Ready to start a blog or online business, or just curious what tools I use? Here’s a list of my favorite blogging and business services and tools. I am an affiliate for most of these products as I use them proudly for my websites and my business and would be happy to answer any questions you have about any of them.
The All in One Solution
The Rainmaker Platform – For those who want an all in one solution for a WordPress website without the need for worrying about hosting, maintenance, backups, security, plugins, themes, and the other technical ins and outs, there is The Rainmaker Platform. This solution allows you to create a website, blog, membership site, podcast, and forum in one dashboard. You will also find the tools you need to setup a payment gateway, sell products, manage affiliates, create landing pages, run A/B tests, and see your analytics. All of these options are part of the standard plan. Pro plan members also get a social status scheduling tool, advanced learning management system for selling courses, and much more.
WordPress Web Hosting
Synthesis – WordPress hosting by Copyblogger Media that includes daily backups, malware scans, free malware removal, 24/7 support, premium on-site SEO tools, and the Genesis framework starting at $47 per month. I’ve also used WP Engine on other websites and would recommend them as a good alternative. Their pricing starts at $29 per month and includes daily backups, malware scans, and free malware removal.
Premium WordPress Themes
StudioPress – Premium WordPress themes. Buy one child theme + the Genesis Framework for $99.95 or get lifetime access to the 40+ themes currently available plus future themes with the Pro Plus Package for $399.95. You can use all themes on an unlimited number of websites, including your clients if you are a developer. I’ve also used ElegantThemes on other websites and would recommend them as a good alternative. They offer annual access to their 80+ themes for $69 or lifetime access to current and future themes for $249.
WP RSS Aggregator – Free WordPress plugin that allows you to display all of the content you publish on other websites on one page using RSS feeds.
WordPress SEO by Yoast – Free SEO plugin for WordPress that helps you optimize your website and content for search. Also includes Twitter Card and Facebook Open Graph functionality.
MailChimp – Email marketing software for building and maintaining your email list. Compatible with most third-party list building tools. Free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. I’ve also used Aweber (starts at $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers) and GetResponse (starts at $15 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers) in the past and would recommend them as good alternatives.
SumoMe – A suite of tools to help you grow your mailing list, analyze content performance, collect leads, and more. Use the apps for free or choose a plan with additional features starting at $10 per month. I’ve also used OptinMonster and Pippity for building an email list and would recommend them as a good alternative for additional opt-in form designs. Pricing for both starts at $49 for a one-year license and support.
Grammarly – Powerful online proofreading and editing tool that also works inside any online text editor (including WordPress) with browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Plans start at $29 per month. Get 40% off your first month using this link.
Online Marketing Tools
Commun.it – Amazing tool for managing your relationships on Twitter. It will make it easy to see who you should follow or unfollow, who you should reply to, who is talking about you or your brand, and much more. Use this link to see what they have to offer or this link to get 50% off your first month of their Business Plan (which is what I use)!
Post Planner – Social media tool that helps you discover viral content in your niche and schedule it to post on Facebook and Twitter. Plans start at $7 per month for connecting up to two social profiles or pages. Currently there are 10,000+ monthly users.
Monitor Backlinks – Monitor your backlink profile and get notified whenever you receive a new incoming link to your website or to your competitor’s website. Pricing starts at $24.90 for monitoring one domain and two competitors. If you need a full-fledge SEO and link building tool, I’ve also used CognitiveSEO and RavenTools. Both tools start at $99 per month.
Fruition Penalty Checker – Find out if your website has been affected by a Google algorithm change or penalty with this easy to use tool. It’s free to use for two domains.
Zapier is a premium service similar to IFTTT, but with more app connections and stronger filters. You can use up to five zaps for free, and then pricing starts at $15 per month.
FreshBooks – Online invoicing software that I use for my freelance writing business. Features also includes project management, time tracking, expense recording, and reporting. Free for managing invoicing for one client and plans start at $19.95 per month for up to 25 clients or $29.95 per month for unlimited clients.
Cyfe – All-in-One business dashboard that allows you to see all of your important business and analytics data in one place. Get unlimited widgets and dashboards for $19 per month.
Rival IQ – Comprehensive competitor research and monitoring tool to help you learn more about your competitors website, social media, and SEO strategies. Plans start at $199 per month with special discounts for non-profits and startups.
WiseStamp – Create a professional email signature to share your website link, latest blog post, social profiles, and more with your email recipients.
FBInfluence – Learn how to get the most out of Facebook in this comprehensive course with Andrea Vahl, author of the Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies guide. In addition to the course, you get bonuses including new workshop training covering major Facebook changes, a private Facebook group for FBInfluence customers (5,800+ members), and more.
Create Awesome Online Courses – Want to create your own online course? This course by David Siteman Garland will help you through the process, including coming up with a great idea, setting the price, creating module content, promoting your content, and much more. You also get access to a private Facebook group for other course makers (800+ members). Alternatively, you can sign up for his free cheat sheet on 7 steps to creating a successful online course.
Marketing Conferences and Events
120+ Conferences for 2015 – If you are looking for a live conference or event to attend, this is the most complete list you will find for business, marketing, and tech events.