No business can survive without the right tools and systems in place! I put this page together to share some of the dope resources that I have used or currently use in my business. From blogging to productivity to online shopping carts, this page is a one stop shop (or at least, a shopping list) for current or aspiring passionpreneurs everywhere!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
Website Hosting & Blogging
- The Blogger’s MBA – The Blogger’s MBA is an intensive course created by yours truly (me!) to help beginner blogger’s take their blog to the next level. With lessons on how branding, content creation, list building, and monetizing, it’s everything you need to know about creating a kick ass blog that you love writing as much as your audience loves reading.
- Bluehost – Bluehost is the company I use to host all of my websites! Bluehost is super easy to install, even if you’re a non-techie like me. Plus, they have amazing customer service that will be there for you if you get stuck. The great thing about Bluehost (that many people don’t know) is that you can have one hosting accounts for several different websites. Whoot!
- Elegant Themes – There are a ton of (great) themes out there but I LOVE Elegant Themes. For one flat annual rate, you get access to 87 different themes. My favorite by far, though, is their newest theme, Divi. Divi is built using a super flexible, drag-and-drop system that allows you to design your site any way you like without having to know any code. As different as they all look, every one of my current sites is built using Divi.
- SumoMe – SumoMe is a suite of free tools designed to help you grow your website traffic. Some of their free tools include: Scroll Box (a scrolling opt in form), Image Sharer (allows images on your site to be shared on social media), Highlighter (highlight certain pieces of your content to be shared), and many more. I love these tools because they are free and they WORK!
DIY Graphic Design
- Canva – Canva is a free design tool for those of us who aren’t naturally graphically inclined. The best thing about Canva is that they have a ton of well designed templates for every kind of graphic you could need, from business cards to Facebook ads to Twitter Headers and everything in between!
- Pixlr – Hate/can’t afford/don’t know how to use Photoshop? Pixlr will allow you some of the same features but for free. If you have the patience to learn the basics, Pixlr has a more advanced set of features than most other online tools.
- PicMonkey – Another useful online tool, PicMonkey allow you to add filters, frames, text, and effects to your images.
- Death To The Stock Photo – Death To The Stock Photo is a project created by a couple really awesome photographers who got tired of seeing the same tired stock photos being used. Once a month, they send out a free pack of creative high res images perfect for bloggers, writers, and biz owners on a budget.
- DepositPhoto – For moments when you do need a specific stock image, I like DepositPhoto. They have a robust and affordable collection of images. I actually found the image for the cover my book, Colored Girl Confidential, on DepositPhoto.
Product Distribution & Shopping Cart
- E-Junkie – E-junkie is a shopping cart (i.e. a place where you can set up your digital products and sell them in a way that keeps them from being stolen and shared). It’s not fancy but has all the basic features (digital file delivery, buy now buttons, coupon usage, etc.) and for $5 you can start selling your digital products online pretty immediately.
- Gumroad – I have not personally used Gumroad but I know many folks who love and use this platform so I figured I would add it to the list. While E-junkie is cheaper, Gumroad provided a much cleaner, more streamline customer experience, making it the favorite of many. I’m excited to check it out soon!
- PayPal – PayPal is the world’s largest and most trusted online bank. I don’t recommend PayPal for selling products directly (E-junkie or Gumroad is better) but you’ll need a PayPal account in order to accept money regardless of the shopping cart.
- Shopify – An e-commerce shop builder for anyone looking to sell physical products, either solely online or in addition to your offline presence. With a ton of flexible themes and features, Shopify is a great option for folks who want a low maintenance, low tech option for selling physical products online.
- Etsy – A global platform for handmade, vintage, art, and art supplies. Especially great for crafters, jewelry designers, and artist of any kind!
- PayPal Here – Plug this bad boy into your phone or iPad and you can instantly swipe credit and debit cards wherever you are and funds are instantly deposited in your PayPal account. PayPal Here is free when you get it from PayPal, or comes with a $15 rebate if you buy from anywhere else. I use PayPal here to sell my books during speaking engagements.
- Aweber – Research has consistently shown that the best way to build an enduring rapport and relationship with fans and followers is through email, not social media. Aweber is the email management service I use to manage email communication with my tribe!
- Sidekick – I love Sidekick! It’s a free extension for Google Chrome that allows you to monitor whether or not someone has read your email. It’s a great tool to help you manage your sales process or just plain keep track of who and when you should be following up with.
- Google Hangout – Free software by Google that allows for online meetings between up to ten people. Use Google Hangouts for private meetings or use Hangouts On Air to broadcast live video, powerpoints, or interviews to an unlimited number of people around the world.
- Instant Teleseminar – A platform for hosting teleseminars online. A little on the pricey side, I prefer this to freeconferencecall.com because it is more professional, more reliable, and offers free, high quality recordings. A good investment but only if teleconferences or audio interviews are a big part of your hustle.
- Join Me – Live screen sharing tool for online meetings that don’t require face time.
- Webinars on Air – There are a ton of different webinar platforms out there and I recommend you doing your own detailed research! I haven’t had an opportunity to try Webinars on Air yet but I’m intrigued by the idea of adding webinar features to the Hangouts On Air platform that I already know and love.
- InstaPage – Landing pages are a great tool for capturing leads. Instapage has a ton of great templates for everything from signing up folks for webinar registration to giving away a free ebook or guide.
- Member Mouse – There are a ton of plugins out there that allow you to turn your website into a membership site. I love MemberMouse because it is super easy to configure and use with the monthly fee of $20 means that you don’t have to invest a ton up front just to get started.
- Wishlist Member – Wishlist Member is another well known, and well liked membership plugin but requires a bit more setup than MemberMouse. Wishlist Member is a flat fee of $97 for one site and $297 for multiple sites.
- BuddyPress – BuddyPress allows you to turn your wordpress site into a social media platform. With profiles, messages, groups, and profile “walls,” BuddyPress isn’t very difficult to configure and a great option is you’re trying to create an interactive site for your community.
- BuddyBoss – BuddyBoss is hands down the best BuddyPress theme out there. With tons of features and a sleek clean design, I love love love this theme and have used it on several of my sites!
- BB Press – BB Press is forum software created by the same folks who created BuddyBoss. Useful if you’d like to add an interactive forum to your site!
- Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources and measures conversions and sales. Easy to install and a very important tool in learning more about who is coming to your site and from where.
- SumoMe Heat Map – Heat Map is a tool by SumoMe that allows you to see where on your website visitors are clicking. It’s a useful tool to understand how users are using your site and alter as necessary.
- Hootsuite / BufferApp – Scheduling tool for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn that allow you to schedule to basically put your social media updates on autopilot. While the two share many of the same features, Hootsuite shines when it comes “listening” (i.e. keeping track relevant conversations happening in your niche, while BufferApp’s interface has a slight edge in terms of link shortening and sharing.
- Edgar – Edgar is a social media management tool like no other. Instead of publishing your updates just once, Edgar catalogues them in a library that you build over time. All of your updates are sorted into categories that you create and published on a schedule that you choose.
- Bit.ly – Bit.ly allows you to shorten long links for the purpose of social media. Bit.ly also has a great tracking interface that allows you to see how your tweets are performing.
- Click To Tweet – The name says it all! With Click To Tweet you can create a clickable link that allows people to instantly send a pre-created tweet. Great for use in blog posts and in newsletters.
- Fiverr – Fiverr is a somewhat random site that basically allows you to hire folks for miscellaneous tasks! I’ve seen folks willing to belly dance, write jingles, design email opt in forms, and just about anything else starting at $5. Be careful though because the quality sometimes reflects the price!
- 99Designs – From business cards to logos to web design, 99Desings allow you to crowdsource your graphic design needs in a pool of talented artists. You choose the budget and project scope and designers will compete for your business.
- eLance / oDesk – Use these sites to hire freelancers, IT techs, web developers, and just about anything or anyone else your business needs.
- Thumbtack – Thumbtack is great for hiring offline contractors like photographers and videographers. Organized by specialty and location, I’ve found them to be especially helpful when I need someone to help with an event or speaking engagement that is not located in my hometown.
- Task Bullet – Hiring a virtual assistant is absolutely on my to do list! I haven’t used Task Bullet before but what I like about them is that you can invest in a “bucket” of hours to use as you see fit. A perfect fit for a passionpreneur on a budget and I can’t wait to try them out!
Productivity & Organization
- Google Docs – Who doesn’t use gmail?! I love Google Docs because of the ease of sharing and collaborating. Plus, if you download the Google Drive app on your phone, you can edit docs on the go, which I do all the time!
- Evernote – Evernote is a tool for note taking, archiving, and organizing stuff from around the internet! One thing I love about Evernote is that it allows you to screenshot an entire web page, great for design, copywriting, and sales page swipe files!
- Self Control – The Self-Control app allows you to “blacklist” distracting sites (ahem, Facebook) for a period of time that you set yourself. It won’t let you pull up the blacklisted sites until time is up, even if you restart your computer.
- Kill Newsfeed – Love this! Kill The Newsfeed is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to make your Facebook newsfeed disappear. You can still access the site, check notifications, participate in or moderate groups but you won’t be distracted by stuff happening in your newsfeed.
- Freedom – Freedom takes things a step further than Self-Control and Kill The Newsfeed by disabling your computer’s internet connection for up to eight hours (or, until you reboot your computer).
- Unroll Me – Unroll Me is the key to regaining control over your inbox. Unroll Me allows you to “roll up” all of your subscriptions into one daily email. (And you’d be surprised how many lists you’ve subscribed to over the years. I was subscribed to over 350!!)