Setting up a business is hard work, I’ve been reading and researching for over a year.
These are the resources I have found most helpful in my journey to freelancing freedom through blogging. Please note that some of these links are affiliate links. That means that I will receive a commission if you decide to purchase the product. Everything I recommend (that costs money) I have personally used and truly believe provides value. If I have not used the product myself I will let you know in the description.
I wrote it for busy moms who want to start their own online business but have no idea HOW to start. It’s based on my experience as a corporate mom who struggled after returning from maternity leave 3 years ago. I wanted to take my corporate skills and create my own online business so I could have the flexibility to balance work and family a little bit better.
I finally quit my corporate job in January and became completely self-employed in August. I broke down how I started my own business into 12 easy to follow steps that can be completed in 45 days.
This book is for any mom who wants to take her passion and skills and turn them into a profitable business. I cover actionable steps related to tracking finances, handling taxes, deciding on a business structure, practical time management strategies for building a business while still having time for your family, and much more!
Leadpages is the software I use to build all of my landing pages. Not only do I build beautiful and high-converting landing pages, I also use their LeadBoxes feature to insert text and picture links into all of my blog posts to collect email addresses. I went from 56 people on my email list in late Feb 2016 to almost 3,500 in Sept 2016 by investing in LeadPages. I built the landing page for my book Busy Moms Building using their drag and drop template, and I offer LeadPages packages if you need help getting started. This is by far the best investment in a tool that I’ve made in my business!
I moved my email service provider over to ConvertKit! If you are looking to take your email marketing to the next level, ConvertKit is where you need to be. They offer advanced marketing automation funnels through segmentations, automation triggers, automated sequences, and landing pages that are easy to setup and allow you to streamline your business and increase sales at the same time.
Why ConvertKit instead of MailChimp? –> 5 Reasons You Should NOT Switch From MailChimp To ConvertKit
- I found the backend interface to be easier to use (as well as the native sales page features)
- Thinkific does not hold payments for 30 days on their Essentials Plan ($39) like Teachable does on their Basic ($39) plan
- Thinkific’s Business Plan is $79 with no transaction fees vs. Teachable’s Professional Plan at $
- Their customer service support is outstanding
7 Courses/Books + 7 Resources to Help Start and Grow Your Blog or Online Business– everything you need to know!
Training and Courses
Elite Blog Academy is a course by my favorite and very first blogger that I ever followed, Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less. She is a blogging guru and her 12 unit course helps you turn your blog into a business. You can check out my review Small Bloggers Benefit from Elite Blog Academy Too. This course is only available once a year, so be sure to get on Ruth’s email list so you don’t miss out next time it opens.
Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook this course leads you through the setup process for a blog, strategies for monetization, social media and list building. I wrote a detailed review on this here: Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook Review
Book Boss is a self-paced course by Abby and Donnie Lawson (who wrote Building a Framework). Once you have your blog setup, one of the most lucrative ways to monetize is by creating your own products. This course takes you through the exact steps on how to create and launch your own eBook in 90 days. Abby and Donnie currently earn more than $40,000/month using these exact strategies! I am in the middle of this course right now and I can confidently say that it has saved me months of research in starting my own eBook.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing written by Michelle of Making Sense of Cents. She makes over $50,000 A MONTH in affiliate marketing and gives away all her secrets on how to successfully make money through affiliate marketing in this course.
My honest (and very abbreviated review for you): 40% of the course was stuff I knew because I have been blogging for 3 years and have spent the last 6 months researching affiliate marketing. 60% goes through exactly how Michelle started generating $50k/month. The 60% is worth the price of admission and if you know nothing at all about affiliate marketing then you are really in luck!
PLUS I just did an interview with Michelle that you should check out to learn more about what the course has to offer: How to Earn Money with Affiliate Marketing
Hey Nice Package is a self-paced course that gets down to the nitty-gritty on how to build a package for services on your website. This is a great tool to have for creating passive income.
My Knowtbook is a fantastic value for a wealth of information on how to blog, market your blog, use affiliates and many other topics. It is written by veteran blogger Amy Lynn Andrews. I refer to this daily and the best part is Amy keeps it updated with new materials almost every day because she uses Workflowy to host the information.
Absolute Facebook Ads is THE course to learn everything you need to know about Facebook Ads and how to master the Power Editor.
WordPress BFF DIY WordPress course by a fellow solopreneur, Shannon Mattern.
Building Your Online Community E-Course a great course that explains the intricacies of building an online community.
The One Woman Shop Bundle includes all the great courses available from One Woman Shop, an online community for women solopreneurs, including Building Your Online Community, Kickstart Your Content, The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook: Get Shit Done + Live Your Life and Solopreneur Finance. I am a member of One Woman Shop (I pay for a membership + monthly coaching) and I can’t say enough wonderful things about them! I would love to introduce you to the owners, send me an email if you are interested.
Make Over Your Mornings and Make Over Your Evenings are two courses by Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom. I’ve been following her since my couponing days (many moons ago)! She is an expert in time management which is something we all need as busy women!
Pinning Perfect is hands down the best course I’ve taken on Pinterest. Anna Luther explains that Pinterest is not about the number of followers you have, it’s about leveraging Pinterest for what Pinterest really is, a search engine! This is a do not miss if your social media strategy involves Pinterest.
30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success a course by Gina Horkey from Horkey Handbook that breaks down the exact steps to start a freelance writing business that she used to go from $0 to over $7,000 in just 12 months. Gina offers fantastic advice which I not only implemented for pitching clients but also in my own writing on here.
30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success is another course by Gina Horkey that takes you behind the scenes on how to be a successful Virtual Assistant. Gina became a VA early in her freelance career to supplement her income and started earning over $4,000/month while still working full-time.
Busy Moms Building Online Businesses my free 7-day email course to help working moms start their own business while working.
List Building Academy by Laura Smith from I Heart Planners put together an amazing course outlining how she went from 0 to 60,000 email subscribers which led to earning a full-time income on her blog. Growing an email list is the single most important thing you can do as a blogger if your intent is to make money.
Twitter Legend is a course that teaches you how to attract the right followers, produce quality content for Twitter, and gain sponsorships. I have not taken it myself, but I have heard from other bloggers that they saw an increase in the amount of money they’ve been offered for influencer campaigns from IZEA and Linqia.
Click below to read my Ultimate Beginners Guide to Blogging!
Setting up your website
Bluehost used to be my hosting provider. For three years, they had been great but recently my traffic started to increase and I ran into an issue during a product launch where my site went down. I called customer service and it was not the best experience. You will find that they are widely recommended because they have a very lucrative affiliate program which encourages people to recommend them and they are cheap. If you are just starting out, there is nothing wrong with launching with them. However, I would like to recommend spending $2/month and going with inMotion Hosting (my new hosting company). The quality of the product is better (i.e. the speed of your website and the servers they use), they have pleasant US-based tech support, and as your site grows in page views you do not have to worry about constant upsells every time something goes wrong (by this I mean product add-ons, with every hosting provider you do have to increase your hosting package as your site gains more pageviews).
GoDaddy this is what I use to register all my domain names.
iMark Interactive owned by Grayson Bell, who is my website extraordinaire (i.e. he makes sure my website it always up and running)! In the beginning, having someone on retainer to help you with the technical side of your website won’t be necessary but as you grow, this is something you will want to consider. Grayson also does work that’s not on retainer so if you are hitting a roadblock, he’s a great place to start!
Capital One 360 no matter which type of business you choose (even if its a sole proprietor) it is best practice to keep your personal and business finances separate. I use a separate checking account through Capital One 360.
PayPal setting up a separate business PayPal account for sending and accepting money is a good idea. There is an option for invoicing with a PayPal business account which is useful for when you start getting clients. Plus it’s free to setup.
SendOwl is a digital product delivery service that allows you to sell digital products and set up affiliate programs. I connected my PayPal and Stripe accounts to it and I was ready to sell my new Easy Budget and Financial Spreadsheet within minutes!
WaveApps is a free and easy to use accounting software that allows you to track your income and expenses. Come tax time, you will be happy you started tracking from the beginning!
Social media tools
Tailwind this is the Pinterest scheduler I use on a daily basis to proactively schedule my Pins for the week or month.
HootSuite I use to schedule my tweets and occasionally I use it for Facebook posts.
CrowdFire App I use this app to manage my follower count on Twitter and Instagram. Monitor who is following you back and copy followers from your competitors. Learn my tips on how to use this app here.
Social Warfare this is the plugin I use for social shares, it adds a section in WordPress below your content that allows you to control the picture and description that preloads when someone uses the social share icons on your posts.
Depositphotos this stock photo site has much better options than GraphicStock but it is also much more expensive. You can buy pay-as-you-go credits as needed.
PicMonkey is an online photo editing software that I use to create Pinterest images. I have the Royale Membership to gain access to all the extra features, including fonts that I use on all my images.
Canva is another online tool for creating pretty graphics for social media or marketing materials such as eBooks. I used this to create my free opt-in 5 Productivity Hacks for Busy Working Moms . The best part is that you can get high-quality graphics in your designs for $1/item.
Tools to help you grow
Businessese legal contracts for bloggers and freelancers. This service is excellent, just download the contract and follow the instructions for your specific situation. Even though it is tempting to skip this important step, it is extremely important to have a contract in place before any money exchanges hands between you and a client.
HelloSign lets you send contracts to clients for digital signatures. The service also keeps an audit trail with the IP address used at the time of signing in case you ever run into an issue.
Acuity Scheduling is a calendar management tool that lets you sync your calendar to an online scheduler so that your clients can book meetings with you. It even connects to payment processors like PayPal and Stripe so you can collect payment before the meeting is even booked!
Zoom is the video conferencing software I use to host videos calls, webinars, and record Podcasts. The platform is super affordable and easy to use. When you record a call, it saves three files: video, audio, and chat transcripts. It’s seriously the best and saves me so much time with my coaching clients!
Grammarly I honestly do not know how I lived without this before! Grammarly is a plugin I use in Chrome that proofreads everything I write around the web, including on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, and many other places. It has saved me from some pretty embarrassing grammatical errors. There are free and paid plan options depending on your needs. I use the free version and it works for what I need.
G Suite for Work allows you to use your domain email address using the familiar setting of Google Apps. I highly recommend that you do not filter your email through your hosting provider. The cost is minimal at only $5/user per month.
Spanning Backup to backup Google Drive… this one may seem redundant but hear me out, I use Google Drive to store my entire life, no server is immune to problems, even a server owned by Google. You can never be too safe!
The Useletter swoon, this is Amy Lynn Andrew’s free newsletter, sent every Saturday. The ONLY newsletter I open religiously and it’s FREE! This is what I like to call the free version of her My Knowtbook (which I highly recommend above!)
Moo.com is where I get my business cards from, you definitely need these for conferences and meeting with clients!
Busy Moms Building: 12 Steps to Running Your Own Online Business for Busy Moms is written by yours truly (me!) and shows you how to build an online business while balancing work and family.
Tell Your Time one of the best time management books I’ve ever read and for the price you can’t go wrong!
The Bootstrap VA hands down the best book out there to explain how to be a Virtual Assistant.
How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul is by the creator of Elite Blog Academy, if you are just starting a blog or looking to take your blog to the next level but don’t have a lot of money to invest, this would be my recommendation.
Launch hands down the best resource for launching a product of any kind (book, course, etc.).
Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference by veteran blogger Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom, gives practical advice for ways to save money and generate more income.
Boss Mom: The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Business & Nurturing Your Family Like a Pro are you a mom and a business owner? Dana discusses real strategies on how to balance both worlds.
Blog Traffic Ebook: How I Went From 17K to 350K+ Monthly Page Views in 9 Months by Lena from What Mommy Does. I had the pleasure of meeting Lena at a business mastermind event recently and when she told me about her book I read it between sessions so I could talk to her about it. This book is full of practical advice on how to grow your blog’s traffic.
The Unofficial Tax Handbook for Bloggers by Mickey Mansfield is a great resource to reference for all your tax questions from the CPA’s perspective for people in the United States.
Strategies Worth Sharing by Brittany Ann is filled with useful tips for growing your business Facebook page. We all know with Facebook algorithm changes that Facebook can be frustrating for business owners. Brittany grew her Facebook page from 2,000 to 100,000 in just 5 months without spending a dime!
Being Boss my absolute favorite podcast for creative entrepreneurs hosted by Kathleen Shannon of Braid Creative and Emily Thompson of Indie Shopography.
The Get Paid Podcast a practical podcast that discusses different strategies for making money as an entrepreneur.
ProBlogger is a podcast all about blogging by veteran blogger Darren Rowse.
EOFire (Entrepreneur on Fire) gives actionable advice for growing your business.
The Smart Passive Income Pat Flynn talks about how to create multiple passive income streams.
Amy Porterfield’s Podcast Online Marketing Made Easy is great for learning new marketing strategies.
Brilliant Business Moms talks to mom entrepreneurs about succeeding in business while balancing a family.
Boss Mom Podcast where women in all stages of raising their business and family go to get tools, tips, and support.
The Bix Chix Podcast Natalie provides practical and down-to-earth advice on how to raise a family and business at the same time. Every time I listen to an episode, I always leave with at least one actions step I need to take in my business that day!
These are my favorite blogging and freelancing resource sites. I subscribe to their newsletters and frequently visit their sites to obtain relevant information for my business.
Amy Lynn Andrews practical blogging advice, Amy is a great resource for those just starting out with blogging or just starting to explore avenues for making money.
Horkey Handbook for freelance writers and virtual assistants, Gina Horkey offers great courses for each.
Careful Cents financial advice for freelancers by Carrie Smith.
Building a Framework Abby Lawson from Just a Girl and Her Blog moved her blogging advice over to its own site.
One Woman Shop the best resource site for women solopreneurs.
Melyssa Griffin I love Melyssa’s wealth of free information for social media strategy.
Nathalie Lussier everything you need to know about growing your email list.
Brilliant Business Moms everything you need to know about building a business while taking care of your kids.
More Blogging Resources from Redefining Mom
Before you go, be sure to check out my most popular tips and resources for working moms right here on Redefining Mom!