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Online Business and Blogging Tools
Monetizing your purpose or passion is the first step towards doing work that you love. So here are my recommendations to help you start your first blog or online business fast and affordably.
Affordable Web Hosting Platforms
When I started my blog, I chose SiteGround for web hosting because of their low first-year price ($3.95/mo.), the positive reviews, and the fact that they back up your site automatically.
Meaning, you don’t have to buy a separate plug-in to do it.
Plus, I kept seeing stories on forums and Facebook entrepreneur groups from people who started with BlueHost, had problems, and switched to SiteGround.
So I took the hint and went straight to SiteGround.
Two years later and I’m extremely happy with my decision. I haven’t had any problems with the service and would recommend them to anyone.
Domain Name Registration
I use Namecheap for my domain name georgemcmillanjr.com. And like the name says, you get a name for cheap!
Why didn’t I just use Siteground for that too?
Well because I was advised to use a different company for my domain name than for web hosting. This is in case either company has problems.
WordPress Themes and Plugins
To build the blog itself, I used WordPress (.org NOT .com) with the GeneratePress theme to design the site. Both are free to start and easy to use.
I designed a basic site without having any previous design (or programming) experience.
Once my blog was launched and I had time to do a redesign, I upgraded to Generatepress Premium. There were a few premium features and elements I needed to make my site look exactly the way I wanted it to, without coding.
The hero image header at the top of my page was one of them.
Luckily for me, the timing worked out and they were having a Black Friday discount at the time. A year later and I’m still discovering new features built into this lightweight theme I can use to improve my blog’s design.
I’ve used the free version to design my Quick Links Page and it was so much easier than I expected. I needed to use Elementor instead of the WordPress block editor to make the link boxes look the way I wanted.
I plan to upgrade to Elementor pro once I’m ready for it. It’s great for creating homepages and landing pages as well.
Legally Protect Your Blog or Online Business
And like I said earlier in this article, I wasted a lot of time trying to learn to write my own. But in the end, I decided against that idea. It wasn’t worth the risk. I wanted peace of mind.
An internet business (or blog) that doesn’t have legal pages professionally written by a lawyer, can get fined or sued.
So when I was ready to launch, I invested in A Self Guru’s starter legal templates bundle for my blog’s legal pages. I’d heard about them from the team at Create and Go, and I trusted their opinions.
The Starter Legal Bundle includes:
(The three links above are examples of the templates in use on my website)
The templates are way cheaper than hiring a lawyer to draft them and less risky than trying to do it yourself.
They’re all written by a lawyer turned six-figure blogger named Amira. She created them to be both comprehensive and easy to use.
All you have to do is fill in a few lines of information on each document and then copy them onto your site.
She also makes a variety of legal templates and contracts for freelancers, interior designers, real estate businesses, and a bunch of other entrepreneurial purposes.
Graphic Design and Photo Editing
I use Canva Pro to design all of my website and social media graphics. This includes:
- Homepage images
- Blog post title banner images
- Pinterest Pins and infographics
- Social media image quotes and tip posts
- TikTok graphics and IG stories
I started with the free version but quickly upgraded to Canva Pro because I needed images for my blog that were only available from the pro version catalog.
The pro version also lets me create one image, resize it for other uses, remove backgrounds, and schedule my Instagram posts.
I use Mailerlite as my email marketing service for several reasons.
It’s easy to set up, free to use up to your first 1,000 subscribers, and its paid plans are way cheaper than both Mailchimp and Convertkit.
This was another area where I read reviews in blogging groups and saw a trend of switching to Mailerlite from other email services. Reviewers were happier with the prices, the features included in the free plan, and the customer service.
Writing and Editing Tools
I started using the Grammarly extension on Google Chrome because there had been errors in a couple of my previous blog posts that I hadn’t caught. Not even after two or three rounds of editing.
Since I do most of my writing on Google doc’s mobile app, I run every final draft through Grammarly on my Chromebook before I publish it to my website.
It’s free to use. And there’s also a paid version that goes a step beyond grammar. It helps you with word choice, tone, rewrites sentences, and detects plagiarism.
Blogging and Business Courses
Create and Grow’s blogging course helped me gain the confidence to start my blog.
I’d been following the bloggers Alex and Lauren from Create and Go online for some time. I loved their down to Earth, open and honest style of teaching.
And guess what happened?
They answered so many of the questions I couldn’t find answers to anywhere else.
Update: When I first bought the course, it was called Launch Your Blog. But since then, they’ve combined two of their courses to form an even more comprehensive beginner’s blogging business course.
They named it “Launch Your Blog Biz” … and yes, I bought that too!
Personal Development Recommendations
* New resources will be added regularly. Check back often.
Tools and Supplies
You get the “real feel” of writing with a pen, the freedom of unlined paper, and the unlimited space of digital. All in one. You can even use an app to scan and upload the pages directly to my google drive or email.
Some other benefits include:
- It folds down flat like a spiral notebook so you don’t have to write on a curved page
- It comes in a few different sizes (8.5 x 11, Executive size, and Mini size) and colors (black, teal, red).
- It wipes clean with just a damp cloth (included)
- You can buy colored pens to use with it that are also erasable
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
You’re a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Emotional Genius by Karla McLaren
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
The E-myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller
I Can Make You Rich By Dr. Paul McKenna
Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People by Vanessa Van Edwards
Spiritual Marketing by Dr. Joe Vitale
Your New Money Mindset By Brad Hewitt and James Moline
I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj
The Ego Identity Crisis: Handbook for Enlightenment by Brian Nager
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Transcending the Levels of Consciousness by Dr. David R. Hawkins
The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran
Discovery of the Presence of God by Dr. David R. Hawkins
Udemy is my go-to eLearning platform.
You can take a course in just about anything you can think of. They run sales year-round.
Some teachers even offer free courses to introduce students to their basic information. I’ve taken 7 courses through them so far.
Be Passionate and Prosper (Starting a business aligned with your purpose}
Jack Canfield (Life purpose, success)
Create and Go (Blogging Resources)
Purpose and Purposeful Living
Mindset & Abundance
Confidence and Self-Empowerment
Mindfulness, Meditation, and Inner Peace
Marketing and SEO
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