While some people may think I'm a wizard using sorcery to create a successful online business, that's not it at all. In fact, I can't even do a simple card trick. The truth is, one of the main reasons that I've been able to be as successful is because of the tools that I use. That said, I thought it was best to create a page with my top recommendations for all of you newbies and experienced folks who need things to help.
Keep in mind that I will continue to add to this page in an effort to give you the best resources possible.
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Website hosting is the backbone of any website. Simply put, hosting is a giant computer and it's where all of the files related to your blog are housed. Beyond that, it's also where your blog is shown to your visitors from, so you want a fast and reliable host to make sure your visitors can access it without issue.
My top recommendations for website hosting are:
- Bluehost: Bluehost is the best and the most popular choice for web hosting. It’s designed to work best for anyone new to website building and has an established reputation for beginners that's unmatched. They've catered their onboarding to beginners and that's exactly why I recommend them.
- Siteground: I have to give a shout out to Siteground here because I've personally used them for years as my business has grown and they've done an excellent job.
WordPress Theme Site Builders
I personally recommend WordPress to everyone for many different reasons, but one of the most important reasons is because of how many other companies have built products specifically for the WordPress ecosystem. This is where WordPress theme builders come into play. When you're like me and don't know how to code, but want a site that you can customize yourself with point-and-click functionality, a WordPress theme builder is the answer.
My top recommendations for SEO are:
- Thrive Themes: The site you're on right now is from Thrive Themes and many of the sites in my portfolio are built using their tools. I love them not only because they help me with the technical aspects of site building, but they also have a marketing toolbox to help me solve all of my needs.
- Astra Site Builder: Like Thrive Themes, Astra Site Builder is a great solution for those who are looking to build a site that's beautiful and also highly functional. While they don't have as many of the marketing tools that Thrive Themes does, I love many of the customized tools they offer and definitely think they're worth a look.
Website builders make it easy for anyone to create a high-quality, professional-looking website in minutes – even with no coding or developing skills. When I started on my own online journey, I used various website builders to begin and you can too. While I highly recommend that you use WordPress instead (my free IGNITION course explains how it works) you can always use a site builder if you prefer.
My top recommendations for website builders are:
- Squarespace: Squarespace is the most popular website builder that’s designed to allow you to quickly build a website even with no prior experience or coding knowledge. The platform is also a popular listed CMS (content management system) and comes with a ton of awesome-looking templates designed for a variety of niches.
- Weebly: Weebly is a well-established website builder for creating standard websites, as well as eCommerce stores. The platform allows you to build a website for free, and grow it as your business grows. There are tons of customizable web page designs to choose from, and a lot of useful tools for getting your site discovered online so you can expand your customer base.
Logo Design Services
Having to create a logo is a pretty frustrating experience. You can hire a graphic designer for hundreds of dollars, or you can find a service that does this in bulk and can save you a ton of money in the process.
My top recommendations for logo design services are:
- Tailorbrands: Tailorbrands is a platform I discovered after they reached out to me and I absolutely love what they've built. Basically, they allow an individual to quickly and easily create a professional looking design yourself and it's very affordable compared to competitors.
Email marketing is one of the most crucial things for any successful blog. If you expect to build a relationship with people, the best way to do it is with the 1 to 1 communication that email marketing offers. While social media is "sexy" and "cool", it'll never give you the same connection with a site visitor that an email does.
My top recommendations for email marketing are:
- Constant Contact: Far and away the best email marketing tool for beginners, Constant Contact has catered their entire business to help those just starting out. Not only that, they've been in the business for over 25 years and are a well-established and reliable provider.
- Active Campaign: This is the email platform that I use for my own business and while it's not as beginner friendly as Constant Contact, it has some pretty amazing functionality that allows you to go deep into automation that most other platforms struggle with.
SEO is the cornerstone of my entire online business. Being good at this is what allows me to get hundreds of thousands of people to my website portfolio every single month. Being able to get traffic to my website(s) from search engines is crucial to succeeding as this traffic is "free" after my initial time investment and without it, the entire business would not be viable.
My top recommendations for SEO are:
- Surfer SEO: This tool allows me to audit and analyze content of my competitors that already ranks and helps me understand what it takes to rank the content that I create.
- Wincher: If you take SEO seriously, you'll need to track your keyword rankings. This is crucial to know where you stand and how recent changes in content have impacted your position in search.
- SEMRush: To best understand the competitor landscape and strategically create content and grow, you're going to need software outside of Google to help. SEMRush provides detailed information pertaining to keywords, analytics, backlinks, paid traffic, social media, and more.
Improve Website Speed
Ever since the core web vitals update in June of 2021, website speed has become a ranking factor that everyone has been paying attention to. This is for good reason as having a fast-loading website is now a factor for ranking in search engines. I've searched far and wide for solutions here because so many services say they can help, but few do.
My top recommendations for Website Speed are:
- Speedy.Site: This is a completely hands-off approach to site speed and I absolutely loved the service they offered. I loved it so much, I used it on this site and now you can see that my site speed typically scores 90+, and that's with Thrive Themes as my page builder. For those that want an affordable done for you solution, this is exactly what you need. The best part? If they don't improve your site speed, they'll refund your money - no questions asked.
Social Media Management
Social media has grown to be so much more than just a place to share pictures of loved ones and animals. Nowadays, there are businesses building themselves by focusing on their social media presence and the list of tools here can help you make that even easier.
My top recommendations for social media management are:
- Socialbee: Socialbee is a popular social media management software that promises to help you generate more leads with a lot less effort.
One of its best features is that it allows you to recycle evergreen content and post variations to keep it fresh.
- SEMRush: SEMRush is an inclusive SEO tool that incorporates some very useful social media management tools. You can schedule and post to all major social media platforms, and the platform has a powerful image editor, link shortener, and UTM builder to customize your posts. Even better? SEMRush does so much more, this is just one of it's many features.
Online Course Platforms
Online education is by far one of the most profitable endeavors that any online business owner can do. Simply put, people love learning from people who have already achieved the goals or level of expertise that they're striving for. In addition, technology has made creating courses much easier than it used to be so this business model is available to anyone that's willing to put in the work.
My top recommendations for online course platforms are:
- Thinkific: Thinkific is my favorite free online course platform by far to sell courses. Granted, their free plan has it’s limitations, but it’s a great place to begin if you don’t want to buy anything just yet.
- Learnworlds: LearnWorlds is a robust online course creation tool that is designed to help you sell courses with numerous interactive features. For instance, the video player and E-Book reader in the platform are both interactive providing for a unique experience compared to other platforms.
- Teachable: This is (statistically) the largest online course platform on the market. They have over 100,000 instructors on the platform and have helped people just like you and me earn over $500 million dollars. Big names like the New York Times, Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas use Teachable and if they trust these platforms, you can too.
Webinars are an amazing way to not only grow your audience, but can also be a great way to sell digital products. Things like PDF's, e-books, online courses, and really any type of material where you're teaching a concept to a group of people. But, it doesn't just stop there, running webinars are also a great way to get people to purchase software and even consulting services.
My top recommendations for webinar platforms are:
- Livestorm: LiveStorm’s webinar platform is growing in popularity and is best known for its stylishly designed interfaces for video creation. The creators of this software understand that not all webinars need to be the same, and that’s why they offer customization options so you can create the right webinar presentations for your business.
- Webinar Jam: WebinarJam is offered at a very affordable price, putting it within range of solopreneurs and enterprises with small budgets. If you sell physical or digital products, you will be able to generate leads and sales on autopilot with this platform’s features.
- Demio: Demio makes it to the top of our list thanks to its ‘smart’ features. This webinar platform has impressive tracking options that allow you to add retargeting, tracking, and conversion pixels to registration pages and thank-you pages, as well as the webinar room itself.
Podcasting is one of the newer forms of content marketing available and if you can be successful with it, incredibly gratifying and profitable. But, just like a blog, the only way to have a quality podcast is to host it somewhere and this is where Podcast hosting comes in.
My top recommendations for podcast hosting are:
- Podbean: PodBean is an all-in-one podcasting solution that allows beginners and professionals alike to create high-quality podcasting in just minutes. With this software, you don't need any prior programming knowledge and the focus is simplicity.
- BuzzSprout: Buzzsprout is a popular podcast host that allows you to easily setup and submit your podcast to all the top directories where people are searching for it. When you sign up on this platform, you can potentially reach millions of listeners automatically as Buzzsprout feeds are compatible with directories like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
Editing video is tough, but a necessary requirement for someone just starting a YouTube channel. Whether that channel is a compliment to your blog or not, you're going to need editing software to help make your videos looks great and keep your viewers engaged.
My top recommendations for video editing are:
- Adobe Premiere Pro: Adobe Premiere Pro CC has an outstanding reputation as one of the best video editing software solutions on the market right now. It’s one of the standard editing tools used in Hollywood, but it's also very beginner friendly.
- Movavi Video Suite: The all-in-one video maker, editor, and converter. Movavi Video Suite is geared toward novice editors who want a quick and easy way to edit videos. It’s an affordable program that has some great features all packed into one convenient package.
Landing Page Builders
Landing pages are crucial in order to successfully build an email list. Further, using a landing page platform that allows for testing one version of a page vs another is extremely important because it allows you to increase your conversion rate, which leads to more email sign-ups, which ultimately leads to more income for your blog.
My top recommendations for landing page builders are:
- Unbounce: Unbounce has some of the best features of any landing page builder currently available right now. It offers beginner-level customization options, as well as highly advanced ones. The software is perfect for creating custom landing pages that have diverse page elements.
- LeadPages: Leadpages has features that are almost unparalleled in most other landing page builders in its class. The software is priced deceptively low but offers more than enough features to allow marketers to build high-converting landing pages to achieve their marketing objectives. Read my full review on website hosting here.
Graphic Design Software
If you want to make your website look pretty and appealing with custom images and graphs/infographics that may be able to get backlinks, graphic design tools are an absolute must. That said, there are hundreds to choose from and it can be tough to know what's best for now and in the future. For me, Adobe has a clean sweep on this one as their design products are second to none.
My top recommendations for graphic design are:
- Adobe Photoshop: Adobe Photoshop is a popular platform that provides robust editing tools for graphics and photos. The software has all the basic tools, such as text overlay, as well as complex features like file size control. This tool works on Windows and Mac and has a bit of a learning curve compared to drag-and-drop software - but, it also has a broader range of functionality and control.
- Adobe Illustrator: Adobe Illustrator is an industry-standard vector graphics app that lets you create icons, logos, typography, drawings, and illustrations for web, print, video, and mobile. It’s a true graphic design tool for Windows and Mac, with comprehensive features to help you create captivating visuals for your brand.
Shopping Cart Software
Having a shopping cart so that people can buy and download products you're trying to sell is often essential when it comes to having a profitable online business. Whether you have a complex site with a ton of content, or want to create a very simple page that people can checkout on, these platforms can help.
My top recommendations for shopping cart software is:
- Samcart: Samcart is my favorite shopping cart platform because they support easy integration with membership sites, sales funnel, and of course, sales pages. While both Samcart and Thrivecart is good, the interface and ease of use make this my favorite.
- Thrivecart: ThriveCart offers one-click transactions, as well as upsells, down sales, and bump offers to help you maximize your income from each sale you make. It's good as a cheaper option to Samcart in the long-term.