Resources

A laptop sits on a desk with plants in the background and a cup of water and stack of books on the right. Pexels website is on the screen. The image represents tools I use.

A laptop sits on a desk with plants in the background and a cup of water and stack of books on the right. Pexels website is on the screen.

The Tools of My Trade(s)

I’m often asked about the tools I use as an instructional designer and in learning and development. Most of them are affordable or free. I prioritize simplicity and avoid tools with too many options. I’ve organized the tools by their area of use for easy navigation. Some of the links are affiliate links, but I only recommend products I personally use. You may read more in my disclaimer.

Table of Contents

Accessibility

Assets

  • Canva: graphic design platform with free stock photos and graphics. Their paid plan is cheap and what I use.
  • Creative Market: marketplace for creators to sell assets, with a good selection of free assets.
  • Envato Elements: subscription plan for all types of assets starting at $16.50 per month.
  • Pexels and Unsplash: free stock photos and videos with no attribution required.

Coding & Web Development

  • Elementor Page Builder: drag-and-drop page builder for WordPress that I use to streamline and scale my websites. They offer both a plugin and cloud-based version, with a lot of features available in the free version.
  • FreeCodeCamp:  non-profit organization that provides free coding courses and certifications. These certifications are highly respected and have helped people land jobs at major companies such as Microsoft and Spotify.
  • Ionos: domain name registrar, web host, and SSL.  I use Ionos (formerly 1&1) for all of my domain name purchases.
  • SiteGround:  affordable and reliable web hosting.  I currently use them and am very satisfied with their service.
  • Zakra: one of my favorite WordPress themes and I use it on most of the sites I build, which offers more control over customization without coding in the pro/paid version.

Collaboration

  • Asana:  web and mobile app to help teams organize, track, and manage their work. It’s great for collaborating on projects and tasks.  I’m also an Asana Ambassador and can provide training on Asana!
  • Google Drive: free, cloud-based app and storage system that I use to collaborate on projects using Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Communication

  • HelloFax: online platform for sending and receiving faxes. Their rates are affordable, and you can send and receive faxes from other HelloFax users and traditional fax machines.

Content Distribution

  • Mailchimp: tool I use to send out my weekly newsletter, Bela Bytes. They offer a great free option for beginners and reasonable paid options.
  • Medium: open platform for discovering dynamic thinking and sharing writing on any topic.
  • Post: newer platform, currently by invite only, similar to Medium with the option to tip writers for their content.

eLearning Authoring Tools

  • Articulate Storyline 360:  powerful application for creating interactive mobile and online courses.
  • Tutor LMS: in addition to being a learning management system plugin for WordPress websites, tt provides an easy way to create learning materials on your website.

Equipment

  • Blue Yeticaster Pro Bundle: microphone setup I use for all my audio needs. It’s great and is typically priced around $200 on Amazon.
  • Elgato Facecam: high-quality webcam that is typically around $160 on Amazon.
  • Tolulu HD Webcam: inexpensive, good-quality webcam, which I used before upgrading to the Elgato. It is usually less than $30 on Amazon.

Freelancing

  • Gusto:  cloud-based payroll for small businesses.  I’ve had an amazing experience using Gusto for receiving and requesting payments.

Graphic Design

  • Canva: graphic design platform to create various visual assets. The free plan is great, but I use their paid plan, which is very cheap, to create almost all of my graphics.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

  • Tutor LMS: user-friendly learning management system plugin for WordPress websites.

Knowledge Resources

  • LinkedIn Learning: excellent courses from industry leaders. I’ve taken many courses through them and have found them valuable.
  • Skillshare: online course platform that teaches a wide range of subjects including business, graphics, crafts, productivity and more. They also offer a free trial to test it out before purchasing a membership.

Media Editing

  • Audacity:  free, open-source audio editor that I use for all my narration projects.  It has a basic interface but is powerful and has many plugins available and a supportive community with helpful documentation and wikis.
  • Techsmith’s Camtasia and Snagit: robust screen recorder and video editors that can be used to create eLearning with features such as hotspots and the ability to download SCORM packages.

Networking

  • LinkedIn:  free professional networking site that provides career development, networking opportunities, and job services.  I often share content on LinkedIn and have met great people there. I also landed my last two jobs through LinkedIn.

Project Management

  • Asana:  web and mobile app that helps teams organize, track and manage their work. It’s my favorite project management system and is both robust and easy to use. I’m also an Asana Ambassador and can provide training on Asana! 

Writing

  • ChatGPT: Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool that interacts with users in a synthetic way. It is currently free while in research preview, and helps with generating catchy headlines, rewriting information, and summarizing content.
  • Grammarly: cloud-based writing assistant that uses AI to review spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement, and delivery mistakes. It’s a lifesaver for me as it helps me to avoid mistakes that I tend to make while typing fast.
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