One of the most challenging parts of running a digital business is all the techie stuff, right? Learning how to create web pages and opt-in forms and autoresponder emails and … (sigh) … shopping carts and payment processors and video hosting.
For those who want to set up a membership site or online course, there’s more software again. Plus, you need to cross your fingers and hope all the tools you’ve chosen will integrate and play together nicely.
Apart from the time spent learning all these tools, there’s the cost!
I know many successful online business owners who are fed up with all the monthly fees for these tools, but yet they know they need them. If they’re frustrated with this, make no wonder it’s hard for beginners and small business owners to make a profit.
Thankfully, change is on its way…
Over the last couple of months I’ve been fortunate enough to be given early access to some brand new software that is about to be launched.
This software is called Kartra (yes, that’s an affiliate link, in case you’re wondering) and I have to say, I’m loving it. This was created by Andy Jenkins – a very successful internet marketer – after dealing with these frustrations himself.
Here are my thoughts after testing this software…
This ONE system contains a number of advanced tools that all sync nicely with each other.
Tools such as:
The Kartra website builder is very easy to use, with many ‘drag and drop’ features. You can select from one of the templates and edit it to suit your needs, or you can start from scratch.
It’s easy to clone pages too, which means that if you want to create a page that’s similar to one of your existing pages you can simply clone it and edit as necessary.
The website builder also includes a large selection of stock images that you’re welcome to use. Although it’s good to be able to use your own photos – which you can still do – having access to stock photos within the website builder saves time. You don’t need to go looking for the right image, download it, then upload it here. (However you can still do that, if you want to.)
The Kartra website builder is ideal for businesses selling digital products. Unlike some of the other website builders around, their templates are extremely flexible. I know some others that are good … but they often limit how much you can edit the templates, which can make it frustrating.
If you sell physical products, you might like to try this out but I don’t think this website builder is going to have everything you need just yet.
For bloggers… continue using WordPress for your blog. (Or Blogger, but I prefer WordPress.)
Kartra’s website builder is not meant for blogging. However you can use both. Use the Kartra pages for your general web pages and keep your blog separate. You can easily create pages in Kartra and then integrate them into your WordPress site (and some other website platforms too).
You’re able to use Kartra’s address for your web pages – meaning that you don’t have to register a domain name or arrange a hosting account if you don’t want to. Or you can integrate your own domain name and/or sub-domains.
Kartra’s support documentation and videos show you how to do this.
This is one of my favourite parts of Kartra and the main reason I was keen to try it out.
I’ve been using World Internet Office – a form of 1Shopping Cart – for my shopping cart and email management for the last 11 years. It’s been great and is very good at what it does.
However the one thing it lacks is something that is growing ever more important in today’s online marketing, and that’s marketing automation. That is, the ability for you to send content to subscribers or customers based on their previous actions.
For example, I like to send new subscribers a ‘Welcome‘ email from me, introducing myself and what they can expect. However some people subscribe to several different lists for different purposes (or after purchasing different products). I don’t want them to receive a ‘Welcome‘ email every time they are added to a new list.
In Kartra I can set this up so that subscribers get ‘tagged’ with “Welcome” and are sent the ‘Welcome‘ email. If they then subscribe to another list or purchase a different product, they won’t receive that initial ‘Welcome‘ email again because the system can tell that they’ve already been sent it.
This is a simple explanation, but there’s SO much more you can do here. It makes it a better experience for your subscribers and customers and is better for business.
There are other programs that can do this – and do it very well. Although they can be very expensive or complicated.
In testing, I found Kartra much easier to use than Infusionsoft. But then again, I am already familiar with Infusionsoft so that may have helped me to pick up Kartra quicker as the concept is similar.
Also, for anyone who has a business selling physical products, you may find Infusionsoft better for your needs. It has a lot more features that are useful for these types of businesses. But for an online business, Infusionsoft can be too confusing (and expensive), with a lot of features you will probably never need.
For me, I’m almost finished transferring from my current system – which has served me very well – over to Kartra. The last of my customers are being transferred across this week.
The other thing you’ll find within Kartra is their ‘Done-for-you’ campaigns. These campaigns were set up by leading internet marketer, Frank Kern, based on some of his most successful campaigns ever.
All you need to do is edit them as needed to suit your products, payment links, emails and so on. This makes it super-easy to get started with your campaigns.
Frank Kern shows more about these ‘Done-For-You’ campaigns in this video:
When you send emails, you can integrate your Kartra account with one of a selection of email providers or you can send it direct from Kartra.
Plus, you can send from your own email address or from your Kartra email address that they set up for you.
I use my own email address. This was extremely easy to set up following their tutorials.
Kartra includes a shopping cart however it’s not a payment processor. So that means that you set up all your product payment links from within your Kartra account but you integrate it with a payment processor that actually processes your customers’ payments.
At this stage there’s four payment processing integration options you can choose from – PayPal, Stripe, AuthorizeNet or BrainTree.
You can set it up with multiple options too.
Personally, I use my own merchant account linked through eWay. However Kartra doesn’t integrate with eWay at this stage. So in the meantime, I’ve set up both PayPal and Stripe integrations instead.
The other point to note here is that Kartra’s shopping cart at this stage isn’t designed for physical products. You may be able to find a way to work around this but otherwise, if you sell physical products, you may want to use something different for your shopping cart for now. (Although I expect this will be improved over the coming months).
The Kartra membership site builder is another feature I particularly like. You can create a membership site where users have their individual log-in details and can access online training or courses.
It allows you to drip-feed content, which is often useful in online courses. Plus one of the best parts is that you can upload your content – videos, audios, images, text/PDF documents – direct to your Kartra account. No more having to create an account with a video hosting service to upload your videos, then create the code to copy/paste into your membership site. Nope. This is all handled directly within your Kartra account.
When I first tried the membership site builder, I must admit… I was disappointed. There’s not a lot of flexibility (although again, I expect they’ll be adding more features and options to this in time.)
However I now realise that this is in fact a good thing. No more time-consuming distractions deciding on the fonts and colours and layout. Just select a few settings, add your content and you’re good to go.
It’s very clean and simple, which makes it easy for members to navigate too.
Here’s an example of the layout:
Previously I have used WishList Member on WordPress sites for my membership sites, and those I managed for clients too. I still love WishList Member and it still has its place.
For sites that are quite complex, including tailoring content and processes to individual members, I’ve left them on my WordPress/WishList Member sites. I recommend the same for others.
But I’ve moved my simpler, more straight-forward membership and online course sites over to my Kartra account.
However Kartra does also integrate with WishList Member, along with Digital Access Pass, aMember, OptimizePress and S2Member. So if you have a membership site based on one of these platforms and you’d like to continue using that, you can still integrate it with Kartra for things like your email management and shopping cart.
The Kartra Help Desk is a pretty cool feature. It allows you to set up your own Help Desk – including a Live Chat option, if you want it.
For someone who wants to get away from using their email address for customer support or who is ready to outsource this task, Kartra’s Help Desk may be ideal. Although it’s a little too basic for me at this stage.
It’s easy to check things such as a customer’s order number or products purchased as their support ticket links to their customer account, within your Kartra dashboard.
Also, I really like that you can add other uses, so you can easily outsource your customer support but still have a central place for all relevant team members – including yourself – to be able to access the necessary information.
There’s a number of feature requests in the queue to make this system better. While I haven’t changed to Kartra’s Help Desk yet, I’m looking forward to doing so in the near future. (Which will also mean I can cancel my current help desk software subscription).
One last feature of mention is the Kartra University. This is a training area that all Kartra customers get access to and it walks you through how to use the various tools.
There are a lot of features within Kartra however they’ve kept it as simple as possible. (Oh, I love simplicity!)
The dashboard is easy to navigate and once you get a basic understanding of how it works, you’ll soon be able to get more advanced with it … if you want to.
If you sell digital products, I highly recommend that you at least check out this software. Personally, it’s already saving me time and money. Not to mention being so much easier than paying for and logging into just one account instead of several.
I see this as a tool that can help get an online business up and running quickly, professionally and affordably.
You can find out more about Kartra by clicking here.
Kartra launches in a couple of days, however they will close it again a few days later. This is so as to not take on too many new users at once, so they can give a high quality service. However if you see a “REQUEST INVITE” button on the page above, go ahead and request your invitation. The Kartra team will then send you details to get a 14-day trial for $1. They’ll also then send a code so you can get a 25% discount on the cost.
This is the best way for you to try it out for yourself to see if it’s something that fits your particular needs. If you decide it’s not for you, just be sure to cancel your account before the trial ends.
Click the image below to watch the official video that explains the software in more detail:
If you miss out on it during its initial launch, register your interest with them anyway because that way you’ll get priority notification next time its made available.
Disclaimer: If you end up being a Kartra customer via the links in this post, I will earn a referral fee. This helps me to be able to create more free content to share with you. But that’s not why I’m recommending Kartra. I’m using it – and loving it – myself and believe this is worthwhile for other online businesses.
Thousands of business books are sold every year. Books that explain how to start a business, achieve goals, promote your business, budget your finances, how to be the best at what you do, and so much more. How do you decide which books to read?
Based upon a Gallup study of 2 million people this book will help you cultivate your personal and career strengths, capitalize on your talents, and know how to build an organization around your talents and those of your employees.
Many business startups fail. Eric Ries provides a set of tools and methodologies that any entrepreneur can use to achieve a successful business. The Lean Startup helps entrepreneurs build a workplace where employees learn, explore, and experiment.
A well-designed checklist is an extremely powerful tool. This book shows how a checklist can transform tragedy into safety, and can take your business from failure to success.
Jim Collins and Jerry Porras completed a six-year project where they researched exceptional companies to determine what makes them exceptional compared to other companies. They then wrote Built to Last, a master blueprint for turning your business into an exceptional business.
Using personal insight, science, and technology, charisma has been taken apart and turned into a science. In The Charisma Myth, you will discover how you can apply strategies and techniques to increase your charisma. You will be able to put the strategies easily to use, right away.
Brooks explored how moral logic and economic logic conflicted within great thinkers and leaders. In The Road To Character, Brooks explains how they used those internal struggles and limitations to build better character. It combines psychology, politics, spirituality, and confessional into structured path for building better character from within.
This book uses a series of case studies to show how long-held assumptions about how behaviour of cost, in relation to customers, is not true. The book explains how you can refocus your attention to responsiveness to increase costs, customer value, and demand.
One of my favourite business books of all time, this book reviews myths about starting your business, showing how they are not as true as you may think. It explains how common expectation, assumptions, and expertise can get in the way of building a successful business.
Okay, this is two books, but I recommend reading them both. I first read Cashflow Quadrant in my late 20s and had some major “a-ha” moments. But I’m not sure if it would have made as much sense if I hadn’t read Rich Dad Poor Dad previously.
Rich Dad Poor Dad shares how Kiyosaki has used what he learned from his two fathers about investing, employment, and about how to view money to create a successful career. His real dad was highly educated, but financially poor. His second dad (his best friend’s dad) was a self-made millionaire who dropped out of eighth grade.
Cashflow Quadrant expands the information from Rich Dad Poor Dad, giving you a guide to financial freedom. This book is written for those who have made the decision that they are ready to make the changes needed to have financial freedom.
Another all-time classic, this book was written to help you succeed in all areas of life so that you can do anything you desire.
Although its title indicates it’s about how to get rich, the philosophy is about successfully achieving your personal goals. It will help you build a lucrative business and experience success on all levels.
The Alchemist is an inspiring story about a shepherd who goes on search for treasured riches. Along the way he meets a gypsy woman, king, and an alchemist who help him complete his quest though they don’t know the true destination of the treasure. The shepherd uncovers so much more… he discovers the power of dreams and why it’s important to listen to our hearts.
This book was recommended to me by a friend when I was going through a very difficult time over a decade ago. It helped me to see the situation I was in at that time in a completely different light, and its lessons have helped me over and over throughout the years since.
Many of these books are so good I’ve included them on the Resources page on this site, along with links for more information or to buy these books.
I hope you enjoy them and find them as helpful as I did.
We live in a high-speed, digital world. There is no denying that.
Unfortunately, this can make the life of a small business owner extremely complicated with the need for one or more email accounts, social media accounts, texting, websites, blogs, and many other needed software and programs. Not to mention that you may have multiples as you have them for your business and your personal use. Aaargh!
The technology age has definitely laid out a great map for information overload. Especially with its enticing thoughts of accomplishing something. It’s easy to believe you’re being productive – after all, you are learning. Or networking.
Even with all that learning, you will put yourself in a paralysis of sorts because you become inactive. If you are constantly learning new things without taking action and implementing what you have learned, you are not really being productive.
That is just the knowledge information available to you. What about all the email, social media, and YouTube videos?
These can cause you to easily lose time as you are sucked into reading, responding, listening, and repeating. You enter a zone of information paralysis.
There is also such a thing as “too much information.” If you have too much information, you may begin making more errors and bad decisions. Especially when you hear (or read) that lists of things that you should be doing in your business, yet they are not all the same.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your business is learn how to manage information overload.
1. Unless you are in a customer support role or otherwise need to do so more often, only check your email at one or two scheduled times throughout your day. One way to avoid becoming sucked into the email trap is to schedule when you check and send your email.
Also, there are many new software programs that allow you to manipulate your email. You can write it ahead of time and schedule it to be delivered at a certain time, have it leave your inbox and comeback at a better time, and set up automatic responses.
If someone needs an immediate response they will find another way to contact you. The more you practice this habit, the more people will begin to expect your responses only when you send them.
You can also set up an auto-reply to your emails, if necessary, advising that you respond to emails each morning or evening … or whatever time-frame is appropriate for your new routine.
2. Place emails in folders immediately. Many email clients offer the ability to automatically send them to various folders before they even hit your inbox. If they go to your inbox, during your allotted time, place them into folders such as reply, read, take action.
I have my email program set up with many folders and sub-folders and sub-sub-folders to file completed emails in. This also makes it easier to refer back to later. My goal is to have my Inbox at (or close to) “0”.
“One of the best things you can do for yourself and your business is learn how to manage information overload.”
1. How many accounts do you really need? Where are your customers hanging out?
Take a bit of time to do the research for your specific business and determine how many social accounts you need.
Unless you have a social media business, you most likely only need 2-3 to have a successful business.
2. Use a social media dashboard to manage your accounts. Having your accounts all in one place will help save time. Plus, many of them allow you to post to several of your accounts at once and schedule them to go out later.
3. Schedule time to manage social media. Although it may seem as though you need to be connected to social media at all times, you actually don’t.
Using one of the many tools available to you, you can make it appear as though you are always online, even when you are not. This will allow you to dedicate one chunk of time to social media while having a consistent presence.
1. Turn off all electronic devices you don’t need for your current activity. Yes, this includes your phone.
You get used to not having it on with practice.
2. Turn off all notification pop-ups. These can interrupt your workflow, causing you to get distracted and possibly be pulled back into the information paralysis.
1. Use the many online project management tools to help keep you on task and organized. You can avoid much of this information overload when you know what must be done and are organized.
2. Use a calendar. You can use a desk calendar, planner, or online calendar. It will help you stay organized and see next projects and actions steps so that you remain focused.
If you’re addicted to your devices and accounts, and to always being reachable, it may take a little time to implement all of these suggestions.
That’s okay. Just start with one thing at a time. As you see the positive difference it makes, you’ll no doubt be more motivated to make more changes. Before long, you’ll be reaping the rewards of having more time available and getting more results from your productivity, rather than your constant busy-ness.