41 Side Hustle Tools I Use Every Day

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

online resourcesI’m always looking for ways to work smarter and more efficiently, and to that end I took a recent inventory of my online business “toolkit.”

Of course many of these will be obvious to you but hopefully you discover some helpful new resources as well.

The good news? Most are free or at least have a free version!

And if you’re looking for the definitive guide to online resources named by top entrepreneurs, check out the full collection in my book, Work Smarter.

Email Tools

1. Gmail

One inbox to rule them all.

All my email, for all my websites, filters into my main Gmail inbox. I’ve been using Gmail exclusively since 2005 and it says I’m still only at 65% of my storage capacity.

This is command central for my biz.

2. Streak

Streak is a free Gmail extension that has a number of cool features including the ability to schedule emails to be sent later, track when messages have been opened, and create pre-written templates.

I used the “schedule for later” feature for my mass email outreach campaign for my book launch.

It also has a full CRM system of customer pipelines but I’ve never really used that or the tracking feature.

3. Rapportive

Rapportive is another free Gmail extension that will show a person’s LinkedIn profile information in your sidebar. It used to be better before LinkedIn bought the company, but I still use it daily and connect with a lot of new people on LinkedIn through the app.

4. Auto Text Expander

Auto Text Expander is a free Chrome browser extension that allows you to create custom keyboard shortcuts for commonly used phrases. For instance, if I type “mc*” (for My Calendar), it will populate:

“My calendar is here:


Grab a couple times that work for you and we’ll make it happen.”

If I type “sig*” (for Signature), it will populate:

Nick Loper

I have dozens of these little shortcuts set-up and they save a ton of time and on top of that, you feel like a real productivity ninja when you use them.

I’m also trialing the PhraseExpress software, which has similar functionality but is system-wide, not just inside Chrome.

5. Nudgemail

Nudgemail is a free email reminder system, where you can bcc [email protected] (or any commonly-expressed timeframe), and you’ll get a follow-up message in your inbox at that time.

Lately I’ve been using it when people tell me their 3-month goals in my welcome survey, I can set a reminder to check in 3 months and see how they’re progressing.

I also use Nudgemail to send me my daily Gratitude Journal and “I Done This” prompt.

6. AWeber

I’ve been using AWeber for my email list management and have been happy so far. I think there are some shortcomings when it comes to design and interface usability, but the deliverability of the messages has been strong and that’s what’s most important.

This is one of the very few paid resources on this page, and is actually one of my largest monthly business expenses, but I find it a worthwhile investment.

aweber free trial

7. LeadPages

I was hesitant to buy LeadPages because I didn’t want to commit to another monthly subscription fee, but the results have been outstanding. In fact, even when I tested a bunch of LeadPages alternatives, I was surprised to find that none of them really held water compared to the market leader.

The feature I use most is their LeadBoxes 2-step opt-in forms. (Whack the “I’m a Hustler” button in the sidebar to see what I’m talking about.)

leadpages landing page

8. SumoMe

SumoMe is a suite of free email capture tools. I use their site-wide pop-up and scrollbox on Side Hustle Nation and the two combined have collected more than 6000 email addresses so far.

Powerful stuff, easy to customize and integrate with your email service provider, and you can’t beat the price tag!

Calendar Management

9. Google Calendar

My Google Calendar runs my day, and I’ve even started the habit of blocking off larger chunks of time for myself. After all, if you don’t prioritize your day, someone else will do it for you.

10. ScheduleOnce

I use the $5 per month version of ScheduleOnce to handle all my podcast interviews, coaching appointments, and other clients meetings. It syncs easily with my Google Calendar and I can pre-set times I don’t want made available.

schedule once trial


11. Skype

Skype is my default meeting venue. The call quality is generally just fine and it works anywhere in the world.

I also record the vast majority of my podcast episodes through Skype.

12. Google Voice

Lately I’ve been using my Google Voice number as an alternative to Skype for people who want to dial in with a real phone number — and I don’t have to share my cell number.

13. Google Hangouts

Although there was a little bit of a learning curve with Hangouts, I think I’m getting the “hang” of it. I use hangouts to record video interviews and to host all my mastermind sessions.

14. Ting

When I’m out and about, my wireless provider Ting helps keep me in touch. The service is perfectly acceptable and costs less than half what our Verizon plan did.

Bonus: SHN readers can get a $25 credit toward their first month of service or a new or used phone.

ting referral

Website “Stuff”

15. WordPress

Maybe I’m a little bit of a fanboy, but it’s pretty awesome that you can get such a robust website-building framework for FREE, and then add one of thousands of great-looking themes on top of it, also for free. (Or a relatively low cost.)

I’m in my WordPress dashboards all day long moderating comments, writing new posts, adding pages, etc.

If it helps, here’s a step-by-step process on how I built a great-looking site in just a few hours using WordPress.

16. Bluehost

For cheap shared hosting, Bluehost delivers what it promises. New users can get started for as little as $2.95 a month. Today I use it for several smaller sites.

Related: Check out my free video course on how to start a blog.

17. WPX Hosting

When Side Hustle Nation outgrew my cheap shared hosting plan, I moved it over to WordPress optimized hosting at WPX Hosting. Well, actually I moved it to WP Engine first, but didn’t have a great experience.

18. Pretty Link

Pretty Link — actually Pretty Link Lite — is a free WordPress plugin that helps create easy-to-remember redirect links and affiliate links.

For instance, that Bluehost link above is a Pretty Link. I’m not entirely sure what the paid version gets you because I’ve created hundreds of links in the free version and it seems to be just fine.

It also is handy to create “speakable” links to use on the podcast. Every time I say something like, “Visit the show notes at SideHustleNation.com/95,” that’s a Pretty Link.

Graphics and Video

19. Unsplash

Aside from my wife’s Instagram pics, Unsplash is where I source a lot of the images you see here at Side Hustle Nation. They have beautiful images that are free to use with no attribution required.

I even used one for a recent Amazon book cover.

20. Flickr Creative Commons

My other go-to source for images is the Flickr Creative Commons. They have tons of pictures that are free to use as long as you give credit to the photographer. Search by keyword and see if anything suitable pops up.

I found several of the images in my TEDx presentation there, and it’s where I found the toolkit image above.

21. PowerPoint

I know PowerPoint may not be as sexy as listing Canva or PicMonkey here, but this is where I add the text to my blog images. It’s pretty quick and easy.

It’s also where I begin design for most of my book covers as well.

22. PhotoScape

PhotoScape is free photo-editing software. I know I’m only scratching the surface of its functionality, but I primarily use it to crop and re-size images.

23. Screencast-o-Matic

Screencast-o-Matic is a really cool free screen recording tool. Previously I’d used Jing, but it was limited to 5 minutes. Screencast-o-Matic will let you go up to 15 minutes for free with unlimited recordings and just include a little branded watermark in the corner.

For $15 a year you can remove those restrictions. I use this all the time to record video site reviews for people and to record step-by-step tutorials either for YouTube or for virtual assistants.

24. Awesome Screenshot

Awesome Screenshot is a cool free Chrome browser extension that helps you capture still screenshots, crop them, and mark them up with text, circles, and arrows. You can even capture complete scrolling websites in one screenshot.

Social Media

25. Feedly

I use Feedly to keep tabs on all my favorite blogs.

26. Buffer

I use the free version of Buffer to fill up my Twitter stream with relevant and interesting links. I like to add links from my Feedly feed, the Buffer suggested posts, and from my own site.

I have an If This Then That recipe that automatically adds each new blog post on Side Hustle Nation to my Buffer stream.

The buffer crew even sent me a free t-shirt!

27. Facebook Groups

In early 2015 I finally started a Side Hustle Nation Facebook group, which is something I should have done a long time ago. It’s totally free and the discussions and connections have been great so far. Feel free to jump on in!

sh nation fb group


28. Zencastr

I use the free Zencastr browser-based recording tool to record my podcast interviews. It delivers great sound quality and haven’t had any dealbreaker issues with it.

29. Audacity

After I finish the recording, I dump the mp3 file into Audacity, which is a free audio-editing tool. As with any new software, there was a bit of a learning curve to overcome, but I think it works great!

my home recording studio30. ATR-2100 Microphone

I call the Audio Technica ATR-2100 the 80/20 of podcast microphones. It delivers probably 80% of the sound quality of a super fancy mic at 20% of the cost. And it plugs directly into my USB port so I don’t have to worry about how to work a mixer.

31. Libsyn

Libsyn is my podcasting “media host.” For $15 a month they host all my podcast files, which is an incredible value for the reach a podcast can have.

File Sharing and Storage

32. Google Drive

I was a latecomer to Google Drive but now use it every day to build out podcast show outlines, collect survey responses, and share files between team members.

33. Dropbox

I recently upgraded to Dropbox Pro and use it to backup and share larger files (like podcast recordings). This is my default cloud storage, and there are some fun automations you can set up with IFTTT, like automatically uploading all of your phone pictures to the cloud or emailing your virtual assistant each time you add a new file.

Also what I’ll do is every time I download someone’s ebook or an advance release copy of a book, I’ll dump it into Dropbox and then read it later on my iPad.

New users can get 2 GB of free online storage.

34. Backblaze

Now technically I don’t use Backblaze every day because it is 100% automated. It’s an online backup service that automatically backs up my hard drive to the cloud for $50 a year.

I had a computer crash and lose my data once, and that was enough to learn my lesson.


35. LastPass

I am in LOVE with LastPass, a free password management tool. We all have so many passwords to remember on a daily basis and this free tool helps me “outsource” all that mental clutter.

Plus, you can use this to securely share passwords with your virtual assistant(s).



36. PayPal

Maybe I’m paying more in fees than I have to, but PayPal is my default invoicing system and payment processor.

37. Lending Robot

I use Lending Robot to automate my peer-to-peer investing with Prosper.com. You can set your desired filters and investment amounts and the software will go out and buy matching loans on your behalf. So far so good!


38. Dell XPS 13

Yes, I’m still a PC guy. I had some issues early on with this machine, and the hard drive storage is a little small, but I love how small and light it is for traveling. This is the newer version of the XPS 13 laptop.

39. iPhone

Since I work from home, I probably don’t use my phone as much as most people, and when I do it’s primarily a social media device. I use it to keep tabs on Twitter and Facebook.

My phone is a used iPhone 4S I got from Swappa. Sometimes I get a little jealous of the new models with the bigger screens but I try and remind myself it’s still perfectly functional and all in all a pretty amazing device to be able to carry around.

40. Treadmill Desk

I start every morning with a few miles on my makeshift treadmill desk. I absolutely love it! With the help of my engineering bride and a handier-than-I friend, we pieced it together from components on Craigslist for around $250.

I think it’s a great productivity hack because it gets the blood flowing and gives you some literal forward momentum to your day. I even wrote a book about treadmill desks if you want to learn more.

to do list pen and paper41. Pen and Paper

No, that’s not an app, but it’s how I keep track of my daily and weekly priorities.

Old school.

Your Turn

Anything I missed? What side hustle tools would you add?

Which of these are your favorites?

(toolbox image credit)

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57 thoughts on “41 Side Hustle Tools I Use Every Day

      • Oh my! I use it on a daily basis. It’s great for being able to update your notes while mobile and while in front of you main workstation. Recently, I’ve starting sharing notes too. Just another way to collaborate and stay synced up!

        • Evernote & Asana bigtime! I also really love Dollar Photo Club for great pics (it’s cheaper than the big ones).

          I’ve debated LastPass it just seems scary putting all the passwords in one basket. You know?

          I’m super interested in the treadmill desk thing. Just bought your book. Will have to do it when we get back to the states. Great list Nick – thanks!

    • Nick,

      This is perhaps one of your most useful e-mails.

      I am using several of these, but haven’t heard of many of them.

      I am in the early stages of starting to learn how to start and run a side hustle (maybe more of a side piddle), and your podcast is full of helpful info.

      I’d really appreciate links to your favorite: how to build your first website for non-developers, how to maximize SEO for beginners, how to build e-mail lists for folks who don’t have much content yet, how to generate additional content in the early days, etc.

      Keep it up!

  1. Excellent reveal. I get a kick out of learning how people work, where they work, and what they use to make the most of the work they care about.

  2. Nozbe: http://www.nozbe.com
    I am the most forgetful person on the planet. Nozbe has probably literally saved my marriage before my forgetfulness became a real issue.

    Tasked (Android): http://bit.ly/1ELIljm
    Tasked made my phone legit smart. Auto-location based WiFi/lock screen? Check. Turn my data off when my screen is off to save battery? Check. Oh wait! I’m streaming music, turn data back on automagically! Check.

    Cloud9: http://www.c9.io
    For (web) developers. Pre-setup Python/Django, Ruby, Php, etc development environments in the cloud, with a free account. No more need to be frustrated just trying to get your computer setup to code. Just write awesome things, from anywhere.

    Reaper: http://reaper.FM
    I’m a professional audio engineer. Screw Audacity and Pro Tools, use this. Hugley full featured audio editing suite for $60. You could technically forever use it for free if you didn’t mind the nag screen. I’ve mixed multiple films, podcasts, and DVD box sets with it – never using anything else.

  3. Nick, you have never used Evernote?? It is by far the most important tool I use — so important, I created a whole course on it. :)

    This is a great list – thanks for taking the time to put it together. Many great ideas here, and I will be integrating some of them ASAP.

    • Thanks Kent. Reg. Evernote I know I’m way behind the times! I think it hit me when my mother in law was pulling up recipes in Evernote on her iPad like a boss :)

  4. Awesome post Nick! Some useful apps there, most I already knew or use, but also some new ones! Helpful to see them all together here.

    On an unrelated note, I noticed that your affiliate Pretty Link to Bluehost does not have a no-follow tag. Google doesn’t like that, as all your commercial/affiliate links should be nofollow, to prevent PageRank from flowing through them. The guys over at Authority Hacker even recommend making your affiliate link redirects in a separate folder (like sidehustlenation.com/recommends/bluehost) and then block the entire folder /recommends from Google by using robots.txt. Just to make sure Google doesn’t follow these affiliate links.

    I think you can get into some serious problems with Google if you don’t nofollow your affiliate links. But I’m not an expert so I may be missing something here. Would love to hear your thoughts!

  5. Piktochart (http://piktochart.com/)

    Found this jewel for creating infographics a couple weeks ago and it’s horribly addicting!

    I threw together an infographic of our upcoming vacation to Florida on a whim just to try it out and was blown away at how easy it is to use.

    • No, there are still a few of us out there. The graphics and aesthetics of powerpoint have advanced so much that it’s really easy to create sharp looking stuff quicker for me. I do use Canva and Picmonkey and others to help, but Powerpoint is my main workhorse. The more I use it, the more of a library I have to choose from of past work. Just simpler and quicker for me. I love that I’m not the only one :)

  6. Fantastic stuff from everybody! Thanks to all for sharing! I have recently stumbled on Nick’s input and am implementing some of the information. On a side note, for those that could use it, I use Grasshopper to avoid giving out my cell phone to everybody. It allows a greeting, rings my phone and gives visual voice mail. I have used Grasshopper in the past and have recently setup another account for a new venture.

    All the best to you all!

  7. I know I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but had a few tools I wanted to add..

    Workflowy is great for outlines (blog posts, books, courses, etc.) and quite intuitive. I pair this with WriteBox (a simple text editor) running both windows side by side to tackle most of my writing. This setup has increased my writing output and quality significantly!

    For email, I have the Yesware for Gmail add-on, which allows for easy mail tracking (opens, attachment downloads, and link clicks), and also has templates – which are faster & easier to use than the standard “canned responses”.

    I like these types of posts that help uncover awesome tools that may never be discovered if someone doesn’t point them out to you.

    Thanks Nick!

    • Haha when I get an email from someone using Yesware (you can tell by mousing over their links) I’m always like dang now I have to reply because they know I read it!

  8. Much respect to the other recommendations for Evernote, but I like Microsoft OneNote better. With your experience in PowerPoint the learning curve would be shorter (similar ribbon) and it does everything Evernote can do, including apps on all devices, free, etc. OneNote is especially helpful if you want close integration with other Microsoft Office tools (Word, Excel, Outlook).

  9. 1. Chrome
    2. Evernote
    3. MS Office
    4. Dropbox and Drive
    5. Spartan Multi-clip (you will love this)
    6. Backblaze
    7. LastPass
    8. Buffer/Hootsuite
    9. OneTab (awesome)
    10. Thrive Leads/Content Builder

    Bonus: Pixabay

  10. Awesome list and I love that it is frugal friendly:] I would add…

    I’ve gotten some excellent help here, mostly with WordPress issues but recently got a great podcast intro!

    Completely new to it, but get it done with these tools and Libsyn.

    Website Analysis:

    You mentioned Google Drive for storage and I would add that the tools within Google Drive are GOLD… docs, slides, sheets, etc. I use Boomerang to schedule gmail.

    Thanks Nick!

    • I use Windows Live Movie Maker that came w/ my laptop. It’s OK but somewhat limited in features and functionality. Equivalent for Mac would be iMovie, but I heard they may have stopped bundling that with the OS these days.

  11. know I am a little late towards the get together on this one particular, but enjoyed a handful of resources I needed to include..

    Workflowy is ideal for describes (blog posts, textbooks, programs, etc.) and very easy-to-use. I set this with WriteBox (an easy written text editor) operating each home windows side by side to deal with most of my creating. This setup has risen my writing output and top quality substantially!

    For email, We have the Yesware for Gmail include-on, that allows for easy postal mail monitoring (opens, connection downloads, and link clicks), and has layouts – which are more quickly & much easier to use compared to standard “canned responses”. promote android app – http://app-reviews.org/android-app-reviews/. I enjoy these kinds of articles that assist reveal awesome tools that could never be discovered if someone does not stage them out to you.

    Thank you Nick!

    • Bit weird that this comment appeared a year previously from someone else? Some kind of autobot set up?

      love the gig. Thanks!

  12. Thanks for this awesome resource Nick. I’m new to your site and content, but eating it up. Really appreciate all that you share and how you help those of us trying to get our side hustle on.

    Todoist: I didn’t see Todoist mentioned anywhere but after using lots of different apps to keep track of To Do items, I’ve found this one to be my favorite. Really easy to use, whether on my laptop or phone and easy to schedule, sort and track.

    Zoho: Also, with the relaunch of my website and trying to use my new email I ended up finding Zoho Mail (and the Zoho suite of products). Really nice interface, great tutorials and really impressed with how it all works and looks. Not sure if anyone else has tried Zoho, but worth a look (similar to Google suite of apps).

  13. Hi Nick,

    I have a doubt since long time, that what should be the tools used by stars like you !! I think there are some more secret tools which you have not listed above. Any way this is a useful information, i cleared my doubt. Hoping that you will share those secret tools. Thank you.

  14. EEEK, I’m not a geek!! Just a newbie trying to get a handle on how to get started. How to set priorities?? Should I switch from Outlook to Gmail? Do I learn GoogleDocs/Calendar or continue with my iPhone app? Geek is Greek to me! :)

  15. If you’re interested in text expansion like Auto Text Expander, PhraseExpress (that Nick mentioned) is awesome — but also look into AutoHotkey, which is free. AutoHotkey is harder to use, but can be installed without administrative access on Windows (which is super-useful) if you need to expand text at your day job (http://www.thenickmay.com/articles/how-to-install-autohotkey-without-admin/).

    I use AutoHotkey daily to expand text, write e-mails faster, and do more advanced techniques like launching a program or website at the touch of a key — for the stuff you use every day, it’s amazingly fast.

  16. Affiliate marketing allows anyone to bounce back over time financially if they’re patient in building their web based business from scratch, while retaining a long-term vision of where they desire their online business to be. Thank you Nick for keeping us inspired to go the extra mile with the “side hustle.” :-)

  17. Hi Nick,

    In regards to backing up content, was hoping you’d share more why you chose Backblaze or say for example iDrive?

    Just want to say this is one of your key posts that I’ve continued to come back to and apply…should say one among many!! :)



    • Thanks William! Reg. Backblaze, there was an appsumo deal a few years ago, and didn’t research it any further. I’d had a hard drive failure a couple months before so it was the right message at the right time.

  18. My Top 10 Online Tools
    1.Mac-book Pro
    2.Meetings: Skype
    3.Homepage: Startpage
    4.Write Check: Grammarly
    5.Presentations: Google Slides
    6.Music: Google Play-Just 2$/month
    7.Files: Box-Secured-10GB
    8.FontCheck: WhatFont-chrome plugin
    9.Honey: Online Coupons-chrome plugin
    10.Canva: Online Designs & Stuff
    If you like my tools: Follow me on my blog https://magnusfido.com/
    [PS] I’m not a spammer.I’m a Bot.!

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