Tools I Use & Recommend

Occasionally I mention tools I use and/or recommend, but this page includes an easy-to-access list. I hope it’s helpful!

tools i use

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. I recommend them out of personal experience and I am very grateful for your support of this site in this way. Thank you.

What I Use to Run My Business

Bluehost – If you want a solid blog or website, you’ll need hosting. Bluehost is a reputable hosting company I’ve used for 10+ years. Don’t worry, I explain how to get started in my post How to Start a Blog (In 15 Minutes or Less).

HostGator – I have also used HostGator for hosting and can recommend them as well. I wrote about them in my post A Cheaper Way to Start a Blog.

WishList Member & MemberPress – These are WordPress plugins that allow you to create a paid-for membership site. I have used WishList Member to run The Useletter Archives. However, I have since bought and experimented with MemberPress and I would recommend it over WishList Member. I find it easier to use.

Mad Mimi – This is the email service provider I use to send The Useletter and I highly recommend them. Their customer service is exceptional and Mad Mimi easy to use. If you have a question about anything, simply Live Chat or email them and they are happy to help. (They have a free account for those just getting started.)

Namecheap.com – I register all my domains here.

E-junkie – If you have written an e-book or produced some other digital product you want to make available to your readers, E-junkie makes it easy to sell online. It integrates easily with PayPal.

Shopify – If you have a tangible product you’d like to sell, Shopify is the service I would try first. It is an out-of-the-box solution to ecommerce. They do offer a free trial. (Please note, Shopify is not a service I have used personally, however, if I do delve into tangible products, it will be my first choice.)
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For Writing

Scrivener (choose Mac or Windows) – This is writing software that makes blog posts, books, ebooks or other writing projects a lovely experience.

Learn Scrivener Fast. Scrivener’s capabilities are a.mazing. It helps you organize, be productive, keep track of research, compile books, ebooks, documents and tons more. As such, learning about all its functionality can be intimidating. The tutorials built into Scrivener are a good start, but then I bought Learn Scrivener Fast and WOW. I learned a whole lot more.
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For Reading

Pocket – Whenever I want to read something, but I don’t have time at the moment, I save it to Pocket where I can read it later. I wrote about it here.

Feedly – I read a lot of blogs mostly by way of RSS. I use Feedly as my one-stop feed reader.
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My Income Streams

My post How to Make Money Blogging – 2014 Edition explains how bloggers make money online. Below are the main ways I personally make money.

Tell Your Time – Tell Your Time is my ebook which has brought in steady income since I launched it in October 2010. I explain why I opted to self-publish in my series Why I Turned Down a Book Deal. If you’re interested in writing your own ebook, check out my series How to Write an Ebook.

Affiliate Marketing – As an affiliate marketer, I get paid a commission for promoting products and services. Nearly all of the products and services I share are ones I have bought & used myself.  (For more about affiliate marketing, read What is Affiliate Marketing?) Here are some affiliate networks I work with

Swagbucks – This feeds my book addiction mostly. You don’t need a blog to earn with Swagbucks. Check out my posts on the subject here, here and here.

Amazon – I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links. My Living Books List is another place I utilize Amazon.

AdSense – Google has made setting up ads on your site quite easy. Just sign up, create your ad(s) and stick the code in your sidebar (or wherever you want it to show up) and you’re done. While I’m not using display ads currently, I have made decent money with AdSense in the past.

Coaching & Consulting – While my queue is closed at this time, this has been a good income earner as well.
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Keeping Track of Money

Capital One 360 Checking – As a sole proprietor, this is what I use for banking. We’ve also used it for personal banking as well. They usually have a signup bonus that is quite generous (click the link).

Budget (choose Mac or Windows) – We use the envelope system for budgeting and this is the best solution we’ve found to keep track of our envelopes.

TurboTax – We file our own taxes online. There’s a free version for basic tax forms. We pay the upgraded version to include my business income.

PayPal – I use Merchant Services for invoicing clients.
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E-books

The Bootstrap VA – This ebook lays out the steps to becoming a virtual assistant. It is very well done and extremely useful. I wrote about it more in my post How to Become a Virtual Assistant.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog – A workbook that walks you through improving your blog. How can you go wrong with Darren Rowse?

How to Monetize Your Food Blog – Another helpful resource. I particularly appreciated the explanation about waterfall advertising.
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Blog Design

Genesis Theme Framework – I used free WordPress themes for many years. In 2011 I bought Genesis and have been extremely happy with it. Here’s a video tutorial about it. Absolutely recommended.

Elegant Themes – This is another collection of WordPress themes I’ve bought. The designs are very nicely done.

Five J’s Design – If you’re looking for a blog or website design, look no futher than Joy at Five J’s Design. She’s experienced, works fast, is extremely intelligent and is reasonably priced.

The Blog Designer Network – A HUGE list of designers. I can’t personally vouch for most on the list, but browsing through portfolios will hopefully give you an idea of someone you might want to work with.

Gimp – Free image-editing software similar to Photoshop. It’s an excellent choice if you want something a little more robust than online editors like PicMonkey or Canva. I do most of my design work in Gimp. (If you need help getting started, I recommend these helpful Gimp tutorials.)
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Web Browsers

Google Chrome – In my opinion, Google Chrome is the best browser available for free. It’s fast and easy to use. I would rank Safari second (it works on both Mac & PC), Firefox third and Internet Explorer? Well, if you’re using IE, let’s just say I highly recommend you switch to another browser as fast as you can. Oh I do not like IE.
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