It is the time of the year that all online entrepreneurs look forward to – Black Friday Cyber Monday – abbreviated BFCM . Several friends and colleagues have asked me for my recommendations for various online software related products.
I am listing only those deals that either 1) I have used or 2) deeply experimented with sometime in the past.
Software SAAS Deals
I have been an AppSumo member since 2011. For the uninitiated, AppSumo is a ‘Groupon’ like website for entrepreneurs offering lifetime deals on Software As A Service (SAAS) subscriptions and various digital products. They are experts in negotiating life time deals with upcoming startups (and sometimes even established organizations.). A subscription which would normally be available for $20-$50 per month, is negotiated down to $39-$49 for a lifetime. Yes, for a one time lifetime cost! What is the benefit for the company? You ask? AppSumo has a subscriber base of 1M+ users. It is an instant exposure to the one million app hungry entrepreneurs. It is one of the best ways for upcoming startups to validate their idea or possibly show numbers to a VC and make some good chunk of money in the process.
Since the time folks at AppSumo started the company, they have only dealt in one-time lifetime deals. This Black Friday AppSumo officially launched a new product called AppSumo BriefCase which gives you access to over $1,000/month worth of premium software subscriptions for just $49/month. If you pay yearly, they further reduce the cost down to $500/year. I became a monthly member of AppSumo BriefCase last month and instantly upgraded my membership to yearly plan this week. If you sign up for yearly plan by this Black Friday, they are offering a limited time $50 Amazon credit voucher and $100 AppSumo credit voucher. As of writing this article, 286 such codes remain.
If you are an Entrepreneur, SAAS founder or a blogger do checkout AppSumo BriefCase. They also have a 7 days no obligation free trial.
The search for perfect web host never seems to end. I have witnessed a trend in the past several years. All webhosts start on a good note with claims of awesome support. When faced with growth, they start slacking on support , bad infrastructure or get acquired by EIG.
Here are some webhosts who have been consistent with their support , infrastructure and upgraded themselves as per the current needs of the web. Most importantly they have not been acquired by the EIG group.
Tech-stack wise I ensure that all of them should support PHP 7, one-click LetsEncrypt SSL and http/2.
If you are looking for shared web hosting, SiteGround is the best bet at the moment. My suggestion is to go for ‘Go Geek’ plan for the maximum duration that you can afford. Since they provide discount only on the first receipt, I normally go for 3 years purchase.
They are running a 70% off promo for 3 days starting from Black Friday (Nov 24, 2017) and ending on Cyber Monday (Nov 27, 2017). Check all the plans.
If your needs have exceeded the shared webhosting or you need a bit more control with root access etc, then you may want to go with CloudWays. They have come up with an interesting concept. CloudWays has tied-up with several premium un-managed webhosting providers and brought them to a single platform. They provide you managed services on those premium servers. Currently CloudWays has a tie-up with Digital Ocean, Linode, VULTR, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Kyup. All of them provide enterprise class hosting but unmanaged.
CloudWays comes as a layer on top to provide you completely managed hosting. Essentially the combo is like a dedicated server with a managed host on top. You don’t have to deal with the premium providers at all. All the heavy lifting is done by CloudWays. They are offering $150 in free credits if you sign up by Nov 24, 2017 using a code BF150. Check CloudWays plans.
If you are a WordPress fan and you want that the security, backups, caching, cleanup (in case of hack) should be the responsibility of the webhost then go with WP Engine. They are a fully managed WordPress host. The plans are (of course) pricey if you compare with a shared host but you-get-what-you-pay-for.
If you are only interested in creating good content and leaving the rest to a 3rd party, WP Engine should be your choice. Use the coupon cyberwpe35 to get 35% off from your first month! Check their plans.
I started blogging on a free WordPress theme back in 2007. I then migrated to Thesis Theme by DIYThemes somewhere in 2009 and recommended those to everyone. I used Thesis Theme till their last version (1.8.x). If my memory serves right, they were the guys who revolutionized premium WordPress theme market. I don’t really know what bug bit its founder in 2010. He went into an ugly spat with WordPress cofounder Matt Mullenweg, broke his long relationship with Brian Clark and to make it worse came out with Thesis Theme 2.x. The latest version made Thesis theme just the opposite of what earlier version was famous for. Even a simple thing such as having an opt-in form for a particular autoresponder service like Aweber, you now need a box to be downloaded. His forums are inundated with support requests even for these simple features. Ok, more on the rant later but I hope you get the drift. I no longer recommend Thesis Theme now – hence no link.
As of 2017, I recommend WordPress themes from two companies. Elegant Themes and StudioPress.
Elegant Themes: They have taken the premium WordPress theme market to a different level altogether. They have a knack for producing beautiful looking themes. Just visit any of their demo themes to get an idea. If you are aiming for beautiful themes on photography/travel/food niche or offline businesses wanting to have an online presence , go for Elegant Themes. You can never go wrong with them.
I have the $249 lifetime deal from them and in fact this blog runs on Divi – the most downloaded theme in the ElegantThemes world. This Black Friday they are coming up with the biggest Black Friday sale of all time with tons of prizes as a giveaway. Check out the complete details of the Black Friday deal at Elegant Themes.
StudioPress: If you are looking for themes from pure blogging perspective and you churn-up lots of content on a regular basis and wanted to be sure that your themes are well SEO optimized, having proper schema markup, well implemented pagination go for StudioPress. Tech bloggers love their themes. Having said that, you should note, there is a bit of learning curve with them if you wish to customize the child themes.
I have a $499 pack from Studio Press which entitles me to a lifetime of current and future themes released by StudioPress. From Black Friday till Cyber Monday they are offering a straight 25% discount for all new customers. Check out StudioPress
Marketing Automation / Auto Responder
The plain old auto responders are boring and so 2010esque. It’s the time of hyper targeting. Marketing Automation is the new buzzword. You can now target your visitors on a device, country, machine OS, search engine, social media and countless other parameters. Now you can show your targeted visitors the content which they are interested in.
ConvertFox: This is a absolutely new player in the market which is going to take the incumbents like InfusionSoft, Ontraport and Intercom head-on. ConvertFox provides website chat, Autoresponder, Marketing automation, lead-gen forms, chat-bots in a single tool and all of them talk to each other.
ConvertFox – as part of their launch special – is offering an insane deal till Nov 25th. For $49 you get a lifetime account with unlimited subscribers, 15,000 emails and 3 chat agents. I have been using them on three of my production sites since last month. Check my detailed review. Also, signup before they run out of lifetime codes.
Drip: While ConvertFox is great but at this point in time, it’s bit rough on the edges. For long terms projects, I would buy ConvertFox deals but If I have an urgent requirement, I would subscribe to Drip. It’s a proven established player in the market. Their Visual WorkFlows feature is a beauty to watch.
Drip folks doesn’t seem to be having a BFCM deal this year. Nonetheless, they do offer a free plan. Check out Drip.
FTC Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. However this won’t effect your pricing in anyway. You will get the product for the same price whether you choose to click on the link or not