This list is compiled of a lot of time saving resources that will quicken your process of launching and running a business. I have used some of these tools in the process of getting started and maintaining my online sites.
Disclosure: This post may be sponsored or contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See my full disclosure here.
- Shopify: This is my favorite, go to commerce site. I believe in Shopify and was able to transform my life just by subscribing to their emails and reading all of the great information that they send on a regular basis. Their support team is awesome as I love the option of using the 24/7 online chat. They have walked me through many of issues that I had early on and are still there for me if need be.
- Square Space: I have heard of many other online stores and other content distributors use Square Space. They would have probably been my second choice if not for Shopify.
- Big Commerce: I have never used them but I have heard of this one used by others. If Shopify didn’t exist, either Square Space or them would have been my go to.
*Check out my product page for a complete list of E-Commerce platforms.
DOMAINS AND HOSTING
- Bluehost: This was my first and recommended hosting site for my first time launching To Survive and Thrive. As with most hosting, you are given the option to use WordPress.org. Side Information here. There are two WordPresses. One is .org and the other is .com. Once you sign up for hosting, you are given access to WordPress.org. Wordpress.com you have to pay for and is hosted by WordPress themselves. If you have a opinion, stance, or expertise to share, choose a blog. Their prices start at $2.95-$3.95 a month with a 30 day money back guarantee.
- Site Ground: If I didn’t choose Bluehost, I would have went with Site Ground, as in the blogging community, Site Ground is gaining in popularity. I didn’t have any issues with Bluehost, so I stayed with them.
- Name Checkr: This is one of the first tools that you will use to check to see if your domain and social media accounts are available. No need to go to each site to see, as they check all the platforms at once, very quickly.
- Go Daddy: This is probably one of the most recognizable domain brands out there. I used them many years ago when I had no idea what I was doing. Back when I thought that if I owned a domain name, that I was automatically a business owner. This was more than a decade ago.
- Name Cheap: The name explains it. They are pretty good with discounting their prices a tad bit more in comparison to other hosting/domain sites. I have never used them before but this is one brand that is gaining in popularity more and more as I hear about more entrepreneurs switching to them for the price. They also offer a 30 day money back guarantee.
- Google Trends: Whatever your business idea is, you should start with Google Trends to search how popular your niche currently is. This would be the best way to help narrow down your niche and save you a headache of investing in something that is not expected to be popular.
- Google Keyword Planner: The right keywords can get your ad in front of the right customers, and Google Ads Keyword Planner is here to help. Search for words or phrases related to your products or services. The keyword research tool will help you find the keywords that are most relevant for your business.
- Uber Suggest: To determine whether or not there’s a lot of competition in your chosen niche, you should choose this simple tool. Use a keyword research tool like Uber Suggest to help you see how competitive particular Google searches are.
- Theme Forest: I am letting out trade secrets with this one as tons of website developers buy from here and present you with a high priced tag of something that cost them only $50 to purchase. This is my go to for my themes for my sites if I am trying to be more fancy. The free themes on Shopify are great, but as you expand and grow, you will more than likely buy a theme to increase the overall look of your brand. If you prefer to start that way, it takes a bit longer to do so as more complexity is added to it. I believe you are up for the design challenge, but if not, head over to my service page and hire me to set the theme up for you. Make sure the theme is compatible with Shopify.
- Template Monster: These guys have some great visuals on their themes, but their price is usually more than Theme Forest. Eye catching themes draw you in. As with all themes, make sure that they are compatible with Shopify before purchasing.
- Restored316: I bought one of my first themes from them when I first launched To Survive and Thrive. They have beautiful, feminine themes that are made for WordPress.
- Studio Press: I bought my first theme from Studio Press as well for my blog. The way it works is that you buy the Genesis framework from them first, and other developers can sell you the Genesis Child Themes that will mesh with the coding of the framework. A good amount of developers use Genesis to sell some WordPress themes. They both work in harmony, and you will have to have Studio Press if you want to purchase some other developer’s Genesis theme.
Free stock photos
- Pexels: I will start with the free ones first. The last couple of sites I have used Pexels quite a bit. They are free, high quality stock photos to use restriction free on your site.
- Unsplash: Another site that photographers place their photos on restriction free. I’ve used a few photos from this site.
- Pixabay: This site has almost 2 million photos that are free at your fingertips. This is another high quality site with free pics.
- Burst: This is from Shopify! They have a great variety of pictures that you can choose from for you new website.
Paid stock photos
- Adobe Stock: This is the service I started off with as I was already using Adobe Creative Suite for Photoshop and Illustrator. I was comfortable going with a brand that I knew. They do have different pricing plans and have a 30 day trial to where you can test them out.
- 123rf: This stock sites boasts that they have the lowest prices for premium stock photos. They do have great quality videos, illustrations, and more on their site. You can choose a yearly plan with them or buy them in smaller quantities.
- Creative Market: I go to this site weekly! The fonts, graphics, and etc are at such a great price, that you will be checking in with them on a frequent basis as well. They also have themes on their site and templates for so many creative ideas.
- Stencil: While Stencil can do a lot of what Photoshop does, it’s perfect for someone with no design experience and is interested in creating images much — MUCH — faster. For example, if you’re using Photoshop to create really simple graphics for social media or your blog, you’re probably not using the best tool for the job. A lightweight web application like Stencil can do the job better and with special features designed to save you time.
- Canva: This is a game changer. Remember when I said don’t worry about designing your social media and site? This is a must if you want help designing your own social media ads, website graphics, presentations, and etc. They have stock photos as well if you purchase their canva for work monthly subscription. No design experience is needed.
- Logo Joy: This is a pretty great site to get your logo done. It is simple, you don’t pay for it, if you don’t like it. Their prices are really awesome as well.
- Adobe Creative Suite: This was my first purchase for designing t-shirts and ads. I took a free course online, thanks to my local library, viewed some tutorials on YouTube and got the basics down on how to use Photoshop. I still use it to this day, just so I can keep improving my skills. If you got the skills, then go for their monthly plan. If not, choose Stencil or Canva.
- Pic Monkey: This is a pretty good photo editing site. Again, if Photoshop is not your lane, then Pic Monkey definitely is. They help you to whiten teeth, add borders and effects to your pics, trim this, trim that, retouch pics, add text, and more. It is one of the best photo editing sites out there and easy to learn. If you edit pics on a smart phone, then you can definitely use this.
PRINT ON DEMAND T-SHIRTS
- Printful: This is the tried and true option for me as I still use Printful to this day. The whole life of having your shirts printed and shipped for you by someone else is going to be amazing once you experience it. As with any of the t-shirt drop shippers, you can place a sample order, at a discounted price, to determine quality and price. I sell t-shirts, mugs, totes, hoodies, and more with Printful. Just add Printful from inside the Shopify store and you are good to go!
- Teespring: This is the first option I ever tried. You can start with Teespring and do a total risk free, no money leaving your hands option. Teespring offers a no risk turn-key solution to you running your commerce business, as they handle everything from production, fulfillment & customer service. No website needed for this option. You can share your product link with family, friends, co-workers and etc if you want to try this option first.
*Check out my product page for a complete list of Print on Demand platforms.
- Fiverr: This is a life saving, game changing, you didn’t know that this type of stuff existed site. Whatever area you are weak in, Fiverr has someone there to rescue you, starting at $5. When I first started, I bought plenty of $5 t-shirt designs that came through for me. You can get help with so many items on your checklist, should you not need my services 🙂
- Upwork: This site is pretty cool too, as I have used them for a few things that I needed early on. You can explain what your project is, set the timeline of delivery, and also the cost you are willing to pay for it, and you will be messaged by freelancers who will accept your offer. You can view freelancer’s previous work on both Fiverr and Upwork.
- Freelancer: You can use this site just like you would with Upwork as there is no difference. You set the terms and see if anyone there is willing to accept them.
Note: You do get what you pay for at the end of the day. A $5 design can be simple, but you can’t expect a $60 design for $5. As always, you can go through this page and write down your questions to ask on your consultation with me.
- Mailchimp: Create beautiful, branded emails that make you look like a pro. Keep your audience engaged with email marketing. Mailchimp’s campaign builder is easy to use, packed full of features, and designed to grow with your business. You definitely use them, but they no longer integrate with Shopify, unless you download another app, ShopSync, to sync both of them together. Mail Chimp has a free option to choose from, until you get to 2,000 subscribers.
- Convert Kit: Your email list is your biggest asset. ConvertKit helps you use that list to grow your business through attractive forms, trackable data, and simple but powerful automations. This is the pricer option but also a growing popular option. MailChimp is always going to be more affordable, but Convert Kit will be there for when you really take off.
- Stripe: Stripe is the best software platform for running an internet business. They are just like Pay Pal but better as Stripe is not known for holding your money for some excessive amount of time, like Pay Pal is known to do at times.
- Pay Pal: This is still a payment option to integrate into your store, as a lot of your customers will appreciate it, but Stripe should be activated as well.
- Legal Zoom: If you don’t have an LLC, grab one before launching, or at least as soon as possible as this is vital to your business. Legal Zoom helps you to easily figure it all out.
- EIN: Go get an EIN number as quickly as possible as well as this will be the social security number for your business. It takes just a couple of minutes and plus it’s free.
- Kicksta: Use Kicksta to get more Instagram followers. They help you gain a more organic following and help to drive traffic to your Instagram page, which drives traffic to your site.
- Hire Writers: This site is perfect for you if you don’t want to have to write your blogging articles for either your stand alone blog, or for a small blog that you have on your Shopify store.
- Bitly: This is a must for your store when it comes to marketing on Instagram or anywhere else. If you have a long URL ex. www.icameupwithaverylongstorename.com, you can use a URL shortener for free by converting it to a much simpler bit.ly/123 link. Best part is that this is for free.
- Link Tree: This is the best way to show your multiple website links on Instagram, as Instagram only allows one website link on your bio! You will be so glad that this company exists as I use these on my Instagram store bios as well.
*Check out my product page for a complete list of Social Media Growth Tools.
- Microsoft To Do: I use Microsoft To Do (formerly known as Wunderlist) for myself as a way to quickly make lists for myself, for my business, or for my son’s homeschooling or chores. You can add other people, especially if you decide to partner up with someone else on this venture.
- Evernote: I use Evernote everyday of my life. I keep all of my ideas for homeschooling and any idea for business that pops into my head. It seamlessly syncs between my phone and computer.
- OneNote: This is just a cute organizer from Microsoft and it is just more elaborate and colorful than Evernote. You will fall in love with the organizing and planning options they have.
- Air Table: This is just the most visually appealing spreadsheet creator to use. You will find yourself using this for your own personal use as well. Keep yourself organized as there are so many templates to choose from that will keep you and your partners/employees in sync.
- Thinkific: Create and sell online courses based off of your skill set. For my bloggers out there, you can sell your knowledge and expertise.
- Teachable: Another great site to use for creating course content. These sites let you focus on your content and you don’t have to worry about designing your course and it comes with themes that you can choose that are ready to go.
PACKAGING AND SUPPLIES
- Packlane: Have a branding idea on how to package your items. Let’s say you go the route of mailing your own inventory, this will be a great website to help you design your packaging.
- Amazon: Of course Amazon got everything you need and can get it to you quicker than most. Amazon has ton of packaging options that you will use for a much lower price than brick and mortar stores.
- Freshbooks: FreshBooks is accounting software and an investment in you. Don’t let the process of painful book keeping and disorganization slow you down.
- Quickbooks: This is the most popular accounting software brand. A must-have for contractors, freelancers, and the self-employed.
- Udacity: This a really popular platform where you come to learn the skills you need, to land the job you want, to build the life you deserve.
- Skillshare: This is a learning platform with online classes taught by the world’s best practitioners. Personalized, on-demand learning in design, photography, and, entrepreneurship, marketing, and more.
- Coursera: A really great site that has topics on business, management, finances, and more. I used this site before personally and found it to be amazing.
- EdX: A massive open online course provider. It hosts online university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines to a worldwide student body, including some courses at no charge.
- Future Learn: Free courses that has a Business and Management category that can help you with digital marketing, entrepreneurship, finances,
- Khan Academy: The organization produces free short lessons in the form of YouTube videos. Its website also includes supplementary practice exercises and materials for an entrepreneurship course.
This list will get you going in the right direction. Always check back to this list as I constantly update it with great sites that I find to help make the process of running a business even more seamless and productive.
Have fun on the journey 🙂