There have been a number of products with affiliate programmes I decided to sign up for. As of August 2009 I’ve decided to stop participating in affiliate/referral programmes that offer a benefit for referring the product.

I’m doing this because a key part of our business is helping other people run their business online. And there are a lot of products that can help you do this. But I’d like to make sure there isn’t any perception of a financial reward being the reason for mentioning a product.

I’ve got nothing against affiliate programmes themselves, have just made a decision based on what works for OM4.

In all cases where I joined a programme, it was based on a positive personal experience with the product. And I haven’t stopped recommending any of the products

WordPress and LAMP

WordPress and LAMP: WordPress and LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP). For anyone seeking a serious platform for an online business, I recommend both WordPress and WordPress MU, and the four horsefolk of the open source apocalypse: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP.

The WordPress plugin architecture is exceptional, and while a lot of platforms claim it, WordPress delivers on the promise of extensible software. It also happens to be the most amazingly scalable software package I have ever come across.

Email Marketing software

For email marketing software, we integrate with Campaign Monitor, Aweber, iContact, MailChimp and many other products. OM4 uses Aweber, it was the email software I selected for us when we launched our first email list, and in my view it remains the best option for those who are seeking a CAN-SPAM compliant email autoresponder.

Aweber can be a pain in the neck when it comes to importing lists of email addresses, as they insist on proof of verification before they allow an import. But that is very important – if your list provider will let you import email addresses without proof of opt-in, they will do it for others, and it might lead to poor overall deliverability rates from that provider.

In terms of user interface, Aweber are a bit clunky compared to their competitors. But hopefully one day they will catch up, and until then, the deliverability is more than worth the slight clunkiness.

Forum Software and vBulletin

When we set up our forums, we first went with BBPress. As this was written by the fine folk from Automattic (who wrote WordPress), I figured this was a very simple decision. Not the case. BBPress was lacking in management features when it came to day to day use. So we switched to vBulletin, and have been very happy. vBulletin is a very sophisticated forum manager if you need to run a forum for a business.

Membership Software and aMember

Amember ( membership software lets you manage membership subscriptions for a large group of people, and allocate access to restricted resources based on valid membership periods.

It is relatively easy to integrate vBulletin with aMember so you can implement premium forums.

Keyword research

Well, I used to recommend Wordtracker, until Google went and released their own tool(s) for free. Wordtracker is great software, but for most business use, Google’s tools are more than enough.

Trellian is another great keyword tool (that we aren’t an affiliate of), but it is suffering from the same Google-sucks-the-oxygen affect.