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The Best Resources for your Business!

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Website Tools

Bluehost – This is my favorite website hosting service. This is where you’ll add-on WordPress (do not go to WordPress.com). When you sign up they allow you one free domain so if you haven’t purchased your domain yet and also need a website host, this is where to go.*

Shopify – My go-to E-Commerce website hosting service. I love that they have apps you can add-on and the themes are pretty easy to customize yourself so that you have a professional looking site. Of course, you can always go the distance and complete your brand with a custom design but, if you’re just starting out this might not be in the budget yet so their customizable themes are great and look amazing. You can add-on just about any app from free to paid and for anything from printing items for you, drop shipping, email marketing, shipping, printing labels, etc. I haven’t found anything I don’t like about Shopify!*

Southern Seven Domains – If you don’t need a host and want to forward your domain somewhere else (like Shopify or sending it to your network marketing URL) this is where you can purchase your domain only (you won’t want to host here).*

Bluchic – This is who I recommend for adorable website (WordPress) themes. They are super simple to set up and I use this in my website course where I teach you how to set up your website. They are easily customizable, have a clean gorgeous look, and I’ve used them both for myself and my customers.*

Headway – This is for the experts! I use Headway Themes for my own CJL website but, it requires some custom coding and is not for beginners. It allows you to customize your theme in any way you want! I don’t think I would recommend this for anyone that does not know a little coding and understand website layouts. A lot of people ask me (both beginners and designers) what I am using so I thought I’d share this for those that feel comfortable setting up their own advanced website.

 

Email Tools

Aweber – Email Marketing System that is great for beginners. I like Aweber a lot better than MailChimp and so have my customers that have switched. Of course, it’s absolutely up to you and what you prefer. The things that you will need to utilize in MailChimp to truly grow your list are only available with the paid version, so it’s better to go with one that you like the best. Aweber offers a free trial for you to try out. This is what I used for years and truly love it.*

ConverKit – This is an advanced Email Marketing System that I have recently switched too. Although Aweber has served me well, ConvertKit offers a few advanced features like tagging, sequences, and custom forms that I can have as pop ups (similar to LeadPages feature ‘Leadboxes’). This was my only reason for making the switch and it’s about the same cost as Aweber just more advanced.*

Zapier – This is great site that helps connect apps that don’t usually or easily connect together, communicated with each other. You can set up workflows and triggers, such as when someone pays for a product with PayPal, add them to a email list…etc. It works with over 700 apps so before you ditch something or get frustrated, check Zapier to see if it can help you. It uses apps such as MailChimp, ConvertKit, Aweber, InfusionSoft, Evernote, Twitter, Facebook Pages, Dropbox, Instagram, GoToWebinar, Shopify, Buffer, and so many more! Check it out to see if any systems or apps you use often are on the list.

 

Graphic Design Tools

Corel Paintshop Photo – A lot of designers use Photoshop and while I love it, it’s really more for advanced users and can be pricey for someone just wanting to create their own graphics. I use this often since it is what I first started my business with. It’s not expensive and you can easily create anything from social media graphics, website graphics, flyers, invites, and more. This is a great tool if you make items to print (especially through a professional printing service) but do not want to learn or pay for Photoshop.

Canva – Canva is great for DIY graphics for small businesses and individuals who only need to create their own social media and website graphics for blogs, etc. They offer a low-cost paid version. The templates are amazing to help you jump in and get started by clicking ‘Facebook Cover’ and the sizes are all set up for you so you can build your own cover using your brand. This is great because you don’t have to figure out the best sizes for different things (since using a Facebook Image as a Pinterest Image can cause distortion, etc if it is not the proper size).

PicMonkey – This is another great tool for DIY graphics such as social media or website images. They do offer a limited free version but also have a very low-cost paid version that can help you to create your own images for any social media channel and they offer a ton of add-ons making it easy to have unique images that are branded for your business.*

 

Social Media Tools

Meet Edgar – This is by far my most favorite tool I’ve ever used because it’s taken something that I do not like doing and automated it for me. Before Edgar I would spend hours each week setting posts to schedule and once they posted, they were gone. If something happened and I did not have time schedule something else, my content was stalled but, with Edgar he takes those posts and re-uses them so that I don’t ever miss a beat with my posts! I can add to my categories and my library at any time and change-up my schedule easily. This is by far the best investment for my business + it’s cheaper than paying someone to be posting consistently and teaching them to speak as I would or post the right things.

Tailwind – This is a new tool I am using and I am so excited about it. If you haven’t read about Pinterest marketing yet, you’ll love the future trainings I have coming up. This is a Pinterest tool that helps me to not only post my own blog posts to all of my boards and group boards that I am part of but also helps me to post other people’s posts as well (so that I am using the 80/20 rule of marketing). So far I am LOVING this tool and it keeps me off Pinterest for hours trying to do it all myself (win!).*

Hootsuite – This is another tool that offers scheduling for Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram (although you will need to use the iPhone app and there is not 100% automation with Instagram here). They offer a free version if you are just getting started and I’ve used them before (before I met Edgar and lived happily ever after!).

Schedugram – This is a neat app I found that is so far one of the very few Instagram scheduling tools that actually uses full automation! Other tools such as Hootsuite and Latergramme (this app is now called Later) are not 100% automated so you can schedule your posts but you get a notification when it’s time to post and the when you click the notification it will open Instagram and all of the copy and images are there for you. With Schedugram this is not the case and they offer full automation and posting for you for a small monthly fee.

 

Payment Providers

PayPal – I love PayPal and currently use this for the most part. I feel PayPal works best because the majority of my customers feel secure paying this way over other payment providers. Even if they don’t have an account they can still pay through PayPal without the need to set up an account. Their customer service has been amazing. I’ve heard a few stories of funds being held but, I’ve personally never experienced any problems with PayPal at all! I even use their Business Debit card so I can swipe and use my funds immediately which I get cash back on! Since this is a debit card for my balance, I’m not charged a credit card fee so I use it to pay for all of my business expenses and get money back at the end of each month. If you want to transfer the money to your account you can also do that at anytime.

Stripe – I have this on a few of my courses because I had set it up first and just never changed it. I really do love Stripe, they deposit automatically if you choose to set it up that way (7 days or every other day…you can choose your deposit days). They offer great customer service and one of the cheapest credit card rates plus, they don’t charge a monthly fee like Authroize.net and a few of the other providers do. They take a minimal fee off the top (that’s one of the lowest I’ve found so far) and deposit the rest into your account.

 

Organization

17hats – I was hesitant to spend money on a system like this but was so tired of sending over contracts manually, not really having a great way for people to sign and return them. I was trying to keep up with invoices and if someone paid with a payment plan, I was stuck keeping up with sending those on the correct dates and following up on invoices past due. With 17hats it took all of that away for me. Once I set up my contracts I can change the names and dates, send them over and the client can do an online signature. It takes only a few minutes to be done. They will also send over notifications to remind a client if it’s not yet been signed – without me ever having to do anything. These are just the few reasons I use and love it but, it offers so much more! It integrates with my bank account, paypal (or Stripe), and my email account to be able to balance transactions, categorize things for my business expenses and income. It also saves clients, projects, workflows, & syncs with my calendar. It goes above and beyond using something like Quickbooks because of the contracts so it is perfect for businesses like mine.*

Any.do – I have never really gotten into using Evernote but do love this little App that helps you keep up with your To-Do lists. I’m a little more of a paper and calendar kind of girl so I’m not always keeping things on my phone or computer but, I’ve loved using this app so far.

Google Calendar – I love this calendar for personal and business! I can easily set my appointments and reminders (I can easily view my schedule on my computer and my iPhone, as they are synced) for both my personal and business needs. The best part is that it syncs with most calendar apps that you would use as a plugin on your website or other calendar apps that integrate into WordPress pages. This allows you to set your schedule, have someone book an appointment, and not be worried that you’ll have a client book at the same time as your Doctors appointment on Friday.

Dropbox – This app is very useful if you want to share documents with other people easily, don’t want to store all of your documents on your computer, or need a way for people to download documents from a server when they purchase something or download an opt-in offer or content upgrade. I use Dropbox quite often and it’s great because I can easily open any of my documents from any of my devices for my business (office computer, iPhone, or laptop).

Google Drive – I use Dropbox but, a lot of people love to deliver files via Google Drive, they can also allow for you to make changes to documents (such as suggesting edits, etc).

VCita – The scheduling/appointment app that I use and have integrated with my website so that my clients can schedule their 1:1 calls and easily book with me without going back and forth. It integrates with Google Calendar and allows me to select the times I am available so that I am not getting requests for after hours. I would consider this app to be a little bit more advanced than the others. It offers a ton of other services such as accepting money, invoicing, etc but I strictly use it to integrate my calendar into my website.

Calendly – This is another scheduling app that is easy to use. It’s not as advanced as VCita and I do not believe it offers all of the other options. If you do not schedule a lot of appointments, this may be a better choice for you.

 

Video Tools

Vimeo – If you make videos for your business (especially private videos for courses, etc) you’ll love Vimeo. I use it as a video host for all of the videos that I make for my courses and my membership group. It allows you to have so many options for your videos including: what happens when the video is finished, player color controls, privacy settings, options to embed or not, + so much more. You can easily embed the videos into your website page just like you would with a YouTube video. They do offer a free version but, with the amount of videos I make for my monthly membership group and the options I wanted, I have chosen the paid version.

Youtube – A free video hosting service for your videos. They allow you to host videos on your YouTube channel or keep them unlisted so that only those with the right link have access to the video. You can also embed these videos into your website and blog.

Camtasia – If you make videos often you will more than likely need video editing software. I don’t own a Mac (which I believe may come with iMovie), I have a PC so I’ve went with Camtasia and absolutely love it. This was something I jumped into and was not sure I’d be able to do but, Camtasia makes it very easy. This is my favorite software tool because it allows me to mess up, make mistakes, and easily fix {edit} them!

 

Other Tools

My Favorite Tools for Business + Personal – This is all of my favorite things that I use in my business and a few personal favs too! You’ll find everything from the books I read and recommend to the microphones, lighting kits, and other items I own and use in my business. If you’ve ever seen a tool I use and wondered where it came from, it’s probably here! I have also added a few of my other personal favorites too…just because! If you love Amazon, you’ll really love this! (What lighting and microphone I use are two of the questions I get asked the most, you will find the exact ones I own here.)*

Skype – Not all of my customers are in the USA and sometimes you also might not want to give out your phone number to people either, Skype makes that easy. Whether you want to chat via messenger, video, or by calling someone…this is the best way. They offer a free and paid version. I don’t use this much so I have not needed to upgrade to a paid version and easily use the free one!

Creative Market – Looking for graphics, photos, fonts, or premade items for your business (or even for personal use)…this is the best place to go. I love their fonts and their graphics. I use them often and I love that you’re supporting other small businesses when you use them.

Fiverr – I recommend Fiverr for some of the smaller tasks that you need done in your business for a low-cost. I wouldn’t necessarily hire an assistant off of here or a web designer but small tasks such as changing a file for me, making adjustments to photos (changing the colors of my dress, flowers, and other things to match my brand…yep, the secret is out!), create video intros and outros, and other small tasks. Most all of them are $5 but other options may be more.

Bit.ly – This is a URL shortner. For those that don’t want to send someone to a URL that is too long such as www.christyjolightfoot.com/parentpage/pagename, you can easily make that into a bit.ly link and use it. I often use bit.ly/RockstarRanch instead of www.facebook.com/groups/rockstarranch. I use the free account for this and one of my favorite features is that you can see how many times someone has clicked a link.

Compress PDF – If you have PDF’s that you’d like to send in an email or host on your website, Compress PDF will compress them down to a smaller size so that you take up less space on your website. Large items usually take longer to open and can have a hard time getting through certain emails (especially if they are really big) so I use this little handy tool to compress my PDF’s and make them smaller!

 

Education

Southern Success Society – A membership group for women entrepreneurs ready to learn, grow, and succeed. This site only opens a few times each year but you can jump on the waiting list if the doors are currently closed. You never know…I may open up the doors again soon to the VIP list!

Fierce Business Bootcamp – Helping you build a Fierce business. Starting at the beginning and helping you build your business the right way so that you can start making money (or increase your income) by teaching you exactly what you should do step-by-step.

Profit Revolution – Coming Soon, be notified when it’s released
HERE.

Website Wrangler – Coming Soon, be notified when it’s released
HERE.

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*The items that have an asterisk at the end are affiliate links. I am only an affiliate for companies that I absolutely love and use myself!

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