After years of working with all kinds of apps, plugins and software services, I’ve narrowed down the key resources that work best for me when I create, deliver, and manage projects. The digital media tools. My tech stack for designing and developing digital media. I use other tools from time to time depending on the project needs. But these are my starters. Here we go:
My CMS of choice is WordPress. It’s an open-source content management system that was created in 2003 as a blog-publishing platform. It’s based on a theme structure and has a plugin architecture.
Fast forward to now with almost 20 years in the game, WordPress has grown from just 2000 blogs to almost 40% of the websites on the internet. It’s one of the most popular content management system solutions to date.
Why I Use It
I started using WordPress around 2015 because of a recommendation from my cousin. Although it was intimidating at first, I’ve grown to love it since. I can customize all kinds of websites with different needs. And because it’s open-source, there’s a loyal community of developers who are always willing to help with challenges.
The best thing I like about it is the control over the back end and also the front end. There’s access to backed up web files I can export and move to another host. It also integrates with most 3rd party services, which helps with my efficiency. I think there are good things to come for WordPress.
HOSTING AND DOMAINS
Sometimes I see and hear things about GoDaddy that are not so great. And I can say that I’ve had a couple of unpleasant experiences with them in the past. But after being on board since 2006, I’ve grown right alongside of them. And I can also say, I’ve had quite a few pleasant experiences with them.
GoDaddy is a brand. They’ve been around long enough to understand the needs of their customer. You just have to pay for it. With approximately 37,000 servers, they host over 44 million websites, and as of 2018, they had 65 million registered domains.
Why I Use It
I’ve grown to understand GoDaddy and its purpose to empower web developers and designers. I have a handful of domains. I own and manage multiple websites as a pro member and they have recently invited me to join the GoDaddy Customer Council.
For 15 years, I’ve been down with the Daddy. But I don’t push my clients to use them, I suggest the best solution for their situation. And a lot of times GoDaddy fits the bill.
The new features, along with their new focus on project management, have up the ante on the competitors. Let’s hope they don’t up the price too much.
Elementor is one of my favorite digital media tools. Since launching in 2016 as a page builder plugin for WordPress sites, they’ve attracted a loyal user base from all over the world. To me, it’s much more than a page builder. It’s a website builder. Let me add that, at the time of writing this, it only works with WordPress. No standalone functionality exists that I know of.
Elementor boasts a whopping 5 million active installs as of 2021. It’s open-source, but they also offer a pro version for hardcore developers and agencies. They’ve secured collaborations with a host of 3rd party applications that use their framework to assist users of all levels with good digital media tools.
Why I Use It
I mentioned earlier that WordPress was intimidating to use at first. The builders just weren’t progressing fast enough for me to create with efficiency. Along comes Elementor, released 5 years ago and changed it for me. Code free unless I need to but I rarely do and it’s packed with the right features for the control I like to have.
WordPress developers are updating features and functionality to keep the CMS elephant up to speed. I’ve noticed the changes and a more smooth integration. Elementor is growing fast. And who knows? They may come up with a platform of their own. The digital paradigm is shifting. Elementor definitely recognizes that.
Naturally, as human beings, we like to do things the easiest way possible. It’s not always the right approach, but nowadays things move a lot faster than in the past. In most cases, we need help. Envato is just that.
A stock asset platform with just about anything you can think of that is digital media related. From images and graphics to videos and templates of all kinds. To top it off, they even have audio.
Envato has been around since 2006 and is a paid service. But let me tell you, this website is well worth it if you plan to create lots of content. With 56+ million digital assets, it’s a haven for the 10 million members. Major companies use the service and that should say it all.
Why I Use It
Envato Elements suits me well and most of the time I use it for inspiration and research. It’s my go to spot when a project has a quick turnaround. It helps me find things fast. I can search using keywords and find assets to spark ideas.
The cost is decent if you purchase the yearly plan. With a monthly plan, though, you pay double. It’s easy to use and I’ve had no licensing issues. So yeah, it’s a permanent part of the stack and I’ll continue to use it. It’s worth the money and I like to contribute to other creator and designers.
Adobe Creative Cloud
When people think of Adobe, they think of PDF’s. I used to think Photoshop was its own brand. Well, it is, sort of. I started using Illustrator back when it was desktop. I mean, the branding they achieved by providing a free service (reading PDF’s) in the early days of the internet has payed off really well for them.
When they began in 1983, they knew something. Historically, Adobe has built digital media tools for content creation. They are actually the makers of the Portable Document Format. Something we all use today.
Speaking of today, Adobe Creative Cloud is by far the best one stop shop for content of all kinds. It’s the standard for digital design and development professionals.
Why I Use It
I used to work with multiple applications to do my design work. Final Cut for video. Publisher by Microsoft for posters. I wasn’t a fan of Photoshop then and would do image editing on software that was limited. I was all over the place. Over the years, I became fond of the cloud idea for managing assets. That’s when I dove in.
Creative Cloud has EVERYTHING you need. From building mobile apps and motion/animation to websites, graphic designs and audio. That’s just to name a few. They even have stock assets to use in your creations and mobile apps to do work on the go. Not to mention, fonts, fonts, fonts!
I know there are lots of options when it comes to content creation, but Adobe is by far the leader in the game.
Operations are a big part of the success of a company. Procedures, workflows and customer management are key to running a smooth business. So my choice of CRM(customer relationship management) is HubSpot.
It’s one big hub for sales, marketing, service, operations and they recently added CMS to the hub. They’re teamed up with Canva to help with content creation. HubSpot is on the move and fast!
They launched in 2006 primarily as a sales management platform and had $255k in sales by 2007. They hit 15 million by 2010 and I hadn’t heard them yet. Today they’re at 1 billion.
Why I Use It
I use HubSpot because its products and services strive to provide digital media tools for customer relationship management, social media marketing, content management, lead generation, web analytics, search engine optimization, live chat, and customer support.
The AI and machine learning additions are a clear indicator that HubSpot is on it. They introduced software for personalizing websites for each visitor and continue to acquire companies that fit their goals.
HubSpot offers a free for life plan for beginners. This plan provides me with next levels tools that allow you to handle business affairs more efficiently. The paid versions are kinda pricey but well worth it if you use it to your advantage.
There is a learning curve, but HubSpot has that covered too. They offer free training, courses and certifications that teach you hard skills about sales, marketing, social media and SEO, just to name a few.
My leveled up organization and marketing knowledge is mostly from using HubSpot. As of today, I have 10 certifications and have completed 99 courses, all from HubSpot. You can view my certificates HERE. By the looks of it, HubSpot may end up being a complete resource company hub. It’s already replacing jobs.
When running a business, it’s best practice to account for things and Quickbooks is my preferred choice. I started using the desktop version after starting my company in 2005. Most of it was manual. I had to input everything because an accountant was out of my league.
The first release of Quickbooks was called Quicken in 1983 by Intuit. It complicated how Quickbooks came to be. (I bet by now you’re thinking, “this guy is old and out of date.”) I’m a loyal person to great service and also a fan of companies who listen to their customers. Intuit is one of those companies.
Why I Use It
The online cloud version of Quickbooks is what I use now. The features provide me with all the tools necessary to help manage finances. At first use, the learning curve was not that difficult because of basic finance and some accounting knowledge. But, it’s more than just payables and receivables.
Quickbooks offers a plan for every level of business. My plan has allowed me to integrate HubSpot. After I close a deal and hit a few buttons, Quickbooks automatically prepares the invoice based on the data from HubSpot’s quote.
If only you knew how much that helps me keep track of the money side of things. There are tax reports and filing, sync with bank accounts, payroll, and more. Quickbooks has really helped me stay tax compliant.
Well, there you have it. A few secrets of my sauce. My digital media tools. My tech stack. Have at it! It’s no secret anymore. In fact, writing this article was very therapeutic for me.
It gave me a look back on my past and how far I’ve come. A glance at the technological shift in society and where we are now. It’s integration. It’s helping people, help people. Because we all deserve a chance to fulfill our dreams and enjoy our journey.
I hope this information helps you on your journey.