I often get asked how I manage to maintain several businesses all at once without going crazy. Want to know the secret? I have been relying on a variety of internet-based services to help me manage everything so I don’t go crazy.
Over the years I have found several really great online products which help me manage my workload and I swear by them. Products like Google G Suite, HootSuite and WordPress.org let me run my businesses easily and efficiently.
Since I get asked this question so often, I decided to put together a handy list of all my favorite services so I could refer all my readers to one handy-dandy place. I personally use and pay money for the services and products listed below and totally recommend them to my readers. I only put my favorite products on this list in order to keep it concise. [Psst…I update this list often so check back for new additions when I find new awesome business products] Feel free to comment below and let me know which products you use to run your business. I’d love to hear from you!
[FYI some of the links below may contain affiliate links. If you click on those links and make a purchase I’ll recieve a commission without any additional cost to you. Income I receive from affiliate links helps keep this blog going and ensuring I am able to continue providing readers like you with awesome (and free!) small business advice. Thank you for supporting the Mompreneur Advice Blog!]
Shopify – If you are selling a product then you’re definitely going to need an online store. I really like using Shopify to build Web-based Stores for my clients. I find their platform the easiest to use, their tools make the most beautiful and functional stores, and their customer services is awesome. I haven’t found any other platforms who make online stores as well as them. Try a Free Shopify Trial
WordPress.org – I use WordPress.org to build all of my websites for my businesses and for my clients (unless its an online store, then I use Shopify) including this blog you are reading right now! WordPress.org is the most powerful website building tool available and pretty easy to get the hang of once you’ve explored it a bit.
Bluehost – I host all of my WordPress.org sites with BlueHost. They are the recommended hosting site for WordPress.org sites and I’ve always had a great experience using them. They’re also super cheap and as a bonus they give you a free domain with your hosting (this saves you money!). They also offer a very inexpensive site backup service called Bluehost which you can learn more about during checkout. Get Bluehost web-hosting for your WordPress site for only $3.49/mo
StudioPress Website Templates – If you’re planning on creating your website (or would like me to design your website!) I always recommend StudioPress themes. All of their themes run on the Genesis Framework which is a SUPER awesome framework they have built from scratch and many, many web developers prefer to use. I always find their templates to be super functional with wordpress.org sites and they offer a lot of customization options (which is key to creating just the right site for your business). Their motto is “No Clutter – Just Perfection” which is 100% true. Take a tour of their themes >
Weebly – If you’re interested in creating your own website for your business, I’d suggest starting off with a Weebly site! I used Weebly to create the website for my first business and learned so much about web design through using their platform. Weebly is a simple drag-and-drop website builder with really great templates. You can also easily add an online store to your website with their service. I highly recommend checking them out! In fact, I loved using Weebly so much they featured me on their blog >
GoDaddy – I use GoDaddy to purchase the domain names (web addresses) for my businesses for several reasons:
- Searching for domain names is super easy with their site (I like to use them to see if domains are available when I’m brainstorming business name ideas)
- I like to purchase my domains with GoDaddy because it helps me keep track of all my domains in one place.
- They offer really great deals on domain names (Often times I can find domains for as low as $2.99!)
- They offer privacy protection for an additional fee (it’s like being able to be unlisted in the phone book)
Google Analytics – This is a super powerful tool in gauging the traffic to your website. I highly recommend making sure your website is linked up to Google Analytics. I really love using this feature: Go to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries and check out what people are searching for to get to your website. It’s a really handy function for creating content people are actually searching for!
Google Webmaster Tools – This is also another powerful tool to use for maintaining your website. This tool will help you index your site so Google searches it and people are able to find you. Make sure you set this up if you’re doing your own web design!
Building Your Business
Google G Suite – I learned about Google Docs from a business associate one day and it changed my life forever. I absolutely swear by Google Docs. Basically, if you have a Gmail email address (which I also highly recommend) then you can create and store “Google Docs” like Spreadsheets, Word Documents, PowerPoint Presentations, etc in your Google Account. I find this service most handy when collaborating on a business project with several other people because can easily share the document with whoever you want with a Gmail email and they can then edit the document IN REAL TIME from where ever they are. I’ve used Google Docs spreadsheets to coordinate purchasing of supplies, maintaining a group editorial calendar, etc.
Gmail – It’s really true: Google offers the absolute best email service. I’ve tried to use others and they just don’t compare. I really love the sleekness of Gmail and all of the FREE extra functions that come with your Gmail account (like the aforementioned Google Docs). Gmail is the only email service I recommend. You can also create a personalized email address (like email@example.com) easily with Gmail. Here’s a coupon code for 20% off G Suite your first year > M373C6JM9XPRG9X
DropBox – If you are needing to share files with others, or have a handy place to store your documents and pictures from any computer, then I totally suggest getting a DropBox account. Especially if you’re working with a graphic designer, they’ll most likely want to share files using this service. It’s free if you aren’t storing too many items, or reasonably priced if you need more storage!
Selling Digital Products
eJunkie – If you’re selling digital products (like eBooks or digital music), I suggest using eJunkie. Basically, their service will let you incorporate digital products into your website. Once a customer purchases them through your site, eJunkie will deliver your digital products via email. You can have them host audio, photo, or PDF files. I use them to host my eBooks. Their service is super cheap, plans start at $5/mo for up to 10 products.
Branding Your Business
Canva – I just recently found out about Canva and now it is literally the only tool I use for creating images for my blog posts, PDFs for my sales literature and headers for my websites and social media. I made the header for this page with Canva. They’ve made creating images SUPER easy. They have a huge variety of fonts, images, icons, lines, photos and templates that are basically drag and drop into a template. Canva also have a huge variety of image template sizes to choose from which makes creating your image a super quick process. The best part is that their free version is super powerful. They also offer inexpensive upgrades like better photos and templates for a very reasonable uncharge. I highly recommend using Canva to build your branding!
MOO.com – If you’re looking to create super stylized business cards, letterhead and sales literature then I highly recommend checking out what MOO offers! They print super high quality and impressive products that are reasonably priced. They also offer a lot of cool options, like being able to print a different art on each business card, instead of printing all identical cards. That’s really cool if you ask me! MOO also is one of the originators of the “Tiny Business Card” which is like half the size of a regular card and is super intriguing. I’ve ordered the tiny cards in the past and people really loved when I handed them out! Here’s a link for Free Shipping on orders over $75 >
VistaPrint – If you’re in need of good quality printing that is inexpensive then I suggesting trying VistaPrint. I’ve been using them since 2009 and absolutely love their products, customer service and their tools for printing everything you can imagine. I’ve used VistaPrint to print my banners, flyers, business cards, t-shirts, pens, and so much more than I can even remember right now. They also offer great discounts through their email newsletter so I suggest signing up for that when you get a chance. I’ve always found you never know when you’re going to need to print more materials so it’s always good to have a coupon code handy!
Google Fonts – Ever since I found out about Google Fonts I’ve been having SO MUCH FUN playing with all the super crazy and exciting fonts they offer. You can have Google Fonts incorporated right into your computer using a sister service like SkyFonts. Thankfully, Google did us all a big favor and has expanded our design possibilities with their awesome and FREE font database!
Promoting Your Business
HootSuite – Social Media Management – I’ve been using HootSuite since 2012 and absolutely love their platform for managing all of my social media. I love HootSuite because with their service I can create and manage all of my social media posts and accounts all at one time. Their service lets me schedule posts to be sent out on which ever dates I choose, not just immediately. This makes staying visible in the social media world super easy to maintain without having to log into all your social media accounts every day just to post content. They offer a free option where you can manage up to 3 social media accounts, or a Pro Version which lets you manage up to 10 profiles.
TailWind Pinterest Management– This is a relatively new service I found out about last year and it’s making a world of difference in helping me grow my brand on Pinterest. Basically, Tailwind incorporates into your HootSuite account (free or pro version) and lets me manage my pins, schedule pins, and really helps me optimize the dates and times I publish pins to my boards. They also have super awesome customers service and can help you create a great strategy for growing your brand on Pinterest. Tailwind offers both a free and Pro Version.
MailChimp Email Newsletters– There are now several top email newsletter delivery services, but I’ve been a dedicated fan of MailChimp since 2011 and really love using them to send out my email newsletters. In fact, they are the official email newsletter service for Mompreneur Advice! They offer free plans. Check them out!
Tools I use in real life
Macbook Air – Our very first family computer was a Mac and I have been loving them ever since. I use my Macbook Air for small projects, checking email and being able to run my businesses on the go. I like to purchase my Apple products from Amazon because they don’t charge sales tax in my state (California) which saves a lot of money when you’re purchasing a large item like a computer. Here’s the Macbook I use >
Desktop iMac – Like I said, I love Mac computers. So naturally I have two 🙂 I use my desktop for big projects, like designing websites, managing my social media accounts, and basically organizing my businesses and life. I still use the Desktop Mac I purchased back in 2011 and it works like a champ. I make sure to do Airport backups regularly and have my desktop serviced at the Apple Store when necessary. Soon, I plan to upgrade to this new Desktop iMac because it has a faster processing speed and offers more updated features then my current desktop.
iPhone – Many of us have iPhones, but did you know you can use iCloud to have all your files stored across all of your devices? Like if you write in your Notes on your iPhone, it will show up on your iMac? I find this SUPER helpful because I write notes in my phone as they come to my mind, like while I’m in line at the grocery store 🙂 An iPhone is a must-have if you use Apple Computers and want to easily run your business online.
External Drive – An external hard drive is ESSENTIAL if you run a business with your computer. I made the mistake of not backing up my desktop a few years back and unforuntealy my internal hard drive failed….and I lost ALL of my files, including my treasured photo albums, my business spreadsheets, the images I had created for future projects, and more. So, I got smart and learned about Airport on my Macs and now backup my computers daily. I just leave the external hard drive plugged in and Airport automatically backs up my computers. This is the external hard drive I use >
Manduka Yoga Mat – I have been practicing yoga since I was 20 and can honestly say it has been the most rewarding type of physical exercise I do. I did yoga when I was pregnant, and after my baby was born, and was able to lose all the baby weight within 3 months. Yoga is also a MUST if you work at a computer. I get up every 30-45 minutes and do some Downward Dog, Forward Bending, and (if you’re crazy like me) Handstands. This really helps keep my body from getting achy from working at a computer all day. Check it out. And, check out my favorite Yoga Mat, the Manduka Mat which started in my home town San Luis Obispo many years ago! They make the absolute best yoga mats.
Warby Parker Eyeglasses – Since being pregnant I’ve had to start wearing eyeglasses when using the computer. I’m not sure what exactly the reasoning is, but my eye doctor told me my pregnancy was the cause. I’ve been obsessed with Warby Parker eyeglasses since hearing about them on Shark Tank. They send you several pairs of glasses to try on which is awesome, and fun 🙂 Check them out online, they also sell Sunglasses >
VitaMix Blender – I bought a VitaMix blender when I was 19 years old and fresh out of Culinary School. We used VitaMix blenders in school and I fell in love. They’re like the Harley of blenders. And, believe it or not, that VitaMix blender (which has traveled all over California and even to Hawaii with me) is STILL WORKING 11 years later. Talk about a great investment. VitaMix blenders make the best smoothies. They puree everything like no other blender I have ever used and always work when you need them. They also come with a 10 year warranty. So, if you haven’t invested in a good blender for your business-lady self, put it on your list. I make smoothies every morning for myself and my family which make breakfast super easy to prepare, and I get to feed my body with a ton of super healthy nutrients.
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So there’s my list of Must-Have’s for running a successful business. What tools do you use? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below and share with the Mompreneur Advice Community!