Every successful business endeavor requires using the right tools. I’ve tested a lot of software, services, platforms and offline tools all along my business journey. Many of these business resources have turned out useless while a select few remain in my box of favorite weapons ever since I’ve discovered implemented them.
Here, I will show you exactly which tools I’m using, as well as what I have used in the past and stopped only because I didn’t need it anymore.
Please note that I’m affiliated with many of the companies whose products I recommend here. However, I’m only affiliated with them because I honestly believe they are the best products out there, and because I’m using them myself. When you decide to follow any one of my recommendations and make a purchase through one of my affiliate links, I will earn a small commission while the price for you doesn’t change at all.
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These are all the resources I use and recommend for building an online business website or blog, as well as for creating a business website for your freelance business. The list may be updated from time to time, because I want to make sure that I always give you the most up-to-date information and the most helpful advice.
SiteGround - Web Hosting
SiteGround is one of the best web hosting services. They focus on site speed, security and great support, which means that your blog or website are in great hands.
They have great discounts for new customers, so you should just check them out and see if there’s something in there for you.
|| By the way, you can find much more detailed information and a step-by-step guide to set everything up in my article on How To Start A WordPress Blog With SiteGround.
HostGator - Web Hosting
HostGator is another great web hosting service. Why do I recommend both SiteGround and HostGator? Well, they are really both great at what they do.
HostGator also specializes in site speed and security which are really two of the major deciding factors for web hosts. And it’s not only great for WordPress sites, but any type of business website including online stores.
By the way, I’ve teamed up with them to get a special deal exclusively for the YourPassionPays community. You can use the discount code YPPSPECIAL to get up to 60% off their hosting plans!
Elementor - WordPress Page Builder
I highly recommend this WordPress site builder in addition to a very lightweight theme. Elementor allows you to build any page visually. It has lots of pre-built templates and custom blocks. The YourPassionPays Academy website is built using Elementor throughout.
The great thing about this plugin is also that (because it’s a paid plugin), there is a team behind it constantly improving it and adding new valuable features. With most free plugins, the thing is that once there’s an issue, they might not be able to fix it as quickly, because nobody is paying for their efforts. Elementor has great support and a highly dedicated team. There’s a reason why this plugin has over 3,000 five-star reviews and holds a seat among the top 15 WordPress plugins.
GeneratePress - WordPress Theme
I have used a lot of WordPress themes in the past 10 years, and I have built many website projects from scratch. Not all of them have been blogs, some of them have also been static websites with special features. At the end, I settled down with GeneratePress. Here is why:
Once you dive into SEO (the art of making pages rank high in search engines like Google), you find out that page speed is a critical ranking factor. Page speed is the time a page needs to load until a user can interact with it. The more efficient a theme is coded, the faster it will load because there is less data to process for the server. GeneratePress is known for being one of the most lightweight themes out there. Of all the WordPress themes I’ve tried, this one gives me by far the best results.
YoastSEO - SEO Plugin
YoastSEO will help you rank your articles in Google as it gives very specific assignments about what you need to do to improve your page structure. There is a free version of the plugin which already goes a long way. You should definitely get started with the free version.
Once you feel you need the pro features, you can easily upgrade and buy the pro version for $79. I started out with the free version back in the day, and then later upgraded because I wanted the additional features. However, starting with the free YoastSEO plugin will be perfectly fine, especially if you are just getting started.
WP Rocket - Caching Plugin
Shutterstock - Stock Photos
Every professional website needs high-quality photos. Even more so when you’re constantly producing new content for your blog.
Shutterstock has millions of pictures across all fields you could possibly imagine. They also offer trial months including 10 free images. You should definitely make use of this welcoming offer!
Depositphotos - Stock Photos
Another great resource for high-quality stock photos is Depositphotos. Although they don’t have the same amount of pictures that Shutterstock has, they still have a great selection, and they are a little less expensive.
In this area you find tools and services that directly help you increase traffic and make money from your website or blog. Check them out if you want to monetize your website right from the start!
Social Warfare - Social Sharing Plugin
I’m really enthusiastic about Social Warfare! It’s the plugin I use to make it easy for my readers to share my blog content. It’s highly customizable to make it fit any blog style perfectly.
Furthermore, you have cool additional features like floating social share buttons, custom implementation via shortcode anywhere within your content, share counts and so much more. Social Warfare also works seamlessly with the rest of the software and plugins I’m recommending here. I’m using it myself on this website, so all the social buttons you see are implemented with Social Warfare.
ConvertKit - Email Marketing Software
It’s easier to handle than all the others, and it’s founded and built by a successful bloggers, giving future successful bloggers exactly what they need in their email marketing.
Tailwind - Pinterest & Instagram scheduler
Tailwind is THE #1 automation tool for Pinterest and Instagram. They work closely together with Pinterest for new system implementations. That means that all their services are completely up-to-date and comply with all Pinterest terms.
Tailwind also helps you to keep track of where you’ve posted which content (which otherwise is almost impossible to do). And the best thing is that they also have incredible analytics that are even more in-depth than Pinterest’s own analytics.
Of course this all aside from the fact that they let you automate your pinning in multiple ways. Oh, and did I mention their incredible tribes-feature? It’s their syndication system that also allows brand new contributors to get eyeballs on their content right from the start! You should definitely check it out and create a free trial now.
Business & Productivity Resources
Here you find all the software and service solutions I’m using to automate my systems, leverage my business or organize my tasks. It’s all about productivity, saving time, and scaling. These business resources help you do just that!
ZenBusiness - Set Up Your Company
ZenBusiness is a service company that sets up your LLC or Corp. in minutes. They are the experienced partner who makes sure that your company setup process goes the right way.
They also have great perpetual services like their worry-free guarantee where they keep track of your report and tax filings deadlines so you don’t forget any important admin work. And let’s be honest – that’s the least sexy part of building a business anyway.
Check out ZenBusiness and see what they have to offer. They might just provide the service you need in order to finally start your own business! After all, that’s what I’m encouraging you to do all the time!
FreshBooks - Accounting & Invoicing Software
FreshBooks helps freelancers and small business owners with all their accounting tasks. They have a great invoicing service to create your invoices in seconds.
Additionally, they make keeping track of your invoices easy. Trust me when I say that sometimes your time vanishes in a black whole when you try to find out who has paid you and which payments are still outstanding. FreshBooks has all this in one place – and much more! It’s a real no-brainer software. And apart from that, it’s a lot of fun to see payments arrive in your dashboard!
Shopify - Online Shop Platform
Shopify is the weapon of choice when it comes to setting up your own online store. It has every feature any online shop owner could possibly need. Furthermore, they offer plans for all kinds of shop sizes. Shopify also has you covered when you’re just starting out!
|| If you’re about to build your own online store, then head over to my Complete Step-by-Step Guide on How To Set Up An Online Store In 5 Steps.
Grammarly - Grammar & Writing Assistant
Grammarly helps you with writing your content. Accurate spelling and proper grammar are important factors for a great user experience. After all, nobody would want to do business with a partner who can’t write a paragraph without multiple mistakes.
Their basic functionalities are free to use, which makes it one of the most widely-used business resources. So, head over to Grammarly right now and install their browser extension which will analyze all your writing in real time.
Canva - Online Design Tool
Fiverr - Freelance Marketplace
You can outsource a multitude of tasks there, from graphics creation to website audits to intro video creation. Check out all their available services yourself. Maybe you’ll find new ideas for your business just by discovering what’s possible.
99designs - Highly Professional Design Services
99designs is similar to Fiverr, but more expensive. You find (almost) only high-quality freelancers here, though this convenience comes at a price tag.
However, if you’re serious about your business, you should be serious about your appearance and branding, too. It’s an asset that will last for a long time. 99designs in this case is the better resource compared to Fiverr, especially for Logo Design, Web Design, App Design and promotional materials like custom bags, book covers etc.
Building a successful business requires various skills, from business mindset to marketing and sales, strategy and planning to productivity and specific technical skills to perform your services or sell your products. I’ve constantly been educating myself in all of these topics, and, in my opinion, this is a requirement of business success.
Luckily, there are many resources that will help you with your own specialized education. I’ll show you exactly which books and courses have made the biggest impact on my business career.
CreativeLive - Video Course Platform
Skillshare - Video Course Platform
Skillshare is another platform providing all kinds of video courses. However, they cover some areas that CreativeLive doesn’t have in their pool, like business and marketing. So, if you’re looking for additional courses in these areas, Skillshare will be your choice. For any creative education, I’d stick to CreativeLive.
Side Income & Bonus Programs
Want to get started and make some money right away? Then here are some ways for you to set up a few side income streams immediately and pave your way towards starting your own business in the next step!
ShareASale - Affiliate Marketing Platform
ShareASale is one of the most popular affiliate marketplaces. An affiliate marketplace is a website that hosts affiliate services from various merchants. The big ones like ShareASale have hundreds and even thousands of merchant partners whose products and services you can promote. In return, you keep a part of the revenue you’ve helped to facilitate.
I highly recommend signing up with ShareASale as it doesn’t cost you anything, but it opens great earning potential for you since you immediately have access to many high-profile affiliate programs of products people absolutely love! Many of their merchants pay you 30%, 40%, 50% commissions which can add up quickly once you know how it’s done.
|| Please refer to my Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide on Affiliate Marketing for Beginners, if you want to explore the art of affiliate marketing in much more detail.
Amazon Associates Affiliate Program
This is Amazon’s in-house affiliate program. Once you are set up, you can earn commissions by promoting almost all products within the Amazon platform. Earnings are a lot lower than for most digital products (a lot of the ShareASale partners are digital products and services).
However, you would leave money on the table if you didn’t just sign up with them since it’s free to do, and you can get started immediately. Simply visit the Amazon Associates website and sign up. Just make sure to read and understand their policy as they are very strict in banning people who infringe with their policy.
|| If you want to learn more about how to make money with the Amazon Associates program, head over to my article on How To Start Affiliate Marketing With Amazon.
You can make use of their cashback program, surveys, paid online searches, play games for money and a lot more. Check out their resources you can use to make some extra money on the side.
Oh, and you can even get a $10 bonus if you just add their SwagButton addon to your browser. It’s free and gives you even more opportunities to earn points.