A COLLECTION OF TOOLS + RESOURCES I RECOMMEND TO HELP YOU CREATE AND ELEVATE YOUR BLOG OR BIZ
After 4+ years of trial and error, done by yours truly, these have all made the cut. 🙂 I currently use, support and totally recommend everything on this page!
Disclaimer: Please note that some of these links are connected to affiliates I support, and I may receive a small commission for promoting them, without any cost to you. Thank you for your support!
Create Your Business
Some resources and tools to help you get your business set up!
Legal Zoom – This is where you can form your business as an LLC, Sole-Proprietor, Corporation, Non-Profit, etc. You can also Trademark a business name, or do a DBA. Get a tax ID #, business license, permit, copyright or patent or even speak with an attorney to get legal advice. We signed up for Registered Agent Services, where they remind you when business/tax forms are due and handle all the paperwork for you. Helps us out a lot!
G Suite – Get a custom domain name for your business (firstname.lastname@example.org). This helps you look more professional and helps you organize with your team better (you can have multiple emails for employees, customer service, sales, etc., all for the same price… just $5/mo.!) Plus, get online storage, shared calendars, video meetings and more for no extra cost!
Get 20% off your first year with my promo code (you’ll need to email me to get this… that’s the way Google sets it up for some reason.)
BUSINESS PHONE NUMBER
Google Voice – Get a FREE business phone #! It links to your phone so you don’t have to spend money on a whole new phone and phone #. There are lots of free features you can use, including texting, voicemail, call screening, voicemail transcripts, conference calling, and more! This is a great service, especially if you’re just starting out with your business and/or are looking for a way to save money on your businesses expenses. Also great if you don’t want to give your personal phone # out to the world, and are looking for a way to separate work and personal calls!
Freshbooks – Accounting and invoicing isn’t really one of my favorite things to do, but Freshbooks has helped make things a lot easier on me, especially when it comes to collecting money! I use them for all my invoicing, from one time-payments, to automatic recurring payments, and they accept credit cards (Visa, MC, Amex,) PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net. Best of all, they are affordable! The lowest monthly payment is just $15/mo. for up to 5 clients! You can sign up for a 30-day trial with Freshbooks through this link, and if you like it at the end of your trial, upgrade to a paid plan, and get another free month!
PayPal – Allows you to collect payments online using either a credit card or a debit card. Fees are 2.9% + .30 per transaction. You can also easily create custom buttons to put directly on your site or create invoices to send to clients for payments.
Stripe – Another way to collect payments online.
DOMAIN NAMES + HOSTING
GoDaddy – I’ve been using GoDaddy for pretty much all of my websites and blogs since 2003 and have had nothing but great experiences! Want to get a free domain name with GoDaddy and only pay $1/mo. in hosting for your first year in business? Check out this blog post to get a quick tutorial on how to do that!
BlueHost – Another great domain name and hosting resource that is very popular. If you want to start your own self-hosted WordPress website or blog using Bluehost here’s a guide that will walk you through the technical process of setting it all up yourself.
Restored 316 – Feminine WordPress themes created for female entrepreneurs.
StudioPress – An all-in-one, powerful and flexible website builder for WordPress. They offer premium WordPress themes (including the ever-popular Genesis Framework) that you can purchase individually or you can buy the Pro Plus All-Theme Package and get every theme they make now and in the future for one price!
aThemes – “Awesome Themes” that are easy to use, designed well and have a great support area!
ThemeForest – A huge marketplace for WordPress themes, templates and more.
Grow Your Business
Some resources and tools to help you grow your blog or biz!
Jetpack – I mostly use this for the site stats feature because it’s easier to understand than Google Analytics, but it’s got some other great features to it as well. Free.
Page Builder by SiteOrigin – A simple drag and drop page builder to help you layout your content to your liking… no coding required! It also automatically adapts your content to all mobile devices, ensuring your site is mobile-ready. Free.
SiteOrigin CSS – If you don’t like playing around with code, this plugin provides an easy way to choose colors, styles and elements so you can get your site looking exactly the way you want! Free.
Formidable Forms – Simple drag and drop form builder that also allows you to customize how it looks. I use this for both my contact forms as well as other inquiry forms on various pages. Free.
SumoMe – Makes it super easy for readers to subscribe to your email list and share your content. Free with an option to upgrade (which I recommend especially if you want email subscribers to be added automatically to your email list’s hosting provider!)
Social Warfare – Allow your posts and pages to be shared on the most popular social networks with these customizable share buttons. Free.
Yoast SEO – SEO is how you get found online and is absolutely essential! The Yoast SEO plugin helps you write better content and allows you to have a fully optimized site easily! Free with an option to upgrade.
All-in-One SEO – Another plugin to help you optimize your WordPress site for SEO. Free with an option to upgrade.
Broken Link Checker – Monitors your site for broken links and lets you know if any are found. Easy to manage and update/fix any site wide broken links in one spot! You definitely want to avoid dead links on your site and make sure all your links are going to where they are supposed to as this also helps you rank higher in SEO. Free.
Testimonial Rotator – Makes it easy to manage and display your testimonials. Free.
Easy Affiliate Links – Quickly add or update your affiliate links in one place! Free.
Easy Updates Manager – Automatically updates your plugins and themes. Free.
ARPrice – Build custom and responsive pricing tables. You can have an unlimited amount of columns, use any colors you want, change the fonts and add icons. I like this plugin over others because it has more features and templates compared to other similar plugins. It’s also really easy to integrate with PayPal! Need to pay for.
Backup Buddy – A solid, must-have plugin that is worth every penny! Without a back up, you could lose your site forever, and you definitely don’t want that! You can schedule this plugin to back up your entire site (database + all files) automatically for you. You can also move or restore your site quickly and easily! Need to pay for.
Pexels – A large collection of free photos.
Pixabay – They have over 550,000 free photos, vectors and art illustrations.
Unsplash – 10 new photos are added every 10 days and are free to use.
Gratisography – Filled with whimsical, quirky and edgy types of photos. It’s worth checking out even if just for a chuckle. 🙂 Also free to use.
Shutterstock – A resource for high-quality stock photos, vectors, illustrations, videos and music. You will need to pay for these or buy credits.
Creative Cloud – Awesome creative apps from Adobe you can use for photography, design, video, websites, and more! Get started at just $9.99/mo. or upgrade to $49.99/mo. to get the entire collection of creative apps. The ones I personally use the most are: Spark, Illustrator, Photoshop, Fireworks, InDesign and Acrobat Pro.
Canva – A free, easy-to-use, powerful tool you can use to create your own social media graphics, flyers, business cards, brochures, book covers, and more! You can also upgrade to Canva for Work, if you’re looking for more features, for $12.95 a month.
Studio – A free, easy-to use mobile app you can use to add text, shapes, crops, borders and filters to your photos. Great for creating content to be used on social media, especially Instagram and Facebook!
Snapseed – Another mobile app (and also on desktop) you can use for photo editing (tuning, cropping, rotating, adding filters, etc.)
Creative Market – A marketplace for handcrafted, mousemade design content from independent creatives around the world. They have fonts, photos, graphics, templates, themes and more!
Envato Market – A marketplace where you can purchase anything you need for your next creative project. They have website themes, templates, graphics, vectors, photos, footage, motion graphics, scripts, plugins, music, sounds, 3D models, textures and more!
Mighty Deals – A marketplace for amazing and exclusive deals for creative professionals. Get discounts ranging from 50%-97% off on quality fonts, templates, apps, ebooks, icons and much more!
MailChimp – A good place to start if you’re looking for a free (up to 2,000 subscribers) email marketing service. You can create custom sign-up forms that are easy to share on your WordPress site, Facebook or Twitter. You can also quickly and easily create professional, responsive email newsletters that match the look of your brand.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Later – Visually plan and schedule your social media posts, including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. It’s especially great for Instagram because you can use their “Link.in.bio” feature to build a clickable, shoppable Instagram feed, which drives targeted traffic to your store, landing page, or blog content, directly from your Instagram profile!
Linktree – A free Instagram tool that gives you one bio link to house links to all the content you want to drive your followers to. It’s kind of like a navigation menu on your website but highlights the most important things you want people to view at any given time.
Boardbooster – A tool to automate your pinning schedule on Pinterest to help get noticed more and bring more traffic to your site.
CJ Affiliate – An affiliate marketing platform you can use to promote affiliate product links, coupon links or ads on your site to make a commission. Or you can become a merchant and have others promote your products and services on their sites in order to reach more viewers and make money!
ShareASale – Another affiliate marketing platform.
Amazon Associates – Link to a specific product on Amazon and make a commission when someone purchases it! Super easy!
CHECK FOR PLAGIARISM
Copyscape – A tool you can use to check for plagiarism online by comparing two pages of content or by searching for copies of your web pages online. They also have solutions for preventing content theft and content fraud in the first place as well!
Recommendations to inspire and motivate you!
Here’s some of the equipment I use on the regular.
Apple MacBook Pro 15.4″ Laptop – This is what I work off of! Working from a laptop allows me to be able to work from anywhere, which is obviously AWESOME.
Selfie Stick with Tripod – This thing is great because it’s compact yet extremely versatile! Plus it turns into a tripod and comes with a remote!
Services I use to help make my days, weeks and months a little easier!
Amazon Prime – I didn’t think I’d want this when I first heard about it, but I decided to get a free 1-month trial and actually ended up loving it so I subscribed for a year. Things I personally love about it: I get free 2-day delivery on any online purchases I make (I love when things just get delivered to my door, it means I don’t have to go out and face the world!), I have Prime video, which is what I use to watch movies and shows in my downtime, and I get Prime music, which means I can listen to streamed music without ads.