I get it. You don't know what you don't know, right? And there's so much advice and information out there that you just feel overwhelmed and confused.
Relax! I've created this no-nonsense resource list for you so you don't have to spend hours, even days doing your own research. My work requires me to find the best tools for my clients to suit their needs. And I'm passing this knowledge onto you.
Why spend precious time figuring things out for yourself when I've already done it for you?
Domains & Web Hosting
I have worked with many hosting companies (both for myself and for my clients) and SiteGround remains my top favourite. SiteGround is fast, secure and in my experience, has the best customer support ever. Their tech support is staffed by people who actually understand what they're talking about, rather than just reading from a script. I've never failed to have a technical question answered quickly and efficiently.
HostGator offers variety of hosting plans that fit all budgets and requirements. What I like about HostGator is that every HostGator account is fully guaranteed by the CEO, Adam Farrar. If you ever have a problem with the regular support, then you can ask your ticket to be assigned to Adam. He will actually respond personally to each ticket assigned to him. How cool?
As your business and website grows, you may want to consider managed WordPress hosting from WP Engine or Flywheel. (Managed WordPress hosting is where all technical aspects of running WordPress is managed by the host. This includes security, speed, WordPress updates, daily backups, website uptime, and scalability.)
Mostly, I recommend MailChimp if you're just starting out. There's a lot you can do with a free account. However, it does have its limitations and you'll likely find it frustrating at a later stage. You have two options:
As your email list grows and you want more flexibility and capability with your email marketing provider, you'll want to switch to Active Campaign or ConvertKit. Both are designed to handle complex email automations and offer features like data driven segmentation, split testing, personalisation and more.
If you require a blend of email automation software with a sales and CRM system, get ActiveCampaign. If you don't need your email software to sync with a CRM or other sales tools, get Convertkit.
You can create invoices with PayPal easily and free of charge. You can also create PayPal buttons to put on your website. PayPal will take a small cut from the payments you receive but hey, they run a business too 🙂
Stripe will allow you to take online payments or create some basic subscription billing options, but it's really built for larger companies and developers. If you want a simple solution just to get up and running and don't want to hire a developer to help you, then PayPal is probably a better option for you.
SamCart is a web-based check-out platform that features conversion-optimised checkout templates along with 1-click upsell, order bump, subscription and payment plan capabilities that are designed to maximise profits from every sale.
SocialBee is one of the best social media management tools I've tried and it's what I use now. Schedule your posts with categories in mind, to get the best content mix across all your social profiles, just like the best social media marketers do. You can also repost (recycle) your top evergreen content to save even more time.
The best thing? They offer a free 14-days trial, with no credit card required.
Tailwind is a Pinterest and Instagram scheduler. With Tailwind you can post at the best times for engagement, grow together with Tribes, and get more actionable analytics so you can see which of your pins are performing well. You can just spend a few hours a week setting up all your pins and forget about it until next week. Tailwind is approved by Pinterest, so you can be sure it will play nicely with the platform.
RecurPost allows you to manage all of your social media from one dashboard. It supports content gathering, multiple accounts and custom scheduling. RecurPost automatically shares your updates at a perfect frequency thereby saving you hours every week.
Buffer has a simple-to-use interface and supports scheduling and analytics and RSS feeds.
The simple analytics makes it easy to see which social messages are performing best - you can then easily re-Buffer any messages with the click of a button.
HootSuite allows you to monitor multiple streams at the same time. For example, with Twitter you can monitor: mentions, lists, hashtags, keywords, home feed etc. You can reply to comments and respond to mentions within Hootsuite. The publisher menu tab allows you to see your scheduled updates on a calendar.
Landing Pages and Funnels
I can't recommend LeadPages enough. It's what I use to create landing pages for myself and my clients. The new drag and drop design interface makes it easy to create any design. They also have many ready-made templates you can use as a starting point for your own design.
There are many free landing pages plugins out there for WordPress but in my experience it's very difficult to create a high impact landing page that grabs attention and converts well with these free options.
ClickFunnels is a landing page and sales page designer that comes with tons of templates. Their funnel templates have been tested and proven to work. All you have to do is tweak and edit. It's pretty much plug and play.
ClickFunnels also handles all the billing for you. Link a Stripe account to it and you can take payments directly from inside your sales pages.
ClickFunnels is not cheap but it's definitely worth the investment once your business starts to grow and expand.
Other Resources & Tools
Confused about what tools you need to run your business?
Download the "Essential Toolbox for Solopreneurs" guide or FREE.
I'm not going to overwhelm you with every single tool there is out there. You don't need more overwhelm right now! Instead, I'm going to show you the essential tools you need at the beginning stages of your business. And I'll suggest what you can upgrade to when your business starts growing.
Sounds good to you?