Last updated on July 30th, 2023 at 12:46 pm
A black graphic contains a photo of someone sitting at a laptop in a brightly lit office space with plants and a bookshelf. On the screen is the homepage for Pexels. Beneath the photo is a green banner with “Tools I Use” in white letters. At the bottom is Bela’s lightbulb logo, Bela Gaytán in a cursive green and magenta font, and Bela Gaytán dot com.
The Tools of My Trade(s)
I’m often asked about the tools I use for instructional and learning experience design, advocacy, consulting, and as a small business owner. 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 or have previously used. You may read more in my disclaimer.
- Axe DevTools: free Chrome browser extension to find and fix accessibility issues during website development.
- Image Alt Text Viewer: free Chrome browser extension to display all alternative texts for images on a web page. The extension also reports if images have missing texts or missing alt-attributes.
- WebAIM Contrast Checker: free, easy to use tool to verify your colors have enough contrast between them.
- 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.
- 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.
- Google Fi: I’ve been a Google Fi customer for a few years now and have never been happier. The plans are super affordable, the service is great, and I absolutely love the screen call feature.
- Medium: open platform for discovering dynamic thinking and sharing writing on any topic. You can add your content to Medium in the form of articles for increased exposure.
- SendFox: $49 lifetime license includes building designer landing pages and forms to collect lead contact information, creating one-off campaigns, and automation sequences using ready-made email templates.
- 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.
Learning Management Systems (LMS)
- OnlineCourseHost: My current LMS and it is an absolute BEAST with just a $99 lifetime license. Use your custom domain or theirs. It is really intuitive and quick to get up and running with a very clean design. It also includes tools to promote your courses, like bulk emails, coupons, subscriptions, team plans, bundles, Facebook Ads, lead generation, email marketing integrations, and much more.
- Tutor LMS: user-friendly learning management system plugin for WordPress websites. I’ve used this for online courses I’ve administered and was very pleased with it!
- 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.
- AppSumo: AppSumo has AMAZING deals on software for your business or personal needs. Many of my tools I use daily were purchased from AppSumo. You pay once for lifetime access to the products instead of monthly fees.
- FlyMSG: $69 lifetime license for this time (and hand) saver! It combines autofill, a personal writing assistant, and a text expander all in one. I use this daily!
- edWeb: earn free Continuing Education (CE) with edWeb’s social network and professional learning community.
- International Open Academy: well-rounded online learning taught by industry experts at an affordable price.
- LinkedIn Learning: excellent courses from industry leaders. I’ve taken many courses through them and have found them valuable.
- Pluralsight: online learning and workforce development platform that helps businesses and individuals adjust to changing technology.
- 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.
- 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!
- Todoist: If you like the simplicity of the Asana user interface, think of Todoist as its awesome little friend for task management and to-do lists.
- Google Calendar: the classic time-management and scheduling calendar service . I always make sure all my tools are integrated with Calendar to help with time management and productivity.
- TidyCal: $29 lifetime license for this Calendly alternative I currently use! Schedule free or paid meetings, share custom booking pages, and more. View my TidyCal booking page.
- 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.
- Scribbr Citation Generator: free tool to quickly obtain references formatted in your preferred style (APA, MLA, etc.) by simply adding in the link, DOI, title, ISBN, or keywords.
- Voilà: I use this tool daily to help me quickly perform work-related tasks, improve productivity, and improve my writing content.