Starting and managing a business is difficult for business owners and as a solo-entrepreneur you wear many hats - tech support, web designer, photographer, blogger, copyrighted, social influencer, marketer and the list goes on. When starting a business there are so many avenues you can take for the tools you use and there are a lot of people who think that they have the best recommendations. I do have a free resources page for you to check out as well that you will also find helpful!
One fact is for sure, as a business owner you need to start automating processes as much as possible and leveraging the tools to make your day as efficient as possible. With only 24 hours in each day we need to strategically manage our priorities and technologies to maximize our productivity.
Must Have Tools for Beginning Bloggers
Below is a listing of the tools that I have found to be useful and affordable throughout my journey as a solopreneur. Please note that there are affiliate links however I will not promote anything that I am not using myself.
One other thing that you need to know about me is that I love a good deal. I am a little stingy with my $ and that said I like to make sure that I am investing wisely. Below you will find the items that I felt gave me the most bang for my buck as they say.
Get Your Blog Online: Your Hosting Platform & Domain Name All In One: Bluehost
When I was went to buy my domain I was not in the mood for messing around. I don't have time for b.s. A domain name is what people type in to find your website, it is your web address.
I wanted a one stop shop that allowed me to buy my domain and have a hosting provider that was reliable and no hassle.
What are hosting providers?
Hosting Providers are basically the land that your house (website) sits on. Your hosting provider hosts your website on their server. It is up to them to keep your website live and running, safe and secure.
What provider should I pick?
I chose Bluehost for multiple reasons:
- It is one of the best options financially in regard to annual payments.
- Its a one stop shop for your hosting, domain name and website platform
- They gave me a free business email ie) hello@reinventyourhustle (you receive 5 email addresses)
- One click installation with WordPress
Click here to get a great deal when you sign up with bluehost.
Please note that this affiliate link will compensate me when an individual signs up, that money goes toward producing free content for you on a daily basis.
Bluehost was truly that. I was able to get a great deal with no extra hassle. I thought about buying my domain on Go Daddy and I checked out other options as well, I just wanted to get it all in one place for an affordable rate. When it came down to it I wanted a one stop shop without dealing with transferring a domain etc.
What does the ideal hosting provider have:
- A good track record
- Good customer service
- Ease of layering your website on top of it
There is hostgator, go daddy, hostinger, and network solutions to name a few, however I felt that Bluehost provided all the traits I listed above as well as customization opportunities.
They have unlimited bandwidth as well as about 100 free email accounts (not that you will use that many and dependent on the plan you choose).
Plus, it's dirt cheap. Starting at 3.95 per month, it is affordable with the bells and whistles. They also give you $200 free in ad credits that you can use once your site is up and running (again dependent on the plan you choose). Wordpress.org prefers Bluehost as their optimum hosting provider.
What if you already own your domain but need a hosting provider and a website provider?
Oh, if you already purchased your domain, then you can just enter it in here and no extra cost. That works too! All you will have to do is have your domain name point to blue host. It's pretty easy, after you sign up with Bluehost, then click here for directions on how to connect your domain: https://my.bluehost.com/hosting/help/domain-names
Now...Get your blog online! Choose a Website provider!
First of all if you choose Bluehost they prefer to work with Wordpress and vice versa. Its a one stop shop!
Why WordPress? Here are a few reasons I use WordPress.
- I wanted the flexibility to grow my site and not be limited in my design.
- I knew that WordPress was a leader in the industry and I wanted any web designer (if I needed help) to be able to help me on the spot. Most web designers know WordPress.
Isn't it difficult to manage? Well, not really. Here are the top reasons people choose WordPress:
- Over a quarter of all websites today are on the WordPress Platform!
- Ability to customize is endless
- So here is the deal, when you get a website you have these cool things called plug-ins, think of them like accessories for your house. They curate the look, feel and ease of your house and make it look pretty. What I loved was once I installed WordPress I just looked up what plug-in's I should use and it was pretty easy! There are over 50,000 plug-ins, Check out the plug-in's here. Majority of them are FREE, as I said, I love a good deal!
- WordPress is Open Source
- Which means that anyone can create a plug-in
- Competition = Constant Development = Meaning that they will keep developing the best of the best for my site!
- With the ability to format your site in anyway you want, the flexibility is amazing for customization
- Made not just for developers, but for the non tech-savvy as well
- I use a visual editor (Elementor) as well so that I can make my site pretty without using the code. Brilliant!
So lets get you started! Click here to sign up and hit the green button to get started!
Once you have begun you get to choose your plan. Dependent on what you can afford, I do recommend getting the Choice Plus Plan that provides you with both the $200 ad credit and added security.
What does that "added security" mean. It means that with this plan your home address, phone, email, and additional personal information is guarded against online predators. Bluehost takes care of securing this information for you so that it does not get leaked online.
In my opinion, its worth the extra...I don't need any crazies trying to harass or contact my family or myself. Your call friends, no judgement either way:)
Select Your Plan
All you have to do is click the, "select" button to proceed with the plan of your choice.
Select Your Domain
Next, you will choose your domain name. If you already have one, great! If not, then you can search to see if your preferred name is available. This is what it will look like below:
ONE TIP: Make sure that your social handles are also available as your choosing your name! Very important! If your preferred name is not available, don't rush this step. Just select," I'll create my domain later" and take the time to research your name and the different options. See indication below.
Once you have entered your domain name or you have selected to create your domain later, you will be brought to the final sign up page as indicated below.
Create Your Account
Now fill in all the details: Name, Address and Phone number. Wanna save some time? Connect your google account and it will auto fill for you!
Now you will choose the package that is right for you. In order to get the most savings, you would choose the 36 month price of $5.45 per month. I decided to go with a two-year, 24 month package based on my needs for $6.95 per month.
Once you have submitted your package information details you will be asked if you are interested in the add-ons offered as indicated below.
I personally chose to obtain the SiteLock Security as I wanted to ensure that my privacy was protected and that my site was not being blocked or spammed by malware. I preferred the piece of mind that my site was being scanned on the daily to ensure that there was significant spam monitoring.
Once you have entered your personal information, package details, and your credit card information, & add-on's, select the green submit button. Bluehost offers a 30-day refund policy on everything, but the domain name.
Now that you are all set up with a domain, hosting and website provider you can begin building your site.
Design Your Blog: Choose a Theme
Theme Recommendation: Ashe Pro
What I absolutely love about this theme it has a clear, clean look. I love that it is for both personal and multi-author bloggers, it provides customization and has a modern responsive design!
Why did I go Pro? I wanted to be able to customize this theme even further! The grid layout and the featured slider are absolutely the best and make the site look so appealing. I was a fan of how the header was customized with multiple layers available and I loved that it integrated with Woo Commerce as I looked to further grow my brand to sell online.
What is so great is that there is a one click demo import. This meant that I was able to import the plug-in easily and voila...
I was ready to start customizing for my brand. It brought over all the demo material so that I could customize using that as an example!
Another key sell was that I wanted to have the option of a full width site. I felt that the Ashe Theme provided a more distinguished and elegant look. This theme provides the flexibility to do either boxed or full width. It also gives you the option of a 1,2,3,4 grid layout and I wanted that flexibility.
With Ashe Pro you get unlimited use of google fonts, unlimited colors, speed optimization to help the loading time of your site, as well as 14+ predefined style formats. Check out Ashe and see if it is right for you!
Customize Using a Visual Editor
Once you have your theme downloaded and you are ready to customize, then you gotta check out my most favorite plug-in.....a.k.a. the accessories that decorate your house: Elementor Pro.
Why... because it makes my life EASY!
It provides an intuitive drag and drop feature that is super easy to navigate and only requires a small learning curve. This feature is even included in the free version. All that you need to do is find the template that you want to use and drag it over to the preferred section of your website.
Another reason that I recommend Elementor Pro is that because it provides me with all the design elements and templates that make my site much more elegant and easy to use for my customers.
One thing that makes my life so much easier is Elementor's mobile responsive option. It allows you to see the page you are creating in multiple views (desktop, tablet, and phone) so that you know what your users will see. It only takes seconds to customize while viewing in that format. Super smart!
Additional Elementor Amenities
If you do not have a popup builder or landing page builder, Elementor Pro has you covered. They also integrate with almost all the Email service Providers, Woo Commerce, and have a multitude of forms that you can use on your site.
It's kind of a no brainer, especially since the free version gives you drag and drop and the upgrade to Elementor Pro is reasonable as well. The pricing is as follows: $49 for the upgrade to Pro and this is for individual users / bloggers that are looking for the customization with the drag and drop as I indicated before. This is all I needed for my personal site.
If you have more than one site, then the Plus $99 per year option will give you the same amenities but with additional site options. Of course the Expert plan for $199/mo. is for those companies or agencies that manage a multitude of sites and are potentially charging their clients. It offers 1,000 website and has you covered!
Ready to just skip to the cheat sheet? Fill in your deets below and I will send you the cheat sheet!
Okay, next stop...email!
If you have not started an email list wait no longer! Seriously! Building an email list is one of the most important things that you can do for your business!
Convert Kit is an email service provider that is MUCH MORE than just that! They automate your processes in a way that allows you to be more independent.
Their functions such as landing pages and customized forms allow you to be versatile in your marketing strategies as you can easily embed on your website. They have automation recommendations and functionality that allows you to segment your customer by rules and tags so that you can market your message directly to them.
Convert Kit was created by a blogger, for the blogger, so it creates a platform that answers almost all of our needs.
Here is an example above of Convert Kit's automation process. It provides the user with a visual representation of events.
For example: Let's say a user signs up through a form, I choose that the individual who signed up through that forms should then receive an email.
That email will be automated to go to the user and will ask them a question. From there the individual will answer and based on their answer will be tagged to that attribute.
Based on that tag, the individual will fall into various email stream segments. Pretty sweet huh! I thought so.
You should try Convert Kit You Would Like:
- To grow your list quickly
- If you want to automate your process so you can walk away with piece of mind
- You want to create landing pages
- If you want to send freebies/ebooks/ or giveaways to your audience
- If you want to segment your list and market to you customers based on their needs!
So the Convert Kit Trial is 14 days long. I recommend starting this trial when your ready to start playing with the functionality. In my case, I knew that I was not ready to sign on at day 14 (putting in your Credit card information), but the team at Convert Kit was so friendly, they extended me for another 14 days and voila, I signed up.
I am promoting Convert Kit because I personally use it and I love it. It makes my life easier and I am all about setting and forgetting things. Of course, know that this is a an affiliate link at no cost to you, it just allows me to continue to create content for you and my readers (so a big thanks in advance).
As I said previously, I only endorse what I love and I LOOOOVVVEEE Convert Kit. As with any new technology it takes a bit of time to learn the program, but they made it so easy with many training videos in addition to plenty of Q & A available as well as a chat option.
How to Sign Up
Click on this link to sign up for their FREE PLAN! Once you get to the page to click on the green, "try it for free" button on the homepage.
You will be directed to their plan page where you can select the plan that is right for you. If you have under 1,000 people per month then it's $29 per month and will go up from them.
They make transfers of email list seamless and really work to make it easy for you. Select the "try it for free" button to move forward with your trial.
How to Convert
I have since now integrated my RSS feed so that when my blog posts go live I can easily email my subscribers. As soon as a post is published on my site I am able to draft and send an email to my customers. I can even prep in advance and time the email sends! I can see conversion and click rates right from my dashboard.
Convert Kit makes it easy to see my form conversion rates as well. I love that I can see what is working and where people are coming from. Please, no judgement here, but I wanted to show an example of what my "forms page" looks like.
If you have more questions, I would happily answer in the comments box below.
You may already know of PINTEREST, but do you know of Tailwind? For those of you that need a bit of a refresher, Pinterest is basically a search engine that has been classified as a social media platform. The kicker is that Pinterest is used by millions to search for images your future-self, a vision of where you want to be.
Many including Hootsuite consider Pinterest to be used as a planning tool for individuals looking to engage with content, because they are genuinely interested in it.
So Tailwind is an AUTOMATED PINNING SERVICE and it WORKS!
Why use Tailwind?
That said many business owners are using Pinterest as a traffic driving tool, including myself! It has become a huge traffic driver for business when used right, and some automation systems, such as Tailwind make it easier to market to the millions using the platform.
Creating a Pinterest Business Account
If you already have a Pinterest account all you need to do is create a business account off of your personal Pinterest. Navigate to your settings and click on the three dots in the corner. Then select, "add a free business profile"
Then select what type of category your business falls into, continue and add in your personal details over the next few pages.
Once your Pinterest business profile is created you will need to claim your account. You need to add a meta tag or upload an HTML file to your website’s HTML code.
You can claim one website on your profile and a website can only be claimed by one Pinterest account. Click here for more information.
Once you have a business account and you have claimed your account within your website it is all about marketing your content through tailwind! By creating pins you will be able to join tribes where they market your pins for you.
Typically you will see tribes or groups that will require you to pin one of someone else's pins for every pin you submit yourself. From here it is a snowball effect. Create a great image and good content for your pin and it may just go viral.
The more reshares and repins you have on tailwind, the more organic traffic to your website! Voila!
I hope that these business tools have helped to guide you in your path to entrepreneurship and that you are feeling much more confident in your platform choices.
Want the free cheat sheet or need to send it to someone else? Fill in your email below and I will send it on over;)
Do not let the fire that you had when deciding to start this business fizzle. Learning these new platforms and business tools can take a bit of time and some definite grit. Have faith in yourself and keep reminding yourself why you started in the first place. Ask for help if you need it and keep rocking! Happy blogging my friends!