In 2018, TheBudgetSavvyBride.com will turn 10 years old. This fact really throws me for a loop! I’ve been working on this site for nearly a third of my life now. I didn’t have a clue when I started that it would grow to be my full-time business and sole source of income. Along the way, I’ve built quite an arsenal of tools, apps, and services to help me run and manage my online business. Since I often get asked about the things I’m using and finding most helpful, I thought I’d do a quick rundown of the ones I find most helpful. Hope there’s something in this list that will save you some time, headaches, or—better yet—money! 😉
By the way, some of the links below are affiliate or referral links. This means that I may earn a tiny commission or kickback if you decide to sign up for any of these products or services. Note: this will not come at *any* additional cost to you, it's just a way of saying thanks for the intro!
If you're looking for a simple invoicing platform to collect money from clients, I've been using Freshbooks for years. You can send customized invoices, create automatically recurring invoices, track your time and more. The platform is beautifully designed and very simple to use. I've been on a free plan for years, but they have premium versions for as low as $15/mo. I highly recommend it! Sign up for Freshbooks here.
Aside from my invoicing, I use Godaddy Bookkeeping (formerly Outright) to manage all of my business accounting and bookkeeping. I've been using this platform for what feels like forever. I love that it automatically pulls transactions from my business bank accounts, credit cards, and PayPal accounts, so I can see exactly what is coming in and going out each month. Best of all, it's super affordable– about $120 per year. Sign up for Godaddy Bookkeeping here.
Capital One 360
I've been banking with Capital One 360 since back when they were ING Direct. I have a dozen separate savings accounts that I use for just about everything you could imagine: personal savings, home savings, auto savings, travel savings, vacation savings, gift savings, business savings and more! Their savings accounts earn some of the highest interest rates around. Also, their checking accounts come with a Debit Card that charges zero foreign transaction fees or currency conversion fees, so it's great to use while traveling. Sign up for a Capital One 360 Account here.
I don't know about you, but I'm a bit of a notebook addict. I have dozens of notebooks of varying sizes with scribbles, doodles, brainstorming and to-do lists from over the last decade. As much as I love writing in a physical notebook, there's a MUCH better way to record and organize your notes, thoughts, ideas, writing, and so much more. And that way is with Evernote. Evernote is an app for your computer and smartphone that allows you to create various digital notebooks that you can fill to your heart's content. Never worry about running out of pages in a notebook or journal again. Even better? It's searchable! So it's super easy to find things you've written in the past. I could do a whole post about this one app (and maybe I will, eventually.) I honestly couldn't live without it. Sign up for a Free Evernote Account here.
When it comes to web apps, I use all things Google. I manage my blog's email via Google Apps/Gmail, and I am absolutely obsessed with adding extensions to further customize my email experience. Streak is one of my favorite Gmail extensions, and it's added some really great features that help me manage my business. Some of my favorite include: snoozing emails to come back at a later date, reminders to follow up with contacts, a sales CRM, and email tracking. It basically rocks my socks. Get the Free Streak Extension here.
I used to carry external hard drives with me wherever I went because it was cheaper than getting a larger capacity laptop. Then, Dropbox came into my life and it's been bliss ever since! Dropbox syncs with my phone, laptop, and desktop computers so I can access all my important files wherever I am. This is going to come especially in handy as I travel overseas for the next four months. I love that I can access and edit my design files from any computer as long as I have internet access. If you're not using Dropbox, I don't know where you've been, but you should definitely start. You can get a free account with 2GB of space for zero dollars. Sign up for Dropbox here.
One of my favorite blog plugins is PrettyLinks. If you hover over any of the hyperlinks in this post you'll see that many of my links are branded such as TheJessentials.com/PrettyLinks — this plugin allows me to set redirects to add affiliate links and track clicks on urls I place in my blog content. If you upgrade to the pro version you can also set the plugin to auto-add your affiliate links in every instance you use a term in your blog. I couldn't function without this plugin and I definitely attribute an uptick in affiliate earnings since implementing it into my website. Get the PrettyLinks Plugin here.
I consider myself to be a fairly decent writer, but everyone makes mistakes. I love the free browser extension Grammarly which automatically checks your writing for spelling, punctuation, and other errors. You can totally get these awesome features for free, it's saved me tons of time and embarrassment from sharing misspelled words and missing commas in my blog posts. Get the Grammarly extension for Chrome here.
I could not be more obsessed with CoSchedule, an editorial content calendar plugin that integrates seamlessly with WordPress. CoSchedule allows you to schedule your social media updates at the same time you schedule your blog posts. It is by far the easiest and most beautiful marketing platform that allows you to craft individual, custom promotion across all of your social networks. It's seriously a game-changer, y'all. There are plans to fit businesses with any sized business. You can read my full CoSchedule review on The Budget Savvy Bride.
SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULING
Later is an app and web platform that allows you to upload, schedule and optimize your Instagram posts. The phone app sends you a push notification when your Instagram post is scheduled to go live. What I really love about Later is that you can use it as a way to drive traffic either to your blog or to an affiliate link by associating a link with each scheduled Instagram post. I also like that I can preview my feed as I schedule posts to make sure it looks cohesive and attractive. The service costs about $20/mo but it's money well-spent. Sign up for Later here.
Pinterest is a hugely powerful tool for bloggers to drive traffic to their websites, but it can be time-consuming to put in the effort required to see max benefits. That's why the BoardBooster app is a total game-changer when it comes to Pinterest marketing. You can set it up to pin things from your site or recycle popular pins from your account automatically. Once you have it set up, it can run so much of your Pinterest marketing for you. It's definitely worth trying out and only costs about $5 per month! Sign up for BoardBooster here.
Another Pinterest Scheduler that I highly recommend is Tailwind. This platform is highly powerful because it allows you to pre-schedule pins, join tribes of users with similar content, and promote your own content within the Tailwind app network. It's an awesome tool for any blogger that is looking to drive more traffic to their website. Plus, it gives crazy amounts of useful data to analyze to see what's performing best so you can continue to create content that resonates with your audience. It's free to try it out and I suggest you do… I seriously don't know how I functioned before this existed! Sign up for a FREE trial of Tailwind here.
GRAPHICS + PHOTOS
Y'all… I went to school for Graphic Design and got a BFA. I learned ALL the Adobe Programs and I pay $50 per month to use them. But the truth is… lately I prefer to use a web-based app called Canva. To say it rocks my socks off is a complete understatement. I can create graphics for social media, for the blog, or even for printed materials all from their online platform or smartphone app. It's a complete GAMECHANGER and I'm seriously considering canceling my Adobe Subscription because of it. #designerblasphemy You can use Canva completely for free, or you can upgrade to the Pro Version (totally worth it.) Try out Canva for free here.
Of course, I always check for royalty-free photos on sites like Unsplash and Pexels, but I'm a HUGE fan of Creative Market. They've got a massive selection of graphic templates, stock photos, fonts, clip art, and other graphic elements that you can use to enhance your designs. I may or may not have about 1000 things bookmarked on their site. They also regularly offer freebies and giveaways of different items on their site, so it's a good idea to check back often to snag elements for free. Check out Creative Market for your graphic needs.
Whew! That's a lot of resources. I hope you've found a useful tool in this list. As someone who's done the work of trying things out and seeing what works, it would make me so happy to help someone else solve a problem or save themselves some time. 🙂
Do you have any business tools you can't live without? I'd love to hear about them! I'm excited to share more about my life and managing my online business in the coming months here on the blog. Thanks for reading!