If there’s a tool or resource you need for your business, chances are good that someone has made something that’s just what you’ve been looking for. The trick is finding that special tool in the sea of apps that seem to come out every day.
When I first started my business, I searched and searched for that one magical app that would do everything I needed, had a great design (because who wants to use an ugly app all day?), and was easy to use. Surprise, surprise — it doesn’t exist!
After trying app after app, I came to the conclusion that I’d rather use several tools that are each really great for one thing than to live with something that was mediocre for everything. These are the resources I use to run and grow my business. Affiliate links are noted, meaning that I may receive commission or credit for your purchase through these links.
For your website
FLYWHEEL (affiliate): Managed WordPress hosting. They host nearly all of my sites and are my top recommendation for web hosting for WordPress. Super responsive and friendly support team, automatic backups and major updates, unbeatable security. They’ll even migrate your site for free.
BLUEHOST (affiliate): My web hosting recommendation for smaller budgets. I hosted my site with them for the first few years.
NAMECHEAP (affiliate): Where I buy all of my domain names. User-friendly, reliable, and great prices.
UNDERSCORES: The starter theme I use for the WordPress themes I code.
GUMROAD: The easiest way to start selling digital products. Well-designed and very user-friendly, you can literally set up shop in minutes.
EASY DIGITAL DOWNLOADS: The WordPress plugin I use to run my shop on my website. More setup than Gumroad, but with a bit of coding know-how you can have full control over the look and feel of your shop and host it yourself.
WOOCOMMERCE: The WordPress plugin I recommend for more robust ecommerce needs, particularly for physical products.Want your website to work for you? Make sure you're using the right tools.Click To Tweet
CONVERTKIT: The email marketing system I personally use and love. Its automation features are easy to use and really can’t be beat.
CAMPAIGN MONITOR: The email marketing system I used for years, and what I recommend if you want beautifully designed email campaigns. They have gorgeous templates with a very flexible and easy-to-use system.
MAILCHIMP: The email marketing system I recommend for those just starting out. Free for up to 2000 subscribers, with well-designed and user-friendly templates.
OPTIMIZEPRESS (affiliate): A WordPress plugin for turning your website into a marketing machine. Build any kind of marketing page you need with a drag-and-drop interface. The kind of plugin I wish I had purchased sooner.
POPUPALLY (affiliate): If you want to grow your email list, you need this WordPress plugin. You can create any kind of opt-in form imaginable, beyond just popups, and design it exactly as you want without touching code.
WEBINARALLY (affiliate): A WordPress plugin that makes it both easy and cheap to host webinars. This plugin takes care of all the tech for you through free Google Hangouts, and you don’t have to pay the high monthly or yearly fees that come with other popular webinar platforms.
For blogging and social media
COSCHEDULE (affiliate): How I manage my editorial calendar and schedule social media. I love that I can change the date of my blog posts, and the associated social media dates will automatically update as well. I also use CoSchedule to plan out my email content, and I love that I can see all of my marketing content in one place.
EVERNOTE (affiliate): Evernote is where I do most of my writing and store notes of all kinds. I save articles for reference, copy questions from my readers for future posts, take notes on books and courses I work through, and more. Allyssa wrote a great post on using Evernote for your blogging process that I’ve adapted to my needs.
CLICK TO TWEET: An easy way to create click to tweet links that you can use anywhere. I use it to add click to tweets to my ebooks and email campaigns.Having dedicated tools makes writing + publishing + sharing your blog posts a breezeClick To Tweet
TODOIST: My business would not run without Todoist, simple as that. Every task I have gets added to Todoist with a due date in the appropriate color-coded project list, then I use the 7 Day view to arrange my schedule each day. I’ve written posts on it here and here.
TOGGL: If I’m working, my Toggl app is running to track my time on each task. Since I work with project-based pricing, I check against my Toggl times to make sure I’m accurately estimating projects. I also like having a record of what I did each day, for those days when I feel like I didn’t get anything done but actually got a lot more than I thought.
TRELLO: While I manage all of my to-dos in Todoist, I keep my projects organized through Trello. I use it for all kinds of projects, from client work to internal projects to personal planning. I wrote a post on it over here.
FRESHBOOKS (affiliate): If there is one app I wish I had paid for from the very start of my business, it’s Freshbooks. My first tax season was a mess trying to organize all of my income and expenses. Freshbooks makes it easy for me to keep my books organized all year long.
GOOGLE APPS: Google Apps is where I keep all of my business documents so I can access them from anywhere and share with anyone.
ADOBE CREATIVE CLOUD: I use Adobe Creative Cloud apps everyday: Dreamweaver for coding, Photoshop for web design mockups, Illustrator for graphics, InDesign for ebooks.
ADOBE DOCUMENT CLOUD: Adobe Document Cloud comes with my Creative Cloud subscription, but it’s worth mentioning on its own. This is how I get all of my contracts signed. I have a contract template where I’ve added fields for the project scope and payment, so I only have to choose the template and fill in the information to send out a new contract.
ZAPIER: I use Zapier to automate a lot of things. In particular, I use it to send all of my payment processing fees to Freshbooks as expenses, and to add ebook customers to certain email lists in Campaign Monitor.
DROPBOX (affiliate): I store all of my business files in Dropbox for two purposes: To sync between my iMac and MacBook Air, and as backup. I also use it to share files between designers I work with and clients.
BACKBLAZE (affiliate): When I’m finished with projects, I move the files off Dropbox and to my external hard drive. I also have a lot of personal files store on my iMac that aren’t backed up in Dropbox. Though I have Time Machine running on my external hard drive, I also like to back everything up to BackBlaze just in case. Turns out, that was a good idea as my external hard drive broke in a move. Plus, it comes in handy every so often when I’m traveling and need access to an old file on my external hard drive.
DEATH TO THE STOCK PHOTO: One of my favorite sources for stock photography.
UNSPLASH: My favorite resource for free stock photography.
THE NOUN PROJECT: Icons for anything you can dream of.
GOOGLE FONTS: My favorite free fonts for easy web use.
FONT SQUIRREL: A little more complicated to use on the web, but a great collection of free fonts.
TYPEKIT: A great library of premium fonts for your website. Comes with the Creative Cloud subscription!
MYFONTS: Where I buy most of my premium fonts.
SET IT AND FORGET IT: This course changed the way I look at email marketing — and my content in general. Just the right amount of information with easy guidelines to implement.
CREATIVE CLASS: This course has everything you need to know about running a freelance business. Paul’s work is clear, easy to follow, and no-nonsense. A must for anyone selling services.
LAUNCH IT AND PROFIT (affiliate): This course will take you through the process of identifying what you should be creating for your audience and how to actually launch it. Nathalie’s advice is clear and practical, and the community is super helpful.
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