Since I always get asked about the resources and products I use (and recommend) for different aspects of running my blog and business. I decided to put together this compilation with all my absolute favorites apps, programs, classes and companies that I've used (and currently use) to grow my blog and lettering business.
I separated them into categories so you can navigate them easily (scroll down or use the sub-menu), if there's anything that you wish I cover more, just let me know!
Table of content
BLOGGING & BUSINESS BASICS
1Convertkit – Email marketing automated:
You know all those people that are always talking about how you had to start your subscription list yesterday? Yeah, I didn't take it seriously either, and I am paying the price. So do yourself a favor and start NOW! it took me a while to realize that THEY were right!! So don't be like me and start your email list now!
2The Complete Guide to Email Marketing by ConvertKit:
With so many parts and pieces, plans, and strategies, it's hard to know where to start and what really matters most. That's when this handy guide comes SO handy! The guys at ConvertKit created this guide with best practices, advice, and some advanced strategies that are compiled into this FREE Ebook, download it now!
3Siteground – Hosting company:
This is one the best hosting companies, while I might be biased because I am enjoying having my blog with them after so many issues while being with the competition, I can attest that their customer service is amazing! they provide super fast load times, great security and so much value. With unlimited bandwidth, free daily backups, and one-click WordPress install wizard, Siteground makes setting up and running your website or blog super easy! Use my link and save 60%!
4Google Suite for Business – Email and apps:
If you ever wondered how to use the power of Gmail and all the Google Suite products (hello spreadsheets) and keep your custom domain, this is for you! Ever after my last server erased ALL my email, I switched to Google Suite and never looked back! I am one happy customer, and you can be one too! Try it for FREE for 14 days here. I also have two coupons for an extra 20% off your first year:
X4XFL7AU4NLHV76 -and/or- H4GQWXUMQUF6L9U
5Thirsty Affiliates – Affiliate link management plugin:
The best thing about this plugin is that it lets you organize your affiliate links, you can either cloak them or not (make them pretty and small). This feature si particularly awesome to keep Amazon links organized, but also stay on top of their Terms because they do not allow you to cloak their links. You also have analytics on how many people a clicking on them. Get it right here.
6Pretty Link – Link shortener and tracker:
This is definitely one of the must-have plugins when you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, is the best way to track traffic on your links and make them shorter and prettier by using your own URL (cloak links) for Social sharing. I have the paid version because of how easy it is to use the extra features and the fact that I can change the links in my dashboard if they need to be updated, saving me so much time (because I would have to go post by post updating links) Get it here.
7Tailwind – Pinterest & Instagram Scheduler:
For the longest time I had left Pinterest on the back-burner, even though most of the traffic to my blog comes from Pinterest, I had no strategy to keep it growing. I would pin only when I had time (aka almost never) But now I use Tailwind (insert angels-from- heaven sound) for all of my Pins and it’s crazy how much traffic it brings in. One of my favorite feature for Instagram is the hashtag finder, sometimes when I post a picture, I drew blanks on to what hashtags I should use, so this tool comes to the rescue. And lastly, Tailwind is actually an official partner of Pinterest and IG, so even though your content is scheduled, the Pinterest’s algorithm doesn't affect negatively, but the contrary it favors content coming in from Tailwind, and ranking those pins higher in search results. Get 30 FREE pins here.
8Dropbox – Cloud-based storage:
Is one of the most used online data backup services in the industry. The app provides data-backup protection, file-sharing capabilities, and device syncing so you can access your files and photos from your Phone & Laptop. You can integrate your Dropbox account with 100,000 third-party apps, making it an extremely versatile app. I use it to backup most of my work files as well as move things from my phone to my iMac when I'm not close enough to use AirDrop. Start a FREE account here.
9Notion – All-in-one organizing app:
I only recently discover Notion and it has been such a game changer! I used to organize everything in a combination of Asana, Trello and Evernote. But now I have everything from my business management, to my blog calendar and keyword research neatly organized in Notion and my list-making inner self could not be any happier! I could not recommend it enough! Start your FREE account here.
10Gramarly – Spell and grammar check:
This one of my favorite apps around! It is a spelling and grammar app that checks your spelling as you write. Many of you know that I am a self-taught English speaker and that I actually started Blogging as a way to improve. Well, things would have been so much easier for me if I had this little tool when I first started blogging! I am better now, but I am still learning when it comes to grammar, and this is one of the best tools to polish and learn. Bloggers, writers, entrepreneurs and anyone who ever types on a screen can benefit from this. You may fancy yourself a spelling and grammar pro but will be surprised at what this app can catch! Even my husband that is a writing pro loves this app, Get it right here!
11FreshBooks – Cloud Accounting:
Is the entrepreneur's best friend! It makes keeping track of expenses, invoicing clients and keeping track of your time and tax documents super easy. When you start a business or start making money with your blog, you need to keep track of so many things in order to pay taxes correctly (and keep your sanity) So I could not recommend FreshBooks more, even if you are just starting out. Try is for FREE here.
12Sucuri – Website security: Let me tell you a horror story, the very first month I switched to WordPress from Blogger. I really had no idea what I was doing (so I probably installed every plugin I ran into to my blog), and it took about 2 days for my blog to be infected with Malware!! I had no idea what to do, I had no idea websites could be hacked like that, over a silly plugin! But luckily for me, I ran into Sucuri, I let them handle the business, clean my site and hired them to monitor and backup my blog. After all the time that took me to rank again on Google (I was blacklisted because of the malware, and I lost ALL my traffic!) I would say that this was the best-invested money for my blog. They now have this handy how to clean a hacked WordPress site guide too, so check it out right HERE.
13Clean my MAC & Clean my PC:
No matter in you are on Mac or PC, MacPaw has a cleaning product for you! I Installed the Clean my Mac probably a month or two after I upgraded to a 27″ iMac, because it started to run so much slower, and after one run I could not be happier! It gives you reminders that you have to “clean” every two weeks or so and makes my Mac run so much faster than before! Just imagine, on the first run it cleared about 2G of stuff, and I had hardly used it! Ps. if you use a lot of pictures it can also delete all the unwanted duplicates. Download Clean my MAC or Clean my PC for FREE. You are welcome! ;)
BRANDING & GRAPHIC RESOURCES
1Creative Market – Logo templates:
One of the many great things about Creative Market is that they host so many independent designer's shops, so the possibilities to find something of your taste are very big. They have a super wide variety of premade logos and social media kits to help your blog or Business start with a professional look! Also, you can get 6 Free goods each Monday, and 2 extras that you can unlock if you spend $15+ on their website, score! Check it out here!
Offers a contest model to request a logo or any Design work you need, you give them a design brief so the designers can have a better idea of what you are looking for, select a plan and launch your contest, this is an economical way to get a high-quality logo or work with designers to make a header or packaging. I always recommend to check the designer's past work, and portfolio just in case, so you know that you are not getting a cookie cutter logo. Check how it works here.
Is a super affordable way to create a blog header or logo when you are just starting, its super intuitive and you will get high-resolution files (even vectors) depending on the option you purchase. It's way cheaper than paying someone to make you a pre-designed logo, and you get to change things for yourself instead of waiting for revisions. The best thing is that you can test it for free and pay for the files once you are happy with the way it looks! Test it here. (Ps. even though the name has “Joy” in it, it's not my company hehe)
Is an online design tool that has everything you need to make your ideas come to life. They offer great photo editing, collage making, graphic design tools at very affordable prices (specially compared with Adobe Photoshop) Theirs website is very easy to even for those that are not tech-savvy or even particularly artistically inclined. Start a FREE trial here.
Is incredibly easy to use, reliable online design tool perfect for anyone that doesn't have Photoshop or is not very familiar with it. The drag-and-drop functionality makes designing eye-catching designs simple and quick. There are thousands of templates and layouts available, and I highly recommend BluChic Canva templates if you are looking for quick social media images -> Get them here!
BLOG THEMES & FRAMEWORKS
1Elementor – Page builder:
As a web designer in my past life, coding pages has never been an issue, but GOSH! it takes for.e.ver! So when I discovered Elementor I could not help but do the happy dance over an over again (Pretty much every time I need to make a custom-designed page). Elementor is easy to use drag and drop page builder (plugin) that will help you to create any layout you can imagine fast and easy. No coding skills required! Is a game changer! You can build landing pages, sale pages, product pages, so so much! I actually created my whole studio website and my other blog Barefoot Detour with it, and it save me SO much time! I am so in love with it, and I've been building custom pages (like this one) in this blog with it also! Get your copy here.
1Bluchic – Blog themes & plugins:
The one products that I love the most from them are the Landing Page templates, they offer one with Tripwire and that has singlehanded helped me tremendously to increase my passive income. But their most famous products are blog themes, unlike other's you will not need Genesis to run them. So it's less expensive and full of great features.
The Maggie theme is one of my favorite themes from Bluchic, it's super clean and it features a ton of useful areas, they also include plugging for testimonials, portfolio and widgets designed to guide your readers to your sales funnels, shop for all their themes right here.
Is a WordPress theme and Plugin marketplace with a subscription model, so by subscribing you have access to thousands of themes and plugins that otherwise you would have to buy separately. I love this model because it allows you test and sees what would work best for you, they have a great selection of Blog themes & also offer E-commerce themes (most of them powered by Woocommerce). They have a 30-day money back guarantee policy, so Try them risk FREE here.
4Genesis Framework by StudioPress:
Genesis is one of the most powerful frameworks for blogs, and that is why so many bloggers prefer it to power their blogs. One thing that you should know is that Genesis is the bones that your blog will have, so to make it pretty, you will still need a theme on top of the framework. Most of the designer that works with Genesis, offer bundles so you can purchase both things together (most packages listed by Studiopress include a theme AND the Framework) If you want to read more about it, I recommend this Genesis guide for beginners guide where you can find answers to most questions. And if you already have the framework, I definitely recommend the following designers to get powerful and beautiful themes:
- Glam theme: This one is my favorite from Restored 316, they also have this super handy quiz to help you select the template that would work best for your business or blog.
- Pretty creative theme: Is my favorite theme (and for obvious reasons hehe) from Pretty darn cute design, they also have additional themes that you should definitely check out, they are all so pretty!
- Boss pro: This one is probably my favorite theme from Designs by Bloom, a super close second option for me would be Simply pro. I absolutely love the minimalistic, but yet a super chic look of both of them and the best part is that all of their themes have Woocommerce integration, so if you plan to sell physical items, everything is already set up =]
STARTING A BUSINESS
1Shopify – to sell physical goods:
Shopify is by far the most robust e-commerce platform I've experienced, and I've pretty much tried all of them! After a lot of testing and multiple headaches with other platforms, I set up my current physical shop with them, never been happier! Start a 14-day FREE trial here.
3SendOwl- digital files delivered:
It allows you to sell digital goods online. It connects with the payment provider so you get paid and it automatically delivers the files to the buyers once payment has completed. It also has an integrated affiliate interface, so you can pay people to help you promote. Sign up here.
4Etsy – Marketplace:
Do you want to start your business at a low cost just to test the waters? Etsy is the best way to start and see if your product sells. It's easy because you just need pictures of your products, descriptions, a header, and a profile image. Easy right? Get your first 40 Etsy listings for free.
5Easy Digital Download – Digital eccomerce for WordPress: EDD is a FREE plugin that allows you to sell digital goods using WordPress, it's like Woocommerce but specially tailored to Digital Goods, this is the plugin I use to power my studio website. I absolutely love Easy Digital Download! The Free version allows you so much, but if you need extra features they offer paid extensions, my favorite ones (and the ones I currently use) are:
- Fraud monitor: Fraud is a very real threat to eCommerce stores and can be extremely costly to store owners. A single fraudulent transaction could easily cost you $150 or more. If you aren’t already proactively working against it, you should be. Fraud Monitor is an extension that adds robust monitoring to your Easy Digital Downloads store and works for you to automatically detect possibly fraudulent purchases, allowing you to rest easy and focus on growing your business instead of fighting fraud.
- Stripe add-on: This add-on was the first paid one I purchased because I wanted to offer my Studio clients the option to accept credit cards directly on my site through my Stripe.com account. That way my clients enter their credit card details during the checkout process and never leave my site, resulting in a better experience for the user, and more successful conversions.
- Paypal Pro add-on: This two-in-one gateway add-on allows you to accept payment through PayPal Payments Pro and PayPal Express Checkout. Easy Digital Download does come with a free standard version of PayPal getaway, but this Pro version allows for the client to not be redirected to PayPal, and pay while in your website instead, that way you can have a faster checkout and better conversions. When checking out with PayPal Express, the user experience is very similar to PayPal standard, except it is more secure.
- Convertkit addon: This add-on lets you automatically subscribe customers to forms and courses you have on ConvertKit based on what they purchased, and allowing customers to opt themselves into a subscription during checkout.
- Custom Delivery: This add-on is perfect for freelancers, or anyone who needs to deliver custom files to their clients. With this extension, each payment record will have a Custom Deliverables interface where you can upload/attach files to the customer. Once you’ve uploaded the customized files, the customer can download them right from their account.
- Variable price descriptions: This allows you to add a longer description to the option name if needed. It will automatically output the description onto the front end of the website where variably priced downloads are shown.
- Duplicate Listings: This allows you to duplicate a product (referred as “download” on EDD), so you don't have to re-type everything over and over again, this is especially helpful when you list similar items (like my SVG files)
6Skillshare – Online classes:
One thing I love about Skillshare is that you have access to so many classes (from business to lettering and calligraphy) all for a flat monthly fee, BUT if you are just starting committing to that monthly payment can be hard, so the guys from Skillshare are offering all of the HowJoyful readers a special TWO FREE MONTHS!!
That’s 60 full days of free learning! So clean your agenda and get lost of coffee (or tea if you are like me) sign up for an account with this link first to claim the promotion (otherwise you will only have one free month), and start learning! Get 2 FREE MONTHS here.
7Creative Live – Business Classes:
Creative Live is a wonderful and popular learning website, the one thing that makes Creative Live like no other is that on top of offering on-demand classes, you get to enjoy the free recording of all classes, they do this almost like a webinar. You RSVP to the event and watch it live for FREE!!! yes, I said free! then if you want to watch a replay you can purchase it. How wonderful is that! But the best part is that they have such a wonderful teacher and a wide variety of subjects, from business to Lettering and everything in between. View all available business classes here.
8Business Classes at Brit.co:
Brit.co has a bunch of very informative and detailed classes on various business topics like “How to start a creative business” or “Money management for small business.” Also, every month a Brit.co sponsor features one business class for FREE, so you should definitely check them out every month and enroll in those classes, they are always adding great content (my favorite is the lettering section of course!), so you should visit often. View all available business classes here.
SAVE MONEY WHILE SHOPPING
1Get money back while shopping – Ebates:
Ebates is probably one of the oldest rebate websites, and I love using it when I shop for supplies for my business. But the only downside is that you have to log into their website and navigate search for the stores and links to get the rebate. Well, not anymore when you have Honey & Wikibuy installed in your browser, you can automatically activate it when you are checking out without having to go to their website and search for the link. Ebates and Honey is a wonderful mix! Get $10 to get you started here.
2Honey – Browser plugin:
This little gadget has saved me so much money just by reminding me to activate Ebates and by automatically searching for coupons for me, I have it on all my computers, ps. If you have Amazon Prime, it can let you add items to a watchlist for price drops and notifies you when the prices change!! whaaatt? (I know, you are welcome!) Get $5 to get you started here.
3Wikibuy – Get Amazon alerts:
This one is also a browser plugin, and just like Honey it can let you know if the site you are currently shopping at has any discount coupons. If you have an Amazon Prime account, it can make sure if you have the best offer and give you options as well. I love that it can compare how much you can save if you get an item a day or two later or shop with another seller, sometimes those extra $2-5 you are saving are well worth it (if you are not in a rush, of course). Start saving here.
5Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial:
I absolutely love Amazon Prime, I mostly shop for my business (supplies, books, tech stuff, etc.) and the two-day shipping (or sometimes 1-day depending on the item) is amazing! I live in the mountains, so going shopping for that “one thing” I usually forget is a pain! And don't get me started on the gas to drive down! So Amazon Prime is always my savior! With your membership, you also get to watch thousands of shows & movies in their App, as well and a ton of free books and magazines on Kindle (they also have a Kindle app for your phone). If you use my link to try it for FREE, I will get a small commission that supports my blog (the price to you will be the same) Start your 30-Day Free trial here.
MONETIZE YOUR BLOG
1Dare to Conquer:
is an online business community with courses run by Paul Scrivens (Scrivs) and his lifetime membership has been by far the absolutely best investment I've done for my blog and now business. Dare to Conquer (formerly Billionaire Blog Club) is so much more than a bunch of courses in pretty much everything you need to run a successful business, there's also the Slack community that to me has been invaluable. With the help of the many courses under the umbrella of the 100K climb course, I was able to up my blog income a wooping 300% in just a few months. If you plan to monetize your blog and transform it into a business, I 10000% recommend you start with DTC. Read more about it here.
2Making sense of affiliate marketing – Online Class:
After not taking monetizing my blog seriously for the longest time, I decided it was time to convert my traffic into profit, so I researched and invested in this E-course by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. And let me tell you – it was an EYE-OPENING experience, so of course I HAD to recommend it! if you are serious about monetizing your blog, this course is a must!
3ShareaSale – Online affiliate marketplace:
ShareASale is one of the most popular affiliate marketplaces among bloggers. Once you are a member, you can join the affiliate programs of thousands of brands. They have Brands for pretty much every niche and it's super easy to keep track of your earnings and best-performing Brands in their Dashboard. They also have a handy tool to build collections of products that you can then add to your blog as well. Apply to become a member here.
4Awin – Online affiliate marketplace:
Just like ShareASale, and MaxBounty, they host many brands you can apply to (in a ton of different areas) and get paid when your readers purchase their products or services using your affiliate links. Their referral program is also very good, you will get $30 for everyone you refer who gets approved. Apply to their marketplace here.
5MaxBounty – Online affiliate marketplace:
Just like the other ones I've shared above, Max Bounty is a Marketplace where different brands post their affiliate offers, you get paid depending on each brand's terms. The only extra step required to join is a personal phone call, they just ask regular questions to make sure you are legit (nothing to be afraid of!) Join their network here.
6Pretty Link – URL Masking plugin:
One of the MANY great things about this plugin is that you can enter make affiliate links “pretty” so you use the short version in your blog, this way in the event that one of your links is changed, you just have to go to the Pretty link dashboard, change it there and it will update the link any place you've used it! Talk about a time-saving! Get your copy here.
MONETIZE YOUR BLOG WITH PRODUCTS
1Podia – Online community, digital downloads and courses:
Creating courses is a wonderful way to increase revenue, but to be able to offer digital downloads and also a membership in the same platform is what Podia does best! Whether you need all of them or are starting with only one, being able to keep adding to your business is such a great Check more right here.
2Teachable – Make beautiful online classes:
A great way to further into a topic you are covering in your blog AND make a good profit is to make an online class, this is something I am working on, and after a super long research, Teachable was the best option I could find, not only is super simple and requires no coding knowledge, it's also super simple to add an affiliate program to your course, so other bloggers can help you spread the word! Check out this 7 steps to launch your own profitable course webinar to get you started. Sign up right here.
3Blurb – for self-publishing hard copies:
Interested in self-publishing a hard copy of your Ebook? Blurb has definitely the best tools to sell your books on Amazon and other platforms directly or to make larger production runs. I've printed my pregnancy journals with them and I am so happy with the quality! Start publishing here.
4RedBubble- for custom products:
Now if you want to design t-shirts mugs or anything to sell in your blog, RedBubble is your place, they offer a commission if someone buys an item with your design, the awesome part is that you set your own commission percentage, perfect to promote a quote on your blog, or just anything! Just upload your design, select the items you want to sell with that design and promote it on your blog, so easy! Open a store here.
5Zazzle – Custom printed products:
Just like Redbubble, Zazzle allows you to upload your artwork and turn them into products that people can purchase, what I love the most about Zazzle is that in addition to adding your artwork, you can also create templates so the people in their website can customize their items. You can see examples of this in my Zazzle store: HowJoyful. There I have uploaded regular pieces but also allowed for some to have custom text, and those are my best sellers. So you could sell pretty much any items with your blog's logo or different artwork. Open an FREE store here.
Ps. They also always offer new coupons and discounts that you can pass along to your clients to make the purchase more interesting ;)
1Minted – Foiled business cards:
Minted is one of my favorite places for luxury printing, they offers so many lovely designs for business cards (or “blog cards”) and personal stationery! I first tested their printing with some personal stationery and Conner's birthday invitations and I was (and still am) super impressed with the quality of their products and also their packaging! The paper thickness is just amazing (no flimsy cheap paper there), and the foil selection they offer is awesome! Plus, they support independent designers showcasing their creations and letting them get a commission when you buy their designs. Check out their foiled business cards here.
2Zazzle – Business cards:
Zazzle is my favorite place to get cards because of their quality and price. I actually have a tutorial for painting the edges of business cards and I used Zazzle to print them, you can check it out here, and subscribe to their newsletter for announcements on their sales, I bought mine with an extra 75% discount making it hard to pass, so I always wait for the sales and restock my cards. Check out their business cards here.