Tools I Use

Curious about the tools and services I use? I do my best to use free and very affordable options when possible. Have a look and discover new tools to make your life easier.

I’m often asked about the tools I use for instructional and learning experience design, advocacy, consulting, and as a small business owner.  Most of them are affordable or free.  I prioritize simplicity and avoid tools with too many options.

I’ve organized the tools by their area of use for easy navigation.  Some of the links are affiliate links, but I only recommend products I personally use or have previously used.  You may read more in my disclaimer.

Accessibility

  • Axe DevTools: a free Chrome browser extension that can help find and fix accessibility issues during website development.
  • Image Alt Text Viewer: a free Chrome browser extension that displays all alternative texts for images on a web page. The extension also reports if images have missing texts or missing alt-attributes.
  • WebAIM Contrast Checker: use this free, easy-to-use tool to verify that your colors have enough contrast between them.

Assets

  • Canva: graphic design platform with free stock photos and graphics. Their paid plan is cheap and what I use.
  • Creative Market: marketplace for creators to sell assets, with a good selection of free assets.
  • Envato Elements: subscription plan for all types of assets starting at $16.50 per month.
  • Pexels and Unsplash: free stock photos and videos with no attribution required.

Collaboration and Communication

  • Asana is a web and mobile app that helps teams organize, track, and manage their work. It’s great for collaborating on projects and tasks.
  • Google Drive: free, cloud-based app and storage system that I use to collaborate on projects using Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
  • Google Fi:  I’ve been a Google Fi customer for a few years now and have never been happier. The plans are affordable, the service is great, and I love the screen call feature.

Content Distribution

  • Medium: open platform for discovering dynamic thinking and sharing writing on any topic.  You can add your content to Medium in the form of articles for increased exposure.
  • SendFox:  $49 lifetime license includes building designer landing pages and forms to collect lead contact information, creating one-off campaigns, and automation sequences using ready-made email templates.

eLearning Authoring Tools

  • Articulate Storyline 360:  powerful application for creating interactive mobile and online courses.
  • Tutor LMS: in addition to being a learning management system plugin for WordPress websites, tt provides an easy way to create learning materials on your website.

Equipment

  • Blue Yeticaster Pro Bundle: microphone setup I use for all my audio needs. It’s great and is typically priced around $200 on Amazon.
  • Elgato Facecam: high-quality webcam that is typically around $160 on Amazon.
  • Tolulu HD Webcam: inexpensive, good-quality webcam, which I used before upgrading to the Elgato. It is usually less than $30 on Amazon.

Productivity and Focus

  • AppSumo:  AppSumo has AMAZING deals on software for your business or personal needs.  Many of my tools I use daily were purchased from AppSumo.  You pay once for lifetime access to the products instead of monthly fees.
  • FlyMSG:  $69 lifetime license for this time (and hand) saver!  It combines autofill, a personal writing assistant, and a text expander all in one.  I use this daily!
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  • Momentum Dash:  free Chrome browser extension that turns your potential into progress with a beautifully simple start page to keep you focused on what’s important.

Freelancing & Small Business

  • Gusto:  cloud-based payroll for small businesses I previously used for receiving and requesting payments.
  • Wave:  so far, the best one-stop money management program I have ever used for small business owners.

Graphic Design

  • Canva: graphic design platform to create various visual assets. The free plan is great, but I use their paid plan, which is very cheap, to create almost all of my graphics.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

  • OnlineCourseHost:  My current LMS and it is an absolute BEAST with just a $99 lifetime license.  Use your custom domain or theirs.  It is really intuitive and quick to get up and running with a very clean design.  It also includes tools to promote your courses, like bulk emails, coupons, subscriptions, team plans, bundles, Facebook Ads, lead generation, email marketing integrations, and much more.  
  • Tutor LMS: user-friendly learning management system plugin for WordPress websites.  I’ve used this for online courses I’ve administered and was very pleased with it!

Media Editing

  • Audacity:  free, open-source audio editor that I use for all my narration projects.  It has a basic interface but is powerful and has many plugins available and a supportive community with helpful documentation and wikis.
  • Techsmith’s Camtasia and Snagit: robust screen recorder and video editors that can be used to create eLearning with features such as hotspots and the ability to download SCORM packages.

Networking

  • LinkedIn:  free professional networking site that provides career development, networking opportunities, and job services.  I often share content on LinkedIn and have met great people there. I also landed my last two jobs through LinkedIn.

Professional Development

  • edWeb:  earn free Continuing Education (CE) with edWeb’s social network and professional learning community.
  • International Open Academy:  well-rounded online learning taught by industry experts at an affordable price.
  • LinkedIn Learning: excellent courses from industry leaders. I’ve taken many courses through them and have found them valuable.
  • Pluralsight:  online learning and workforce development platform that helps businesses and individuals adjust to changing technology.
  • Skillshare: online course platform that teaches a wide range of subjects including business, graphics, crafts, productivity and more. They also offer a free trial to test it out before purchasing a membership.

Project Management

  • Asana:  web and mobile app that helps teams organize, track and manage their work. It’s my favorite project management system and is both robust and easy to use. I’m also an Asana Ambassador and can provide training on Asana! 
  • Todoist:  If you like the simplicity of the Asana user interface, think of Todoist as its awesome little friend for task management and to-do lists.

Scheduling

  • Google Calendar:  the classic time-management and scheduling calendar service .  I always make sure all my tools are integrated with Calendar to help with time management and productivity.
  • TidyCal:  $29 lifetime license for this Calendly alternative I currently use!  Schedule free or paid meetings, share custom booking pages, and more.  View my TidyCal booking page.

Web Design & Development

  • Beaver Builder: hands down the best drag-and-drop website builder I've encountered. No huge learning curves to get started, affordable, and a single license allows you to use Beaver Builder on UNLIMITED websites. For a serial domain purchaser and site builder, this is gold for me!
    • I used to use Elementor Page Builder before Beaver. Elementor offers a lot of features even in the free version, but I just prefer Beaver so much more.
  • Ionos: domain name registrar, web host, and SSL.  I use Ionos (formerly 1&1) for all of my domain name purchases. They even offer free private registration and assign you your very own account representative.
  • SiteGround:  affordable and reliable web hosting. I currently use them for all of my websites and am very satisfied with their service.

Writing

  • ChatGPT: artificial intelligence (AI) Generative Pre-Trained Transformers (GPT) tool that interacts with users in a synthetic way. I use it to help with generating headlines and outlines, rewriting information, and summarizing content. 
  • Gemini: Google's AI GPT, which I prefer over ChatGPT. I notice better results with Gemini and the user interface is much more friendly.
  • Grammarly: cloud-based writing assistant that uses AI to review spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement, and delivery mistakes. It’s a lifesaver for me as it helps me to avoid mistakes that I tend to make while typing fast.
Tools & Services I Use
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