Tools

Welcome to My Go-To Website & Marketing Tools and Resources!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I’ll receive a commission.

This is the perfect place for freelancers, bloggers, and small business owners like yourself. Here, you’ll find a wide range of helpful tools and resources to support your online presence and marketing efforts. We understand the unique challenges you face, and our aim is to provide you with everything you need to succeed. So, let’s dive in and explore all the amazing resources available to you!

If you’re considering taking on the responsibility of managing your own branding and developing your website, it is of utmost importance to make use of the right tools and resources. By doing so, you will not only enhance your productivity but also make wise decisions when it comes to budget allocation. With the proper tools at your disposal, you can streamline your branding efforts, create a visually appealing and user-friendly website, and effectively manage your finances. By leveraging these tools, you can ensure that your branding and website development endeavors are successful and yield fruitful results.

Virtual Meetings

Email Newsletters

Note Taking & Brainstorming

Using apps to organize your notes and content can greatly improve productivity and streamline your workflow. Apps like Notion and Trello provide convenient platforms for capturing and organizing ideas, creating to-do lists, and collaborating with others. With features such as customizable boards, tags, and reminders, these apps allow you to keep track of your notes and content in a structured and accessible manner. Whether you’re a freelancer, blogger, or small business owner, leveraging these apps can help you stay organized, prioritize tasks, and effectively manage your projects.

    Website Hosting

    SiteGround is the company I highly recommend for hosting your website and registering your domain name. All web hosts provide similar features, but the key difference lies in the quality of support and server performance. Currently, SiteGround excels in both aspects and is an ideal choice for small businesses and budget-conscious bloggers.

    I suggest avoiding EIG web hosts and GoDaddy website hosting because of the frustrating experiences I’ve had with them over the years. (GoDaddy is still a good option for domain registration, just be cautious of the additional products they may try to sell you during the checkout process.)

    PROS👍

    • SiteGround can load your site 4x faster.
    • Quick server response times all over the world.
    • Unfailing uptime since 2014.
    • SiteGround is a managed WordPress host.
    • Customer support that works (24/7 phone support available!).
    • FREE daily backup (30 days shared / 7 days cloud).
    • User-friendly custom dashboard – Site Tools.
    • SiteGround’s introductory price at a discount.

    CONS👎

    • Limited resources.
    • Higher price for renewal.

    Squarespace is a recommended option for clients who feel anxious about technology and lack the time, patience, or funds to outsource the maintenance of a WordPress website.

    PROS👍

    • You can get up and running quickly and easily
    • Squarespace takes care of all the technical updates, so you don’t have to worry about them
    • The templates are visually appealing and can be customized to your liking
    • Squarespace is a very popular platform, so you’ll find plenty of resources, tutorials, blogs, and support

    CONS👎

    • Squarespace isn’t as flexible as WordPress, so you may encounter limitations and restrictions
    • Since everything is hosted by Squarespace, you’re essentially renting your online space.
    • If anything changes or goes wrong, you won’t be able to migrate your site to a different host.

    There are other drag-and-drop website builder solutions available, such as Weebly, Wix, and GoDaddy. However, due to the passionate user base and the quality of the designs, SquareSpace is my top recommendation in this category.

    Your Website Platform

    I almost exclusively work with WordPress Websites, I must preface by saying that WordPress is not always the perfect solution for every one of my clients, so I want to touch briefly on picking the right platform for your needs:

    Self-Hosted WordPress

    WordPress is a great option for those who are looking for more powerful, versatile, and expandable websites – just like me and most of my clients! I highly recommend using self-hosted WordPress, which allows you to have complete control over your website. To get started, all you need to do is sign up for your own hosting service and install WordPress on your own account.

    Note this important distinction: WordPress.org is the open source software that you can host wherever you please. On the other hand, WordPress.com is a hosted solution, which I do not recommend for businesses.

    The WordPress software is free, you just need to purchase your domain name and a website hosting account.

    ECommerce: Ecwid Online Storefront

    When it comes to your WordPress website, integrating Ecwid storefront can be a game-changer. By seamlessly incorporating your online store into your WordPress site, you can create a cohesive brand experience for your customers. With Ecwid, you have the ability to customize the design, layout, and functionality of your online store to align perfectly with your brand identity. This integration not only enhances the overall user experience but also streamlines the management of your products and orders. So, if you’re looking for the best brand consistency for your online store, Ecwid integrated into WordPress is the way to go.

    WordPress Builder

    I highly recommend using a high-quality, premium theme or framework to build your WordPress website. Some themes may look gorgeous but can be bloated, slow-loading, and difficult to customize. It is important to choose a theme that you can stick with for the long term, as constantly starting over can be time-consuming and costly. Having the ability to make iterative changes to your website is much better for various reasons.

    When deciding which themes to use for building client websites, I consider the following criteria: #1. The theme should be well-supported by the developer, with a track record of good and responsive service. #2. There should be a large community of designers, developers, and users. #3. The theme should be easy for non-technical individuals to make updates and changes.

    Please note: Regardless of the theme you choose, always work with a child theme to make customizations. Making customizations to the core theme can result in losing those changes when theme updates are applied.

    For my website, and most of my clients’ sites, I use Elementor Pro (Included in your website design package cost)

    PROS👍

    • Provides a live visual page editor.
    • Functions as a front-end visual page builder.
    • Offers an exceptional range of functionality features that are easy to use.
    • Includes numerous editing tools, such as the popular drag-and-drop editor.
    • Provides additional customization options.
    • Provides a quick and lag-free design experience.
    • Allows users to build custom page layouts and designs without coding experience.
    • Enables users to toggle between desktop, tablet, and mobile views, and customize all elements for any device.
    • Offers a free plan.

    CONS👎

    • Limited to WordPress websites only.
    • There is a slight learning curve for newcomers to the page building arena.
    • The free plugin may be limiting for growing businesses.

     

    WordPress Website Extensions

    One of the most remarkable aspects of WordPress is its ability to extend its basic functionality through the use of plugins. With the wide range of available plugins, you can enhance your website in numerous ways. In this section, I will highlight the essential plugins that I typically install for my clients, along with the ones that have become indispensable to me personally.

    • SEO Optimization Plugins To improve your website’s visibility on search engines and attract more organic traffic, it is crucial to optimize your content for search engines. With the help of SEO optimization plugins, such as Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack, you can easily optimize your website’s meta tags, keywords, and overall SEO performance.
    • Security Plugins Protecting your website from potential threats and ensuring the safety of your visitors’ data is of utmost importance. By installing security plug-ins like Wordfence Security or Sucuri, you can fortify your website’s defense against malware, hackers, and other security vulnerabilities.
    • Contact Form Plugins Having a functional contact form is essential for your website, as it allows visitors to easily get in touch with you. Consider using plug-ins like JotForm, Ninja Forms or Gravity Forms to create and manage custom contact forms with ease.
    • Performance Optimization Plugins To ensure that your website loads quickly and provides a seamless browsing experience to your visitors, optimizing its performance is crucial. Plugins like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache can help you improve your website’s speed, caching capabilities, and overall performance.
    • Social Media Integration Plugins In today’s digital age, integrating social media into your website is a must. By using plug-ins such as Social Icons or Easy Social Share Buttons, you can effortlessly add social media buttons, sharing options, and live feeds to your website, making it easier for visitors to connect and share your content.
    • Analytics and Tracking Plugins Understanding your website’s performance and visitor behavior is essential for making informed decisions. Utilizing analytics and tracking plug-ins like Google Analytics or MonsterInsights can provide you with valuable insights into your website’s traffic, user engagement, and conversion rates.
    • Backup and Restore Plugins To safeguard your website and its content from unexpected data loss or website crashes, it is crucial to have a reliable backup and restore system in place. Plug-ins like UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy can automate the process of regular backups and simplify the restoration of your website in case of any unforeseen incidents.

    By incorporating these essential plugins into your WordPress website, you can significantly enhance its functionality, security, performance, and overall user experience.

    Stock Photography

    Free Stock Photos

    • Pexels
    • Unsplash
    • Vecteezy
    • Freepik
    • Pixabay
    • Stockvault

      Photography / Videography

      Website Content Copywriters

      SEO / Lead Generation 

      ADA Compliant Joomla Websites:

      Creating Social Graphics

      When it comes to graphic design, there is no better option than Adobe Creative Suite. However, for those who are not professionals in the field, there is a significant learning curve and the software can be quite expensive. Nevertheless, there are alternative options available that can still meet your design needs without the high cost or steep learning curve. Exploring these alternatives can provide non-professionals with more accessible and affordable options for graphic design.

      Social media schedulers can free up a lot of your time, but not all of them are equally good. I’ve tried most of them, and these are the ones I find easiest to use, with reasonable prices and lots of features.

      Massachusetts Social Media Manager:

      • Nicole Porter, Monomoy Social Media Nicole has extensive experience and knowledge about the ins and outs of marketing with a focus on authenticity.  She has a specific interest in working with small businesses and non-profits to help them navigate the ever-changing world of social media.  She creates awareness for the missions of these organizations, with an emphasis on connection and real conversation with their audiences.

      Online DIY Solutions:

      • SmarterQueue. Create a schedule for sharing on social media that you can set up and forget about. This tool is a more affordable alternative to Meet Edgar, and it’s amazing how much time it saves.
      • Canva is a great alternative that allows you to create beautiful graphics, with a large bank of premade templates sized perfectly for social sharing.
      • Curated Social, Daily Social Media Posts for Real Estate & Mortgage Professionals.
      • Social Bee, AI-Powered Social Media Management Tool. Manage all your social media accounts from one place.

      Rewardful’s Referral Program

      • https://www.getrewardful.com/?via=melanie

        Rewardful’s Features: https://www.getrewardful.com/features?via=melanie

        Testimonials: https://www.getrewardful.com/testimonials?via=melanie

        [Case Study] From $0 to $54k MRR on launch week: https://www.getrewardful.com/case-studies/cometly?via=melanie

        [Blog] The 11 Best Referral Marketing Ideas to Acquire More Customers: https://www.getrewardful.com/articles/referral-marketing-ideas?via=melanie

      Password Management

      I remind my clients to keep their passwords organized and on file because I have experienced countless incidents (such as site hacking and expired domain names) that can cause major problems when you least expect them after launching your beautiful website. In those stressful moments, you definitely don’t want to be scrambling to find your account information and passwords.

      Invoicing / Bookkeeping

      • Quickbooks Online is an incredibly useful and efficient tool that offers a wide range of features and benefits for individuals and businesses. With Quickbooks Online, you can easily manage your financial records, track your income and expenses, generate detailed reports, and even streamline your invoicing and payment processes. Additionally, Quickbooks Online provides a user-friendly interface and intuitive navigation, making it accessible to users of all levels of experience. Whether you are a small business owner, a freelancer, or an individual looking to better manage your personal finances, Quickbooks Online is the ideal solution to help you save time and make informed financial decisions.

      Printers and Apparel

      • Christopher Patch, CSM Group Inc, cpatch@csmgroupinc.com, East Providence, RI
      • Rachel Leone, Leone Marketing Solutions, leonemarketing.com, Hingham, MA
      • Matthew Noonan, ESP Solutions, mnoonan@espsolutions.com. Taunton MA
      • Graphic Ink, East Providence, https://graphicinkonline.com
      • East Coast Embroidery, https://eastcoastembroidery.com, East Providence, RI
      • Penmor Lithographers, Mark Kelly, Account Executive, MKelly@penmor.com, Lewiston, ME
      • Kristen Desrosier; LCIPaper.com, greetings@lcipaper.com, Hudson, MA

      This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I’ll receive a commission.