some money, it is time to move on to a paid service like ConvertKit (below). 

Website Performance

Piwik

Piwik

Piwik is a free (open-source) analytics platform – the second most used platform in Germany after Google Analytics. It can be integrated with WordPress.

Piwik displays reports regarding the geographic location, the source of visits, the technical capabilities of visitors, what the visitors did (pages they viewed, actions they took, how they left), the time of visits, and many, many more data points.

You want to check on your website's performance. You need to know which blog posts are drawing in more visitors (and where they come from), so you can figure out how to improve all the other posts and pages. Which part of your portfolio is visited most often? Which part does not seem to be generating interest at present. You need all this information to try to figure out if your promotions are working. 

In contrast to Google Analytics, Piwik is self hosted. This means it has user privacy protection, because users are the only people who see their own data – Google Analytics, in contrast, does not allow for such privacy and thus requires extra entries in the German Privacy Policy of each website.

I also always preferred Piwik's optics over Google Analytic's, but that is a question of personal choice.

You can get more information and download the software on their website. 


Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Standard free tool for website analytics.

If you want to track your unique visitors, page views, bounce rate, and a host of other metrics, you need to sign up for a free account and then follow the directions for installing it on your blog. It is invaluable.

Remember, you can only evaluate what you can measure and track!

(I'm gonna write a blogpost about the math behind this, eventually)

For Artists Checking on Image Usage Online: Image Search

Dropbox

 

TinEye – Reverse Image Search

TinEye is an image search company – I use it to keep track on who's using some of my images without acquiring a license.

8. Webinar Events – Coach, Teach, Train, Show, Connect

Introduction

Introduction

Webinar Platform

Webinarjam

WebinarJam Studio

While I am a total, TOTAL hermit, I love to coach, teach and connect. And when text or voice alone is not enough, I now have WebinarJam! 

Webinars are nothing more than “online seminars” or “web seminars”. It is basically a virtual room hosted by some platform, that allows you to invite a certain amount of people for an online meeting.

There usually are one or more presenters and a different maximum amount of attendees. While the presenters use webcam and microphones to be heard and seen, the attendees do not have to have any of it – only if they want to actively participate AND being seen AND heard, they would need a webcam and microphone. Otherwise they can simply log-in to watch the webinar, and, if provided, leave comments in a chat-box.

There are several software solutions for webinars or online coaching, depending on what you want to use it for. Some are free (Google Hangouts, or Skype) but with less control and added features, some are very expensive (GotoWebinar) and a bit restrictive. Some have a pricing plan that allows you to test their services for free in a small scale (Zoom.us)

I personally started using Zoom.us for small, free coaching sessions for up to 50 people. And now that I am planning more coaching webinars for more attendees, I opted for WebinarJam Studio, which is based on Google Hangouts.

If you need something more sophisticated than Google Hangouts, Skype or Zoom.us, I'd have a look at WebinarJam Studio! (partner link) 

Webcam

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C92

(Amazon partner link)

External Microphone

rel=”nofollow” href=”http://www.extantacademy.com/BlueYeti” target=”_blank”>

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Mikrofon, Silber

After trying (and failing) to use some random microphones that I already had in a drawer somewhere OR trying to use the webcam microphones, I listened to the advise of several friends and acquaintances and bought the Blue Microphones Yeti USB Mikrofon.

Yay! What can I say?! I'm really happy with it. Yes, it's USB. Yes, it's not something I would probably use if I were a professional podcaster. But it is an unexpected great sound quality for a microphone that costs so little (be careful, the mic comes in different editions and they vary in price).

And since I bought it, I see it being used EVERYWHERE! Believe me, there is a reason for that.

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Mikrofon, the 80/20 microphone as far as I am concerned. (Amazon partner link) 

Webinar Slides

Keynote

Keynote (Apple)

This is what I use to create slideshows for my presentations.

Screen Capturing

9. Connect with your Fans offline

Introduction

Introduction

My Project Business Cards

Webinarjam

MOO

My secret networking sauce! I tell every layout artist that the last thing they will need is a business card. And I really believe in it, normally, but there are exceptions.

The last time I gave a speech at the Frankfurt Bookfair, I wanted people to be able to contact me, and so I needed a couple of business cards fast.

Also, I do a lot of other things besides concept art: I photograph, I have a charitable project, I write books, I have art projects, I have a cartoon dog!

And so, what I usually do, is to have different business cards for all of my projects (rather than for myself). For example, each of my books has a unique set of business cards showing the cover on one side and links to more information, retailers, and QR code on the back. So, if anyone shows interest in one of my projects, they get the corresponding card and … voilà! People LOVE this! And they will never forget why they asked for the card and what the card is for.

To get these cards made quickly and with a lot of variations (you can have each looking differently!), I go to MOO. And only to MOO. I've never been disappointed. And passing out a business card has never been more fun!

If you make your first MOO purchase via my link, you'll get a 10% discount! (partner link with discount for you) 

Get Help & Outsource & Teamwork

Introduction

Introduction

Project Organization & Management (Team)
Online Editorial Calendar with Marketing Extras (Team)

coschedule

CoSchedule

This service is for more advanced Bloggers and online content providers – people who have online businesses and find themselves in a situation where they need to increasingly write and schedule publications ahead of time – including marketing.

Share Data with Google Drive

Google Drive

Here you can make & store Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Forms, Google Drawings, etc. which you can then share with others.

I like to use the different tools when I assign tasks to virtual assistants (like research work, for example).

Data Sharing & Backup

Taxes & Stuff

Introduction

Introduction

Tax: Getting Organized!

FolderSys Fächermappe “Akkordeon”, 12 Taschen

Mit diesen Fächermappen sind meine Rechnungsbelege gleich sauber vorsortiert.

Früher kamen alle Belege in ein “Eingangs”-Fach meiner Ablage. Zwar hatte ich alles zusammen, aber es war das reinste Chaos. Vor jeder USt-Erklärung saß ich stundenlang auf dem Boden und habe die Belege nach Datum sortiert. Die reine Zeitverschwendung!

Als dann Firma #2 und Firma #3 hinzu kamen, musste ich das System endgültig ändern.

Jeder Firma (die ja separat abgerechnet werden müssen), hat nun eine eigene Fächermappe mit einer simplen Monatsunterteilung. Alle Mappen liegen griffbereit auf meinem Schreibtisch, damit ich gar nicht erst in Versuchung gerate, die Belege irgendwo anders zwischenzulagern (ich kenne meine Schwächen). Jeder Beleg wird also direkt einsortiert. Und dann folgt die normale Routine.

Ergebnis?! Nie wieder Belegstress! Nie wieder zu spät merken, dass etwas fehlt – und es nach einem Jahr nicht mehr nachfordern können (oder nur gegen Aufwandsentschädigung). Vor allem spart es mich jede Menge Nerven und Zeit!

Diese Fächermappen aus Plastik sind nicht gerade schön, aber eben extrem praktisch Es gibt auch andere Hersteller – achtet jedoch unbedingt darauf, dass die Fächer am unteren Teil mit expandieren (nicht nur oben), sonst passt nicht viel rein und Ihr werdet Euch garantiert ärgern. (Amazon partner link)  Not sure why, but for some reason this text ended up in German.

Tax: Learn & Control Your Finances!

SteuerSparErklärung

Der Punkt ist nicht, dass ich grundsätzlich Probleme mit meinen Abrechnungen gehabt hätte. Denn was braucht man für eine Steuererklärung? Du brauchst die Belege, Du brauchst Mathematikkenntnisse aus der ersten Klasse und Du brauchst die neuste Rechtsprechung, damit Du weißt, wie Du die Belege und die Mathematik in einem bestimmten Jahr korrekt ansetzen musst (und wann Du die Unterlagen abgeben musst). Im Prinzip war es das dann auch schon.

 

Wo liegen also die Probleme?

An den einfachen Matheformeln liegt es sicher nicht. Der eine oder die andere haben möglicherweise Probleme damit, an einem bestimmten Tag sämtliche Belege zu finden, die sie im Laufe des Jahres überall verteilt haben – ein wenig Organisation sollte dem Abhilfe schaffen.

Nein, das wirkliche Problem sind die ganzen Gesetze und Regeln, die sich von Jahr zu Jahr ändern! Man hat doch ständig die Angst, irgendetwas verdammt wichtiges zu übersehen. Und was ist mit der unglaublichen Komplexität, verschiedene Abschreibungsarten parallel zu führen, sind die % für Spesen gleich geblieben? Und was ist mit dem Telefon, dass ich halb privat und halb geschäftlich nutze? Und wenn wir schon davon sprechen, soll ich mir einen Geschäftswagen kaufen? Oder doch lieber einen Privatwagen, den ich geschäftlich nutze? Bah! DAS sind die Probleme! Und DAS sind idR die Gründe, warum wir alle die Steuererklärung vor uns her schieben oder sie für gutes Geld von anderen machen lassen.

Auch ich habe meine ein paar Jahre lang von anderen machen lassen, mit sehr schlechten Erfahrungen. Streng genommen hat mich mein Finanzamt freundlich dazu aufgefordert, mir selbst einen Gefallen zu tun und meine Steuererklärung wieder selbst zu führen (weil sie bei meinem Steuerberater nicht durchgestiegen sind).

Also habe ich recherchiert und bin auf die SteuerSparErklärung gestoßen. Es war Liebe auf den ersten Blick!

Dummerweise war ich damals gerade auf den Mac umgestiegen und … das Programm lief nur auf PC. Also tat ich das Zweitbeste und habe die Loseblattsammlung von Steuertipps abonniert. Die beinhalten alles rund um die Steuererklärung in einer Sprache, die wir alle verstehen können. Samt Beispiele, samt Verweise, samt Checklisten und vorformulierte Briefe. Herrlich! Ca. 4x pro Jahr gibt es seit dem Aktualisierungen für die zwei Ordner. Und ich musste nie wieder etwas suchen!!! Seit dem weiß ich mehr als meine Steuerberater und muss mit Schrecken feststellen, wie viel Blödsinn die mir erzählt haben (für Geld!). Es gibt sicher gute Steuerberater, aber meine gehörten nicht dazu. Das erkennt man leider erst, wenn man die Fakten selbst überprüfen kann – und zwar ohne Beamtendeutsch.

Besser noch, jetzt gibt es die SteuerSparErklärung auch für den Mac! Und sie räumen ständig Verbraucherpreise dafür ab – was mich nicht wundert. Mit der Software benötigt man streng genommen die Loseblattsammlung nicht mehr, da die ganzen Gesetzesänderungen in die Software integriert sind. Man gibt nur seine Belege ein und die Software macht den Rest bzw. gibt einem Lösungsvorschläge, aus denen man sich was auswählt.

Mit der SteuerSparErklärung.

Photoshop muss sein, sorry. :o) (partner link) 

Get Legal Protection for Your Business

Introduction

Introduction

Datenschutz (German Privacy Policy)

 

 

 

Datenschutz Muster Generator

Solltest Du Kundendaten sammeln – zum Beispiel um ihnen LeadMagnets, Newsletter oder Sonstiges zuschicken zu können – benötigst Du bestimmte Datenschutzangaben auf Deiner Website.

Und das ist erst der Anfang! 

Zum Glück gibt es hilfreiche Tools wie den Datenschutz Muster Generator einer Kanzlei, die sich auf das Thema Social Media und online Marketing spezialisiert hat.  Es empfielt sich, die Datenschutzerklärung regelmäßig zu erneuern, da sich von Jahr zu Jahr die Gesetze ändern und die Texte angepasst werden müssen. 

Fazit: Gold wert!  Aufwand? 1-5 Minuten. 

Ich habe übrigens auch das Buch Social Media Marketing & Recht von Thomas Schwenke und würde es allen ans Herz legen, die einen Teil ihres Geschäfts online haben (und wenn es auch nur Kundenakquise ist). Allerdings ist das Buch derzeit vergriffen.

Es ist immer schwer mit solchen Büchern, da sich die Gesetze ständig ändern. Wichtig ist allerdings, ein bestimmtes Fingerspitzengefühl für die Sache zu entwickeln. 

Considerations When Dealing with US Customers

FTC

FTC-Guardian

The US FTC-Guidelines are in charge of customer protection. They are famous and feared for taking their job very seriously.

If you are selling anything into the US (directly or indirectly via Amazon, iTunes, Clickbank, …) or if you only just collect names and email addresses from people to send them free stuff, you should be very, very, VERY serious about staying compliant with the FTC-guidelines.

  • It does not matter if you are “small fish”
  • It does not matter that you only collect emails to give away free stuff
  • It does not matter that you do not sell anything directly, but only indirectly via 3rd party platforms like Amazon (who have their own privacy policy texts so YOU do not need them, right? Wrong!)
  • It does not matter that you live outside the US!!! The only thing that matters is that your clients are inside the US.
  • It does not matter that you have legal texts compliant with the country you live in (outside of the US) as long as people in the US can buy your stuff online or leave their data on your website.

Oh, and never EVER copy & paste legal texts from other sites!

  1. IF these legal texts are compliant, then they are optimized for very specific marketing strategies related to that company (and not to YOUR marketing strategies!)
  2. FTC guidelines vary from US-state to US-state and they are updated from time to time. If you happen to get an outdated text variation or something from a different US-state, then this is potentially going to cause you even more problems!
  3. On top of it. Legal texts are written by lawyers and they are copyright protected!!! Lawyers who write this stuff are very quick in sending out copyright infringement notes – which will cost you an arm and a leg.

It is not worth it! Seriously!

If you are just starting out and you are maybe only trying to grow your list of customers, you will most likely not need many legal pages. It is worth to check this stuff out rather sooner than later.

Remember, I am not an attorney or tax person. I am merely linking to a service that I am using. Do your own research. Be diligent. Ok?  :o) (partner link) 

Online Legalese

Dropbox

smartlaw

Every country has its own laws and regulations. Germany has its share and then you have European law on top of it. It's quite a jungle and it keeps changing. smartlaw does offer some helpful templates to stay on top of things. The obvious disclaimer here is that I am no lawyer and cannot vouch for smartlaw, but if you need a German imprint, privacy policy, disclaimer, and so forth, it might be a useful place to check.

Website Security

Introduction

Introduction

Backing up Your WordPress Website

Vaultpress

VaultPress

Automatic Website back up by Automattic (the people who build Akismet and WordPress!)

You definitely want to back up your blog on a regular basis. Disasters happen, and you don’t want to lose days, weeks, or years worth of content simply because you didn’t have it backed up.

I see a lot of people using WordPress plugins to back up their website content to their own servers. That is not a good idea! If your website is compromised, very often your server is compromised! So you want to separate the backup from the server. Ok?

VaultPress was developed by Automattic, the same people who built WordPress. The integration is seamless and automatic. Turn it on and forget about it.

Keep Your WordPress Site Safe

Wordfence

Wordfence

My security gateway of choice for all of my websites.

I have a lot of websites. A couple of them, like the one for my cartoon dog, Little Hunterman, are contantly under attack. Wordfence helps me to keep my data and my visitors safe.

There is a free and a premium version of the Wordfence plugin – both are incredibly easy to install. Most of my websites are happy with the free version, but I upgraded my most attacked websites to premium Wordfence in order to increase my control.

Like with all things about security, nothing is ever 100% secure. It is best if you check out Wordfence and the reviews yourself. Also note that whatever is the “best” solution for me might not be the best solution for you. Nevertheless, I'm quite confident that you'll be happy with Wordfence.

According to their own words, “the Wordfence WordPress security plugin continuously prevents, patrols and protects your WordPress websites against today’s ultra-advanced cyber attacks, hacks and online security threats.” But I did not take their word for it – a lot of people I trusted are using Wordfence.

So far Wordfence has done a tremendous job for me.

Show Others That Your Website is Safe (Germany)

LassalMedia.com wird überprüft von der Initiative-S

Initiative-S

Free, regular security scan for your website. 

“Mehr als die Hälfte aller Cyber-Angriffe weltweit betreffen nach Symantecs Internet Security Report bereits kleine und mittelständische Unternehmen. Mit Schadprogrammen infizierte Unternehmens-Webseiten sind im Internet eine Gefahr sowohl für Sie als Seitenbetreiber als auch für Ihre Kunden und Geschäftspartner.

Nutzen Sie den neuen Security-Service, den eco-Verband der Internetwirtschaft anbietet, um die IT-Sicherheit von Firmen und den Schutz im Internet zu erhöhen. Lassen Sie Ihren Internet-Auftritt einfach, bequem und kostenfrei von den Profis der Initiative-S online prüfen.

Unternehmen, die die Sicherheit ihrer Webseiten regelmäßig prüfen lassen, können ihren Internetauftritt jetzt auch mit einem Sicherheits-Siegel versehen.

Der Seiten-Check der Initiative-S will die Sicherheit im Internet verbessern. Das Projekt wird gefördert durch das Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie im Rahmen der Task Force „IT-Sicherheit in der Wirtschaft“.”

Increase your own website security while decreasing the risks for yourself and your customers. 

A few of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.


Einige wenige Drittanbieter-Links auf der Seite sind Affiliate Links. Durch Affiliate Links bekomme ich eine kleine Provision vom Hersteller, falls Du das empfohlene Produkt kaufst – das geschieht völlig ohne Zusatzkosten für Dich – im Gegenteil, manchmal bekommst Du über meinen Affiliate-Link sogar einen Herstellerrabatt. Bitte verstehe, dass ich die Produkte nicht wegen der Provisionen empfehle, sondern weil ich sie selber nutze und schätze. Ich würde sie auch empfehlen, wenn sie mir keine Verkaufsprovision anbieten würden – in der Tat ist das bei den meisten Links der Fall. Viele der Produkte sind zudem kostenlos – zumindest in der Basisversion (und häufig wirst Du nicht mehr als die Basisversion benötigen).

Ich benutze für alle Links PrettyLink (siehe oben in der Liste). Das mache ich nicht nur, um die Links zu kürzen, sondern hauptsächlich, um sehen zu können, wie häufig sie geklickt werden. Daran kann ich erkennen, zu welchen Themen ich ergänzende Information erstellen sollte, und wo ich es mir sparen kann :)

Bitte kaufe oder abonniere NICHTS, von dem Du nicht überzeugt bist, dass es Dir beim Erreichen Deiner Ziele helfen wird. Nutze im Zweifelsfall konsequent die kostenlosen Testphasen.

LassalMedia - selected client logos

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