Welcome to our tools and resources page. Do you geek out on tools and resources? I sure do. Over the years, I have tested out more tools than I want to admit. On this page you will find only the tools that I personally recommend and am either using or have used and still admire.
Each of us are at different stages with our entrepreneurial and blogging journey. This is why a one size fits all resources page doesn't do the trick.
There are limitless ways to create, customize, manage and promote your own blog, but I'd like to share some of my favorites. While I am an affiliate for some of these great tools and services (you can be, too!), I highly recommend and use many of these. Every time you purchase through one of my links, you are helping support this site, my research, and my podcast. THANK YOU!
Starts at $3.95 a mo.
My Preferred WordPress Web Host
We have been hosting with SiteGround for a few years now and I am more impressed with them year after year. They have the best support team that I have ever dealt with.
Social Media Tools
CoSchedule is a planning calendar and a social media scheduling tool. We use it to schedule social media to promote future and previous blog posts. It allows us to schedule social updates directly from the WordPress dashboard.
We use ManageFlitter to help us manage, maintain and grow several of our Twitter feeds. It's easy to use and just stellar at helping us reach engagers and influencers who are local to us!
Manage multiple social media platforms from one dashboard. Schedule tweets and updates for later -- great for when you're out for a few days.
This WordPress Plugin is what we use for social share buttons, to control what images are shared on social media and for our click to tweets.
Studio Press (Genesis)
Studio Press WordPress themes are one of the best theme shops around. You will not need to know a single bit of code when using these themes. Do note that there are fewer options built into a Studio Press theme than some others but their code is solid and clean.
We are running Thrive Themes on all of our sites. It is officially our go-to theme. It is easy to install and easy to setup. Thrive has a wonderful support forum and has some of the most required features built right in. You will not need additional social share buttons and some basic landing page designs come with most themes today.
Thesis Theme Framework
This theme is a developers dream. It is complicated to run and set up but the design options are endless. If you are looking for something to truly customize then this may be the WordPress Theme for you.
Email Marketing Tools
We ran our first business purely using MailChimp and it worked like a champ for us. We still have a few lists with MailChimp now. If you are just starting out with digital marketing we highly recommend that you start with the free version of MailChimp. This is an excellent email marketing platform.
We currently running all I Teach Blogging email campaigns through ConvertKit and loving every single moment. If you are wanting to do sales funnels with your business I strongly recommend upgrading to ConvertKit. Setting up autoresponders and sales funnels is a breeze with this platform.
Thrive Leads is a WordPress plugin that we use to create email opt-in forms on our sites. With Thrive Leads you can create pop-ups, slide-ins, screen take-overs, hello bars and many other types of opt-in forms. No code is required to create these forms and they have countless templates to choose from and customize. Along with this they have excellent reports built right into the WordPress dashboard.
Landing Page Software
Thrive Content Builder
Thrive Content Builder is how we build all of our landing pages. We use this to build land pages for our sales funnels, and training courses. No code is required to use Thrive Content Builder and they have countless templates for you to choose from and customize. This is a true what you see is what you get landing page builder.
We do not personally use ClickFunnels on our site but I have worked with many clients who do. It is a wonderful landing page software that I do highly recommend. It integrates with WordPress and helps you build sales funnels.
This is an excellent premium keyword research tool. You can use it to do competitive website research or deep research on keywords. I have been using it since mid 2016 and am loving it.
Long Tail Pro
If you want to find out how competitive a keyword is going to be then this is a wonderful tool for you. It is also a great premium tool for finding related keywords.
This is a great tool to use for finding out who else is creating content around a specific keyword phrase. It will show you the top few blog posts and how many times those blog posts have been shared on social media.
Image Tools and Software
These guys provide FREE use as you want high resolution images. Yes, you read that correctly. They are God's little gift to bloggers and digital marketers.
Do you need a logo designed? If those this is your go-to graphic design website. They will do all types of graphic design work including infographics. You are not locked into one designer. Instead the designers compete for your project by designing it first.
If you are wanting to design custom images but don't want to learn PhotoShop this is the perfect tool for you. They provide tons of free images, icons and shapes. I consider this to be Canva on steroids. It has become my go-to tool for blog featured image creation.
This is an excellent website for stock images. The price is right and the selection is fantastic.
Canva is an excellent free web application used for creating images. We mostly use it for creating social media images such as images for Twitter or Instagram. However, you can also create infographics and slideshows.
This is a website that I use to find free vector art. This is where we find most of the art that we use in flat design images.
Equipment | Software | Setup
Shure sm7b - This is the microphone that I currently use. It is pricey and I went through a lot of microphones when I first got started. What I love about this microphone is that it doesn't pick up background noises unless they are extremely loud. You do need to be right in front of the microphone for it to properly pick up your voice. This is an xlr microphone which means that you will need additional equipment to use it. You will need an audio interface device and cables.
Blue Yeti - This is an excellent microphone that I used for a long time. The reason that I stopped using it is because it picked up every single noise in the room. This microphone is perfect if you are recording videos or doing interviews and want a usb plug and play microphone. No additional equipment is required.
Audio-Techinica ATR2100 - This is another usb microphone that is wildly popular in the podcasting space and for good reason. Some of my favorite podcasters use this microphone and it is only $67 on Amazon.
Spreaker - This is where I host my podcast and it is excellent software. With Spreaker you can get started podcasting for free and I only pay $5 a month for my current plan. Also, they have a nice looking WordPress plugin for embedding your episodes on a page or a post. Spreaker will push your show to iTunes and other players so this is the only podcast host that you will need.
Adobe Audition - This is the software that I am currently using to record and edit podcasts episodes. This is not a free option but it is worth every penny.
Garage Band - This is Apple software that comes free with every Mac. It is user friendly and I used it for my first 100 podcast episodes.
Ringr - This is a phone app that could replace the need for a microphone. With Ringr you record podcast interviews just like it was a phone call. The sound quality is excellent and you are emailed a mp3 file once the call is done. From there you can edit the episode as you normally would.
Additional Podcast Hardware:
Focusrite Solo - This is the audio interface that I am currently using with my Shure microphone. It does not have strong gain and as result my voice sounds quiet next to someone else when I do an interview. However, for solo episodes this piece of equipment has served me well.
Rode Microphone Boom Arm - This is my all time favorite piece of podcasting equipment. I never realized how much of a difference this arm would make in my world. Other arms that are cheaper wouldn't hold my microphone in place and it would wind up creeping down during a recording. This arm holds the microphone perfectly wherever I want it.
XLR Cables - Depending on the type of microphone that you purchase, you may need xlr cables. Be sure and read up because there is nothing more frustrating then getting your brand new microphone and not being able to use it because you forgot to purchase the required cables.
Recommended editing software:
iMovie - This is free video editing software that is free if you own a Mac. (sorry pc users) It has pre-built templates, music and transitions built right in. You can do a lot with this software but it is limiting for sure.
Final Cut Pro - This is a step above iMovie and is a paid software for Macs. It functions a lot like iMovie but is much more advanced. If you have previously used iMovie this will be quick and easy to learn. This is the software that I currently use to edit videos.
ScreenFlow - This is a screen capture software that I use to create tutorial videos. I also use this for simple video editing. This software is easy to learn but you will need to watch a few training videos.
Jing - This is a free screen capture software. You can use it to create quick screen capture tutorial videos or screenshot images. I use this when I want to create a quick specific video for a client and keep it private. They allow you to upload these videos to their cloud for free but it is limited by space and number of views.
Light Kit - If you are wanting to get serious about video whether that be live video or recordings, you will want to invest in some lights. Fortunately light kits are cheap on Amazon.
Bluetooth Clicker - This little clicker is insanely helpful when recording videos with your phone. I use this to activate record on my phone so that I don't have to hit the record button and then back away and then run back to my phone.
Tripod - There are a lot of tripods to choose from and it took me a few purchases to get find one that truly worked for me and didn't cost a fortune.
Bendy Tripod - This little tripod is insanely useful. Because the legs bend, I wind up being able to use it in all types of situations.
Smartphone Tripod Mount - This is the tool that I use to connect my iPhone to my tripods. It is cheap, easy and flexible.
Workflowy - This is the ultimate list making software. It is free, easy to use and doesn't over complicate your life. I use it for planning, story links and brainstorming.
TextMate 2 - This text expander software keeps me productive. If you find yourself typing the same things over and over again then you need this. It allows you to create a shortcode for a piece of text of any length and then when you type in that shortcode it autofills for you.
Evernote - I often refer to Evernote as my other brain. It is where I store all data that I need long term. It is where I keep important notes, instructions or any other piece of information that I may need.
Recommended Reading & Books
The Freedom Journal - If you have a big goal that you want to achieve but are having trouble getting it done then this is the tool for you. I warn you know that it is only as good as you make it though. It will sit on your desk and haunt you until you pick it up and use it. If you use it, you will achieve goals.
Passion Planner - This is the planner calendar tool that I have been using for the past several months. I love it. It works perfectly and has all of the slots and room for lists and daily focus.
The 7 Day Startup - This book changed my life. It forced me to stop overthinking and start doing. It is the story of how he came up with an idea and created a business in 7 days.
Tools of Titans - Tim Ferris hasn't released a bad book yet but this one is his best yet. It is jammed with nugget after nugget of value. Every single page is filled with a tip from an accomplished entrepreneur and it isn't woo woo tips either. I am calling this book the Bible of Entrepreneurship.
Will It Fly - If you want to learn how to test out a business idea then this book by Pat Flynn is for you. Consider this book more of a workbook because it will surely put you to work.
Hatching Twitter - This is my all time favorite book about the story of starting a business. This is the journey of the guys who started Twitter and their adventures.
Recommended Podcasts & Media
I Teach Blogging Podcast - This is my podcast about Blogging, WordPress, Strategy and Entrepreneurship. It had to make the list right?
Kate's Take - If I had to recommend only one podcast to an entrepreneur or business owner this would be the one. In this podcast Kate covers topics ranging from process and procedures to why mindset matters.
Smart Passive Income Podcast - if you are a blogger this is a must listen podcast. I would recommend going back to the beginning and starting from there. Each episode is gold.
Authority Hacker Podcast - These guys go deep with online marketing strategies and tips. If you want to learn how to mix SEO and blogging and digital this is the podcast for you.
Slack - This is a instant messaging program on steroids. It works based upon what they call Channels and within each channel you have threads that about a specific topic. If you work with a team or even one other individual you will find this insanely useful. Slack has cut down on email for us and the search functionality is fantastic. We are using the free version at this time.
Skype - This is a chat tool that I use to communicate with clients for consulting calls. We can use it to quickly and easily share screens with one another. The free version has done everything that I have ever needed it to do. You will need to download and install this on your computer.
Boomerang for Gmail - This tool has been made my email life much easier. With this tool I can schedule an email to go out at a specific time. Also, we can use it to send me a reminder if someone has not responded to an email with a certain amount of time. This way no important emails go unanswered and forgotten. At this time the free version is all that I have needed.
New Blogger Setup
If you are just starting out with blogging do not feel the urge or the push to buy every single tool out there. I do not want the cost of blogging to cause you to shy away from blogging. Yes, you can technically start blogging for free but to be honest I strongly recommend that you make a bit of an investment. Switching from the free platforms to the paid platforms may cause you to lose some of that hard earned momentum. Below is my bare bones recommendations for new bloggers. Only add more to your blog as you truly need it. Your first priority is to focus on content.
SiteGround Hosting - When you first sign up for a hosting account with SiteGround you will get a significant discount. This is why I recommend a 2 year package but if you are not sure and need to say go ahead and choose the 1 Year package. When you sign up for hosting you can also get a domain name for free for the first year. This will save you about $13.00. Note: It is not best practice to have your domain name and hosting at the same location but if you are on a budget, you can always move this around later.
Thrive Theme - Thrive has what I consider to be the best theme for the money. You can get a single theme package from them for $67. They have quite a few advanced tools that you can easily upgrade too when the time comes. Note: if you are on a budget you can choose a free theme from the WordPress shop. The downside is that you will not get the support and the customization that is included with a premium theme.
MailChimp - The biggest mistake that a lot of successful bloggers say that they made is not building an email list from day one. With the free version of MailChimp you won't be that person. Sign up and start building your email list today.
Yoast SEO - This is a free WordPress plugin that will help you get control of simple SEO on your site from day one. It will help you set your meta title and meta description. The best part is that it is easy to use and walks you right through the process.
Google Analyticator - This is a free Google Analytics plugin. You will need to create a free Google Analytics account and then use this plugin to attach it to WordPress.
Pixabay: This is a fun resource and while there are not a ton of options, they are free to use without attribution. On Pixabay you may find and share images free of copyrights. All pictures are published under Creative Commons public domain deed CC0.
Fiverr.com: This is one crazy website. I have gotten everything from a fun video made for a client to a logo put into vector art all starting at $5. If you have a creative idea but don't know how to do it, this is the place to start when you're on a budget.
Color Scheme Designer: When you work with a web developer they are going to ask if you have a color palette. If you do not have one then this website can help you choose one and you will have fun doing it..