I’m passing on my research findings so you can save time.
Online Scheduling (w/ agreements, payments, and more): Acuity Scheduling
I have not used this as a provider but I have used it as a consumer and know people who are happy with it. Compared to similar programs, it seems like it has a lot for a good price. You can let clients schedule appointments and people can sign up for your group events and there’s a lot built in to go with that.
Email List Management for Small Business:
If you have a website that includes an email marketing system, as Squarespace does, that deserves a look first, to keep life simple. I use the system built into my WordPress site.
If you want a more robust email marketing system, I’d look at ConvertKit or an all-in-one online business system like Simplero. I have not used either one but have kicked the tires and heard good things.
Course software (and all-in-one with email marketing, etc.): Simplero
There are many course systems out there like Thinkific and Teachable. In my research, I found Simplero was most intriguing, robust yet seemingly easy to use, and they’ve been around and seem trustworthy, with good customer service. A lot is built in, but it’s not a client management system. As I already have courses built in to my coaching client management system, I haven’t used it myself but have taken a course in there and heard good things from providers who use it.
File Sharing and Storage: Dropbox
I have found this super easy to use and I get plenty of space with the free option. You can add on more when needed. I share videos, photos, and documents with my team and clients this way. Google Drive is another good option.
Ready for a new website?
a) Good for DIY websites: Squarespace
It’s simple, solid, affordable, good for beginners.
b) When you’re ready for a well-branded elegant website especially for SOULpreneurs, check out Noordic Creative Studios.
Free logo maker: LogoMaker (from Namecheap)
When you’re just getting started with a basic website or business card, this is a surprisingly decent logo generator (and free) based on a few questions. You can further customize once you make your first selections. Great for spiffing up a new website. This is a free service by NameCheap, a reliable low-budget place to register your domain name.
Client Portal for Coaches: Coaches Console
This is what I use and can’t imagine life without using software like this. It’s a secure, all-in-one system for client records, scheduling, payment, agreements, worksheets, tracking progress, downloadable tools, and e-courses too. Includes all the training and templates you need to get started quickly.
A good alternative to explore, for less cost, is Paperbell. It doesn’t include e-courses or everything in Coaches Console, but it’s a modern, well-done system as far as I can tell from the outside. You can try for free. Kajabi for coaches is also worth a look if you’re going for courses and robust offerings.
Affiliate Tracking and Shopping Cart:
If you’re already using an e-product or e-course software system, such as Simplero or Podia, look for the affiliate tracking feature inside there. If you need something free-standing, I hear ThriveCart and e-junkie could be worth a look.
Survey Tool: Google Forms
Often this easy-to-use survey system or fillable form system is all you need.
SurveyMonkey’s paid version would be a good one if you need more than Google Forms can do but Google’s is quite robust.
Videoconferencing and Video Webinars: Zoom
I know you’ve heard of it by now. You can host a group meeting and trust that the video and audio will work better than most other tools. And it costs less than many others. Win-win. With many plans and add-on options, you can scale up from small meetings to large events. Some people use it to record podcast interviews or video interviews because the technology is so good. I use it for my virtual group meetings.
Video hosting: Vimeo or Youtube (depending on the use)
I use Vimeo for hosting my client and course related educational videos so that it won’t have ads or send people to other videos. High quality, reliable, and easy to use. No ads. Reasonable price options. Includes automated closed captioning.
Youtube is better for when you want to get your message out there widely and don’t mind the ads and distractions that come along with it. If you do use Youtube for marketing, be sure to learn how best to do that, including something like this Youtube SEO course ($12) on Udemy.
If you’re using a robust online course or online community system, like Simplero, video hosting is often included.
There are so many options, such as do-it-yourself apps on your smartphone, such as InShot. For a bit more, including captioning, Kapwing is a decent low-budget option for editing or creating videos using a cloud-based option. (However I had some glitches when using Kapwing so I’m not sure what it can handle.) At times, you’ll also want to consider professional video editing and video strategy consulting from a small business specialist.
Computer backup to the Cloud: Backblaze
If you’re not backing up your computer regularly, you could lose all your hard work. There’s more in that computer than you realize. I was lucky that my backups were in good shape when my computer died after a water spill on the keyboard. I’ve been in past jobs where the backup wasn’t happening and it took weeks to recreate things we needed. Ugh. Whatever you do, set up backups. I like Backblaze.
Online Co-working: Focusmate
It’s a video call where you each work on our own projects, silently, and hold each other accountable. Available 24/7. It’s surprisingly helpful for focus and getting things done.
This is an important part of any business. I recommend you find an accountant or bookkeeper you like to help you set up the books correctly. They’ll help you choose a system and help you learn to use it. Two common options are Quickbooks or Xero.
Disclosure: I have registered as an affiliate with some of these organizations because I know them and like them. If you purchase using these links, I may receive a few dollars as a token of thanks for my time.