17 most useful tools, books, apps and techniques I learnt in 2016 to increase my WordPress agency’s profit

2016 was a year of reading, learning and restructuring how I approached my businesses. We’re always looking for more profit, more sales, more customers, more leads…

Most of the time we’ll either swing between “keep doing what I’m doing (and getting the same results)” and “this new theme and marketing activity fad is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done!”

WordPress businesses can no longer keep thinking conventionally. That’s how you get conventional results. But how do you know what really works and what’s really worth looking at?

Well that’s why I’ve got this handy list of 17 of the most useful tools, books, apps and techniques I learnt in 2016 to increase my WordPress agency’s profits.


Profit First

By Mike Michalowicz


I was recommended Profit First by a few members of WP Elevation and after reading it, it changed how I control money within my business.

It echoes a lot of philosophies from Rich Dad, Poor Dad, How To Own The World and The Richest Man In Babylon.

It’s the practical exercises that are so powerful, though. Simple diagrams and instructions are what makes this book so vital to my 2016 profitability.

Play Bigger

by Al Ramadan, Christopher Lochhead, Dave Peterson, and Kevin Maney


Play Bigger is one of those books, which you’re recommended but you think it’s the same as every other marketing/branding book out there.

I was dead wrong.

Play Bigger is one of the smartest, best defined and fascinating books I’ve ever read. It’s about category design, which is the next stage on from product design and marketing design. A truly inspiring read if you’re struggling to define yourself in your market, or against your competition.

4 Hour Work Week

by Tim Ferriss


One of the classics here. I had heard of 4HWW years ago, but decided not to read it because the title sounded dumb and the cover didn’t appeal to me.

If there was some kind of phrase, about judging a book by its cover, I’m sure it’d be apt. However, no such phrase exists.

Anyway. 4HWW completely changed my perspective on work. 9 – 5 is arbitrary and there are ways to deal with it. What I particularly liked, is that it focuses on making a way out of working 12 hours a day. Not just quitting your job and living a dream.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

by Robert Kiosaki

Amazon link

Rich Dad, Poor Dad was explained to me as “understanding why rich people are rich and poor people are poor”.

To say it changed my perspective on money is an understatement. It made my business profitable, allowed me to work fewer hours per day and I understand WHY I didn’t have spare money at the end of the month.

RDPD was one of the key books in me understanding how to make businesses profitable. It has nothing to do with more customers or more money. Its about how you treat money.

How To Own The World

by Andrew Craig


How to own the world was pitched to me as “if you like Rich Dad, Poor Dad then you’ll love…”

Another book on finance and money, but explained in a way that shows why houses aren’t investments. Why your pension isn’t worth anything and the true cost of inflation.

It isn’t a conspiracy book, it’s a book about money management. And it’s brilliant.




Canva is what I use for images, graphics, book covers, infographics…you name it. Unbelievably, it’s FREE with the level of stuff you can do with it.

I introduced our designer to it, at first she hated the idea that Photoshop and Illustrator wouldn’t be our main tool, but now she loves it.

The fastest, easiest method we’ve seen for creating visual media. Love it.



Office 365, Google Docs, Quip…the list goes on. There are hundreds of productivity and office software. We use all three of the big ones here. But what I love about Quip is the documents are designed around community.

Rather than having commenting and community added in later. Quip seems like it wants people to collaborate first and create documents second.

It’s real time, cloud based work. So my partners and I can work on a document at once. We can easily share docs and move them around.

Dunno. We just started using it and it works.

Podcast Addict

Android store

Simple really, I wanted to listen to more podcasts and this is my favourite app to do so.

Easy to find podcasts and delete podcasts you’ve listened to already.

Free version and a paid version. I love it. Use it every day.



In 2016 my friend Ronak Patel (love that guy) introduced me to SumoMe. It does EVERYTHING we needed it to do.

More than anything I adore the content analytics and heat maps. It does optins, list growth, traffic..everything. Honestly it’s mental.

SumoMe has been a massive impact on our online growth.

Honourable mentions: OptinMonster. MailChimp.


OptinMonster is THE tool we use for our email list growth. We started using it years back though, so not a 2016 tool. It’s a sophisticated and powerful list building tool that we rely on.


MailChimp, which we started using around 2014 has come on leaps and bounds. Smart automation, easy integration. There are bigger CRM systems out there, but we love MailChimp.


Beaver Builder


Beaver Builder is now our plugin of choice for a page builder. WordPress specific, it has a massive library of features including no shortcodes, fast page loading, 3rd party plugin support and more.

The ecosystem of connected plugins and add-ons is growing by the day. It’s easy to use and we utilise it to build landing pages, content pages, sales pages and funnels.

You can also white-label it upon installation, so customers can’t see the Beaver Builder brand and lock down certain features so customers can “design” their own page.



Broadcasting on Facebook with Facebook Live is going to become a key audience growth strategy in 2017. OBS lets us broadcast easily, from our laptop or desktop.

Share screens, windows, web cams and record. We’re starting to use it more as our webinar platform above anything else.

Basics/Nomatic notebook


People laughed at me when I bought the Nomatic notebook. It was the Basics notebook back then. But it’s a super useful planner and organiser.

Designed to break goals into tasks and action plans, I can prioritise my day with to-do lists easily and block out time for other appointments.

VSL wizard

Part of the Funnelscripts plan. From ClickFunnels, VSL wizard helps us build fast, entertaining and powerful sales videos for our products. Super simple to use and has paid for itself 100x over.


No email before 12pm

The biggest time suck of 2015 was email. Opening it when I got to the office. Checking it throughout the day. Answering emails when they arrived.

There are hundreds of books and gurus who talk about lowering your email. Deep Work by Cal Newport focused on allowing me to work, uninterrupted, to get stuff done.

Not opening my emails every 5 mintues was part of that. Terrifying at first, but now a firm habbit.

No phones in the bedroom

It was 3am. If I go to sleep now, I’ll get 5 hours before I’m up…

We’ve all been there. What doesn’t help is staring at your phone, looking at Facebook and emails when you should be sleeping.

I don’t know how the psychological and physiological benefits can be explained. But my partner and I do not allow phones, or anything electrical like iPads or clocks, in the bedroom.

Kindle is allowed, but only becuase it’s so I can read. But now, I prefer reading real books again.

I wake up better, fall asleep faster and have better nights in general. Give up your phone. The news and items that appear in your feeds, are sugar water to a sugar addict. They really don’t matter.

How/why goal setting

What are your goals for 2017? Or for today? Whatever you write down, try to answer WHY that goal is important.

This very simple trick taught me to prioritise. I know that I should focus on my business. So WHY am I doing a favour for a client first?

If you can’t answer WHY a goal is important, you shouldn’t look at HOW to do it.

If you can answer why it’s important. Then look at how.

Boredom discipline

When you’re walking, waiting in line, waiting for a friend or doing anything else that doesn’t require concentration. We often pull out our phones and mindlessly browse to stay entertained.

We need novelty all the time now. It’s ruining our┬áresilience to boredom. The time and ability to THINK is vastly underapriciated in our society today.

Walking to get some food, or waiting in a queue for the ATM is now no longer “phone time”. It’s thinking time.

Wrap up

What do you think? What tools or books were powerful to your 2016? What are you most thankful for?

What are you going to KEEP doing in 2017? Let me know in the comments below.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.