The Toolbox

Here are some of the most important tools I use to run my business:

Hosting

RankXL is hosted on Traffic Planet.

Read about what happened when I switched RankXL’s hosting to Traffic Planet here.

Email marketing

For email marketing and list building, my tool of choice is ConvertKit.

Analytics

You should always install Google Analytics even if you don’t use it on a daily basis. It’s the best tool to see long-term stats on your site, and is essential to have if you want to sell your site in the future.

I like to have both Google Analytics and Clicky installed on the site. Clicky is what I use on a daily basis to check stats. It’s a much simpler interface than GA, and gives you better real-time stats.

WordPress themes

My niche sites are designed with various themes from MyThemeShop, and custom themes that I’ve developed.

My main niche site uses the Newspaper theme from MyThemeShop, and I also love the Magazine theme and Entrepreneurship theme.

Custom design work

As much as I love designing things, there’s a limit to what I can do.

I mainly use tools like Pixlr and Stencil for creating the graphics on this blog.

For quick custom jobs, I’ve been using Envato Studios almost exclusively for a few months now and am always satisfied with the experience.

Articles

For getting content written, I use a variety of sources.

For smaller articles under 1500 words, iWriter can produce some high quality articles for you at the cheapest price. But you need to give the proper instructions as outlined here.

Textbroker is a little bit more expensive, but you’ll get higher quality articles.

If you’re looking for more long-term writers, then the ProBlogger job board will probably be your best bet to find someone talented.

Link building tools

I’m a big believer in the saying: “The more difficult a link is to acquire, the stronger it usually will be.”

Because it’s true.

That’s why I love building links through outreach because it’s the most effective strategy to acquire these types of links.

To get my full set of link building strategies, join The Niche Site Course.

Although I’m more of a do-it-myself kind of guy and like to do things manually, some of the tools that make outreach so much easier and save you a bunch of time are BuzzStream and NinjaOutreach.

Research Tools

Most of my research is done manually using Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Search.

After Google’s update to only show exact search volumes to paying Adwords customers, the best alternative is KWFinder. It’s so much cheaper than the other tools below, and shows you all the exact search volumes, and suggestions that the Keyword Planner used to show.

I also use SEMrush, OSE, Ahrefs, and BuzzSumo.

Backlink checkers can be an expensive monthly investment. If you’re not ready to get a paid account with the big backlink checking softwares out there, check out Open Link Profiler. It’s completely free.

Rankings Tracker

There are a lot of different tools for tracking rankings, but the best one I’ve tried is SerpBook.

It’s the most accurate, and is the rankings tracker I use for my sites, and is even the one that was used when I worked at my old SEO agency job.

Training

For complete niche site and SEO training I created the Niche Site Course, which takes you step-by-step through my entire strategy.

The Niche Site Course focuses primarily on SEO and organic traffic.

If you’re interested in building viral sites (like BuzzFeed, ViralNova, and UpWorthy) and driving tons of visitors to your site instantly, and profiting from ads, then check out FatStacksBlog’s Niche Tycoon.