The tools I use

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Since so much of my business operates on the tools created by others, I thought it would be nice to try and list out all the products I use to run my business. I've also written previously that I believe tools matter quite a bit, so hopefully some of you find a few things that will help you in this list as well.

It's sort of hard to know where to draw the line with something like this (Should I include the Operating System I use? And the text editor? Just SaaS products? A combination? Paid Products? Free Products? Everything?) s0 let's just say that if it's in this list, it's a product or service I use that I find useful, valuable, and usually, though not always, pay for with money.

Lastly, all costs are what I pay. Most paid applications have various plan options. So without further ado, here are the things I use to do my thing.


My computer is a MacBook Pro. When it comes to the creative portion of my work (programming, making websites, working with images, podcast editing, etc.) I would have to relearn everything if I were to have to do it on a Windows machine.

General Business Tools

Basecamp by 37signals: The most important piece of software I subscribe to. I use it to run both my client projects, and my own internal projects. If you're working on anything where you have to collaborate with others, you should consider using it.

Cost: $24/month

LessAccounting by Less Everything: No matter your business, you will have expenses, and hopefully, revenue. I started using LessAccounting because I wanted to get away from the Microsoft Small Business Accounting Desktop software I was using, and I love it now for many more reasons than I expected.

They automatically import all the data from all my bank/PayPal accounts, and it basically "learns" which expenses go into which categories. The result is that I now spend a tiny fraction of the time doing accounting stuff that I don't want to do.

Cost: $20/month

Highrise by 37signals: Again, no matter the business, you'll be speaking with people, emailing with people and having phone calls. Highrise is a lightweight, very easy to use, web application where you can capture notes, emails and reminders for all the people you work with, and lets you easily track the deals you're working on.

Cost: $12/month

GoogleApps by Google: I use google apps for email and my shared calendar. If you don't know, the interface is pretty much identical to the Gmail interface, but you can customize a few things. And of course, you have an email with your domain name.

Once you have a domain name you will need to set things up accordingly with your domain registrar. I usually use GoDaddy to register a domain, and the Google Apps instructions for GoDaddy are very good for people that are new to setting up email.

Cost: I use the free plan.

Backpack by 37signals: I use Backpack primarily for two things, the "pages" functionality, and the Writeboards. I use the pages as running lists of important things like blog post ideas, or for tracking something that feels more like a small project, but isn't something that I'm collaborating with others on.

I use the Writeboards for contracts. Writeboards let you easily collaborate on written documents, and I like using them for contracts because it's very inviting to changes. The best contracts are ones that everyone is happy with, and Writeboards make it easier to make those.

Cost: $7/month

Campfire: A web based group chat tool that makes it easy to chat with people. Campfire is a sort of non-interruptive way to have ongoing discussions with people. I also use it withNotifire, the little tool TK and I created, to get alerted when someone enters a public chat room.

Cost: I use the free plan.

Blogger: I use blogger to host my blog. I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who will openly admit they love blogger, but I think it's a great platform, it's as worry-free as a website can get, and they now have a great design tool where I can add my own custom CSS.

If you don't have a website or a blog, and you want one but don't have much money to spend, I would recommend using blogger.

Cost: Free

Sales and Marketing Tools

BiteSizePR: My friend Ryan's company just launched this product and I've been using it for about a month. Basically, they monitor PR opportunities that would be a good fit for both you and the reporters that's writing a story, and they connect the two of you.

Cost: $89/month

Mailchimp: Let's me easily send emails to a large group of customers. I've started using it more since the launch of SignalKit, and am considering starting a monthly newsletter with it. I haven't decided on the latter yet though.

Cost: I currently use the free plan, but will likely have to upgrade soon.

Tout: This is an email tool that allows you to more quickly send outgoing emails, and track analytics on them. It's also a way to make it less likely that your emails will end up getting blocked by a spam filter. I don't always use Tout, but when I have an importan email to send, I often do.

Cost: $30/month

Sortfolio by 37signals: This is the only place I consistently advertise right now, and it more than pays for itself. I get quality leads for developing both informational/marketing websites, and web applications. Very often the people that find me on Sortfolio already have the same sort of mindset that I do when it comes to getting things done. Worth every penny.

Cost: $99/month

Development Tools

Formstack: It's difficult for me to overstate how awesome I think Formstack is. It's not only a development tool, but it can be a great one. If you need to collect any kind of information from people online, you can do it very quickly and easily with Formstack. They also integrate with a ton of mail marketing providers, payment providers, and CRM systems, and a host of others. Think of them as the window into whatever system it is you ultimately want to get information from humans into.

Cost: $14/month

Beanstalk: The source code repository I use. I like them because they support both Subversion and Git, and I prefer the design of their user interface over github. (Though I still have a github account as well.) They also allow you to assign either read only privileges or both read and write privileges which I've needed on occasion for some of my client work.

Cost: $15/month

TextMate: The very popular text editor. This is the one I use.

Cost: $57

MediaTemple: This is where I currently host my non web-app websites. I've heard mixed reviews about their Grid service, but I'm giving it a chance. So far, I've been very happy with the service, but I'm keeping a close eye on it.

Cost: $20/month but it'll likely go to $40/month soon.

Heroku: Where I currently host my Rails applications. It's a great service and easy to use. I think it can start to get expensive after a while, so I may end up moving to some other services, I'm not sure yet.

Cost: $36/month

I'm pretty sure I've captured everything I use here, but if I forget anything I'll update the post as they come to mind. Hopefully a few of you can find one of these services useful if you're not using them already.