This page was created to make it easier for you to see my favorite services, products, and companies all in one place. These are tools that I use and/or those I know are valuable. Most of these tools are useful across all businesses and some are more exclusive to one type of business or another. I will do my best to keep them neatly categorized as I add to this list.
Disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links and are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.
Taking the First Step
You have to crawl before you walk. Getting your small business set up correctly from the beginning will give you the proper foundation to scale your business into the money making enterprise you imagine. Here are my preferred tools for getting the foundation of my businesses set up correctly from the very start.
Every one of my niche websites are hosted on Bluehost. And I recommend Bluehost to my marketing consulting clients, as well. Why? Because the great people at Bluehost make it ridiculously easy to get a new site up and running with their one-click automatic WordPress installation.
You can use your Bluehost account to host multiple domains—no need to pay more for hosting when you’re ready to start another website. The customer service is outstanding. I prefer their chat feature, but they are happy to talk direct by phone, also.
I highly recommend using Bluehost for your first website, and you can get started as low as $3.95/month. If you sign up using my link, your domain and SSL certificate will be free.
Selecting a WordPress theme doesn’t have to be a major production anymore. AlienWP themes are all minimalistic, responsive, and easy to customize. For only $59, you will have access to 20 themes, all with clean lines, plenty of options, and amazing customer support. My theme is Anissa and I absolutely love it. There is no need to pay hundreds of dollars for a theme when Anissa and the other AlienWP themes have everything that a small business needs to professionally represent their business.
Must-Have Marketing Tools
I have tried AWeber and Constant Contact and I remain faithful to Mailchimp for several reasons. I find their drag and drop format to be so quick and simple for setting up any type of mass email I need. Plus, automating emails is simple with them, too. I set it up and then forget about it. The daily subscribe reports let me know that Mailchimp is working for me. The email marketing platform is free up until 2,000 subscribers per month. But I upgraded sooner than that because I like the added integration features. The only downfall of Mailchimp is that they do not have any phone support. I have never personally needed tech support, but I can imagine that it could be frustrating not to be able to speak to someone. Still A+ in my bag of tricks.
If you want to know how I generate hundreds of emails from my websites each month, read this article on giveaways.
I have many talents, but designing in PhotoShop is not one of them. I started using Canva a couple of years ago to create ecommerce product photos, Facebook ad photos and blog featured images for my various businesses. I could not believe that it was a free service. About a year ago, I upgraded to the paid version because of the Magic Resize feature. Now, I create one image and then magic resize it for all platforms. Canva makes my life so easy and saves so much time. I have recently started using it to develop PDFs and they truly look like they are professionally designed.
I read a couple of articles about how Pat Flynn uses giveaways as a primary method of growing his email list and it took me a while to wrap my head around it. But, once I did, I was off and running. KingSumo Giveaways is a very powerful WordPress plugin that will walk you through the giveaway set up. The end result is a professionally looking giveaway that will yield hundreds or thousands of entries. Those entries are great additions to your email marketing lists. Read more about how I set up my giveaways.
Traffic Driving Tools
Whether you use the free Mangools KWFinder tool or sign up for the upgraded service (you will if you are serious about traffic), I never write a blog post or ecommerce product description without this tool. If you feel like your blog or online store budget is too small to compete with the bigger players, you need this tool. You can compete within your niche market and create an organic reach without breaking the bank. But you will have to be a diligent keyword researcher. The KWFinder and SERP Checker will help you to identify low competition keywords, their search volume, and how you rank against others. Read more about how to use keyword research to dramatically increase FREE, organic traffic.
I read a couple of articles about how Pat Flynn uses giveaways as a primary method of growing his email list and it took me a while to wrap my head around it. But, once I did, I was off and running. KingSumo Giveaways is a very powerful WordPress plugin that will walk you through the giveaway set up. The end result is a professionally looking giveaway that will yield hundreds or thousands of entries. Those entries are great additions to your email marketing lists. The best part is that targeted, evergrowing email lists translates into more traffic for your site. Read more about how I set up my giveaways.
Not only are backlinks to our websites an indicator used by Google, they are an opportunity for traffic. Monitor Backlinks offers a no obligation free trial (no credit card required). Their dashboard and weekly emails will keep you updated about positive and negative backlinks to you site. Monitor Backlinks has become a very valuable tool for driving traffic to my websites. Read more about how to increase referral traffic by 10% using your existing referral links.
Blogging for Profit
I am a business person. I love to help others launch their businesses and find personal freedom, but my time is valuable. So, how can I get paid for my time while helping new entrepreneurs without having to charge them? The answer is affiliate marketing. In Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, you are going to learn how to master affiliate marketing, without selling your soul. It is entirely possible to begin a brand new blog with zero traffic and be profitable. Read more about how I earned $273 from my blog before it even launched.
By following this affiliate strategy course, you will increase the amount of passive income you are earning, and have even more fun with your business. I started my blog as a money making pro and I owe it largely to this course.
If you are interested in starting a website using WordPress, Bluehost is the hosting I recommend. One of the top web hosting companies in 2017, starting your own website with them is simple and affordable. For as low as $3.95 a month, your hosting will be covered. And if you sign up using my link, your domain and SSL certificate will be free.
Several years ago, I began to forge my own ecommerce path and migrated my stores from Ebay and Amazon to Shopify. I was fed up with the high fees and strict, unwavering rules. Marketplaces have turned into micromanagers, always telling us how to run our businesses. After considerable research, I decided to use Shopify as my platform. It was a great decision and I highly recommend them to anyone considering ecommerce. Easy to set up and manage. Use this link to receive your free trial.
Small Business Savings Tools
EBates is the best savings tool I have used for both personal and business. I installed the EBates extension so that it appears at the top of my screen and a popup reminds me to activate it every time I make an online purchase. EBates puts money back into my pocket with every gift I purchase and saves me tons during back to school and over the holidays. But, EBates is invaluable to my business finances also.
Here are a few of business purchases I have saved on with EBates:
Office supplies like paper, printer ink, paper clips, pens: Up to 10% cash back at Office Depot, Office Max, The Supplies Shops
Office furniture: 3.5% cash back at officefurniture.com and officedesigns.com
Vonage Business offers $10 cash back
PLUS, if you own an ecommerce store that sources from AliExpress, EBates pays back 4.5% from every AliExpress purchase. That adds 4.5% back into your ecommerce sales profit margin. That is huge!
Another money savings tool that pins to the top of your screen is Honey. Rather than pay cash back, Honey provides an immediate discount. Unlike other savings tools, it combs the web for every discount available and delivers it directly to you before you make an online purchase. I have saved hundreds with Honey. AND, it can be used in addition to Groupon or EBates for the maximum savings on business expenses.