I often get asked about software or products I use at work and in my day-to-day life. While I think systems are more important than tools, and that you don’t need any of these to do great creative and productive work, here is a living list of everything I use.
Please note that some of these are affiliate links. These are all products I use, and I added the affiliate link when it existed. If you choose to click on one of these links and then sign up or make a purchase, I will get a commission. Let’s dive in!
- DreamHost: I use their DreamPress hosting plan. It’s fast, reliable, affordable, and their customer service is top-notch. My website has never crashed once since I moved to DreamHost, and it used to happen a lot with my previous hosting provider.
- ConvertKit: while I started with MailChimp because they have a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers, I ended up following my friends’ advice and switching to ConvertKit, which is designed for creators. If you’re wondering how to start a newsletter, join the Newsletter Geeks community.
- Circle: after lots of research, this is the platform I have decided to use to for the Ness Labs community. It’s highly flexible, simple to manage, and because many other communities are hosted with Circle it means people are used to the UX.
For a full guide to creating a website like Ness Labs, read this.
Productivity & Creativity
- Roam Research: This is where I do all of my thinking. It’s basically my mind garden. I use Roam to find pattern and connections between ideas and concepts. In my opinion, it’s the best tool for metacognition. Check out Roam Essentials to learn how to make the most of it.
- Google Drive: I do almost all of my work in Google Drive, including writing articles, creating illustrations, building presentations, tracking projects, collaborating with my team, and more. It’s perfect to work solo or with other people.
- Google Keep: not part of Google Drive, but I use it all the time. I use Keep to jot down ideas while on the go. I have a list for article ideas, one for product ideas, one for random thoughts, one for books people recommended, etc. Anything that requires longer-term thinking, I import into Roam.
- TiddlyWiki: while all of my Roam and Google Keep notes are private, I maintain a public digital garden (mentalnodes.com) which is built with TiddlyWiki. I have published a tutorial if you’d like to do the same.
- Scapple: an amazing tool for visual thinking, which I use to map an area of interest on the board and make connections between items. I often use it in combination with Roam, pulling information from there and mapping it in Scapple.
- Alfred: I would not be able to live without Alfred on my MacBook. The amount of time I save thanks to its quick search functionality and its shortcuts is crazy. I also use it for quick calculations.
- Wacom INTUOS 5 Touch L: an old model of the classic tablet, which I use for drawings and illustrations. It’s automatically detected when I open Photoshop. The link redirects to the newer models on Wacom’s website.
- ATR2100 USB Microphone: gifted by a generous reader, this is what I use to record podcasts and videos.
- MacBook Air 13″ 2020: I love how light it is and how easy it is to bring it everywhere with me. I can be quite clumsy and it has survived really back shocks too.
- Kent Backpack by STATE: I bought this backpack in 2016, and still use it everyday. It’s crazy how much you can fit in such a small bag and it has lots of pockets everywhere.
- Adobe Premiere Pro: I started with iMovie, which came with my MacBook and did the job for a while, until I started feeling limited and switched to Premiere. I’m so glad I did! It’s a lot more fun and flexible to use.
- OBS: I use OBS for video recording and streaming. It’s quite easy to set up, free, and open source software. The only thing is that it’s quite resource-intensive and I often need to close lots of my other software to avoid my laptop overheating.
- QuickTime: perfect for quick screen recording.
- EZgif: a free online tool I use to convert videos—often my QuickTime recordings—into lightweight gifs for social media.
- Adobe Creative Cloud: I’m lucky that I get a discount on the Adobe suite as a student, but I would pay for it regardless. Between Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, and Acrobat, there’s simply nothing you can’t design by using these products.
- Google Slides: I already mentioned the Google Drive suite, but I actually do a lot of my daily design in Google Slides. All of the articles’ banners are made with Google Slides. It’s super easy to create quick tables and graphs in there, which are perfect to add to my articles.
- VS Code: I’ve tried many code editors, including Sublime and Atom, and VS Code is simply the best. It was created by Microsoft and is available on macOS, Windows, and Linux.
- Hyper: a beautiful command-line interface. Super easy to configure and comes with lots of extensions.
- Postman: probably the best API development environment on the market. I always use it when working with APIs and designing my own APIs.
- Gumroad: for ebooks and other forms of content, I use Gumroad to manage payments. It’s designed specifically for creators and it’s super simple to use.
- Memberful: this is what I use to manage recurring subscriptions – in my case for the Ness Labs membership.
- Stripe: for more complex forms of payment, such as subscriptions and invoicing clients, I use Stripe. It has great documentation and an easy-to-use but robust API, so you can integrate it with the tools and platforms you already use.