2017 is the year to achieve your business goals. This means it’s time to stop faffing around and start taking your business seriously! A great place to start it to make sure all your business tools are up to scratch, you want to be using the best performing tools resources to help your blog or biz run as smoothly as possible.
Luckily, I’m here to save you some time and money! I’ve done all the testing and I’m here to share the winners with you. Here are my favourite tools and resources for running a blog or online biz!
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, however I only recommend products and services that I actually use and really love!
Images and Graphics
Canva is an amazing, free design tool for beginners. If you want to create your own blog graphics but don't know where to start, Canva has you covered with a wide selection of ready-made templates.
It does have limited customisation options, so if you’re looking to create custom branding for your business this might not be the tool for you, however it’s ideal for a complete beginner without any design knowledge.
I personally love Canva for creating Infographics. They have a great selection of layouts, icons and vectors, so creating beautifully designed infographics is a simple and fun process.
(Read more on creating graphics with Canva.)
If you're looking to take your blog graphics to the next level, I would highly recommend investing in Adobe Illustrator, I use this program to design all the images and graphics used throughout my website, blog and social media.
Illustrator has a massive range of customisation options so you can create unique and custom graphics for your blog or business. It’s also a vector based program, meaning anything you create can be resized without losing the quality or causing pixelation. This is particularly helpful for creating logos, banners, icons, blog graphics and PDF files.
Creative Market has massive selection of handcrafted design resources from a variety of sellers. They specialise in graphics, photos, fonts, product mockups, website themes and business templates, so if you're not into design and just want to buy beautiful, pre-made graphics, this is definitely the place for you!
Creative Market is my go-to for finding stylish stock photos and I just love their selection of beautiful script fonts! Plus every week they give away six items for free!
Asana is hands down my favourite tool for managing an online business. This program allows you to organise all the aspects within your business and keep your ideas and tasks in one place. It’s also a great tool to use for managing a team of people as you can create different projects and then assign tasks and schedule deadlines for each team member.
I personally use Asana for planning and scheduling my blog content ideas, newsletters, business projects and upcoming tasks.
Google Docs is a great resource for creating word documents, spreadsheets, presentations and forms. This makes creating, editing, organising and sharing business documents an easy task!
All your documents are stored on your google account and saved in one place making it easy access everything you need from any computer at any time. It also has an autosave feature that saves all your documents as you go, which prevents any files getting lost!
Google Analytics gives you detailed reports for your website views, traffic, audience and content. This allows you to analyse which website pages and blog posts are most popular so you know what content to produce more of in the future.
It has a massive selection of tools and features, so recording and analysing your website performance can be as simple or as in-depth as you wish to make it.
Setting Up Your Website
Squarespace is a user-friendly platform that is based off customisable templates, which makes it super easy for everyone (even web design newbies) to create their own professional and beautifully designed website.
I love that it has built in blog, gallery and shop features so everything want for your online business is all in one place. It’s also fully compatible with all the main social media networks and the responsive templates mean your website is automatically optimised for different screen sizes, so it looks great no matter what device it’s been viewed on. (Read more about why I love Squarespace.)
GoDaddy makes buying a new domain name simple. It's really easy to search for your preferred domain name and browse through all the available options so you can to find the perfect one for your business. I also find GoDaddy very user-friendly and it's easy to access all your domain settings. It’s compatible with most main websites meaning you don’t have to stress over complicated integration issues and they have a great support line incase you get stuck!
G Suite allows you to create a custom email address to match your domain name. This is important if you’re dealing with customer inquiries or blog sponsorship opportunities. For example my domain name is 'www.joannakay.co' and my business email is 'firstname.lastname@example.org', nice and professional, right? Plus you can still use the Google Mail email server with your new email address!
I also love that you can setup multiple email aliases so you can have alternate email options, like ‘email@example.com’ and ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, which is ideal if you want a separate email address for different aspects of your business. G Suite also offers a free 30 day trial which allows you to test it out before you commit!
Building Your Email List
MailChimp is a great option if you're just starting your mailing list as it’s free for your first 2,000 email subscribers. You can create forms, customise newsletters and send regular emails to your following all on the free plan, however, if you wish to use an autoresponder you’ll need to upgrade.
If you're serious about building your list, I highly recommend ConvertKit as it’s targeted especially towards the email marketing needs for bloggers and online business owners. It’s the easiest email platform I’ve ever used, and definitely the best email platform for content upgrades, categorising your subscribers and sending targeted broadcasts. (Read more about why I recommend you invest in ConvertKit from the start.)
SumoMe is a free plugin with great features to help you build your email list. My favourites are the 'list builder', 'scroll box' and 'smart bar' which provide effective options to help convert your website traffic into email subscribers.
Scheduling Social Media
Hootsuite is a great tool for scheduling all your social media profiles in one place! I love that you can schedule the same message to send to multiple social platforms at the same time. I use this feature to schedule my social media posts in bulk for the upcoming month.
Another cool feature is that you can view your social media feeds for each platform all within the Hootsuite dashboard, this saves you a lot of time from logging in and out of your accounts all the time!
BoardBooster is key to Pinterest success. It allows you to schedule pre-saved to pins to different boards throughout the day so your pins are seen by a wider audience.
This is a must-have tool if your run a blog! You don’t have to worry about remembering to repin different types of content at different times of the day, BoardBooster takes care of it all for you. There are also features that help you pin to group boards and loop your old content.
Since using BoardBooster my Pinterest following has grown dramatically, along with my pin engagement and website views!
Instagram fanatics will love Planoly because it lets you plan out your Instagram theme in advance! You can upload your photos and arrange them how you want before scheduling, so you know what your feed will look like. I always forget to post to Instagram so I love that this app sends a reminder to my phone when it’s time to post a new image.
What are your favourite blogging or business resources? Let me know in the comments below