You don’t need expensive tools to run an online business.
Not at all.
Yes. I understand that in order to make money sometimes you must spend money. However, especially at the beginning when you are not yet generating a lot of profit, I personally think it is unwise to spend hefty amounts of money when almost everything these days can be done for free or for costs that will not make you bleed.
I wrote this post because I have gotten questions about what I use to run MOBJ and one reader was shocked when I mentioned how much I actually spend.
So here are the tools I use. I hope you find something in here to make your online business efforts a little sweeter.
Fat Cow Hosting – I’ve been with Fat Cow for about 3 years and I have absolutely no complaints. Their customer service is fast and wonderful.
WordPress – The best content management system on the planet. Learn how to start your own self-hosted WordPress site here.
Genesis theme/Rusticity Child Theme – Genesis is such a clean theme. The child theme currently installed on this site is the Rusticity Child Theme. I bought the Rusticity Child Theme through Creative Market.
Backup – I cannot stress on how important this plugin is to your site. When it comes down to it, your website is a bunch of files. As you add new content to it, you need to back up those files so that if anything ever happens you will have all your files up to date and ready to load back onto your site.
Disqus – For comments. I’ve heard people say they can’t stand Disqus. Personally, I love it for 2 reasons. 1. People can comment using twitter, FB or their Disqus account. 2. Blog post suggestions beneath each comment area which allows people to get lost on the blog. It is actually one of my blog’s top referral sources.
Yoast SEO – SEO from Yoast makes on-page SEO super simple. You can watch a tutorial on it here.
Shortcodes Ultimate – Helps me to create all kinds of cool functions on the blog including creating the columns you see on my start here page.
Google Analytics – For tracking visitor counts and other things like the rate of e-mail subscriptions on the blog. If you don’t have this installed, DO IT NOW. I cannot overestimate the value of the information you can learn using GA.
Wordfence – Wordfence is like my virtual ninja bodyguard against the numerous attempts of hackers to sign in to my website. If you don’t have it on your WordPress site, get it.
Magic Action Box – For creating clean-looking e-mail forms that can be placed anywhere on the blog.
SumoMe – A useful suite of e-mail marketing tools that will make you look professional out the gate. I use their share buttons on my posts and on my images as well.
Mailchimp – For collecting e-mail addresses of wonderful people like you so I can stay in touch. I love Mailchimp’s forever free plan – you can have up to 2000 e-mails and send 12,000 emails per month on the free plan. If you’re just starting out and you’re boot-strapping, this plan will be excellent for you. The downside to using Mailchimp’s free plan is that it doesn’t have an autoresponder feature unless you pay.
MailerLite – I actually only recently discovered MailerLite and was really impressed with the ease of their platform. MailerLite also allows you to collect e-mails. It also has a free plan for 1,000 subscribers. Unlike Mailchimp’s free plan though, you can set up autoresponders ! Such a score.
Canva – If you haven’t heard of Canva, now you have. It is the best thing invented since man went to the moon (Okay. Maybe besides the iPhone & Periscope. LOL). I use PicMonkey occasionally as well.
Google Docs – I use this to save everything from blog posts, my editorial plan , course outlines to client game plans. I also love that you can get a shareable link on documents that you can use anywhere you wish. Makes delivering my e-mail freebies easy.
Udemy – Marketplace for selling courses. Think Amazon except for courses. I’ve made “okay” money from Udemy. If you don’t have an audience and you are ready to make some cash with your teaching skills, Udemy is a great place to get started. However, Udemy takes a steep cut – typically 50% – when you make sales as a result of their promotions on your behalf. On the flip side, if you promote your courses on Udemy to your own audience and they buy directly through your links, you make a sweet 97%.
Gumroad – I just started using Gumroad to host my courses. It is a great platform and super easy to use. They also recently came up with a marketplace.
Screencast-o-matic – For recording screen capture and talking head videos for my courses as well as recording my voice. It is only $15/year to use it. You certainly cannot beat that.
Windows Video Editor – To do light editing on my videos.
Other tools I use for creating my courses are Microsoft PowerPoint, Logitech Microphone (about to be upgraded soon to something else) and the HD 720p webcam from Logitech.
Wave – Super simple accounting online software that helps me keep track of my income and expenses for my business. You can also create client invoices and take payments through their system.
Wave is super useful around tax time so that the “big man” gets his due. (I need all my biz friends to stay out of tax jail , okay ?)
Social Media Management
Buffer – Simple, clean and efficient. That’s how I love my social media scheduling tools and Buffer just does it for me.
Website Health Checks
Because just like humans, your website needs regular health check-ups.
Quicksprout – This tool was created by Neil Patel and it is genius. I love the fact that I can plug my website in QuickSprout’s website checker and get some great feedback on the different things I could improve on my site. Another good tool I love using is Google PageSpeed Insights.
If you read my post on how social media helped me increase my traffic by 135% in 2 weeks, you might have noticed that I mentioned content curation super briefly. These 2 tools are close to my heart when it comes to helping me find quality content I can read, share and comment on (3 things you SHOULD do regularly as an upstanding citizen of the blogging community) – Triberr and Inbound.
There you have have it. The tools that make running my online business a delight.
What tools do you use in your online business ?
If you have any tool suggestions (or you want to just say hi) drop them in the comments. I would love to hear them.