What’s on your business arsenal?
I remember reading The Art of War when I was in my early university years and one of the things that I’ve learned in this timeless classic on war intelligence is that we can apply the same tactical intelligence taught in a book on war strategies to our personal life and business success.
I have been self-employed since mid-2013 and have used various software and tools to help me automate, speed-up, and basically improve my productivity and overall performance.
This page is a collection of the different tools and resources that I use for business, personal development, and learning.
Create a Blog / Niche Website
There are 3 main tools that you’re going to need when starting a blog or a niche website.
- Domain Name
- Web Host
- Content Management System
- Website Theme / Design
- Email Marketing Platform
A domain name is your website’s or business’s address on the internet. Personally, I don’t register my domain names where I host my websites. This is for security purposes, this gives you more control over your content so if anything goes wrong, you’re not necessarily locked up with one provider, meaning, you can easily transfer your website or blog to another provider and you’re not at risk of being shut down by a specific service provider.
Namecheap is my go-to domain name registrant. I register all my domain names with Namecheap. As the name implies, their domain names are actually cheap.
Website or Blog Hosting
What a web host does is host all your files (website content, including images, articles, and database), and serve them to your visitors anywhere they may be in the world.
I host multiple websites with SiteGround.
They offer three web hosting packages that start from $6.99 a month for a Startup package that allows you to host 1 website or blog (1 domain name), with 10 gig of webspace and up to 10,000 visitors a month.
Their 2nd tier allows you to host unlimited websites for up to 25,000 monthly visitors to your website, and when you grow past this mark, you can scale up to the third tier that allows for up to 100,000 visitors a month.
Then, when you’re website receives more than 100,000 visitors a month, you can start looking at their cloud hosting solutions (dedicated server) that is capable of handling successful websites. Their cloud hosting solutions starts at $110 a month but then if you’re website attracts more than 100,000 visitors a month, your online business should be able to afford the monthly server fee.
What I like about Siteground is their hosting speed, website security, and their top-notch customer service.
If you’re just starting out or if you’re just looking to host one website, and you feel that SiteGround is a bit expensive for your budget at the moment, you can host your website or blog with BlueHost instead.
BlueHost is competitively priced and will not disappoint. You get lesser benefits than SiteGround, but hosting with BlueHost can help you get started.
Content Management System
If you’re launching a website or a blog for online business purposes or to promote your business on the internet, you either pay a developer to build a website platform, build it yourself, or simply use an open-source content management system such as WordPress. I love using WordPress. It’s simple, powerful, and of course, it’s free!
Web Design or Theme
I run a couple of websites for my business and a few local marketing websites for a client, and as I mentioned, web design isn’t my forte, I’m also not a developer, so I can’t build or design websites from the ground up but luckily, in this age and time; there’s no shortage of WordPress themes that you can either grab for free or pay for an average of $50 – $65 for a decent WordPress theme that can build your online business or brand on the internet.
Notice, I mentioned “decent”, as a new website publisher/blogger, we tend to get caught up too much with web design and how our homepage looks like. What most new website owners don’t understand is the fact that design, actually plays a small part in building a successful online business or marketing an existing offline business.
A website or blog is an effective marketing tool. Most people build websites and tell their clients to visit their website, now it’s fine to have your clients visit your website but the main purpose of your website should be to help you get client, it should be your number one marketing engine.
There are a couple of places where I get good quality WordPress themes for cheap, and they are as follows:
StudioPress has now bundled its WordPress themes into a full-fledged Managed WordPress Hosting solution, you get access to all 30+ StudioPress themes when you subscribe to WPEngine.
Astra is a fast, lightweight, and highly customizable WordPress theme. This website is actually powered by Astra as of this writing. What I like about Astra is its flexibility, allowing you to customize any aspect of your WordPress site without code and without hiring programmers to code on your behalf.
Aside from that, the team at Astra focuses on building their themes to be lightweight which makes your website load fast.
Theme Forest is a website themes marketplace. If you’re looking for a lot of options to pick from. You can go to a Theme Forest and find something that catches your fancy. When picking a theme from Theme Forest, you have to mind the reviews too, this is because themes you find in their marketplace aren’t necessarily created by them but by third-party developers and designers. So, just like any physical product you’re purchasing, you want to make sure that the theme you’re buying is of the best quality.
Email Marketing Platform
The old adage in the internet marketing world is that the money is in the list, an email list that is, which still holds true to this date. This may be something that you want to throw into the equation a little bit later after you launch your blog or website.
Email marketing is an excellent way to communicate with your prospects and in a massive volume.
If you build a list on a specific niche, it actually means that you have a list of potential customers or leads at your disposal and each time you need to send them an offer, all you have to do is send them an email blast.
This is something that I never really had the chance of applying to my business before as I mostly focused on the local markets where I meet people face to face and I just recently implemented list building and email marketing into my business arsenal.
GetResponse used to be simply an email marketing software until late when they revamped their platform into an all-in-one marketing automation platform for a single price.
This means that you can now create landing pages, capture leads, promote to these leads and even host webinars on one platform.
As of this writing, I am still exploring the wonders that GetResponse has to offer and I’m loving it.
I’ve been looking for a landing page software and an email marketing platform when I stumbled upon GetResponse.
GetResponse combines these two important internet marketing platforms in one package and with many more add-ons for packages that are cheaper than a landing page platform that other companies offer.
Once your blog or website is set up, you may realize that you actually need to produce content in order to drive traffic to your website or business.
One of my struggles is in finding topics to write about. I use keyword research tools like BIQ and Keywords Everywhere to find long-tail keywords that people are actually searching to find websites or businesses such as yours.
Start an Ecommerce Business
There are a lot of options when it comes to starting and running an Ecommerce Business. You can either sell products on existing marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy or you can launch your own eCommerce store using Shopify or Woocommerce.
The advantages of selling on already established marketplaces like eBay and Amazon is that they already have existing traffic of customers armed with credit cards and are ready to buy; the disadvantage is that you don’t own the platform, which means that you don’t have full control of your distribution channel, there would also be a lot of competitors who may already be selling the products that you intend to sell. In saying this, there are a lot of full-time eCommerce sellers on both platforms.
If you want full control of your distribution channel, you may want to consider opening your own shop. The obvious disadvantage of course is that people don’t know about you or your store (yet), which means that you have to establish your online store from the ground up; yes, you have to attract traffic of interested customers, who, hopefully, will buy your products.
Whatever marketing and sale channel you choose, each has its own learning curve, and as opposed to what you may have been told about running an eCommerce business, it does require a lot of work, well at least during the startup phase.
I personally sell on Amazon as an FBA seller and I’ve also delved into eBay.
The bulk of work involved as an Amazon seller is in finding profitable products to sell, this is where you can make a lot of mistakes, and this is where most sellers lose money. Just buying any product that you can get your hands on isn’t a good business strategy, you have to find fast-moving products with possible net profits or ROI.
To do this, I use Egrow, which is the lowest-priced Amazon product research tool I found that actually does an excellent job finding profitable and fast-moving products. Well, that doesn’t mean that you won’t make mistakes in your buying decisions, you still have to do your due diligence.
Keepa, helps you run a due diligence check before you buy any product. It shows you the product’s sales and price history, so you don’t make the mistake of buying “false-positive” products that will sit on Amazon’s warehouse for years without turning in any sales.
If you’re interested in selling on eBay, instead of Amazon, take note that you need not buy inventories with an eBay store. Unlike Amazon, eBay allows you to drop ship products without actually buying inventories. To do this, you can use product research tools like Zik Analytics to find products to sell and search for websites where you can buy them from when they sell. Zik also allows you to monitor inventories on your source website so you know you have stocks when your listings sell.
If you don’t fancy selling on existing marketplaces and instead is more attracted to starting your own eCommerce store either to dropship or sell physical products you ship yourself, Shopify is your fastest route to selling as it puts technology behind and allows you to build your store with drag and drop technology.
As a business owner, you may be looking for accounting or bookkeeping solutions that can semi-automate your accounting records and if you’re from anywhere in North America, you may find that hiring out bookkeeping can be costly. Wave is a free bookkeeping software that’s available in the US and Canada. Yes, it’s free, you’ll only pay when you avail of their payment and payroll systems, other than that their bookkeeping software is completely free.
If you’re offering some sort of consulting or in-person service, you may find that going back and forth with your prospects and clients when setting appointments a bit challenging and counterproductive. Calendly connects to your calendar, so any schedule reservations your customers book syncs to your calendar automatically. For easier calendar booking, you can send a link to your prospects or clients, or if you have a lead generation site that attracts prospects to your business, you can embed a calendar on your website where customers can book a time with you by themselves.
I hope that you’ve found this resource page useful, I will add more resources that I find useful for entrepreneurs like you, so do check this page out from time to time!