My Favorite Resources and Tools
Over the years, after writing five books, a thousand blog posts, and speaking to thousands of people about new media, by far the two most common questions I receive are:
“How are you so productive?”
“What service do you use for [activity]?”
Almost everyone I meet has big goals. They want to promote their projects, launch a blog, write a book, or simply accomplish more in less time. But they don’t know where to start. They don’t have the time or expertise to find the specific tools they need.
That’s why I created this Resources page. It’s a one-stop collection of all my favorite tools and resources, everything I use to stay productive each day. Whether you’re looking to create a website, master social media, start an online business, or create awesome videos and podcasts, you’ll find what you need here.
I’ll continue updating and adding to this list in the future but right now you’ll find a comprehensive list of everything I use. I strongly recommend bookmarking this page for reference and convenience. Enjoy!
(Disclosure: Please note that many of the services below are free, but some require purchase. And among those, some of the links are affiliate links which means I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these tools, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.)
On this page I’ve listed dozens of helpful resources, but these are my six favorites. I recommend them almost every time I speak and I use them personally.
I use Verbum just about every day. Verbum is not just the premier Bible software around; it’s the most powerful scriptural tool in the history of the Church. Where else can you study the Bible alongside Jerome, Augustine, Aquinas, and Benedict? Or in light of liturgical prayers, conciliar documents, and writings from the saints? Verbum brings all of that to you in an elegant, easy-to-use package. It surrounds the Bible with the riches of Tradition and thereby unveils Scripture in all its color, beauty, and texture. Click here for a 15% discount on any Verbum library!
Undoubtedly the best way for Catholic parishes and ministries to create a beautiful website. It’s super easy to use. Everything is drag-and-drop and type-in-place, which means anyone on staff can update it. eCatholic also has built-in content modules featuring the daily Mass readings, Fr. Barron’s YouTube videos, news from the Pope, and more. Click here for a 30-day free trial and see for yourself!
A simple, powerful tool for sending emails and text messages to your group. It’s specifically designed for Catholic parishes and ministries and comes with lots of features like RSVP events, polls, commenting, attachments, and analytics. If you’re having trouble getting your message to your flock, this is the tool you want. Click here for a 30-day free trial and see for yourself!
When you start a blog or website, you need two things: a domain address (like “brandonvogt.com”) and a hosting service. Bluehost is my favorite hosting service. I use it for the majority of my websites and the websites I run for Word on Fire. Why? Because it’s incredibly easy and they have phenomenal customer service. Sign up using the link below and receive a special rate ($4.95/month) which will let you host UNLIMITED websites with UNLIMITED traffic. Click here to sign up!
Would you rather have 1,000 Facebook Likes, 1,000 Twitter followers, or 1,000 email subscribers? I’d take the email subscribers any day. If you really want to maximize your web presence, you have to build your email list. There’s simply no better way to directly connect with people who care. Although there are many good email services, like MailChimp and ConstantContact, I prefer Aweber and it’s what I personally use. Click here and get your first month for just $1!
This is an amazing tool to create beautiful landing pages on your website or Facebook page. It’s a bit pricey, but if you’re serious about growing your email list, selling your book, or promoting your event, it’s definitely worth it. I’ve just started using it and I’m already hooked. Click here to see it in action!
Here are some of my other favorite tools and resources, grouped by category:
- AUDIBLE – People often wonder how I finish between 60-80 books per year. This is one of my secrets. With Audible, I can listen to audiobooks while I’m driving, exercising, or working around the house. Their selection is amazing and their pricing is very reasonable. Click here to download your first FREE book from Audible!
- KINDLE APPS – I now read about 50% print and 50% digitally. Thanks to the free Kindle apps, which I have installed on my phone, iPad, and computer, I can read books throughout the day, wherever I am. Click here to download the FREE Kindle apps!
- DROPBOX – Install this free program on all your computers (personal and work), phone, tablet, etc. and it will automatically sync documents across all the devices. It will also sync them to the cloud so you can access them anywhere you have Internet access. This is invaluable if you’re constantly switching from computer to computer or if you need your documents on-the-go. Click here to get started with a FREE 2 GB plan!
- COPY – Similar to Dropbox, except they start you off with 15GB (!!) instead of 2 GB. I use both services for that reason. Click here to get started with a FREE 15 GB plan!
- EVERNOTE – This tool is what I use to capture all my ideas, from blog posts, to projects, to book content. With their powerful mobile app and browser plug-in, they make it easy for you to remember everything. Click here to get started FREE!
- BITLY – Almost every week someone asks me how I create my custom shortlinks (example: http://bvogt.us/11BMYad). I use a free service called Bitly and a special domain name I bought for $10/year. Click here for step-by-step instructions!
- HOOTSUITE – If you need to keep track of multiple social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. then this is the tool you need. I use it several times everyday. It allows you to schedule posts across your platforms, track analytics, and easily follow certain hashtags. Click here to get started FREE!
- FEEDLY – My preferred RSS feeder, which allows me to keep track of over 200 blogs in just 20 minutes per day. It’s simple and fast to use—no bells and whistles, only what you need. If you’re tired of visiting your favorite websites to check for new posts and articles, you need an RSS reader like Feedly. Click here to get started FREE!
- POCKET – Most times I spot an interesting article online, I don’t have time to read it at that moment. But thanks to Pocket, I can save it for later and then, when I’m ready, read it on any device—computer, phone, or tablet. As a bonus, it’s integrated with Feedly which means you can quickly scan your favorite blogs and save the top articles for later. Click here to get started FREE!
- SCRIVENER – I first used Scrivener to write my latest book, Saints and Social Justice, and I’ll never turn back. It’s a tremendously helpful tool for research, organization, and productive writing. If you do writing or content planning on a regular basis—that includes students, priests, writers, or speakers, this is a must-have tool. Click here to download on PC or here to download on Mac!
BLOGGING and WEBSITES
- ECATHOLIC – The best solution for Catholic parishes and organizations, especially those without a lot of technical expertise. eCatholic is simple, elegant, and works right out of the box. Click here for a 30-day free trial and see for yourself!
- WORDPRESS – This is the #1 blogging platform on the web. Half of the Internet’s top 100 blogs use it, mostly because it’s free, easy, and super customizable. All of my blogs and websites use WordPress. Click here to get started FREE!(The WordPress software is free, but you’ll need your own hosting service. See below for why I recommend Bluehost.)
- BLUEHOST – As noted above, most of my websites are hosted on Bluehost. The best part is that you can install WordPress free with just one click. Because of that, I highly recommend using Bluehost for your first site. Click here to sign up!
- LEADPAGES – The best tool, hands down, for easily creating high-quality landing and squeeze pages. It works with WordPress and non-WordPress sites. Click here to see it in action!
- GOOGLE ANALYTICS – This is what I use to track all the data about my sites. I can determine my most popular posts, what days and times people visit, and what browsers and devices they’re using. Click here to get started FREE!
- AWEBER: This is the service I use to build my email list and newsletter. See the top of this page for more information. Click here and get your first month for just $1!
- 99 DESIGNS – This is what I use to design most of my book covers. If you need a logo, cover, mobile app, or other design, this is a great service. You submit a description of what you want, launch a design contest, and then designers compete against each other to win the project. Within a week, you receive dozens of designs to choose from. Click here to learn more!
- PARISH DESIGNER – This new service was created specifically to help parishes design better graphics. From logos and flyers, to poster and business cards, you’ll get three designs a month for less than 1% of what it would cost to hire a full-time designer. Click here to learn more!
- SKYPE – My go-to video chat tool. I use this to stay in touch with family and friends, and to record the video interviews I post on here on my blog. (Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to do that.) Click here to get started FREE!
- SONY VEGAS – Most computers come with basic video editing software, but this is what I used to produce my video trailers and video interviews. It takes some time to learn, but once you do, you can quickly create high-quality projects. Click here to learn more!