As always, I want to keep things simple. Too many choices can paralyze us, so I’m only going to suggest one option for each element needed to create your digital brand–only the most essential branding resources. Every one of these products and services I personally use on a daily basis.
I’ve also made an effort to keep the costs down. Many of these tools are free, or at least very affordable. As your brand continues to grow, you might consider more complicated (read: expensive) options. But honestly, success has more to do with the quality of your content than the “power” of the tools you use. On the other hand, I don’t recommend choosing a company or service on the basis of price alone. Often “the cheapest” is too cheap—and for good reasons.
When I discover new resources that I considered indispensable, I will add them here in the future. You might want to bookmark this page for easy reference.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. However, I recommend them only because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make.
Essential Branding Resources
Domain Name: I only use GoDaddy simply because I trust them. They also have good prices. Sure, you might find other “teaser” offers that are a bit cheaper. But I like to go with a company that has been around and will be around in the future.
Hosting Service: After a couple of bad experiences with HostGator, I moved over to SiteGround solely on the strength of their customer support. Again, their prices are good, but you can always find someone trying to undercut the competition. Like HostGator, for example, who have nearly abandoned customer support completely in favor of competing on price alone.
I just started testing out Arvixe, too. I’ll update this page once I have some feedback to offer.
Themes: I recently began using Thrive Themes, and so far I love it. Not only do they offer some of the best converting themes on the market, but if you subscribe to their monthly service, they also offer some great landing page templates and WordPress plugins. All for the cost of one premium theme. And yes, I built THIS site with Thrive myself (and I am NO web designer!)
Troubleshooting: WP Curve is a subscription service that provides unlimited small fixes for WordPress sites, 24/7 worldwide, same day turnaround, from $79 unlimited support. Not bad when you think of all the time and headaches they can save you. Trying hiring a developer for that price!
Images: I use Pixabay because it’s free and simple. For the focus of this website, images are not as important as more visual niches like travel or design. All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty-free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.
Managing Streams: Social Media can be a real time suck. To help reduce that, use scheduling tools such as HootSuite. You can spend half an hour once a week to compose all your Tweets and Facebook posts for the entire week, and then just a few minutes a day to interact with the feedback from your fans and followers.
More suggestions in this post: Manage Your Twitter Feed like a Major Media Outlet
Advertising: More and more we’re being coerced into paying for exposure on social media—even to our fans and followers. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can help set you apart from those who don’t recognize the value of advertising. I’m speaking primarily about Facebook Ads, one of the best bargains ever seen in the marketing industry.
Facebook Ads are a large topic in themselves, but you can understand the basics by downloading my free Facebook Ads Guide.
Building an Audience
Autoresponder: Your email list is your most important digital asset, and an autoresponder is critical for leveraging the power of your list. I’ve always used AWeber because it’s intuitive and affordable. It also gives you lots of great analytics.
*The reason that I don’t use the “free” version of MailChimp is because the free version does not give you an autoresponder, which is crucial in establishing a relationship with your readers. It also limits the number of subscriber that you can have.
List Building Tools: One of the best WordPress plugins for building your email list is actually free. It’s called SumoMe, and it has several clever apps that will help you add subscribers daily to your list. There is also a premium version, which you might consider. But start with the free tools—they might be all you need.
Editor: For improving the accuracy of your writing, you simply must use the Grammarly app for all your content. The free tools work great across all platforms, including WordPress, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Office Suite. Upgrade for even more power.
Style: While Grammarly improves your accuracy, The Hemingway App improves the “readability” of your content. It makes your writing better by eliminating all the superfluous adverbs and run-on sentences. Papa would be proud. Free to use online, or download for $9.99.
*Disclosure: Some of the links on this page might be affiliate links.