by sonja thorsvik

The Exact Tools And Software I Use (and how much they cost)

In today’s digital age, the quest for the most efficient and cost-effective software to streamline one’s workflow can be nothing short of an odyssey.

With so many options available at our fingertips, the process of selecting the ideal tools can be both daunting and time-consuming no matter if you are just starting out or are a seasoned pro.

I’ll walk you through the exact software and tools I use daily, and current costs. I promise that you’ll discover at least one game-changing tool to transform the way you work.

This guide is tailored for individuals who seek to refine their collection of instruments, boost efficiency, and elevate the overall quality of their work. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.

I will start with my website, and accompanying websites, and then move on to creation tools both digital and physical.

This article is best viewed on a desktop. If you are on mobile rotate your phone horizontally to see the full charts please, and thank you.

QUICK TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Create A Stunning Business Website
  2. Supporting Websites To Help You Grow
  3. How The Websites Work Together
  4. Best Digital Products To Scale Your Brand
  5. Best Products For Content Creation
  6. How Much Does It All Cost?

WEBSITE(S)

MAIN WEBSITE

ProductCompanyCostCycle
Main URL & HostGoDaddy$12Yearly
CMSShowIt$30Monthly
ThemeTonic Site Shop$1,500One Time
BlogWordPress$0N/A
Email AddressGoogle Workspace$6Monthly
AnalyticsGoogle Analytics$0N/A

OTHER LINKING SITES

ProductCompanyCostCycle
Podcast HostSpotify For Podcasters$0N/A
Podcast WebsitePodpage$180Yearly
Podcast URLGoogle Domains$12Yearly
NewsletterBeeHiiv$99Monthly
Shoppable ItemsSpotify$5Monthly

STEP-BY-STEP WALKTHROUGH OF HOW THE WEBSITES WORK TOGETHER IN ORDER OF OPERATION

This section will be useful to anyone starting a website or wondering how it all fits together. As you can see I have various websites for different parts of my business simply because there is NOT yet a solution that I know about or like that can take care of all of my current needs and future goals.

I am a MASSIVE advocate of crunching your numbers. Google Analytics is a big part of my business so it is integrated everywhere possible. Businesses that are not obsessed with their data will most likely fail. Most of the software has its own individual Analytics too. I look at all of the numbers, both in Google Analytics as an overall snapshot, and each platform’s data to really dive in.

Some of these links are affiliate codes. Not only is it a great way for you to get a price break on these items, but it is also a great way to support me as well. If you have consumed any of my content you know that I strictly and explicitly only add links to tools and software I actually use myself.

OK, here we go: in the exact order of operations here is how all of the above works together in my business.

Main Website

Gigging For Gold has one central main website: www.giggingforgold.com. Think of the main site as the central command center – the mothership – the hub.

GoDaddy

I first purchased the domain URL (giggingforgold.com) through GoDaddy which also hosts my website. A website must be hosted somewhere, and you must of course have a URL.

Google Workspace

Formally G Suite, Google Workspace is where I choose to set up my business email address (Gmail). They have different plans but I just keep on the Starter plan because – solopreneur. This also gives me access to Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Meet, etc.

ShowIt

Then I signed up with the Content Management System ShowIt. (get a free month here). This is where you are actually building your website. More ‘familiar’ platforms would be WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, etc… But this platform is the by far the most customizable I’ve used in over 15 years of building websites.

Then I purchased a stunning design theme and a few add-on sales pages through Tonic Site Shop which gets activated in ShowIt. So now countless hours of starting from scratch are removed and I have a stunning theme to start adding my content to. So far I have purchased the main theme ‘Margarita’ for $1,250, Digital Marketing Essentials Add-On $125, Instagram Links Add-On $75, and Timeline Section Add-On $50. I believe a great website that feels like you is one of the top ways to establish yourself as a professional and scale your brand.

After I was satisfied with the design I point the GoDaddy DNS (the domain URL) records to ShowIt. AKA my main website is now live.

WordPress

The blog portion of my website is created and managed through WordPress. I write blog articles on WordPress and hit publish. When you read the blog articles on my Main Website they are being seamlessly integrated into ShowIt (this a feature you can pay for when you sign up for ShowIt). Meaning you are not redirected to WordPress when you hit the ‘Articles’ tab in my main menu, they just perfectly sync and show up within my website itself and I have full control over how they look because of the easy design capabilities in ShowIt (but I make it easy on myself and use the template again from Tonic).

Google Analytics

I created an account with Google Analytics. I did this after the ShowIt website is live because in order for it to pull analytics a website site must be live, not in pending/draft mode. [Pro Tip: Never ever ever ever ever launch a website and do a bunch of marketing to it that same day. Quietly launch it and let the Google Analytics kick in, the search engines index it, fix all the issues, check all the links for the thousandth time, etc THEN market it… trust me]. Google Analytics will provide you with Code that you must place into every page of ShowIt that you want it to track in the ‘Custom Head HTML’ sections.

So Now…

So now I have a domain name and somewhere my website is hosted (from GoDaddy), somewhere to design my website (the CMS platform called ShowIt), a theme ready for me to tweak and add my copy and images to (purchased from Tonic Site Shop), and a blog to start adding articles to (integrated with WordPress). People can contact me through email (set up with Google Workplace), and I can measure and track analytics of how well my site is doing (through Google Analytics).


Podpage

The Podcast URL (www.giggingforgoldpodcast.com) was purchased through Google Domains and is hosted by Spotify Podcasts (formerly Anchor). The ‘Podcast’ link on the main website takes you to the Podcast Website through Podpage. Honestly what a super f-ing amazing software program! The reason I have a separate URL is because if I didn’t they will auto-populate one for you with the name PodPage in it and I didn’t want that. Why I bought my domain through Google Domains and not GoDaddy to keep it all together does not have a logical reason other than too much coffee that day?

The beauty of this software is that it can act as its own website. If you are a podcaster, this could be your all-in-one solution: website/blog/podcast if you were after simplicity. Podpage takes the RSS feed of your Podcast (which Spotify For Podcasters provides me) and auto-pulls it to that page any time I publish a new episode. So instead of manually having to embed a podcast player into my blog each time I produce an episode and upload cover art and then add all of the links to wherever my podcast is syndicated to (so far 12 different places) this does it all for you automatically literally saving me hours of time. And, it looks good too.

SEE WHAT MY PODCAST PAGE LOOKS LIKE HERE AND LISTEN IN!

Beehiiv

My newsletter ambitions are large. So instead of free software, I went with the King Kong of newsletter software right away called Beehiiv, designed by the designers of ‘Morning Brew’ (#BrewCrew if you know you know). Once my newsletter hits a certain number I will start using its other features like sponsorship, and referral program for my actual subscribers so they can get swag (this is huge!). Also, a game-changer here is that when you create a newsletter you can choose to just send it as a newsletter OR do both a newsletter and have it posted to an archive section ONLINE so it acts as another blog area. This is huge for SEO and getting more traffic. In addition, you can ‘gate’ this feature, so if people want to read past ‘newsletters’ they have to subscribe. I do that now and it helps because I can market my newsletter as ‘premium’ content because only members can read it. Fancy.

My newsletter opt-in box is then added to my ‘Newsletter’ page on my Main Website (built-in Showit) using the embed code AND using another embed code is placed on the Podcast Webpage (built with Podpage).

Pro Tip: if you are taking the copy that you wrote in a blog post and now making it a newsletter to send out (a common practice) and making it an archived post through Beehiiv make the Subject Line of your newsletter different then what your original blog title post was (the title you gave your article post in WordPress for example) so your not fighting yourself for SEO rankings.

Shopify

And lastly, the templates that you can purchase on my website are hosted on Shopify. Again, I have integrated them into my Mian Website (built-in ShowIt) with literally one line of code. I am on the ‘Starter’ plan now as I have just started with e-commerce products. Shopify has a wonderful $1 trial period for your first 3 months (that’s pretty amazing in the industry!) then you can bump to Starter, Basic, Shopify, Advanced. I’m sticking with the $5 a month Starter plan for now until I have a suite of templates for purchase, then I’ll scale up. Shopify also has the ability to easily add shoppable products to social media platforms. I will be taking advantage of that too.

Google Analytics

My codes for Google Analytics are also placed in all of these: Podpage, Beehiiv, and Shopify. For Podpage you simply add the GA4 Pixel ID to the area provided by Google Analytics AND add your custom domain (giggingforgodpodcast.com) to the Google Analytics Data Stream within Google Analytics and then you can see all the data in Google Analytics. For Beehiiv and Shopify it’s just one step: you add the GA4 Pixel ID and your data will show up in Google Analytics.

So Now…

So now my Main Website has a menu link to my external podcast website (through Podpage) with superior functionality, and built-in players, and makes me look and sound more professional. My Newsletter page on my main website has an embedded signup to my newsletter form (from Beehiiv), and my podcast website (on Podpage) has one too. And I now have products for sale on my website (that are hosted on Shopify) that you can easily purchase. Google Analytics is now pulling from everywhere: main website (ShowIt), blog (WordPress), podcast website (Podpage), Newsletter ‘site’ (Beehiiv), and Shoppable Content (Shopify). Nerds Unite!

Important to note here on other Analytics: WordPress has its own analytics if you install the JetPack plugin, Beehiiv has its own Analytics that are massively important information that you can NOT get in Google Analytics such as open rate and Shopify has its own analytics.


EVERYTHING ELSE I USE TO RUN AND EXPAND MY BRAND

DIGITAL PRODUCTS

ProductCompanyCostCycle
LEGAL
Business FormationLegal Zoom$300Yearly
State Business Filing FeeMaryland$300Yearly
COMMUNICATIONS
Mobile PhoneApple$1,200One-Time
Mobile Phone PlanMint Mobile$30Monthly
Video MeetingsGoogle Meet$0N/A
BRANDING
Design SoftwareCanva Pro$12Monthly
Stock Photos/VideosUnsplash/Pixels$0N/A
AI Image CreatorBing Image Creator$0N/A
ACCOUNTING
Accounting SoftwareQuickbooks Self-employed$25Monthly
InvoicingSquare$0N/A
Credit CardChase Business Ink$0N/A
COPYWRITING
Transcribing Otter.AI$100Yearly
TranscribingPodsqueeze$13Monthly
AI AssistantChatGPT-4$20Monthly
SOCIAL MEDIA
Scheduling SoftwareSocial Pilot$50Monthly
Link ShortenerBit.ly$0N/A
Trend Finder AppReelTrends Pro$40Yearly
EDITING
Video Editing DesktopiMovie$0N/A
Video Editing MobileGoPro Quick App$10Yearly
Photo/Video EditsInShot App$0N/A
Photo EditsRetouch App$0N/A
Writing EditsGrammarly$0N/A
WELLNESS
Fitness AppForm$20Monthly

You might not find the above list earth-shattering but if I had to pick just four items that really up my business game I’d choose Canva Pro for design work, Mint Mobile for your cell phone service provider if you are based in the USA, Grammarly for editing text, and ChatGPT-4 to assist with content creation.

I’d say for the price, Canva is the most value-packed software out there. I would gladly pay 5x their monthly fee. It is that powerful. I used the free version for years before going to the Pro version. Canva is an all-in-one design platform that allows users to create almost anything: from business cards, social media posts, presentations, and flyers. Pretty much anything you can think of to design this is where you do it.

Mint Mobile is a mobile service plan that not only works but will save you lots of money. I first learned of this through the ChooseFI community and I can honestly tell you it is fantastic. There is zero need to pay so much for your mobile phone service! I pay $30 for UNLIMITED talk/text/data and it comes with a hot spot allowance as well. Check it out here.

ChatGPT-4 is obviously game-changing. If you still are wondering what it is head to this article: ChatGPT-4 What It Is And Simple Basics. Even on the free plan, it can help you tremendously!


PHYSICAL PRODUCTS

FAMILY PHOTO! MY CONTENT CREATION TOOLS
ProductCompanyStyleCostCycle
WELLNESS
Green DrinkAGIN/A$88Monthly
Healthy Tracker BandWHOOP4.0 Onyx$240Yearly
Blue Light GlassesWHOOPDusk All-Day$85One-Time
CONTENT CREATION
FilmingGoProHERO9$350One-Time
Microphone SamsonSatellite$65One-Time
Micro SD CardSamsung256 EVO$20One-Time
Microphone StandInnoGearDesk Stand$29One-Time
Wireless MicrophonesSaramonicBlink 500 Pro$350One-Time
HeadphonesBoseQuietComfort 45$330One-Time
Ear BudsAppleAirPods$130One-Time
LaptopAppleMacBook Pro$1,950One-Time
GimbalDJIOsmo 6$160One-Time
LightingZoMeiRing Light 18′$85One-Time
Sound Proof Sonic AcousticsSound Panels$28One-Time
Pop FilterClef Audio LabsPop Filter$11One-Time
Small TripodManfrottoPixi Mini$32One-Time
Click RemoteSkoutagWireless$12One-Time
Portable ChargerAnker325 Power Bank$43One-Time
Cleaner ToolHigibusCleaning Pen$9One-Time

NO GIGGING FOR GOLD ARTICLE WOULD BE COMPLETE WITHOUT ADDRESSING OUR WELLNESS TOO

From my manifesto: “I believe that entrepreneurs are a special breed. We are hustlers, go-getters, extraordinarily skilled, and not afraid to take a risk. We are at our best when serving others — but there’s no reason we should have to sacrifice our health in the process. We are in the world to create our own rules, feel vibrant in our own skin while doing so, and proudly show up as our true selves with confidence – each and every day.”

The four products I use daily for my health and longevity:

Working Out App: FORM

Blue Light Glasses: WHOOP

Health Monitor: WHOOP

Get a free WHOOP 4.0 and one month free when you join with my link here.

Green Drink: AGI

Get a one-year supply of Vitamin D3+K2 & 5 free travel packs of AG1 using my link here.


TOTAL FIXED AND RECURRING COSTS TO RUN THIS BUSINESS IN 2023

One-Time Costs: $6,389

Recurring Monthly Subscriptions: $318

Recurring Yearly Subscriptions: $1,194

TOTAL Yearly Fees: $4,914

Almost everything is a tax write-off as well. Related: Self-Employed People Pay The Most Taxes — How To Lower Them ASAP


BONUS: How Much Will It Cost To Run This Business 2024 Predictions?

It’s always good to plan and think ahead – as we entrepreneurs do. With possible inflation, needing to upgrade subscription plans, and hire out a virtual assistant here are my additional ‘safe-zone’ cost prediction for next year when I’ve begun to scale this business:

-7% Inflation increase on all reoccurring products would then total $3340 monthly and $1,277 yearly.

-VA Costs for when I grow. My past VA was about $1,400 per month.

-Upgraded Microphone would be a fixed cost of $300.

-Video Equipment to start a YouTube channel one-time costs of $5,000 for camera, lenses, lighting, etc. Of course, one could go much higher with this number if you built out a full studio.

-Advertising assumptions are around $500 – $750 per month. I’m hesitant to add this on because depending on my level of growth it could be much higher. I will better know my customer acquisition fees at the end of this year though.

So yes, as I scale I do predict my monthly costs to increase: and how amazing is that! I’m fortunate enough to know that scaling is possible, and I look forward to when I increase my budget in just a few months from now 🙂


It is my sincere hope that you have gleaned valuable insights from this guide. By sharing my personal toolkit and its associated expenses, my aim has been to provide a curated roadmap, simplifying your search for the ideal digital arsenal that complements your unique talents no matter where you are on your entrepreneurial journey.

The process of discovering and integrating new software and tools into your workflow may be challenging at times, but the rewards are undeniably worthwhile. With the right products in hand, you can elevate your productivity, amplify the impact of your work, and ultimately, set yourself apart in this competitive digital landscape.

Let’s go get ’em,

Sonja

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Meet YOUR HOST

SONJA THORSVIK



I started my own entrepreneurial career in 2012 scaling up from $0 a year to over $100,000 each and every year. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe there are ways for all of us self-employed entrepreneurs to reach six-figures and beyond and I'm unapologetically here to show you how I do it so you can make your next best move. Let's go.

foUNDER of gigging for gold
i like my coffee black
@sonjathorsvik

Obsessed With Increasing Your Odds of success