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The business tools I use to run my 5-figure automated business and blog (incl. free printable guide)

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Last Updated on by Noni May

Let’s talk everyday stuff. I know a lot of you own a blog or biz and if you don’t, have a look here first. It’s important you build a cheap blog or website first (or if you want to splurge for something you don’t know will create some income from the start click here, you dare devil!) because it opens up a whole new world of earning potentials

I wanted to tell a little bit more about my business tools. Running an online business is A LOT of fun! You get to pick your own hours, you can execute most ideas immediately, make $50.000 a month blogging about things you love and most of the time people invent new business tools to run your biz on autopilot. More time to travel and to enjoy life and create those crazy ideas right?

The tools every blogger needs to build an empire from home or while travelingThe tools every mom needs to build an empire from home or while travelingThe tools every entrepreneur needs to build an empire from home or while traveling

In this blog post, I’ll share my top used business tools, plugins, software and hosting. Hopefully, I can inspire you. I always like to read what other people use to run their businesses, so now it’s my turn!

If you’re interesting what my monthly business costs are, read The Real Costs Of Running A Successful Blog Business or my income reports!

Update September 2017, the way I run my business changes from time to time, and currently its a bit different than when I did when I first wrote this post when I listed over 100 tools. These are all the programs and tools I currently use! Hope you like it! 

Update 2021: I’ve updated the post to how I run my blog and business this year! 

The complete tool guide to running a monthly 5-figure business

I’ve been blogging for over 16 years, and I’ve been freelancing/running a small business for years. I started out going for the free option everywhere, but as my business grows, I can invest more in the right tools that give me more time and help me automate my ‘boring business tasks’ as much as possible. There are essentials to run a business, and there are ‘luxury’ tools that make life SO much easier. Let’s start with my essentials!

Business + blogging essentials to run an automated biz + blog

Blogging tools

Domain names + Hosting

If you wanna get started with blogging, you need to purchase a domain name and web hosting to host your site on. I have a detailed tutorial here on how to get started with blogging. I purchased my domain names via this company for just $3.45 a month including a free domain name (www.bluehost.com). I run my blogs and websites on WordPress.org.

I’ve been on WordPress with all my blogs for years now. 

For WordPress you need hosting, I use BlueHost and WP Engine

Roundup:

Cheap wordpress hosting for bloggers

BlueHost: Sign up for hosting for only $3.49 a month instead of the normal $7.99 via this link or go to www.bluehost.com to check it out

BlueHost has a super easy two-click integration tool to self-host your WordPress website, so I’d always recommend starting with Bluehost if you’re new to hosting a self-hosted blog.

Related blog posts: How to start a WordPress blog on Bluehost in 4 simple steps (the non-techie tutorial) and How To Start A Successful Money Making Travel Blog

Wordpress hosting for bloggers

 

 

WP-Engine: Sign up here for the 1-year plan and get 2 months for free. Or sign up here to get 20% off your first payment or go to www.wpengine.com to check it out

WP Engine is my favorite, but it’s more expensive than Bluehost – especially if you want to host more than 1 blog or have more than 25k visitors a month. I have both, so it would be too expensive for me to host via WP Engine. WP Engine daily backups your site – which is a big PRO. They have multiple firewalls and top-notch protection, something you’ll regret once you’ve thousands of articles online and your site gets hacked. So let’s get started with WP Engine and get 20% off your first payment here (starts at $29 a month).

 

Create your own online course as a blogger to earn passive income with teachable

 

Teachable: to host your online courses

I’m obsessed with Teachable! It’s so great and one of the most essential business tools for any business. I use Teachable to host my online courses, create my free courses, course bonuses and you can also use it as a free content upgrade delivery. Great for bloggers and something every blogger should use, especially because you can start for free! Go to this link or check out what’s it all about at www.teachable.com

 

 

Start your own blog with wordpress

 

WordPress to build your blog! It’s the ‘home’ of it all, but you need hosting and design before you go live to make it work.

WordPress.org: Download WordPress.org (the self-hosted version) here for free

 

Related Blog posts: How to start a WordPress blog on Bluehost in 4 simple steps (the non-techie tutorial)

 

 

 

Themes + Design

Feminine blog design themes for free

 

ThemeForest: Blogger themes + designs.

To easily create a beautiful WordPress blog, you have to get a beautiful design. I recommend getting one from ThemeForest, I always bought mine (if I went for a template, sometimes I had mine custom made) via ThemeForest and their customer service is excellent. You can color or design search your theme and choose from different price ranges.

Once you’ve picked your theme you can easily upload it to WordPress using the ‘Add a new theme’ under Appearance > Themes. Really easy, just upload the file you bought from ThemeForest and you’re all set! All you have to do now is personalize your theme and you’re ready to blog!

Of course, you can also hire a designer to create a custom theme for you, but it will cost you a lot more than a few tenners (gettin’ my London slang on here lol).

Grammar + Proofreading

Grammarly is the free spell check for bloggers

Grammar and proofreading are things you should typically invest in to write the best blog posts you can (and emails!). Fortunately, Grammarly is completely free and the best grammar, spelling, and proofreader around! There’s also a PRO version, but just start with the Chrome add-on and you can always upgrade later!

Grammarly: free spell check for bloggers

Plugins

If you use WordPress, you can download plugin to make your website and its functions more advanced. Most of them are free, and I love adding the right plugins to my website! My favorite plugins? NextScripts, Convertkit and Pretty Link.

 

With Pretty Link, you can create 'pretty links' like nonimay.com/prettylink or www.nonimay.com/boardbooster and link to their websites. I use it for all the links I often use, it's easy to remember and looks pretty!

 

With Pretty Link, you can create ‘pretty links’ like nonimay.com/prettylink or www.nonimay.com/affiliates and link to their websites. I use it for all the links I often use, it’s easy to remember and looks pretty! You can also use it for affiliate links and links to your social profiles. It’s very handy when you’re making a reference in a webinar, video or Snapchat video!

Download Pretty Link for free here!

 

NextScripts for automatic social media posts

 

 

NextScripts: for automatic social media posts. This awesome plug-in pushes your content directly (or with a delay!) to your social media channels in a non-spammy way.

 

 

ConvertKit logo email marketing for bloggers pay as you grow

 

Other plugins I use too are the Convertkit plugin for my newsletter forms, sign-up pages, sales pages and pop-up boxes, and User Role Editor to add new people to the blog without giving them access to everything.

 

Related blog posts: How to use Convertkit as a PR tool to automate the heck out of your PR strategyWhy using Convertkit is the only way to grow your blog income, why my client got banned from all newsletter providers without sending spam.

 

 

 

CodeCanyon: To find plug-ins that will make your blogging life easier

 

You can easily search new plugins via the WordPress search bar (under plugins) or go to CodeCanyon. I love CodeCanyon because I find so many plugins that make my process easier and faster.

CodeCanyon: To find plug-ins that will make your blogging life easier

 

 

Affiliate marketing

Do you want to build a blog that generates some income at some time? How does $50.000 a month or $1m a year sound? It’s not impossible! This blogger shares her experiences in her online course about affiliate marketing. Start implementing affiliates into your blog today to join the hype (and make serious money!). Affiliates are product links you can add and for every sale, you’ll get a % of the sales price. There are a few Affiliate Networks you can join, where you can find a marketplace filled with affiliate products/brands. You’ll be surprised, I bet a few of your favorite brands will be there!!

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing great course to make money blogging with affiliate marketing

 

Learn more about affiliate marketing from this course, focused on affiliate marketing. Michelle earns about $100.000 a month and a large percentage of her income comes from affiliate marketing, another from her online courses (start your here for free!).

Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing: the evergreen course that helps you with making money with affiliate marketing as a blogger.

Related blog posts: How to explode your affiliate income by using Pinterest and How to drive more revenue on autopilot by signing your business up for an affiliate program.

Getting started with affiliate marketing as a blogger programs to sign up to

 

To get you started, sign up to ShareASale, I bet some of your favorite brands are on there. ShareASale is a marketplace for brands to connect with bloggers like you! Some of my favorite tools and programs that I use on a daily basis are on ShareASale, like Tailwind, Grammarly, Freshbooks and NameCheap

ShareASaleSign up for free and start earning today as a blogger.

 

Blogging Networks

50 blogging netowrks that find sponsors for your blog just signup for free50 blogging netowrks that find sponsors for your blog just signup for free As a blogger, you can also make money by sponsoring, sponsored articles and sponsored social media posts (!). Curious how to land these amazing sponsorships? Sign up to blogging networks!

 

 

 

I have listed over 50+ blogging networks to join in this blog post. Let’s start making money with your social media or blog!

 

 

I seriously think that these are the basics to get you started with blogging. Now let’s go to your newsletter + emails.

Email

ConvertKit logo email marketing for bloggers pay as you grow

 

Convertkit for newsletters, automatic download delivery, free email course delivery and more (like my automated PR strategy!)

I use Convertkit for my newsletters and I’m SO in love with it! It’s a standard newsletter software, but it also delivers content upgrades and downloads straight to people’s inbox. You can set up sequences (also known as email courses!) and you pay per x amount of people on your list. This means, I only target a small part of my business with Convertkit, because I want to keep my monthly costs as low as possible, but it works! You can track which links people click, which is perfect for your launch strategy and analytics. Oh and I wrote a tutorial on how to automate your PR strategy with Convertkit, pretty cool and easy, read it here.

ConvertkitSign up here for your first month of next level newsletter marketing and automated e-mail sequences or check it out first www.convertkit.com.

Related blog posts: How to use Convertkit as a PR tool to automate the heck out of your PR strategyWhy using Convertkit is the only way to grow your blog income, why my client got banned from all newsletter providers without sending spam.

 

Google Apps suite for email

Google Apps suite for email

Are you also in love with Gmail’s interface but is it time to get a more professional looking email address like @nonimay.com or yourdomain.com? Don’t stress, Google Apps has you covered! Use Gmail with your custom email-address. It’s super easy, all you need is a custom email address (purchase here) and you’re all set. Click here to see my full tutorial on how to get started with Google Apps!

Google Apps: Get it here 

Related blog post: my step by step tutorial on how to install Google Apps and use Gmail for your custom email address

 

Boomerang for Gmail schedule your gmail emails for free

Boomerang for Gmail: schedule your Gmail emails for free

I keep my inbox sane with Boomerang. With Boomerang you can ‘temporarily’ move emails to a file in your Gmail, and it will send back automatically on the date you specified. This helps me with inbox zero, and keeping my head clear. I just have to think about certain emails if it’s time to think about them, total lifesaver! Oh, and you can also schedule your emails! So reply now, send later – so awesome! 

Boomerang for Gmail: Schedule and ‘temporarily archive’ Gmail e-mails, get it here for free

Next up? Social media! Because I strongly believe it’s impossible to run an online business without social media, but I also must admit it’s not my favorite thing to do. That’s why I automate my social media as much as possible. Here’s how:

Social Media

Planoly to schedule instagram

 

Planoly: to schedule your Instagram posts and Instagram Stories

Always wanted to know how to create a beautiful Instagram feed and how to use photos taken days before you post them to Instagram Stories? Use Planoly! You can try out your feed by uploading and scheduling posts, seeing them in your grid next to the photos you already posted and swap them around until you have your perfect feed.

Get started for free with Planoly here or check it out first www.planoly.com

 

 

Tailwind to schedule pinterest pins and to grow your pageviews with tailwind tribes

 

Tailwind: to schedule your Pinterest, to connect with others and have your blog posts shared via Tailwind Tribes and in-depth Pinterest analytics. : to schedule your Pinterest, to connect with others and have your blog posts shared via Tailwind Tribes and in-depth Pinterest analytics.

Love Pinterest? How about an easy increase of your followers? AUTOMATICALLY? Hello, Pinterest schedulers. I use Tailwind: for amazing Pinterest analytics and Tailwind Tribes (read here my in-depth guide to using to Tailwind Tribes to grow your audience to millions)

Are you ready to step up your Pinterest game? Sign up for Tailwind, their analytics are insane or check it out first www.tailwind.com

Related blog posts: How to explode your affiliate income by using Pinterest and How to drive more revenue on autopilot by signing your business up for an affiliate program.

 

Luxury (read: next level) tools you NEED to have to

If you’re running your business correctly, you’ll grow slowly each year. Slowly and steady. Or fast and exciting. Nevertheless, there will be one point you can invest a little bit more into your business. You can get the ‘fun’ stuff. The ‘paid’ versions of the software. The luxury goods. And this is also the fun part!

Freshbooks accounting for bloggers

 

 

Freshbooks: accounting for bloggers and small businesses

Sure, you can do your accounting yourself with excel sheets, but Freshbooks makes it so much easier! With FreshBooks, create professional-looking invoices complete with your own logo. When you’re ready to bill your client, simply send your invoice via email, download a PDF or print it with a single click. It’s so easy! Freshbooks is a must if you’re running a blog business. You can track time with Freshbooks, accept credit cards on your invoices, you can see when your invoice is viewed (!) and send recurring invoices to clients. I promise, with Freshbooks, you’ll feel much more organized money-wise (automatic profit-loss reports!) and it’s only a small investment starting at $11.66 a month.

FreshbooksTry 30-days for free here or sign-up here

The Tools I Use to Run my 5 figure automated business and blog

 

 

Screenflow to host webinars and create online courses

Screenflow can be used during webinars. With ScreenFlow, you can record the contents of your entire monitor while also capturing your video camera, iOS device, microphone, and your computer audio. You can use it as a screencasting or as video editing software. It’s a small one-time investment ($99) but it’s necessary if you want to get started with webinars! 

Screenflow: record the contents of your monitor (or iPhone, microphone etc.)

 

 

 

ZenMate VPN for bloggers

ZenMate: for safe internet surfing

If you want to use the internet as smooth as possible, get ZenMate. I’m very into online privacy and staying secure and a VPN is just a basic must for every internet user. Website trackers from banner ads, website analytics, and social media are like eyes following you around the Internet, reporting your movements back to HQ. ZenMate is like wearing a cloak of invisibility – you can go anywhere undetected. When you connect to the Internet using unsecured or public wifi, anyone on the same network can sneak in and steal your information. ZenMate is your suit of armor which protects you while traveling through unfamiliar Internet. Some websites such as streaming videos, news publications, or social media are denied to you if you’re in a specific country or region. ZenMate allows you to choose your public location, and access otherwise restricted content. Seriously, guys, this is serious! Start protecting yourself now! You can download ZenMate for free, or go for the PREMIUM version for only $9.99 a month (I’d suggest you do!), sign up for your free premium trial here.

Zenmate: VPN & secure internet. Sign up for free or sign up for 30-days premium ZenMate for free here.

Qwilr  – Proposal Creation Software

If you’re done with creating boring proposals in Word – it might be time to use something that looks more professional and has some advanced features.
Qwilr is perfect if you want to create business proposals that pack a punch!

With everything from being able to embed videos, spreadsheets and graphics. As well as digital signature functionality and allowing a potential client to pay a deposit online – you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowd with your proposals.

The tools I use to run my 5-figure automated business and blog - networks, plugins, software, tools and hosting

Related blog posts: The best online privacy tools for staying secure online, how to protect yourself from ransom ware today, your business has been hacked, now what?, The increase in cyber attacks and how to stay safe and Ways to improve your company’s security.

 

 

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