I believe in minimalism when it comes to the tools I use to run my online business. When I first started, I only used a handful of essential tools. Today, the tools I use are still essential and nothing is superfluous. If you don’t absolutely need something, it will only bring unnecessary clutter.
In addition to the bare-bones approach, I also looked for budget-friendly options when I first started out. Some tools I use and recommend to this day are free, such as Asana — the free version is enough for a solopreneur or small team. Others, like ConvertKit and Tailwind, have free trials or are free up to 1000 subscribers, which is great if you’re a beginner.
Here’s what you’ll need if you’re just starting out, or in the beginning stages of your blog or online business:
- A website (hosting)
- A mailing list (email service provider)
- Social media scheduling
- Organization tools
Let’s go over each section.
A website is a must for any online business, from an online store to a social media influencer. In order to truly own your website, you must get hosting.
I recommend setting it up with Bluehost ($3/month) and using WordPress (free).
Bluehost will give you a free domain (the name of your URL, for example www.myawesomeblog.com), and they’re the most beginner-friendly host. I’ve written a step-by-step guide to signing up with them.
Once you have your domain and your host, you’ll need to install WordPress, which is free. I recommend WordPress because it’s powerful, and will make your website highly customizable.
Here’s a tip: start collecting emails early. This will allow you to build a relationship with your readers, and monetize early. You don’t need to plan on launching a product to be able to monetize your mailing list. You can share affiliate links with your readers, or get paid from brands to mention them as sponsors in your emails.
1. Flodesk (get 50% off forever here)
As of 2021, I switched to Flodesk and I’m so happy with my email marketing. They make it extremely easy to customize each email, and their templates are stunning. I’ve been turning my emails into straight-up art with only a few clicks.
Social Media Scheduling Tools
Social media is another integral part of any online business, and scheduling posts will save you so much time. I schedule posts automatically for both Instagram and Facebook. I also included Pinterest in this section for simplicity’s sake, although Pinterest is technically not “social media”.
Pinning for business can be a drag. Tailwind simplifies this process and lets me schedule hundreds of pins at once, both mine and other people’s. You also gain access to Tailwind Tribes which is a great way to grow your impressions. I’ve been using Tailwind for so long and it’s one of the main tools I would recommend.
Another tool I use to schedule posts for Instagram and Facebook is Later. I’m currently using the pain version, but it’s free for 1 social set (meaning you get Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for free).
For the longest time, I organized my online business using spreadsheets, physical notebooks, and post-it notes. It was a mess, with bits and pieces of schedules and to-do lists floating everywhere. This changed when I introduced a free tool: Asana.
Asana is my favorite way to organize my online business. You can schedule projects and use boards or lists to keep track of everything. You can also include team members and assign them tasks. The visuals of this tool are great, and you can sync it to all your devices including your phone.
I’m personally still using their free plan, and it has more than enough features.
I told you this was going to be a minimal list, and these are all the tools I believe we all need — no fluff. They’re also budget-friendly and perfect for a beginner. This list will be updated if anything changes.