My Productivity Tool Stack for 2024

My Productivity Tool Stack for 2024

Last year, I embraced simplicity in my productivity tool stack, opting for minimalism and efficiency.

But we’re living in increasingly complex times, and complicated work requires a sophisticated array of tools to manage.

Here I will share the expansive set of tools that empower me to do what I do.

Audio

I primarily leverage these tools for podcasting.

Auphonic

For speedy audio sweetening. Auphonic uses adaptive leveling, filtering, loudness normalization, noise reduction, and automatic cutting techniques to make you sound amazing.

I don’t know why more creators don’t know about this and aren’t using this. Do us all a favor and sweeten up your podcast or video’s audio using Auphonic.

Rode Procaster

My favorite dynamic broadcast mic. Perfect for podcasting, great for music production too (but you’ve got to remember to crank that gain up!).

You can get yours here (it’s great):

Waveform Free

Waveform is one of the best music production software applications in existence. The workflow matches up with how my brain works.

I use it for podcast editing and music production.

Computers

I may need to replace these machines soon (especially the Mac), but for the time being, they are my mainstays.

ASUS ZenBook UX462DA

My ASUS ZenBook

The screen cracked and the webcam doesn’t work anymore. The fan is dying a horrible, loud, vibratory death. It has become more prone to overheating. And speaking of which, I’m not sure the built-in microphone works anymore either.

But for now, it’s the best laptop I’ve got.

Get a new ASUS:

Apple MacBook Pro

The 2015 Apple MacBook Pro has seen better days. Like the ASUS, it has a cracked screen, but the situation is far worse (see for yourself).

My 2015 MacBook Pro

I mainly keep it around for video conferences, seeing as how the webcam on my ASUS doesn’t work anymore.

If you’re looking to get rid of an old MacBook that’s in better condition, drop me a line.

Get a new MacBook Pro:

HP2011x 20-inch LED Backlit LCD Monitor

Having a second monitor is a good thing. Though not thoroughly practical, I haul this baby with me wherever I go. Fortunately, it’s quite lightweight.

eBooks

I am producing more PDFs than ever, and it helps to have the right tools for the job.

Designrr

I bought it on a pandemic special in 2020 and haven’t regretted the purchase. Designrr is a great tool for creating attractive, interactive eBooks without having to hire a designer.

Typeset

Typeset was created to handle the speedy creation of presentations. But so far as I’m concerned, that is not even what it does best.

For creating beautiful eBooks and PDFs quickly and easily, it is practically unmatched. It would be nice to see more fonts though.

File Storage & Organization

I am essentially using the same tools I’ve used for ages.

Amazon S3

I store my podcast files and course content inside Amazon S3. It’s cheap, it’s quick, and it’s (almost) easy.

Dropbox

Every book I’m writing gets backed up in Dropbox. When working with assistants, I generally create shared Dropbox folders too.

Google Drive

More than mere storage. I have a personal Google Workspace account, so I’m also using Gmail and Google Calendar.

I create my LifeSheets, tracking sheets, and a myriad of other documents and presentations inside Google Drive.

Some of my collaborative projects also use Google Drive for file management.

Graphics

The occasional graphical work (blog headers and the like) is par for the course in my profession.

Adobe Photoshop

I can do what I need to do in Photoshop, and if I can’t, I hire a designer!

Music Production

I could go super in-depth here, talking about all my guitars, amps, and accessories. I’ll save that for another time.

Here I’ll look at the audio interface I use.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

My audio interface. It allows me to connect microphones and instruments to my computer. I use it for podcasting as well.

Get the latest Scarlett:

Note-taking

I am constantly writing things down, and I am using both paper-based and electronic solutions.

iPad & Apple Pencil

Besides note-taking, I also read my Kindles on my iPad (same devices from 2019), though if I’m out and about I sometimes read on my iPhone too.

I’ve thought of making videos with the iPad and Apple Pencil. This hasn’t happened yet.

Should you require your own Apple productivity utensils:

Notebook

White paper, blue pen. This is where my mind lives.

I log my income, draw graphs, strategize events, capture song ideas, scribble to-dos, and more.

The wealthy make a mess of handwritten notes. The average type everything into a computer.

If you want to use what I’m using:

Project Management

I am now using a mix of paper- and digital-based solutions to manage all the moving pieces of my projects.

Calendar Pad

I’m bringing the calendar pad back! It is a little impractical for travel, but I can’t deny the benefits of physically writing down all my commitments, as well as my income.

If you want the same thing I’m using:

ClickUp

ClickUp is an all-in-one online productivity tool for individuals and teams. And it’s getting better all the time.

Yellow Legal Pad

For daily to-do lists. This is unlikely to change.

Social Media

I’ve got quite the tool stack going for social media, though I do hope to pare this down.

Buffer

For scheduling posts on Instagram and TikTok.

Descript

I use Descript for my podcast and video transcripts as well as for creating audiograms I share on social media.

Creator Studio

For scheduling posts on Facebook and Instagram.

OnlyWire

For spreading posts across 20 social networks, especially new YouTube videos.

Video

Here’s how I capture and edit my videos.

iPhone

I capture most of my videos using my iPhone.

Loom

The ideal solution for screen recording.

Microsoft Clipchamp

A reasonably good video editor. For now, the free version does the trick. I don’t wish to get so good at video editing that I can’t hand it off to someone else, so this works for me.

Web Hosting

I use the following solutions for my websites.

KLEQ

KLEQ is the best solution for creating websites, campaigns, sales funnels, courses, and membership sites.

Find my review here: KLEQ Review – Funnel Builder, Online Courses, Membership Site Solution

SiteGround

My WordPress sites are all hosted on SiteGround. It’s the same host I recommend to friends.

WordPress

We could go super in-depth here and talk about all the plugins I’m using. But that seems excessive.

Here I will simply talk about the tools that I feel increase my performance.

Elegant Themes

I still love Divi Theme and use it on most new sites I launch. It makes creating custom WordPress designs a walk in the park.

Check out what Elegant Themes has to offer.

Writing

In case you haven’t noticed, writing is a key part of my daily activities. I use these tools to make my processes efficient.

ChatGPT

I don’t get AI to generate content for me. I generate content myself and then ask AI to tweak and improve.

I never do this for blog posts, however, and I’ve stopped doing it for emails as well.

The content that I produce in this manner is paywalled, and it’s still double- and triple-checked before it goes live.

I will sometimes have ChatGPT create tweets, outlines, taglines, and headlines for me, which helps with ideation.

Grammarly

I honestly never thought I would use Grammarly, but one of the teams I was working with last year uses it, so it ended up sticking in my ecosystem too.

I don’t like all its suggestions, but many are helpful.

Microsoft Word

If you’ve ever wondered where most of my words are stored, including my books, it’s inside Microsoft Word. This seems unlikely to change.

Final Thoughts

Ready to make a mess in 2024? I know I am!

I hope this guide helps unlock your most productive year yet. Let me know how it goes.

The End of an Era

The End of an Era

I still remember the day I discovered the Jetpack plugin and how powerful it was.

I got hooked on the Publicize feature quite early, as it allowed you to connect multiple social media destinations and have your blog posts automatically distributed to your chosen social accounts.

It’s one of the reasons I even prioritized blogging over social media – because I knew that if I published a blog post, updates would be posted to multiple social media channels without my direct involvement.

Jetpack was also the gateway to the handful of presentations I gave at WordCamp Calgary on turning WordPress into a distribution and syndication machine.

Things are obviously changing at Jetpack, because now, they’re looking to charge a fee for their best features, including Publicize, which they now call “Social.” The feature is heavily discounted for the first month at $1.36, but they’re looking to charge $13.50 monthly on an annual subscription.

The Price Tag Puts it in Perspective

It’s Jetpack’s decision to do with their software as they please. They’ve developed what I would consider a great suite of tools for newbie WordPress users over the years.

But $13.50 is well out of the ballpark of what I would consider reasonable, given the rather mediocre results it has produced for me. I’ve experimented with different traffic channels for a decade now, and for me, search engines have always come out on top by a huge margin to the tune of several hundred visits per day. While social media delivers, on average, a meager two to five visits per day.

Yes, I know I said I was excited about Publicize, but putting a price tag on it puts this all into perspective.

To me, social media is only worth it if it’s connected to three key results:

  • Relationships
  • Leads / email subscribers
  • Sales

I don’t care about brand exposure and know all to well how little difference it makes. Traffic is nice, but it’s a vanity metric compared to email subscribers. Views, likes, shares, and even comments amount to little if they don’t lead to relationships, leads, or sales.

Facebook (my top social media channel), for example, has delivered 5,852 visits to Music Entrepreneur HQ since August 2016.

Considering the average conversion rate of a website (2 to 5%), I’ve hypothetically converted 117 to 293 people into subscribers in that time (which might even be a little generous). Those numbers may not be anything to sneeze at, but if I were to 80/20 my marketing, social media probably wouldn’t even make it into the mix.

Open Source Used to Mean Something

This is not a pointed message aimed at Jetpack, or for that matter, WordPress.

But open source used to mean something. I referenced WordCamp earlier, but whenever I shared at such events, I was not paid for my time or hard-gotten knowledge, and I was discouraged from selling my books or CDs.

I love helping people, and if I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I would have done it any differently. Public speaking is fun to me, and I’ve always enjoyed masterminding with others.

But Jetpack is clearly headed in a different direction.

People evolve. Software evolves. I take no issue with any of it. But as I’ve already hinted at, I can’t imagine paying what Jetpack is asking for the privilege of having my posts distributed to social media alone. The functionality is a little too rudimentary. For $13.50 per month, it better do more than publicize my posts (hint – it doesn’t).

There Are Worthy Alternatives

Jetpack has been great to me. And I am grateful for all that it has done for me. But now that there’s a price tag attached to a rather simple function, I’m going to be in search of alternatives. There are still plenty of free and low-cost substitutes out there, including virtual assistants.

I’ve been hearing rumors of Yoast SEO integrating with Zapier, and my impression so far is that it’s not terribly cost effective either, but it does put a lot more possibilities at your fingertips since it connects to social media platforms too numerous to mention.

For about the same amount of money as Jetpack, there’s also OnlyWire, which lets you connect to about 20 networks. And I don’t think their price has changed since their inception.

What do you think? Will you be paying for Jetpack Social? Do you use social media distribution tools? If so, what do you use and what do you like about it?

You Don’t Need WordPress Anymore

Don’t get me wrong – you still need a home on the web.

And this is not some emotionally charged backlash against WordPress or Jetpack. I have had a great experience with both, and most of my sites will likely remain on WordPress.

But more than ever, this sentiment – “you don’t need WordPress anymore” rings true. Most intelligent entrepreneurs and independent creators have found their way over to tools like KLEQ, which work as all-in-one website builders, blogs, campaign and sales funnel builders, course platforms, and membership sites.

You don’t need countless plugins, apps, and integrations to make your store and course platform work anymore. You can do it all from one, central, convenient location now.

And if there’s a feature missing, you can request it. A company that has their customers at the forefront (like KLEQ), will happily add these features for you.

Of course, there is a premium price tag attached to a tool like KLEQ, but compared to the cost of developing a WordPress site from scratch, installing plugins, duct taping software integrations together, and paying for multiple SaaS subscriptions? The cost of KLEQ is moderate.