| The tools I use to run my 5-figure automated business and blog- plugins, software, tools and hosting |
Let’s talk everyday stuff. I know a lot of you own a blog or biz so I wanted to tell a little bit more about my tools. Running an online business is A LOT of fun! You get to pick your own hours, you can execute most ideas immediately and most of the time people invent new tools to run your biz on autopilot. More time to travel and to enjoy life and create those crazy ideas right? In this blog post I’ll share my top used tools, plugins, software and hosting and hopefully I can inspire you. I always like to read what other people use to run their businesses, so now it’s my turn!
| the complete tool guide to running a monthly 5-figure business |
I’ve been blogging for over 12 years, and I’ve been freelancing / running a small business for years. I started out going for the free option everywhere, but as my business grow, I can invest more in the right tools that give me more time and help me automate my ‘boring business tasks’ as much as possible. There are essentials to run a business, and there are ‘luxury’ tools that make life SO much easier. Let’s start with my essentials!
| Business + blogging essentials to run an automated biz + blog |
Domain names + Hosting
I’ve been on WordPress with all my blogs for years now. So why did I switch to SquareSpace? I did it for the great design and cover pages. You pay per month, and cover pages are currently only $5 per month. That’s a bargain for a kick ass intro/coming soon/single page website! My sites look more professional with a custom SS build for just that course or product. Curious? Check out my shop www.wanderlustandcompany.com/shop to see what I’m talking about!
For WordPress you need hosting, I use BlueHost and WP Engine. You can easily link your domain names to SquareSpace or Bluehost. BlueHost has a super easy two click integration tool to self-host your WordPress website, so I’d always recommend starting with Bluehost if you’re new to hosting a self-hosted blog.
WP Engine is my favorite, but it’s more expensive than Bluehost – especially if you want to host more than 1 blog or have more than 25k visitors a month. I have both, so it would be too expensive for me to host via WP Engine. WP Engine daily backups your site – which is a big PRO. They have multiple firewalls and top notch protection, something you’ll regret once you’ve thousands of articles online and your site gets hacked. So let’s get started with WP Engine and get 20% off your first payment here (starts at $29 a month).
SquareSpace | Sign up for your free 14-day trial here.
WordPress.org | Download WordPress.org (the selfhosted version) here for free
BlueHost | Sign up for hosting for only $3.49 a month instead of the normal $7.99 via this link
WP-Engine | Sign up here for the 1-year plan and get 2 months for free. Or sign up here to get 20% off your first payment
Themes + Design
To easily create a beautiful WordPress blog, you have to get a beautiful design. I recommend getting one from ThemeForest, I always bought mine (if I went for a template, sometimes I had mine custom made) via ThemeForest and their customer service is excellent. You can color or design search your theme and choose from different price ranges.
Once you’ve picked your theme you can easily upload it to WordPress using the ‘Add a new theme’ under Appearance > Themes. Really easy, just upload the file you bought from ThemeForest and you’re all set! All you have to do now is personalize your theme and you’re ready to blog!
Of course, you can also hire a designer to create a custom theme for you, but it will cost you a lot more than a few tenners (gettin’ my London slang on here lol).
Did you sign up for my free e-course ‘A Media Kit That Sells’ already? You should! Because if you did, you know the importance of a rocking Media Kit! You can easily buy a cheap Media Kit template, get yours here.
(Free) Stock Photography
Please, don’t use random photos you find on the internet! It’s 2016, that’s a big NO-NO! There are so many Stock Photography sites – there’s plenty of choices and they’re long past the ‘boring / obviously kind of’ stock photos. I recommend Unsplash for finding free stock photos, but of course, most bloggers get their photos from those websites, so sometimes it’s nicer to go for a paid stock photo. Go to 123RF, PhotoDune or Shutterstock for a large range of different paid stock photos.
Grammar + Proofreading
Grammar and proofreading are things you should typically invest in to write the best blog posts you can (and emails!). Fortunately, Grammarly is completely free and the best grammar, spelling and proofreader around! There’s also a PRO version, but just start with the Chrome add-on and you can always upgrade later!
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If you use WordPress, you can download plugin to make your website and its functions more advanced. Most of them are free, and I love adding the right plugins to my website! My favorite plugins? Editorial Calendar and Pretty Link. Calendar visualizes your scheduled post in a monthly calendar, something I definitely need! You can easily move your posts from one date to another, without editing the posts every time. This is how I work when I travel or when I’m just scheduling posts because I’m busy. With Pretty Link, you can create ‘pretty links’ like nonimay.com/prettylink or www.nonimay.com/boardbooster and link to their websites. I use it for all the links I often use, it’s easy to remember and looks pretty! You can also use it for affiliate links and links to your social profiles. It’s very handy when you’re hosting a webinar! Download Pretty Link for free here!
Other plugins I use too are the Convertkit plugin for my newsletter forms, the LeadPages plugin for my webinar sign-up pages, sales pages and pop-up boxes, NextScripts for automatic social media posts and User Role Editor to add new people to the blog without giving them access to everything. You can search plugins via the WordPress search bar (under plugins) or go to CodeCanyon. I love CodeCanyon because I find so many plugins that make my process easier and faster.
CodeCanyon | Browse WordPress Plugins
Pretty Link | Create pretty links. Yourdomain.com/yourtext and a link to another website
Editorial Calendar | Easily move scheduled WordPress blog posts and have a visual of the month
User Role Editor | Give designers, technician and others restricted access to your backend
NextScripts | Auto publish social media posts, perfect to push new blog posts automatically to your social media
Do you want to build a blog that generates some income at some time? Start implementing affiliates into your blog. Affiliates are product links you can add and for every sale you’ll get a % of the sales price. There are a few Affiliate Networks you can join, where you can find a marketplace filled with affiliate products/brands. You’ll be surprised, I bet a few of your favorite brands will be there!! To get you started, sign up to ShareASale, CJ, LinkShare and Rakuten.
As a blogger, you can also make money by sponsoring, sponsored articles and sponsored social media posts (!). Curious how to land these amazing sponsorships? Sign up to blogging networks! I have listed over 50+ blogging networks to join in this blog post.
I seriously think that these are the basics to get you started with blogging. Now let’s go to your newsletter + emails.
Convertkit for newsletters
I use Convertkit for my newsletters and I’m SO in love with it! It’s a standard newsletter software, but it also delivers content upgrades and downloads straight to people’s inbox. You can set up sequences (also known as email courses!) and you pay per x amount of people on your list. This means, I only target a small part of my business with Convertkit, because I want to keep my monthly costs as low as possible, but it works! You can track which links people click, which is perfect for your launch strategy and analytics.
Google Apps suite for email
Are you also in love with Gmail’s interface but is it time to get a more professional looking email address like @nonimay.com or yourdomain.com? Don’t stress, Google Apps has you covered! Use Gmail with your custom email-address. It’s super easy, all you need is a custom email address (purchase here) and you’re all set. Click here to see my full tutorial on how to get started with Google Apps!
Boomerang for Gmail
I keep my inbox sane with Boomerang. With Boomerang you can ‘temporarily’ move emails to a file in your Gmail, and it will send back automatically on the date you specified. This helps me with inbox zero, and keeping my head clear. I just have to think about certain emails if it’s time to think about them, total life saver! Oh, and you can also schedule your emails! So reply now, send later – so awesome!
Boomerang for Gmail | Schedule and ‘temporarily archive’ Gmail e-mails
Next up? Social media! Because I strongly believe it’s impossible to run an online business without social media, but I also must admit it’s not my favorite thing to do. That’s why I automate my social media as much as possible. Here’s how:
Every week my VA or I schedule most of my social media posts for the week. With Hootsuite, scheduling social media is super easy and free! I’m on the PRO plan (try it 30-days for free here) so I can use the Suggestions App for free. With the suggestions app you can easily schedule interesting posts when you’re on the move via a Tinder swipe idea. Really fun! It’s only $7,99 a month, I’d say, definitely worth the investment if you want to step up your social media game!
Boardbooster and/or Tailwind
Love Pinterest? How about an easy increase of your followers? AUTOMATICALLY? Use BoardBooster! You can set up loops to ‘automatically have BB loop your old pins.. how great? After using BB I’ve been pinning about 3000 pins a month and gained approximately 300 followers a week (!!!). Start your free trial here (click). but are you just starting out? How about an easy increase of your followers? AUTOMATICALLY? Use BoardBooster! You can set up loops to ‘automatically have BB loop your old pins.. how great? After using BB I’ve been pinning about 3000 pins a month and gained approximately 300 followers a week (!!!). Start your free trial here (click).
Are you ready to step up your Pinterest game? Sign up for Tailwind, their analytics are insane!
Project Management + Files
Love working abroad? Asana is your main go to app, to keep things organized! Stay in touch with co-workers, set up multiple project lists with endless tasks. Why Asana is my favorite project management app? It’s totally free, it has a beautiful design and you can add notes to to do’s!
Like Asana, Evernote is a must for digital nomads and people who don’t have one computer or place they work from. It’s like digital journaling. I have multiple notebooks with thousands of notes in them. And you can easily sync with the App to work offline on your Macbook! I now got Evernote premium, which is SO worth the investment. For $29 a year you get 10GB per month (to back-up files and photos) and offline access, search in office docs and attachments, shares, clips from the web, a passcode lock on the app and so much more! Best. Investment. Ever.
Asana | Use Asana to work with colleagues, manage your to do list, stay on track and manage your projects. Sign up for free here.
Evernote | Upload up to 10GB of files for free every month. Create notes, to do lists & go paperless! Sign up for free here.
| Luxury (read: next level) tools you NEED to have too |
If you’re running your business correctly, you’ll grow slowly each year. Slowly and steady. Or fast and exciting. Nevertheless, there will be one point you can invest a little bit more in to your business. You can get the ‘fun’ stuff. The ‘paid’ versions of software. The luxury goods. And this is also the fun part!
Freshbooks for accounting
Sure, you can do your accounting yourself with excel sheets, but Freshbooks makes it so much easier! With FreshBooks, create professional-looking invoices complete with your own logo. When you’re ready to bill your client, simply send your invoice via email, download a PDF or print it with a single click. It’s so easy! Freshbooks is a must if you’re running a service based business. You can track time with Freshbooks, accept credit cards on your invoices, you can see when your invoice is viewed (!) and send recurring invoices to clients. I promise, with Freshbooks you’ll feel much more organized money-wise (automatic profit-loss reports!) and it’s only a small investment starting at $11.66 a month.
Do you sell stuff online, like e-books and courses? Do you host regular webinars? LeadPages is for you! I use LeadPages to host my sales pages, newsletter boxes + webinar sign-up forms and webinars. It’s an investment, but I’d recommend it to anyone who’s serious about biz + sales. I saw a big increase in my stats after moving to LP! More info check out the tutorial I wrote: www.nonimay.com/LeadPages
Get more leads and customers with Leadpages, the best way to build landing pages that grow your business. Launch campaigns as fast as you can dream them up using our powerful marketing tools.
Screenflow + Udemy for webinars and courses
LeadPages is used in the pre-webinar period and during the webinar to host the webinar page. Screenflow can be used during the webinar. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your entire monitor while also capturing your video camera, iOS device, microphone and your computer audio. You can use it as a screencasting or as video editing software. It’s a small one-time investment ($99) but it’s necessary if you want to get started with webinars!
Do you want to create a course but confused where to start? Host your courses on Udemy! Udemy is the world’s online learning marketplace, where 10 million+ students are taking courses in everything from programming to yoga to photography–and much, much more. If you’re new to teaching online courses, I suggest you start at Udemy, because they offer everything you need, it’s free to get started and they promote the course for you. Over 10 million students in 150+ countries are taking these courses to advanced their careers and pursue their passions. Each course is available on-demand, 24 / 7, via the iPhone, iPad, Android and Web. If you want to get started, I suggest you follow a course first. To understand what works and what doesn’t, and of course, you’re never too old to learn. Check out the top courses here.
ZenMate for safe internet surfing
If you want to use internet as smooth as possible, get ZenMate. I’m very in to online privacy and staying secure and a VPN is just a basic must for every internet user. Website trackers from banner ads, website analytics, and social media are like eyes following you around the Internet, reporting your movements back to HQ. ZenMate is like wearing a cloak of invisibility – you can go anywhere undetected. When you connect to the Internet using unsecured or public wifi, anyone on the same network can sneak in and steal your information. ZenMate is your suit of armor which protects you while traveling through unfamiliar Internet. Some websites such as streaming videos, news publications, or social media are denied to you if you’re in a specific country or region. ZenMate allows you to choose your public location, and access otherwise restricted content. Seriously guys, this is serious! Start protecting yourself now! You can download ZenMate for free, or go for the PREMIUM version for only $9.99 a month (I’d suggest you do!), sign up for your free premium trial here.
Moo.com for business cards
No business or blog without business cards right? I often order new cards, because my business changes all the time and sometimes I need different cards for different situations/conferences. I always order my cards at Moo. They’re simply the most beautiful designed website, they offer the most quality cards, have different mail options (tomorrow, or 18-days, whatever you want) and great standard designs! They always ship your cards for free if you order over $30,- and you can also experiment with stickers, cards and more paper fun! (get 25% discount via this link!)
Moo.com | MOO is an award-winning online print and design company that you can use for your business cards, postcards, stickers and more. Business cards start at $19.99.
Use my 25% discount code by using this link!
I guess that’s it guys! Every plugin, tool, program and software I use to run my business + blog! Wow! Feel free to send me a tweet if you have questions @nnonimay, I’ll update this post as often as possible if I discover (or remember) new programs!
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