Disclaimer: As a heads up, there may be affiliate links below where if you click and purchase – I earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. My disclaimer policy is long, boring, and located here.
Curious about what you need on starting a business website or kickstarting your email marketing?
I’m giving you the nitty-gritty, straightforward info, and advice on what works based on what myself and other businesses have tried and tested.
These are the resources and services I am SUPER familiar with and wanted to give you the 4-1-1.
There is so much information out there on what to use and when to use it.
These business tool recommendations answer some of THE most common business questions I get in my contact form and DMs.
I fully recommend WordPress for any type of blog. Even for e-commerce and other future ventures in promoting digital goods and course creation.
My site is a self-hosted option on WordPress.org (note: not WordPress.com!).
I’ve worked with others on Wix, BlogSpot, Square Space and Shopify.
WordPress is hands down the best for monetizing, design freedom, no weird Terms and Conditions keeping you in line, and other issues that can cap your success later.
Some of the cheapest hosting out there. I recommend Bluehost specifically for your first year of hosting. Then I recommend moving up to the next host (below).
Bluehost is insanely cheap and if you are working with pennies and want to make your dream happen without the major costs, this is your go-to.
I have used this with previous IT web design clients on a budget and it has helped keep their costs low.
This is the hosting service I currently use and have been using for about a year now.
They are faster hosting then Bluehost, but about twice the cost monthly after their startup special pricing.
I recommend SiteGround for new bloggers who have the money to budget for this on initial setup, and any bloggers in their second or third year of hosting their blog.
I don’t make it a secret that my web design is from Etsy. I picked this seller for their gorgeous themes that were all business and also eye-catching.
My theme is the Uptown Theme which is made for entrepreneurs.
You can check out designs for food blogs, fashion websites, photography portfolios, and other new themes here. They are always coming out with new designs and Kate offers free development support after you purchase.
(Take it from someone who’s worked in IT – help after design purchase is kind of hard to find.)
Grayson Bell literally saved my site.
I remember when I broke my site with caching plugins and thought I had ruined all my hard work.
Grayson came in an hour and remedied. He’s great with giving quick feedback to questions and I recommend it to any WordPress site owner.
You can repair your site improve site speed, change your domain URL (it happens sometimes and you have to change this correctly!), move to a new host, make your site secure (HTTPS) and do ongoing support plans (their most popular service) as well as many other services that are ESSENTIAL.
In fact, if you’re a blogger (several of you are seeking advice on my blog), you can’t even get into ad networks like AdSense without them.
All my policies are from Terms Feed, and I like that I can go back and edit them, redownload and update my site easily in their portal, and for free.
Entrepreneur Legal Corner
Her templates are easily plug-and-play and she shows you how to edit and customize the fields for yourself.
There’s a lot of bumps in the road when you work with others online, and it’s super important to protect your rights, work, and terms of service in negotiations – especially for the work put in for sponsored posts.
Do it right from the start and protect yourself. (I’ve heard some awful stories in Facebook groups. Do what you can now.)
You can read more in my post here about why I choose to go with Deposit Photos.
The short story is that I get quality photos that are more unique, are not illegally shared (you can pay thousands for incorrectly shared photos from popular commercial use sites – more details in the post above).
This service is WAY cheaper than Shutterstock and I get the photos I need on a custom plan. (Cheaper than their other advertised plans even.)
Email Service Provider
I only recommend one here. And trust me when I say I’ve tried a lot.
This is one of the top questions from new bloggers. Here’s the rundown.
I don’t like MailChimp (not intuitive and easy to use after years working with it), not a huge fan of the ugly forms and wonky setup of Active Campaign, and ConvertKit is WAY TOO expensive.
What do I use?
Mailerlite. I get fair deliverability and free use up to 2000 subscribers. Let’s
It’s easy for me to integrate in my site and I can easily organize my opt-in and offer forms (which are gorgeous) and do multiple and different forms on specific pages.
Hehe, we love marketing.
Blogging Tools: Courses
Note: If you’re a startup or business, purely, these blog resources will not apply for you, so read no further.
These have been huge in helping me make organic search progress on my blog and increase my streams of revenue as a business. I talk about why courses are ESSENTIAL to business success here in this post.
I would not be where I am in my progress without them.
As a blogger, continuing your education and learning what you didn’t know you didn’t know – all goes back into investing in courses and personal development.
These are in the order I took them. (Looking back, I still recommend in this order.)
Talk about being nervous on getting my first course here, – but oh my goodness! – this was way underpriced for the value I got. I lot of other bloggers have said this in the review of her course too.
(There’s another creator teaching this topic, who I know charges 3x the amount, for example.)
This low priced course option gives you the full overview of Pinterest and what series of steps to validate your site, enable the right pins (rich pins) for your blog posts, how to do pins the right way in manually pinning.
You also learn design tips that actually get clicks and conversions.
I highly recommend this course since the first tip I took home prevented me from using a totally wrong account approach that would have stunted any progress on my pinning from day 01.
You’ll learn which tools MIGHT help and why you shouldn’t rely on schedulers.
Key point: You’ll not only learn how to start, but also advanced tips on how to grow and ride out your viral pin success to come.
You’ll see the issues to avoid with Pinterest in 2020 (ahem, there’s a lot to navigate) and she updates the course frequently with new findings.
Cate does a good job of making this simple and easy in this course. I remember making my first sale shortly after going through and promoting a bundle through an affiliate offer.
Boom! I felt so powerful.
That being said, there key items to note on a fundamental level about when affiliate marketing best works and what you should know about promoting to your audience in THE RIGHT WAY!
There are definitely a few ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ that are good to know on Google updates, affiliate link tagging, what networks to focus on and how to apply in minutes.
Cate really sets these key tips up in the best format. Easy to digest and easy to apply.
Plus, she does quizzes in her course, which helped me to really directly apply what I was learning ASAP.
I’ll continue to add additional products and services here as I come across courses, tools and items that really and truly help!
Have questions on starting a blog? Book a free 30-minute consult here on my calendar, and let’s talk about your blogging goals.
I’ll help you form a strategy and next steps for your blog dreams.