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There are so many great tools, courses, and apps out there to help with blogging and running your own business. Here are the ones that I've used, love, and highly recommend.
These are the tools I use and the courses I've taken that I love to help me earn more money.
Personally, I found the course, 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success extremely helpful to get me started. It breaks everything you need to do, step by step so that by the time you get to pitching for jobs you are prepared and successful. For me, the course paid for itself when I got my first freelance writing job. I now earn between $2,000-$4,000 per month (check out my income reports) with freelance writing.
I used Contena when I was working my 9-5 and getting started freelance writing. It made it easy to find freelance writing jobs to pitch. While it's not a cheap Contena it is definitely worth it if you don't have a ton of time to spend looking for freelance writing jobs to pitch.
Contena pulls together pretty much all of the available freelance writing jobs out there into one place and will even notify you via email of ones in your niche. They also provide an estimate of how much you will make with each job.
I use Grammarly as a second pair of eyes to help me clean up and proofread my writing/typing. The best part is that it is free to use. You can install an extension on your web browser and it will check any writing you do online. While there is a paid premium version, you can get by with the free version for a long time. I only recently upgraded. If you want to know more about Grammarly, you can read my review.
These are the tools I use and the courses I've taken that I love to help me earn more money and find balance because when you are working for yourself, sometimes it can be hard to stop working.
I use the QuickBooks Self Employed (BTW you'll get 50% off with my link) app to calculate my quarterly taxes so I know how much to set aside.
Though keep in mind it only keeps up with federal taxes and you will need to set aside an additional amount for your state taxes.
I know it's called Asana for bloggers, but really Asana is great for anyone running an online business, it's just a fantastic organization tool. After taking Asana for Bloggers, I now use Asana to organize everything and remind me when I need to get things done. From scheduling content, to sending emails, to remembering my dog's flea prevention medication, it's all in Asana. Frankly, this course is a steal for just $25.
I of course then also recommend Asana.
When I became self-employed and had to figure out budgeting with an irregular income. I turned to YNAB. I LOVE all the features, like goal setting. I also love being able to set up a separate budget for my business to make sure I'm on top of all my business' finances.
If you want to check it out YNAB offers a free 34 day trial so you actually have time to figure out if you like it and if it will work well for you.
Blogging can be a challenge and there are tons of tools to help you with new ones being developed each day. Here is what I am currently using and love. While I do use some other tools as well, these are the ones I'm kinda obsessed with. I also work hard to keep this list updated if anything changes.
BigScoots is the hosting service I use. The customer service has been fantastic. When I moved my Squarespace site to wordpress, I had a lot of questions, they had the answers. When I screwed up a few things, they were able to help me fix them. They have been awesome to work with and I highly recommend using BigScoots for hosting your blog.
Hosting starts at just $3.55/month, which is excellent considering how amazing their customer service is.
When I started blogging, I hosted my blog on Bluehost as it seemed the most recommended hosting service. Bluehost worked just fine when I was starting out but I outgrew it. When I needed help I was able to get it, though it wasn't quite as personable as BigScoots, that being said Bluehost can be a great option to start.
I started with MailChimp, quickly left, went to Aweber, and finally settled on Convertkit. I love how easy it is to use. It makes confirming opt-ins and delivering content upgrades (like worksheets) a snap. I use the WordPress plugin and then just choose what form I want on each post and page. One thing that makes Convertkit stand out from other email marketing services is that they don't count subscribers twice. Most other email marketing tools count subscribers on each form, so if a subscriber subscribed to more than one form, they are counted more than once. Since pricing is typically determined by the number of subscribers this could drive up your costs significantly.
When I bought Pinterest Traffic Avalanche, I'll admit I didn't have super high hopes, I'd bought a lot of Pinterest courses and strategies and ebooks in the past and while I'd learned a lot I hadn't actually seen a big increase in my traffic to my blog. In the month after taking this course traffic to my blog increased by over 40%. Which is why this is the only Pinterest course I'm recommending here.
Pinterest Traffic Avalanche not only covers all the basics that I learned from other courses, but it takes it a step further, I learned new things and when implementing the strategies outlined it worked. Though make no mistake, you do have to do the work. If you are willing to put in the time and do the work, this is a great course.
You are human, which means you do not have time to be taking pictures for everything you need a picture for on your blog. Enter DepositPhotos which I've found to have a fantastic variety for the very affordable price of $1 per image. Because I need stock photos, but I don't have a huge budget for them.
Michelle is an affiliate marketing maven. She regularly makes over $50k a month from affiliate marketing. I bought her course at the end of Nov. 2016 and mid-December 2016 while I'm still working to implement everything I've learned, I've already seen an increase in my affiliate marketing income. She really knows what she is talking about and the Facebook community that accompanies the course is a terrific resource. Learn more about Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
I got the Thrive Themes Membership when I decided to redesign LDMW and it’s been fantastic. It replaces Leadpages which was costing me over $400 a year. It also produced a much cleaner design with so many great tools I’m still working to implement and get the most out of everything. Just to note, Thrive Themes only works on WordPress.org sites. But if you have a WordPress site I highly recommend using Thrive Themes, I love it and have become a bit obsessed with everything it can do.
It's called Asana for bloggers for a reason, though it can be applied for any number of online work to get organized. After taking Asana for Bloggers, I now have an organized to do list, editorial calendar for my blog and email marketing and actually managed to stay on top of everything. Frankly, this course is a steal for just $25.
I of course then also recommend Asana which is free.