30+1 Essential Resources for Your Online Business

online business

Every so often people ask me what tools you need to create an online business, and how much they cost.

In this post I’ll describe the 30 digital resources, applications and tools that I use regularly. It’s not an exhaustive list, but I wanted to focus on the ones I find absolutely essential for my online business.

And the best part is that many of them are absolutely free.

Resources for your website

Siteground: I find this hosting service (where your website is hosted) the best one of all! Going with Siteground was my greatest decision ever. On top of the excellent quality of the hosting itself, they provide fabulous technical support. They were super quick at replying to every one of my questions and they gave me all the help I needed. 5 stars – top choice!

Cost: from USD 3.95/month (affiliated link)

 

WordPress.org: it goes without saying! Via Siteground you can also set up WordPress, the best system for creating your website and/or blog in just a few clicks. I’d far rather use it than one of those pre-packaged systems, as it’s much more flexible and allows you to personalise it in the way you want.

Cost: FREE

(If you have problems with WordPress, or you really have no idea where to start, you can ask my friend Michele Bugliaro to give you a hand.)

 

Optimizepress: a plug-in (additional component) for WordPress that allows you to quickly create spectacular pages, with ready-to-use graphic elements. To show you what I mean, this presentation page was created with OptimizePress.

Cost: from USD 97 as a one-off cost (affiliated link)

 

OptinMonster: the system that enables me to display boxes inviting users to download free content. I used to use SumoMe, which is free. But they lost points when they got rid of their automatic newsletter sign-up function.

Cost: from USD 108 a year. 

 

ActiveCampaign: this is my newsletter provider – the system that allows me to send emails to the entire ThreeSixtySkills community. At first I used MailChimp, which is free, but I found it a bit limited, especially where automation and creating sales funnels were concerned. Then I tried GetResponse, but I was still not completely satisfied. Now I’m totally happy with ActiveCampaign, which many marketers consider truly excellent too.

Cost: from USD 7 a month (affiliated link).

 

Graphics, video and audio

Canva: for creating attractive graphics, either for your website or for social media. I love online businessthat it has ready-made templates – it’s so easy to use!

Cost: FREE

 

Photoshop: if I have to make slightly more precise modifications to graphics, Canva isn’t enough. I started using Photoshop when I created my very first website (way back in 2002) and now I can’t do without it.

Cost: from USD 13 a month

 

iBooks Author: I use it to create free content, such as reports and eBooks. It’s really straightforward to use and includes beautiful, ready-to-use templates.

Cost: FREE for Mac

 

Pages: this is another piece of software I recently discovered – already included as a standard feature on the Mac. At first I gave it the cold shoulder because I was used to Word (which I still use now for other things). When I found out the possibilities offered by Pages, and how easy it is to create beautiful forms, I really took to it!

Cost: FREE for Mac

 

Camtasia + QuickTime + iMovie for creating videos. I record my videos via my Mac’s camera using QuickTime Player and then transfer them to iMovie for the editing process. Recently I also bought Camtasia for Mac, which I use for screen recordings.

Cost: QuickTime and iMovie are FREE for Mac. Camtasia is available starting from 99 USD.

 

Skype, Google Hangouts & WebinarNinja for video calls. I use Skype for individual coaching sessions, Hangouts for (small) group meetings and WebinarNinja for fully-fledged webinars of up to 100 people.

Cost: Skype and Hangout are FREE. WebinarNinja is available from USD 33 per month.

 

Audacity: for audio editing. I can easily record guided exercises on my iPhone, then import them into Audacity to get rid of background noise, add music, cut and paste, and finally export to MP3. Super easy to use.

Cost: FREE

Business organization

Asana: I can’t do without it. I use it every day to organise work, keep track of tasks, set up procedures and standardise processes. What’s more, it enables me to assign tasks to my collaborators and keep tabs on progress. A true godsend!

Cost: FREE

 

Trello: I use it in collaboration with my virtual assistant to establish the editorial calendar for articles. Really simple and convenient.

Cost: FREE

 

Evernote: when I’m walking or on the subway, I often end up having flashes of inspiration about new topics I can talk about in blog posts, or things I can do to develop the business. I note them down on Evernote straight away and the contents immediately sync with my Mac. I don’t have to do anything. Fantastic!

Cost: FREE

 

Dropbox and Google Drive: for keeping my files constantly within reach, on my iPad, iPhone, Mac and online, wherever I go. Unbelievable!

Cost: FREE

 

Acuity Scheduling: I use this online service to manage my coaching appointments. It automatically syncs with my schedule and clients can reserve the time that suits them best, in their respective timezone! Calendly isn’t bad either, but I’ve found Acuity Scheduling more comprehensive because it allows me to create welcome forms that I can have clients fill out before sessions.

Cost: FREE

 

Hootsuite: for scheduling social media posts. Instead of publishing updates on social media one at a time, Hootsuite enables me to do them all ahead of time, in a single go. I can decide the day and time to have the posts go out, or I can entrust them to the automatic scheduling feature: a timesaver that’s pure genius!

Cost: FREE

 

Event organization

online businessPeatix: for creating digital tickets to the in-person events I hold in Singapore. The participants buy tickets from this site and then the money gets automatically transferred into the company account. It’s a very convenient system because, all by itself, it takes care of informing everyone who has attended my previous events, as well as potentially interested Peatix subscribers, about an event (essentially, it does my marketing for me). 

Cost: FREE for free events, otherwise a percentage of the takings is charged (it varies by country).

 

Eventbrite: another very useful tool for creating digital tickets, either for in-person or online events. Like Peatix, it also informs potentially interested users about the event and so cuts the job of promoting the event in half.

Cost: FREE for free events, otherwise a percentage of the takings is charged (it varies by country).

 

Meetup: for organising regular events and meetup groups. With a focus on the community aspect, it’s a good way to regularly communicate with your own group and reach new people who may be interested (it basically serves as a newsletter for people who don’t know me yet).                                                         

Cost: USD 29.94 for 6 months

 

Typeform: a tool that enables me to create beautiful online forms and questionnaires. It contains lots of ready-to-use templates that can be easily personalised, for use on a diverse range of occasions (for example, feedback forms, competitions, assessments, surveys, sign-up forms etc.).

Cost: FREE

 

Managing finances

Xero: for accounting and sending out invoices. I find it really easy to use and it gives me a general overview of income, outgoings, payments due to be made and received, etc. It integrates perfectly with Paypal, whose every move it records automatically.

Cost: from USD 20 a month (a viable free alternative is Wave).

 

Paypal: for online payments. Unfortunately it takes a higher commission than other services (such as Stripe) but it perfectly integrates with Xero, I can use it to pay for company purchases, I can retain more foreign currencies and it automatically connects to my newsletter provider.

Cost: a percentage is charged (it varies by country).

 

TransferWise: for making payments in cases where PayPal’s fees are too high. This system allows me to deposit Singapore dollars (but also Swiss francs, euros and many other currencies) into a foreign account, with negligible costs compared to those incurred by a traditional bank transfer. 

Cost: a percentage is charged (it varies by country). If you use this link, you can do one transfer for FREE – no extra charges.

 

And finally… drumroll…

Lucky Bitch: the clue’s in the name :-) Jokes aside, this is an iPhone app that at first glance may not seem like anything special. On the contrary! Its one function is to keep track of income (NOT outgoings) in terms of both money and value. So I always keep a close eye on it when I’ve earned or received something.

As businesswomen, the early days can be tough and you’re not bringing in what an employee would earn. This simple app helps me focus on what I have instead of what’s missing. This way I feel thankful and fortunate for what life offers me :-)

Cost: FREE (but it only exists for iPhone)

 

How about you? Which digital resources do you use? What do you consider essential?

 

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