Building and growing a blog and running an online business involves time, energy and money.
But compared to starting a business in a traditional way having an online business is way more inexpensive.
Besides a laptop and a smartphone, there are some free and paid tools I’d personally consider as a must-have in order to build and grow an online business.
On the blogging tools page, you’ll find all the tools I use while this post should give you a rough overview of the must-haves when it comes to building and growing your soul-based blog / online business.
TABLE OF CONTENT
- Domain & Hosting
- WordPress Theme
- Email service provider
- Smart scheduler
- Instagram planner
- Graphic design tool
- Google Docs
THE TOOLS YOU NEED TO BUILD & GROW YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS
First and foremost you need as a blogger and online entrepreneur a proper website.
While you could set up a free blog I would strongly advise not to do so, if you want to build a solid online business.
Hosting a website at WordPress and using a free WordPress theme comes with huge limitations and will never look as good as a paid website.
DOMAIN & HOSTING
You can buy the domain as well as host your WordPress based blog and website at Siteground.
Their price starts at $3,95 / month for 1 website which is less than a fancy latte at Starbucks.
I’ve personally gone immediately for their grow big plan which includes hosting for multiple websites.
Means you can have more than one website and host all of them at Siteground.
They have a fast responding 24/7 customer support, free daily backup, a 30 days money-back guarantee and much more.
Over the last 7 years, I’ve tried several themes from free to paid and Divi is the best.
They have tons of beautiful premade layouts for different niches available to choose from.
The layouts are easy to upload and to customize.
They have tutorials and regularly new layout packs added to their library.
It’s the first theme where I can change up small things by myself without calling a web developer to do everything for me.
The cost for this theme starts at $89 / year.
I’ve started with the $89 / year plan last year but upgraded last year to their lifetime access.
There are tons of free and paid plugins available.
For the entire list of plugins feel free to check out my resources page.
The free plugin I’d highly recommend to check out is called Yoast SEO.
This plugin will help you with Google SEO (search engine optimization).
This plugin will exactly tell you how to change your website to rank higher in Google.
It will exactly tell you what you need to do to improve your copy and keywords.
The other one I’d really urge you to get is a paid one and it’s called Social Warfare.
It’s a plugin you can use for your social share buttons on your website.
You can make your social share buttons floating, customize them in your brand color and specify which images can be pinned to Pinterest.
In your dashboard, you can also exactly define the text for all your different social media platforms.
The yearly fee for a single page license is $ 39.
EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDER
Besides your website you also need an email service provider.
There are email service providers like Mail Chimp or Mailerlite that are free to use up to 1000 subscribers.
I personally didn’t bother trying the free ones and went directly for Convertkit that starts at $29 / month.
Convertkit is easy to use and has a lot of advanced features like automation, taggings, sequences which saves up a lot of time in the long run.
It can be confusing at first when you’re absolutely new to email marketing but there are a bunch of tutorials in the form of videos and posts on Convertkits blog itself.
Besides their tutorials, they also have a Facebook group where you can ask any questions and get help around the clock.
My favorite smart scheduler is Tailwind for scheduling pins on Pinterest.
Pinterest, on the other hand, is the easiest and best way you can grow your audience online as a new blogger or online business owner.
One of the key factors to succeed on Pinterest is to pin daily.
Tailwind will make your life much easier because once you schedule your pins tailwind will pin your pins onto Pinterest for you.
Tailwind costs $15/month or $120/year.
I have the yearly plan and recommend it to anyone who wants to use Pinterest to drive traffic to their blog or online business.
Another great tool I like to use is Planoly.
It’s an Instagram grid planner and scheduler.
You can upload your photos to Planoly and plan out your grid.
With an Instagram business account, you can also schedule your posts which means that Planoly will post for you onto Instagram.
They have a free option where you can upload up to 30 photos per month to plan your feed.
Their paid option costs $7/month when you go for their annual plan.
Grammarly is your free writing assistant.
It’s available as a free and as a paid version.
I personally use the free version and let Grammarly check my grammar spelling mistakes before I hit the publish button.
It’s a tool I don’t want to miss.
Canva is a graphic design app you can use on your desktop and your phone.
It’s available as a free and as a paid version.
I personally have the paid version but know other successful bloggers and online entrepreneurs who are on the free plan for years.
Canva is perfect for designing all sorts of social media images, logos, cards, and even workbooks and ebooks.
You can use Google docs with a free Gmail account and keep your editorial calendar and all your written blog posts there.
Besides Google Docs I also highly recommend using Dropbox.
They have a free and a paid version.
You can upload and keep your other blog / online business related stuff like photos, Pinterest, social media images, etc in there.
All free and paid tools I recommend and mention in this post at a glance:
- Siteground is the hosting provider to get started with. You can purchase your domain and host your site there.
- Divi is the WordPress theme to go for. They have tons of different beautifully designed layouts you can choose from and it’s easy to customize.
- YOAST is the plugin you need for search engine optimization to rank higher in google.
- Social Warfare is the social sharing plugin you should integrate into your website. It makes easy to share your posts on all social media channels.
- Convertkit is the email service provider with the best price-performance ratio.
- Tailwind is the smart scheduler you need to get plenty of traffic from Pinterest and to grow your online business faster.
- Planoly is the Instagram grid planner and scheduler with which you can plan your feed and post on Instagram on auto-pilot.
- Grammarly is a writing assistant correcting your spelling mistakes and your grammar
- Canva is a graphic design app you can use to create any kind of social media graphics, workbooks, ebooks, cards and more.
- Google docs is part of a free Gmail account. You can use it to keep your editorial calendar and all your blog posts sorted in there.
- Dropbox is where you can store your other blog and online related files like photos and all your social media picks and posts.
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