Tools I Use & Recommend

Updated February 28, 2020

This is a list of tools I use on a regular basis to run my blog and online business. Do not let the list overwhelm you. Start with these 3-5. Add more only as you need them.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

Table of contents

Online courses

I’ve purchased many courses over the years. Many don’t impress me enough to recommend. The following though, are good choices in their category.

Courses are helpful if you want to get a jumpstart, but a course will not make or break your blog or online business. It might take a bit longer, but it is possible to be successful online without taking a course. Before you buy any course, ask yourself these questions.

Project 24 – For beginners who want to generate passive income from blogging. My full review.

Self Publishing 101 – For those who want to make a living writing books. My full review.

Grow Your Audience – For those who want more eyeballs on their things. My full review.

WordPress

WP Engine – Where my WordPress site is hosted. If you’re a beginner, it’s overkill. Start here instead.

Namecheap – Where I register all my domain names.

Astra – WordPress theme with lots of customization options. What I’m using now.

GeneratePress – WordPress theme built lightweight and excellent customer support.

StudioPress (Genesis) – WordPress theme I used for years and would still recommend.

Codeable – If you need a WordPress developer.

Plugins

WP Rocket – For site speed.

Yoast – The SEO plugin.

Antispam Bee – Catches spam comments. Better than the standard Akismet.

Cookie Notice – Notifies new site visitors that my site uses cookies. In compliance with GDPR.

Scriptless Social Sharing – Puts sharing buttons on posts and pages. Less of a resource hog than similar plugins.

Email marketing

G Suite – Where I get my domain email address. This post explains why it’s necessary. I have the Basic plan.

ConvertKit – The email service provider (ESP) I would use if I started today.

MailerLite – The ESP I would use today if I was on a budget.

Mad Mimi – My longtime email service provider. It works well for me but the two listed above have better features.

Related: Email Marketing 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Building an Email List

Writing & note-taking

Ulysses – I do most of my writing in Ulysses. Mac only. Google Drive is completely sufficient, and free.

Scrivener – I used this before Ulysses but don’t need it currently. Great for book writing.

Airtable – Spreadsheets on steroids. I use it to manage my content and affiliate links.

WorkFlowy – A clean and simple note-taking app. Great to make quick, bulleted lists.

Evernote – I use the web clipper all the time. I love how it integrates with everything.

Video

ScreenFlow – Recording onscreen tutorials and editing all video.

Related: Tech Gear I Like is a list in my Amazon shop.

Making money

Podia – Not using currently, but what I would use if I had a membership site or online course.

Shopify – Not using currently, but what I would use if I sold physical products.

SendOwl – Not using currently, but what I have used to sell one-off digital products like my ebook and the Knowtbook.

PayPal – I use Merchant Services for invoicing clients and paying affiliates via Payouts (i.e. mass payments).

Related: How to Make Money Blogging

Tracking money

Wave – I use the free accounting feature for bookkeeping. I also use it for payroll. (We use YNAB for our personal finances.)

Spark Business Checking – My main business bank account.

CPA on Fire – Our accountant who handles our taxes.

Design & graphics

Depositphotos – Where I get all my stock photos. (Sign up for my Flash Deals list to be notified when they have their 50% off sales.)

Canva – Easy graphics creation. I use the free version.

Gimp – More robust photo editor. A free Photoshop (Adobe Creative Cloud) alternative.

Related: Tips for Using Images on Your Website

Social media

Creator Studio – Posting to Facebook and Instagram.

Smart.bio – Provides a curated list of links in my Instagram bio. See what it can do here.

Related: How to Determine the Best Social Media Sites for You (Plus More Tips)

Timesavers

TypeIt4Me – A text expander. Mac only. Saves me a lot of time.

Feedly – One spot where I read all my favorite blogs.

IFTTT – Connects different apps and runs automated tasks in the background. For example, if I find an article to read later, I save it to Pocket. IFTTT then sends it to my Feedly Read Later list automatically. Similar to Zapier.

Related: 30 Productivity Tips

Mobile Apps

iCatcher! – For podcast listening.

Voxer – To connect with my mastermind group.

Scannable – To scan and save documents to Evernote or elsewhere.

Google apps like GmailCalendarKeepDrive and Tasks.

PhotoScan – Scanning photos to save to Google Photos. When we went 100% paperless and scanned all our photos, we used the scanner on my Tech Gear list in my Amazon shop.