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The foundation of your business is your website. It's a single source of truth for your business, a place that your customers can always go to find your products and services. While there are many solutions available to build your website, I personally use WordPress.org.
WordPress is highly customizable through templates and plugins – many of which are free or low-cost. With a wordpress.org website, however, you will need to purchase a domain and hosting.
Hosting: Hosting is simply server space where your website lives. Two of the best hosting programs available are SiteGround and WPEngine.
Themes: Themes control what your website looks like. With the right theme, your site design should be 80-90% done for you. Just apply your logos and colors, and start adding your own personal content. A great source for WordPress themes is Creativemarket.com. (While you're there, make sure you sign up for their email newsletter to take advantage of FREE weekly downloads – including fonts, stock images, social media templates and more. It's amazing. Seriously.)
Page Builder: WordPress is a powerful tool to build your websites, but sometimes building beautiful pages without knowing code can be challenging. This is where page builders come in. Page builders like Divi and SiteOrigin give you drag and drop functionality to build your own pages. My personal recommendation is Elementor. You can get started with the free plugin, but I quickly upgraded to the Pro version. It's an amazingly powerful tool to make your website stand out for less than $100 a year.
Online Courses, Digital Downloads & Memberships
If you're looking to scale your business or build passive income, then you're probably considering selling digital downloads, online courses, or even memberships. There are a ton of choices, including some “all in one tools” like Kartra.
My resource library and courses are all hosted through MemberVault. I've found their system to be super robust, it integrates wonderfully with many email service providers (including ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, Ontraport, and MailerLite). Their leadership team is super-accessible, and are always releasing new products. Plus, as an analytics junkie like me, I love that I can see what modules people are using the most (and reward the most active users!) Oh- and unlike many of the other service providers, they don't take a percentage of every sale on top of your monthly fees. MemberVault is totally FREE to use for your first 100 users. (I wanted to upgrade within 30 days of using. It's THAT good.)
Another great option is Podia. They also have an easy-to-use interface and low fees. You can try them free for 14 days.
Email Marketing Tools
Email marketing is the best way to build relationships with your customers over time. Plus, it's not subject to the changing algorithm whims of social media. If you're just getting started or need to find a service provider, make sure you check out my blog post on Email Marketing 101. I'm currently using ActiveCampaign after moving from MailerLite.
ActiveCampaign: ActiveCampaign is the best of both worlds – with great email marketing, marketing automations, and add-on features that also give you CRM functionality. The lite service starts at $9/month for up to 500 contacts when you prepay for a year.
ConvertKit: ConvertKit is a wildly powerful tool for bloggers who are running multiple funnels and email newsletters. Much like MailerLite, it offers landing pages, embeddable forms and pop-ups to collect new email subscribers. ConvertKit has a free tier for up to 1000 subscribers with reduced functionality. Paid subscriptions start at $29/month and has hundreds of integrations to make it easy to make the most of your subscription.
Ontraport: Ontraport isn't just about email marketing or a CRM. They also focus on deep tracking and analytics so you can see EVEN MORE details about how your subscribers and customers are interacting with your emails, website, and social profiles. It's a major powerhouse, and not a service that you're likely to outgrow (ever). Ontraport starts at $79/month.
MailerLite: If you're dipping your toe into email marketing, MailerLite is also a good choice. It's free for up to 1000 subscribers (with up to 12,000 total emails sent a month.) If you want more emails sent, pricing starts at just $10 a month.
Content Marketing Scheduling Tools
Social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and other platforms that focus on generated and shared content – like Pinterest – are powerful amplification channels to share your messages. But to get out of the habit of spending all of your time posting on these platforms, you can use content marketing scheduling tools. With these tools, you can schedule your posts in advance – giving you more time in your busy schedule!
Social Media Scheduling: There are literally DOZENS of tools that can schedule social media posts. The one I use the most (and recommend) is Hootsuite. While Hootsuite started as a Twitter tool, it's quickly expanded to allow you to schedule to all major social platforms, including Instagram. You can start with a free account that allows you to connect 3 social platforms and schedule up to 30 messages in advance.
Pinterest: My Pinterest scheduling tool of choice is Tailwind. Tailwind allows you schedule pins to show on your own boards and group boards at specific times. Plus, you'll be able to join Tailwind Tribes – groups of people with similar interests who share their pins in a group area that you can choose from to share on your own boards. For less than $100 a year, you can use Tailwind to actively share pins all week, while you're busy running your business.
Landing Pages and Funnels
Landing page and funnel builders aren't for the faint of heart. For newbies, I still recommend using Elementor on your WordPress website.
If you haven't built a website yet, or you're testing specific funnels, I recommend LeadPages. With LeadPages, you can use expert designs – designed to convert! – to build every page in your funnel, including opt-in pages, thank you pages, sold out pages, and more. Plus you can build unlimited pages, pop-up forms, and even Facebook ads on every tier. Get started today with a free 14-day trial.
To be successful, we always need to be learning something new. Since we don't have all the time in the world to learn, I use these services to help keep my brain sharp in a short amount of time.
Blinkist: Blinkist is the all-grown-up version of Cliffs notes. From modern business and non-fiction books to classics, you'll get the highlights that you need to make the most of your reading time. Plus with the premium plan you'll get access to audio versions of the books – so you can learn on the go in less time than traditional audio books.
Skillshare: Skillshare is my personal candyland of courses. Not only do they have great courses on business-related topics, they've also got all kinds of interesting creative courses to help expand your creativity. Next up on my list: brush lettering!
Get the Inside Scoop!
Subscribe today and get access to the member's only FREE resource library, with the tools I created and use for my own business and my clients. It includes:
- The Facebook Group Organizer to make the most of your limited social media time
- The Email Content Planner so you always know what you're sending when
- The Ideal Customer Worksheet to help you finally put a face to that elusive ideal buyer
- … and more! I'm adding new resources all the time!
Plus, you'll get my weekly newsletter with expert insights made easier for your business, including trends in marketing, productivity and business today. With no SPAM ever. Your email is safe as safe can be with me!