198: The Software Tools I Use To Run My 7 Figure Blog With Steve Chou

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198: The Software Tools I Use To Run My 7 Figure Blog

Most people are amazed that I can run a 7 figure blog without having any employees and only working 20 hours per week. The truth is that I rely heavily on software and automation to accomplish most of my tasks.

So today, I’m going to go over every single piece of software I’m currently using to run MyWifeQuitHerjob.com.

In addition, I’ll talk about the pros and cons between the different options.

What You’ll Learn

  • Which tools I use for hosting
  • Which tools I use for marketing
  • Which tools I use for email
  • Which tools I use for social media marketing

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Payability.com – A financing company that provides high growth Amazon sellers with daily payments. With Payability, you can say goodbye to cash flow issues and stockouts and hello to scalability and profits. Click here and receive a $200 credit upon signup.
Payability Right now, Payability is giving away $1000 in gift cards to three lucky Amazon sellers. Click here to enter The Ultimate Amazon Reseller Giveaway today. Rules apply. Giveaway ends on February 28, 2018.

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Sellers Summit

Transcript

You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners, and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not. Now today I’m going to be doing another solo episode, but this time I’m going to talk about all the tools that I use to run my seven figure blog and my personal experiences with many different software tools.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 20% of my revenues. Now, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again that’s, mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I also want to thank Payability for being a sponsor of the show. If you run a successful e-commerce business like I do, you probably know that the worst thing that can happen to you is to run out of stock. Now my wife and I regularly import container loads of merchandise from China, and having the cash flow to do so is very important.

Right now Amazon pays you every couple of weeks, but imagine what you could do if you got paid on a daily basis. My friends over at Payability make that possible for thousands of Amazon sellers. Right now high growth Amazon sellers are using the extra cash flow from Payability to buy more inventory, stay in the buy box, and keep up with demand.

Here is how it works. Every single business day, Payability gives sellers 80% of their Amazon earnings from the prior day for a 2% flat fee on gross sales. The remaining 20% is reserved to cover returns and charge backs, and is released to you on Amazon’s regular 14 day schedule. Your money isn’t doing anything for you if it’s sitting with Amazon, so why not get it faster.

Sign up now and put your earnings to work today. Go to Go.payability.com/Steve to get started, and receive a $200 credit on sign up. Once again that’s Go.payability.com/Steve and get a free $200 credit upon sign up. Now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. In a previous episode, I discussed all the tools that I used to run my seven figure e-commerce store at bumblebeeLinens.com. So today I’m going to do another solo episode to talk about the tools that I use to run my other seven figure business, my blog at Mywifequitherjob.com.

And to be clear, when I talk about my blog, I’m lumping a bunch of things together which include my online training course at profitableonlinestore.com as well as my podcast, because they’re all under the same LLC. And what is cool about Mywifequitherjob.com is that it’s mostly a one man show. I basically have one person on my team that edits my podcasts, but that’s it, and I spend roughly 15 to 20 per week to run it.

And in fact that’s what I really love about blogging. Blogging scales incredibly well and there are practically no costs of goods. Now of course it did take me eight years to get to this point, but now I’m finally able to enjoy the fruits of my blogging labor. In any case without further ado, here are the tools that I use to run Mywifequitherjob.com.

So the first question I always get asked is what platform I’m on and where I host my blog. Now I’m on WordPress which is pretty much a no brainer today. WordPress is a CMS that pretty much powers over 30% of the web, very feature rich, it’s got a huge developer community making plug-ins, and all those things put together make it a no brainer as your CMS platform.

Now in terms of hosting, I’ve actually chosen to self-host my blog on a web host called Storm on Demand. Now it’s the same host that I use for my online store. I’m paying about $100 a month to host five websites which is super cheap. And the up times have been fantastic. I actually pay a little bit extra for a fully managed service over at Storm, which means that they handle all the server issues for me when there’s any sort of trouble.

So let’s say I need a new PHP package installed, I can just send them an email and they’ll go ahead and do it. If there’s problems with the server or something has gone down, all I have to do is send them an email and they’ll fix it. I’ve actually had to use their service usually like once per year or so like when something goes wrong, but for the most part it’s been really smooth.

Now most of the bloggers that I know who are doing seven figures are actually on a service call WP Engine which is a fully hosted WordPress platform. And the reason why I don’t use WP Engine is because it’s a lot more expensive. I think right now, I’m paying 100 bucks a month for Storm. If I run WP Engine I’d be paying over $250 per month. But what’s nice about WP Engine is that they handle everything for you. So overall, if you don’t want to deal with anything technical about your blog, go with WP Engine, otherwise host it yourself on a host like Storm on Demand.

Now the second most often question I get asked is about my email marketing, and so first off I use a service called Drip. And e-mail is actually responsible for over 90% of the revenue from mywifequitherjob.com. So I thought I’d spend a little extra time just talking about email in general, because almost every week someone emails me asking me what I think about MailChimp versus AWeber versus ConvertKit versus Drip versus Klaviyo.

Now I’ve actually used or I’m using these services and I’ve used them for the past nine years, so I just want to give you a quick rundown of the differences in the context of email marketing for blogging only. And so let’s talk about MailChimp first. MailChimp is actually the email marketing service that most people start with because it is free for up to 2,000 subscribers. Now I want to preface this by saying that I have had just horrible experiences with MailChimp in the past, and I will never ever, ever use them or recommend them for anyone for anything mission critical.

Usually I try not to be negative about services, but this particular service just burned me twice during a critical period of my business career, and I thought I’d just tell you what happened. I remember for mywifequitherjob.com, I remember I was about to do a launch of a product, and then out of the blue they just decided to ban me. And they banned me out of the blue. I sent them e-mail for support to see what was going on because they didn’t even give me a reason. And they emailed me back 48 hours later telling me that the decision was final.

And so all of a sudden, I had this launch to do, and I had to scramble to switch providers and get everything together in a hurry because it just happened without any warning all the sudden. Now I was actually using MailChimp for Bumblebee Linens as well. And I remember during the holiday season once again I got banned out of the blue. I wasn’t sending any spam; these are all content that I was basically sending out.

We got banned during the holiday season, and once again we had to scramble to find another email provider over the holidays and we probably missed out on over maybe a week of sales while I was doing this transition, so we lost lots of money. Both of these bans from MailChimp happened at a very bad time. And here’s what I don’t like about them. They don’t offer you any support except for e-mail, you can’t get anyone on the phone, and it can take up to 48 hours before you even get a response.

And we got banned both those times, the decision was final and I was forced to find a new provider ASAP without any warning whatsoever. And just recently, a couple of weeks ago, one of the students in my class using MailChimp just got banned as well just before the holiday season. So MailChimp is great if you want something that’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers. But if you want to use e-mail marketing for anything mission critical, I would advise that you stick with another solution. This is just based on my experiences; your mileage is going to vary.

Now when I got banned from MailChimp, both times I went over to AWeber. AWeber is actually a provider that I use for over six years. I was very happy with them and I still recommend them to this day. Back when I started blogging in 2009, AWeber was actually the de facto standard. The only reason I started out with MailChimp is because it was free. Unfortunately in the past seven years with AWeber, they’ve been really slow to adopt new features. And overall they’ve kind of fallen behind over the years.

Now that being said, whenever I rate any sort of email marketing provider, the first thing I look at is deliverability. And AWeber has fantastic email deliverability. I run all of my email provider prospects through a tool called Glock Apps. Now if you’ve never heard of Glock Apps, Glock Apps is a tool that tells you what frequency your emails make it to the inbox and not to spam or the promotions folder.

So here’s how it works. Glock Apps gives you a series of email addresses that will be under like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, the whole bunch of email providers. And then what you do, you send a broadcast to this list and then Glock Apps tells you what frequency of your e-mails actually make it into the inbox, and then they provide you suggestions on what to do in order to get into the inbox. So I basically run this test on every single email provider that I’m looking at trying, and based on the deliverability I make a decision. So that’s just one thing I factor in when deciding what to do.

Once again AWeber has awesome deliverability, and I actually never would have switched if I didn’t start running webinars and I needed some additional features. Basically what I wanted from AWeber was the ability for someone to click on a link within an e-mail and instantly be tagged and segmented for a webinar. But unfortunately AWeber didn’t offer that.

When I told them that I was thinking about switching, they basically promised me this feature within three months, and so I waited, and waited, and waited. And there are of course delays in the implementation and that sort of thing, and I really couldn’t wait, so I decided to switch over to ConvertKit. Now at the time, ConvertKit was actually slightly cheaper than AWeber, and they had this click to tag functionality, so I just decided to make the switch.

Now making the switch is actually a major pain in the butt, and so I really needed this feature and that’s why I decided to switch. And when I did make the switch to ConvertKit, I actually fell in love with their service as soon as I started using them. They have a very intuitive user interface. They have really easy to use tagging features that allow you to easily segment your list, and overall I think I was with them for almost two years. I was extremely happy with them, and then I started getting mass spam attacks to my list.

Basically what was happening was like hundreds of these bots were just filling out the forms on my website, and basically these were just — they weren’t humans so they were of no monetary value for me. And they were filling up my subscriber list, and I was paying for these subscribers. And at that point I remember going to double opt-in, but these bots were so smart that they actually have another bot waiting to actually click on the double opt-in link that most email providers provide. And as a result I was getting hundreds of these per day signing up for my email list.

And the major downside of ConvertKit for me was that I could not easily pull my list and detect these fake subscribers. The main problem for ConvertKit for me was they don’t give you an easy way to remove crappy subscribers from your list. They basically offer one segment that’s built in. It’s called cold subscribers. They can use to see if no one has opened or clicked an email within a certain period, but that is it. It’s unclear what that time segment is, and you can’t really do anything special in terms of locating these spammy subscribers.

So basically what happened was I was getting lots of spam subscribers, on the order of hundreds per day. There was no easy way for me to detect these people in ConvertKit, and as a result I was just paying all sorts of money for crappy subscribers. Now over time as I became a more advanced blogger and I needed more features, I also found that there are certain things about ConvertKit that I couldn’t do that I wanted to do as well.

So for example, let’s say if you want to create a segment based on people who’ve opened a particular email or visited a particular web page on your blog, or clicked on a link that was not tagged within an e-mail, well you can’t create a segment with ConvertKit that way. And the downside, the one downside of ConvertKit that I found was that you can only segment subscribers if you have everything nicely tagged and set up ahead of time. Like you can’t get a bunch of describers and then decide to segment them after the fact.

So for example, let’s say I want to send an email to people who have opened all of my emails in the last month, you can’t really do that in ConvertKit. You can’t send an email to everyone who has looked at a certain web page, there is no real way to determine how engaged a particular subscriber is on your list even if they are explicitly tagged. And you might think that some of this functionality isn’t that big of a deal, but let’s say you’re doing a launch and you want to get an idea of how good your product is to your most active subscribers.

So what I would do in this case is I would compile all the list of my best people and try to solicit their opinion from my most loyal fans. You can’t really do this in ConvertKit. There’s also a lack of many email personalization features. So let’s say I want to include a short blurb at the end of all my emails to remind subscribers when and where they signed up to reduce kind of this marked as spam complaints, you can’t really do that easily with ConvertKit.

But overall I was actually pretty happy with ConvertKit until I got these spam attacks. I was willing to live with some of these lack of features. But just over time at the rate of getting 100 spam subscribers a day, I just couldn’t really justify paying for all that money to ConvertKit when most of my subscribers were bad ones.

I just want to let you know that tickets for the 2018 Sellers Summit are on sale at sellerssummit.com. Now what is the Sellers Summit? It is the conference that I hold every year that specifically targets e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online. And unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, mine is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an e-commerce business.

And in fact every speaker that I invite is deep in the trenches of their ecommerce business, entrepreneurs who are importing large quantities of physical goods, and not some high level guys who are overseeing their companies at 50,000 feet. The other thing I can assure you is that the Sellers Summit will be small and intimate. Last year we cut off ticket sales at around 100 people, so tickets will sell out quickly.

If you are an e-commerce entrepreneur making more than $250,000 or one million dollars per year, we are also offering an exclusive mastermind experience with other top sellers. Now the Sellers Summit is going to be held in Fort Lauderdale Florida from May 3rd to May 5th. And as I mentioned earlier, we’re almost sold out already, and I actually will be raising the ticket price from here on out every two weeks. That’s right; the ticket cost is going to go up every two weeks until the event. For more information, go to sellerssummit.com. Once again that’s sellerssummit.com, or just Google it, now back to the show.

So I decided to look around, to look at other email providers that could solve my problem, and ultimately Drip is actually the platform that I settled on. Basically in a nutshell they have all the great features of AWeber and ConvertKit put together. Drip allows you to track the actions of every single subscriber, and what’s cool about Drip is they assign everyone a lead score. Basically this lead score is a numerical value given to a person based on their activity.

So basically points are added based on every time someone opens an email, every time someone clicks a link, every time someone visits your website, every time someone downloads a lead magnet, and points are subtracted at a steady rate based on how long a user is inactive. As a result this lead score can tell you how active a particular subscriber is. And that’s just extremely powerful because you can easily segment who your best customers are and who your worst ones are.

So let’s say I want to run a quick test to my active readers, really easy. Let’s say I want to offer a special discount to my most loyal fans, that’s really easy to do on Drip, and that’s something that you can’t do on ConvertKit or AWeber. This lead score feature is also especially useful at screening out spam email subscribers. Because Drip allows me to track all of their activity, I can pretty much easily detect a spam subscriber based on certain rules that I’ve set up in Drip.

Now I don’t want to go into too much detail about the exact rules that I’ve set up, but let’s just say it’s really easy to spot a real human from a robot when you’re using Drip because they give you access to all these primers that are not available in other providers. So I’m using Drip for the blog, and one of the number one questions I got was, hey Steve isn’t Klaviyo a sponsor of your show, how come you’re not using Klaviyo for your blog?

And I just thought I’d clarify this. I use Klaviyo for my e-commerce store, and I use Drip for my blog. Now why do I use a different service for email versus e-commerce. Well quite frankly I probably could use Klaviyo for the blog, but it’s significantly more expensive per subscriber than Drip, approximately three X. Now Klaviyo is actually great for tracking all of your sales and all of your customers. But outside of your sales and your customers, they actually have pretty lousy segmentation for anything else other than sales.

So for example, with Klaviyo I cannot segment my list based on what a customer has clicked or what content was browsed. Klaviyo was designed for sales. So I can easily segment based on what someone actually purchased, but I can’t really easily do it based on content or click within an email. So as a result Klaviyo would be pretty useless for me in terms of my webinars. It also would be pretty useless for me in determining who my best email customers and in terms of their open rate or their click rate.

And so that’s why I use you know two separate e-mail services for my two separate businesses. If there were a one size fit all solution, by all means I would probably go with it. But for now in the meantime I’m using Klaviyo for ecommerce and Drip for my blog. Now since I run a WordPress blog, there are a number of plug-ins I use to manage the blog. And in general, my philosophy is to use as few plug-ins as possible because for every single plug-in that you add to your blog, it actually slows down your site.

So I try to be minimalistic. So I’m just kind of go over the ones that I absolutely use for my blog. The first plug-in is called All in One SEO Pack. And basically it’s one of two of the best SEO plug-ins for WordPress. It basically allows you to change all the title and all your meta tags for all of your posts. It creates a site map for you; it does the OG markup for you for Facebook which is pretty important. It’ll also do the markup for you for Google as well.

So there’s basically two plug-ins. There’s Yoast and All in One SEO Pack. I think I just started out using All in One SEO nine years ago, and I just stuck with it. But as far as I know both plug-ins are really good and they both do the same thing. For the podcast I use a plug-in called Blubrry PowerPress to manage my podcast feed that goes to iTunes and a bunch of other services. I don’t actually have too much experience with trying out all the different podcast plug-ins, but Blubrry has worked really well for me over the years, and so I’ve just stuck with them.

To host the actual audio files, I use a service called Libsyn. Libsyn is probably the oldest hosting service for podcast, and once again once I stuck with them I didn’t look elsewhere really. But what’s really nice about Libsyn is you pay a flat rate to host a certain number of podcasts per month, and then you pretty much get unlimited downloads. If you were to host your podcast on a service like Amazon S3, if your podcast were ever to blow up and get really popular, then the cost would get really high. But with Libsyn you basically pay one flat monthly fee no matter how popular the podcast actually gets.

The next plug-in I use is a plug-in called Cookies for Comments. And once upon a time I was getting mass comment spam, and the built in plug-in for WordPress Akismet wasn’t doing it for me. And what Cookies for Comments does is it places a cookie on the person’s site, and it also requires the reader to have JavaScript enabled on their browser. Now most bots that do common spam, they can’t handle cookies and they can’t handle JavaScript. And so that’s why Cookies for Comments basically eliminated 90% of my comment spam on my blog.

To make my blog run extra fast, I use a plug-in called WP Super Cache. Basically what it does is it takes all of your blog posts and creates static HTML files for your posts. So as a result when someone comes onto your site, they are served the static file instead of having to run the database and run the PHP element of your web server. It makes your site zippy and it allows you to get a lot more traffic before your server goes down.

The next plug-in I use is called “Scroll Triggered Box.” It’s basically an email form that slides in from the side. If someone has scrolled all the way to the end of one of my posts, you’ll see this little email box kind of scrolling from the side and entice someone to sign up for my email list. Once someone has finished reading a particular post on my blog, I usually list a set of random and similar posts to encourage other people to click on different articles on the site. In case someone wants to comment on the blog, I have this feature called subscribe to comments, which basically sends them an email whenever someone has responded to their comment on the blog post.

Now I also run a membership site for my course which is over at Profitable Online Store Course. And the plug-in that I use to manage my membership site is called s2Member. Now at the time, I evaluated a bunch of different membership plug-ins like WishList, s2, I think I looked at Zippy Courses at the time. And overall, I chose s2Member because it was the most lightweight plug-in out there, and it was free. And basically — so the way s2Member works is it’s free for the base features, but if you want to add a payment processor, they’ll charge you extra to get all these extra little features.

But since I know how to code, I basically took the base s2Member and then coded up all the different payment platforms that I needed. And so ultimately I had this platform where it was completely free and I could host as many members as I wanted without any cost. Now if you’re going to start a course today, there’s a number of fully hosted platforms out there that will take a percentage of your sales and or charge you a monthly fee. But I’m really averse to paying anything on a monthly basis, so that’s why s2Member was good for me. It’s free, there’s no monthly fee, and it’s really feature rich and it’s lightweight and will not bog your site down.

To manage my payment plans for my payments, I use a payment processor called Stripe. It is free. It’s a little bit expensive in terms of the percentage that they take, but it is free and the API is fantastic which allows you to integrate it easily with any sort of payment or membership site that you want. Every single month I run webinars, and everyone always asks me which webinar platform that I use.

Right now I’m actually not using any webinar platform. The tools that I use for webinars are actually free. I basically use YouTube Live and Chatwing. It costs me zero dollars on a monthly basis. Remember when I mentioned I’m averse to paying anything on a monthly basis, well my webinar platform is free, and I manage to make between 30 and $70,000 per webinar on this free platform and it’s worked out great for me.

To edit my podcasts, I use a tool called Audacity. All the tools that I use to run my podcast can be found in a really comprehensive video tutorial that I put together over at mywifequitherjob.com. I’ll actually list this in the show notes, but the reason why this tutorial was actually so good was originally I was going to sell it for $99, but ultimately I decided that podcasting really had nothing to do with the things that I blog about on the site, so I decided to just give it away for free. Once again this podcast tutorial will be listed in the show notes. I highly advise if you want to start a podcast, go read this post. It’s got videos and everything. Once again I was originally going to sell it, but decided to give it away for free, check it out.

Anyways, those are all the tools that I used to run a seven figure blog. And as I’m looking over this list right now, the only thing that I actually pay for is my email marketing and my podcast hosting and my web hosting. Everything else that I use or do with the blog is actually free, and anything that I sell has a zero cost of goods which makes blogging infinitely scalable. Anyways, I hope you found this helpful. And leave a comment in the show notes if you have any other questions on tools that I use.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Well I wish there was a single comprehensive piece of software that could do it all, unfortunately there is no such thing. And the software game is constantly changing and you basically have to adapt to keep up. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode198.

And I want to thank Payability for sponsoring this episode. If you’re looking to take back control of your cash flow and scale your Amazon business fast, then sign up for Payability, and say goodbye to cash flow issues and stock outs. With daily payments, you can speed up your supply chain, buy inventory at optimal times, and stay in the buy box. The more control you have over your cash flow, the more buying power you will have. Visit Go.payability.com/Steve to get started, and cash in on a $200 credit just for being a My Wife Quit Her Job listener. Once again that’s Go.payability.com/Steve.

And finally, Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now, I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email, and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.

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3 thoughts on “198: The Software Tools I Use To Run My 7 Figure Blog With Steve Chou”

  1. Greg says:

    Hey Steve,

    Like you, I am a fellow techie although I am more on the IT side in Systems Administration. I just wanted to say that you have a great podcast! I l binge listened to it on a recent trip. Thanks for making the flights from Charlotte, NC to Anchorage, AK bearable. Without you, JLD, and Pat Flynn it would have been rough.

    I was interested in the link to the course that you alluded to but could not find it. Did you change your mind about posting it?

    Thanks again!

    Greg

  2. conpyme says:

    Thanks, Kelsey!

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