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I get a lot of emails asking me what tools I recommend for x or y problem. I thought I'd put together a list of my favorites (this page still in progress) that I use to make my business more successful. Everything on this list is something I PERSONALLY USE RIGHT NOW, I like them, and I recommend them. I pay special attention to recommend tools that can help you IMMEDIATELY, and are low cost for what you get. I know that there is very little money at the start of the process and that we can afford large "corporate" solutions. Every penny counts!
There are lot of websites that can show you how to make your game- Things like where to get art assets, or get how to make good prototypes. My background and experience is in business systems and operations- and the tools I recommend here are designed to make you profitable with your game. I take a lot of time in coming to these recommendations. I have personally spent many hours deciding between dozens of different solutions in many different categories. These are the tools that I use for my business, and I consider them to be best in class for the price. At the start of any business cash is tight- so I selected tools that in my opinion have the best ability to scale into what you need, without breaking the bank at the start.
Many of the resources listed below are Affiliate links- What that means is that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will get a small commission of the sale. Its important to know that there is ABSOLUTELY NO COST TO YOU for this. In addition to that, I have often been able to get you additional discount/special on the cost of the product.
When you decide to start a business, you will have some essentials you can't do without. Basically, you need to control your own platform- as both a digital store front and a media portal. The three below are my three go to resources that I use to set up all of my sites and with all of my clients.
The first thing you are going to need is a place to host your website. Think of this as your virtual retail store for your game. It doesn't matter if you have a videogame or a tabletop game, you need a place where you can control the interaction of your visitors. There are free options- like facebook or tumblr, but you will want something with a lot more versatility as you get popular. You can find out more about them HERE
Have you ever built a wordpress site before? Ok, so It can be TOTALLY overwhelming. Making a site that has the features that you want and is actually effective can take hundreds of hours- with all the plugins and customization you can do. Thrive Themes has become my all time FAVORITE tool. Basically, it takes the guess work out of how to create effective pages that help your fans get the most out of your site. It comes with a full suite of plugins (see below) and WISYWIG page builder that makes everything really easy. Please don't try to learn all this stuff on your own, you will waste sooooo much time like I did.... and it just isn't necessary. Anyway, Ill stop... you can check it out HERE if you want :)
Your email provider will be the nerve center of your business. It is the only way you can reliably contact your fans and help them become customers. You will want a TAG BASED segmentation system and a way to deliver triggered drip campaigns. Ill explain what all that means, but Convertkit is by far my favorite tool so far for the price. I've used a lot- Aweber, Getresponse, and Mailchimp to name a few. PLEASE DON'T USE MAILCHIMP. The FREE pricetag is very seductive... but It doesn't qualify as a useful marketing tool if you are serious about this thing. You can find out more about about Convertkit HERE.
When you launch your project, you will quickly discover that you can't do it all. You just cant. I am a HUGE fan of paying someone to do an amazing job for a fraction of the price I could do it myself. I am always amazed at how cheaply you can get highly skilled people to take care of a lot of the design work, programming, or asset creation. If that's your passion, more power to you... but I'd much rather spend my time making cool business systems and pay others to make things shiny.
This is my favorite resource when I need a design project done right. You put your idea out there and 30-60 designers submit designs to your specs. After a round where you give feedback, they try again- and you pick your favorite. Only the winner gets paid. It is an amazing amount of FREE work you get for the price. For MY needs, I usually am more than pleased with the BRONZE PACKAGE. Though you can certainly get more extravagant if you want.
A lot of times I'm working on a project that just needs a cool ASSET of some sort to pull it off. When I don't want to spend the time getting someone to make something custom, I browse the categories at Envato Marketplace for a quick plug-and-play solution. I have used it for new wordpress themes, pre-made video bumpers for coursed I have created, and sound effects/music clips for my podcast. The commercial use terms are really inexpensive- and its fast and easy. It even has art assets and scripts that gamedevs can use to shortcut their development time. Its definitely worth checking out.
I think I would have to say that this is my little secret weapon for productivity. I have hired personal assistants, marketers, programmers, and copywriters to help me make superior content on a super slim budget. I think this is one of the biggest ways you multiply the effectiveness of your business.
Ok- If you haven't heard of Fiverr... You must go there immediately :) This is an outsourcing site where people do tons of different stuff for just $5. I shop here more often than I buy groceries... seriously. You can get anything from custom logos, voice over commercials, custom music composition, game art assets... just about anything really. Its the place that I start when I want to test ideas or make prototypes. Its also a safe way to get started hiring outsourcers if you haven't ever done it before. Definitely a tool you need in your arsenal.
You might not be in the market to start a podcast- But if you are, then getting a Libsyn subscription comes with my highest recommendation. You absolutely need to have a host that knows MEDIA specifically and caters to a listening audience. I am a HUGE fan of starting a podcast to help spread the word about your game project and grow your network- So consider getting a Libsyn Subscription to make sure you start out right.
~I have used Mixcraft for a LONG time and it is my favorite Digital Audio Workstations (DAW). There are a lot of more expensive programs out there, and this is not the "industry standard" software... but I think Mixcraft has really become the silent underdog in the industry. They have build hugely powerful platform that comes with tons of sounds and plugins for audio work. Best of all, its really reasonably priced at $89-$165- You know me, I'm always looking for the best deal for the function, and Mixcraft 7 wins my vote. Its what I use for my podcast production and side recording/video work.
I use this for screen capture videos and as a Skype recording backup. It does videos or audio only- and includes the ability to edit different video clips together. I tried this product as my "budget" purchase to get around paying for Camtasia for the whopping price of $299. I'm sure its a GREAT tool- and Its on my list to buy sometime- But I'm going to go with the 29$-59$ Movavi until I need something more robust.
Ok... so there is a story on this one that I will spare you- Here are the bullet points. I've tried about half a dozen Skype recorders in search for slightly better audio quality, split track recording, and other features. There are better options out there... but every time Skype does an update- most of those tools break and take forever to update. I've never found that with Pamela- its simple, but it just works. And really, all the extra "features" other tools offer... I just don't use them often enough to make it a stronger recommendation.