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:Creativity / Equipment and tools

15 little known tools for entrepreneurs & course creators who make money online

woman working at desk woman working at desk

Working in ecommerce, a start up and the world of lifestyle entrepreneurs has opened my eyes to the massive world of online tools I should be using.

From hacking a free and automatic transcription tool, a process that took me hours in Journalism 101, to creating GIFs and editing videos in seconds, I’m aggregating a list of the top tools you should be using if you’re a course creator or simply creating, publishing or working online.

So yeah, basically everyone…

1. Grammarly

When Grammarly’s homepage boasted that their web extension finds “10 times more mistakes than your word processor”, I was skeptical. A few months in and I’m sold.

Seriously, this is tool works as if it understands context, catching not only spelling mistakes but series commas, adjective strings that should be hyphenated and the correct way to write date and time.

While not yet on GDocs, it works on WordDoc, Facebook, Tumblr, Hubspot and Twitter so you’ll never be embarrassed by a hastily sent Tweet again. I’ve been using the free tool for months and plan to upgrade soon.

Here’s what that last paragraph looked like within the tool’s native editing feature:

2. LiceCap

It might have a funny name, but this is the best tool I’ve found for creating screenflow GIFs.

This too is perfect for absolutely free demos of your online course. You can also record what’s happening on your screen for a visual tutorial perfect for customer education or an interactive blog post… or what your friend or kid is doing to create a funny GIF that makes everyone reading your content smile 🙂

I’m also listing this tool at the beginning of this post since I’ll use it to give tutorials on the others. #meta

Sidenote: does something similar, but they start to charge you, so I decided to recommend LiceCap first and foremost.

Here’s how the tool looks when you use it, it’s simply a basic frame you center around what you’d like in your GIF.

LiceCap tool in use LiceCap tool in use

3. Free Stock Photos

When our Teachable designer got fed up with the hum-drum stock photos of man-in-office photo or the super cheesy I’m-giving-a-great-presentation shot, she took to the blog and pulled her favorite places for free stock photos.

True confession: We use it EVERY WEEK. This is how we pull images for our blog, test courses, ads, and SlideShares.

So to say no more to low quality, generic photos, she’s curated a list of the best free stock photo websites where you can find images for your presentations, online courses, social media posts, newsletters, the works.

My personal favorite from all of these is Death To Stock Photo. Each week they send a downloadable packet of photos. I have every week downloaded and saved.

death to stock website death to stock website

4. Make Change Weekly (A Roundup Newsletter)

This week, we’re beyond thrilled to be launching a new Teachable vertical – Make Change.

Make Change is a weekly roundup curating the best articles, workshops & courses for generating income outside of the 9-5. Think actionable advice for growing your online business.

You might be wondering how this is different than the Teachable Newsletter. This newsletter is NOT course creation focused – rather it’s vetted advice, tips and tricks for online entrepreneurs as a whole.

To be honest, we were inspired BY YOU! We recently surveyed some of you about why you decided to launch a course and because most of you said you wanted to build your course into a fulltime or lifestyle business, so we decided to curate content to serve these needs in addition to your normal course creation advice.

BONUS: Make Change Weekly is accepting submissions. We have an entire section devoted to courses where you can submit your course. You can also submit articles, webinars or apply to be our featured Change Maker each week.

For the submission form – sign up for our first issue and it will be listed at the bottom of the letter. 

5. Hack GoogleDocs to transcribe audio content for you  

I’ve conducted my fair share of interviews, and am kicking myself for not thinking of this awesome trick. Teachable Tribe’s one and only Loralee Hutton posted this trick back in October.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Open a new browser window
  2. Open a new google doc, select Tools > Voice Typing
  3. In the first window, start playing your video, right from your Teachable school or audio file you want transcribed
  4. Click the “voice typing” red button. It will pick up the audio and start transcribing.
google docs transcription google docs transcription

Here’s the original post, yet another reason why our Teachable community is one of a kind.

loralee hutton Facebook post loralee hutton Facebook post

The transcription is definitely a little rough – as Loralee says “Consistently it thinks I’m saying horses, when I say courses” – but it’s a phenomenal start and if you’re only needing a few exact quotes… it’s a miracle.

6. Screencasts with ScreenFlow

The hands down most useful tool for creating an online course quicklywhile still maintaining a relatively high quality bar.

Combining your slides with video content has never been easier. This is the tool I used the VERY FIRST time I recorded video content and I had no issue. You simply select that you’d like to record from your laptop’s camera as you move through your slides. Just read what’s on screen and ScreenFlow will embed your talking-head video into your predesigned slides.

While it’s quick to edit our ums and ahhs in iMovie, if you start the ScreenFlow and quickly start your Keynote/PowerPoint presentation and are happy with your first take, there’s absolutely no video editing. None!

(Use our Screenflow tutorial to get started)

7. Teachable’s Support Site

This is a course creation specific tool, but Teachable’s support site is a largely untapped resource holding the answers to all of your questions.

Can’t remember how to reset your login? Want to create course bundlesor new pricing plans? Not sure about webhooks? The support site has got you covered. As we answer your personal emails, more than half the time we’re just entering your questions into the tool’s search bar to pull the already-written tutorial for you. Check it out!

teachable support page teachable support page

8. LeadPages

Whenever we talk about growing your audience for your online course, we stress the importance of building your email list. From How to Grow Your Email List, to List Building 101 we’re giving you tactics to build an audience.

BUT essential to this is the ability to collect these email addresses in once place. That’s where LeadPages comes in. The go-to for anyone marketing online, use LeadPages to create a LeadBox, Giveaway, Thank You Page or Landing Page.


9. Google Forms 

While Google Forms is completely free, it’s easy to overlook their form feature. Say you want to survey your audience, or set up a submission form, consider using Google Forms. It’s quick to set up a few questions, collect answers in a spreadsheet and link to the form anywhere you want.

Here’s how:

google form tutorial google form tutorial

10. Asana

The newest organizational tool we’re all a little obsessed with.

We were all there on the Trello hype, but it might be time to give your to-do list a new look. Especially important if you’re working with someone else to create your course, Asana allows you to assign tasks to other members, create sub tasks, give due dates in a calendar – it’s what I personally use.

Check it out:

asana task tutorial asana task tutorial

11. Cueprompter

Sometimes in your course creation life, a teleprompter comes in handy.

Maybe you’re creating a promo video for your sales page, maybe you’re making a talking head video for your course, maybe you’re hosting your webinar and can’t flick through slides. Look no further than cueprompter.

This tool isn’t fancy, but it does the trick and does it well. Simply copy paste in your script and increase the speed of your script with up and down arrows.

cueprompter tutorial cueprompter tutorial

12. Awesome Screenshot

While apple+shift+4 is a minor miracle (and my hack for resizing most images), there are times when you need a screenshot of an image you have to scroll through – as in the full thing doesn’t fit on your screen at once.

Awesome Screenshot is the solution to that. A totally free web extension – you can capture large images of infographics, blog posts or your online course.

These images can be key for promoting your course. As Mariah told us in Webinars that Convert, “Whatever your pitch is, it’s going to be more impactful if you can represent it visually.” Having a full screenshot of your course is just that.

Check out how I was able to capture an entire website

awesome screenshot extension awesome screenshot extension

13. Video Content 

It’s both the quickest & easiest way to create content, and the easiest to get wildly out of hand.

From wanting to spend hundreds on fancy equipment or not knowing where to start when it comes to video editing, we’ve tried to answer your most common questions.

video production tips video production tips

14. Canva

Because I literally can’t figure out where to copy and paste a logo on a form without the help of our Teachable designer, a tool like Canva is a life saver.

Quickly create designs, Canva is the new hot trend when it comes to design, and it’s a whole lot cheaper and simpler than Photoshop. Not to mention, they have templates set up for social sharing!

Plus, their blog is a gold mine of design tips.

canva homepage canva homepage

15. PDFs is a “free, online PDF reader, editor, form filler, & form designer” and it does just that. If you need to quickly highlight, add notes, or adjust a PDF downloaded somewhere else online, this is the place to do it quickly and cheaply.

In this same vein…

SmallPDF quickly and easily compresses the size of large PDFs without losing clarity, combines multiple PDFS and basically handles all the glitches Adobe forgot to fix. It used to be a daily go to creating mockups for clients in PR. I <3 you small PDF!

PDF Escape Tool PDF Escape Tool

Tools We’re Playing With  


A new social media management tool that seems even more intuitive to my business needs allowing me to “Tell Edgar what types of updates to share at which times. Want him to tweet something from the “Blog links” category every Tuesday at 10 am? Done.”

Do I do this every day? Yes! In the past I’ve used both Hootsuite and Buffer. I’ll keep you updated on what I find.

BuzzSumo’s Influencer Tool

There is nothing more necessary and more tedious to your business that reaching out and keeping track of influencers.

I don’t mean this the wrong way, I certainly have my list of followers I love and adore (Rand Fishkin, Marie Forleo, Seth Godin) and business partners who have inspired both myself and the Teachable Tribe (cough cough Mariah Coz, Melyssa Griffin, and ERRYBODY from the Teachable Summit), but keeping up with all of the Tweets and posts is a full time job – but not my full time job.

This new tool promises to let you “save influencers to outreach lists, then view and respond to their newest content and most relevant conversations, all from BuzzSumo. You can also search their tweets by hashtags or keywords.”

I hear you BuzzSumo – let’s see what you got.

Here’s their write up and a preview:

buzzsumo outreach list buzzsumo outreach list
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Author: Ashley Hockney, Ashley Hockney is a Content Marketer and Writer. Her background is in food &amp; beverage PR i.e. she wants to talk to you about single malts.

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