Building a blog, podcast, website, business, etc… can be hard! Take it from me there is a learning curve. Starting out I had very little exposure to blogs. I mean I knew what they were but never really followed them. Hell even at this stage I follow very few blogs. I’m more a fan of doing things my way and not worrying about the competition. That’s proven to be a double edged sword. While it allows me to stay focused on my on stuff, it can also stunt my growth because most of the time better or faster ways to do something have been found out by someone else.
Anyway that’s why I put together this page for you. Below you’ll find products, services and tools that have helped my business grow in one way or another over the years. Everything you find is either something I’ve used personally or comes recommended by someone I highly respect. That being said:
Bluehost: If you want to build a blog the FIRST thing you need is hosting! There are a number of hosting options to choose from but for me Bluehost is the best choice. If you have a TIGHT budget then no worries. You can start a blog for just $3.95 a month! Bluehost has been and continues to be one of the top hosting companies recommended by bloggers year after year. Plus if you go through my link you get a FREE DOMAIN too.
MyThemeShop: When it comes to the actual design of your website you have 3 options. If you have graphic design skills you can do it yourself. You can fork out a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to have a web design build you a site. Or you can go with a Theme. Starting out I didn’t have a whole lot of money to pay someone and I for damn sure didn’t have the skill to build a website myself. So a theme was really my only option. Fortunately themes are very popular and easy to use for bloggers. There are a number of websites that offer themes designed to meet your website goals. I checked out quite a few before settling on My Theme Shop. They have a lot of themes to choose from with a number of free options. Personally I recommend going with a premium theme. Premium themes tend to be my versatile and are a bargain compared to paying a professional for a custom website.
GoDaddy: Domains are very useful! You can use them for your website name but you can also use them to direct to other parts of your website. You can also use them to point to other projects you have online like podcasts, YouTube, landing pages, etc. Go Daddy is my go to for all of my domain needs. Most will cost you less than $10 to secure them for a whole year so if you have a potential idea it cost next to nothing to snatch up the domain well ahead of time. My only other recommendation is to get a [dot] com domain whenever possible, they are the easiest to remember and frankly people will just assume your domain ends in [dot] com. Might as well make it easy on your potential customers/followers.
ConvertKit: It doesn’t matter what your goal is for you website, you NEED to build an email list! For that task I chose ConvertKit after fumbling around with another email platform for nearly a year. Email lists allow you to connect with your followers on a deeper level as well as offer them exclusive content that the general public doesn’t have access to. What I love about ConvertKit is that its easy to use. That’s probably because it was created by online marketer with the end user (you and I) in mind). Read: The Verdict is in – NO CONTEST: ConvertKit Vs. MailChimp to see why I made the switch nearly a year into my blogging career.
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Blubrry: Starting a podcast is similar to starting a blog, you NEED hosting. If you have a self-hosted website already you might be tempted to use you website hosting for your podcast as well. Let me be the first to tell you that’s a huge nono! Website hosting and podcast hosting are built to handle traffic differently. Using the wrong type of hosting for you podcast can result in you website crashing or worse your host canceling your account. Podcast hosts charge for the amount of audio uploaded each month so it can be pretty affordable for a decent sized weekly podcast. Blubrry makes it easy to upload podcast in 3 quick steps. Also, if you go though my link you will get a WordPress powered website for you podcast as well as your first month of hosting FREE. But you’re also going to need equipment.
The Basics – ($130 approx)
Audacity: This is a free tool for recording/editing audio files. Don’t let the price tag fool you this program packs a ton of power. Many Podcasters choose Audacity over more expensive programs just because of its utility. I’ve used Audacity since day 1 and frankly don’t see any reason to EVER make a change.
Audio-Technica ATR2100: The best starter mic money can buy! This is another piece of equipment I have used since day 1. What i love about this mic is its versatility. It has a USB output so you can plug it directly into your computer for the most basic setup. But it also has an XLR output so you can plug it into more traditional audio equipment like a mixer or audio recorder. This means this mic will grow with you. Another good thing is it has a 3.5mm jack to hook up headphones this allows you to hear your audio level in real time as you talk into the mic. You seriously can’t go wrong with this mic.
AKG K 240 Studio Headphones: You might be tempted to use an old seat of headphones you have laying around, or those cool DreBeats for you podcasting (I considered it too). But I’m going to ask you to consider getting a nice set of headphones for you podcast. First of these studio quality headphones give you a high level of clarity. Other commercial headphones add stuff like Bass Boost or Noise Canceling. This is bad because it means what you hear in you headphones isn’t exactly what will be heard in the recording. Ultimately you want the sound in your headphones to be as close to the real thin as possible. That’s why I highly recommend you grab this headphones. They come with a 3.5mm connection as well as an adapter for a 6.35mm connection for all your audio needs.
Pop Filter/Wind Screen: One thing you’ll encounter when you first start recording is the effect the certain words have on a recording. Words that start with P, B, T, K, S can all cause unintended sounds to be picked up by the mic. You can combat this by adding a pop screen in between you and the mic. The filter keeps the rush of air caused by certain consonants from ever reaching the mic. They also keep things like saliva or moisture from accumulating on the mic and potential producing mold, corrosion, or unpleasant odors. Personally I’ve experimented with many Pop Filters but haven’t liked any of them. Eventually I went and picked up a windscreen which are the foam ball type filters that fit over the top of a mic. Technically they are for outdoor applications because they help divert wind around the microphone instead of allowing it in. But it works for me. So if you would rather do that, just hit your local music store and pick one up for a couple bucks.
Advanced – (The Basics + $360 = $485 approx)
Zoom H4nPro Handy Recorder: An audio recorder is a great upgrade from the basic kit. There are a lot of different ones that I looked at but I determined the H4nPro to be able to handle all of my needs with room to grow. An audio recorder allows you to be mobile. Its battery powered (or you can buy an a/c adapter) so you can make recordings virtually any where you want to. They’re typically bullet proof. The danger of recording direct to your computer is your computer could crash mid recording causing you to lose the whole thing. Your computer can also corrupt the file or worse your computer could completely die taking all your recordings with it. Audio recorders eliminate all these potential issues and allow you to add other audio equipment to your recording effortlessly.
Yamaha MG10 Stereo Mixer: I love my mixer! If you plan to add guests or sound effects to you podcast then consider a mixer. This is especially so if you want to use more than 2 mics. The MG10 has 4 mic inputs and 6 additional line inputs for a total of 10. The main benefit of a mixer is you can live produce you recordings adjusting audio levels, inputs, and outputs in real time. This will drastically decrease your post-production workflow. Got a guest that’s too loud? Turn them down? Too quiet? Turn them up. Another benefit is you can use the mixer to add guests via Skype or other video calling platforms. You’ll need a few more wires to set up what’s called a “mix-minus” but its the cleanest way to add guests from the internet.
Custom Soundboard: This is a free app for AndriodOS. It turns you device into a make shift soundboard. This is great if you want to add pre-recorded intros, outros, promotions, etc to your recordings in real time. I use an older phone or tablet depending on where I’m doing a recording. There are probably better paid apps out there but this does more than what I need it to. If your on iOS search your app store for something equivalent. One thing though, if your production is my sound effect heavy (think DJ status) I would definitely pick up an actual soundboard for more reliability.
Eggsnow Microphone Shockmount: Microphones are sensitive. The purpose of a shockmount is to reduce the chance of your mic picking up the sounds of vibrations. It works by suspending the mic via rubber band like straps. This way mic moves with the subtle vibrations but they don’t actual make it into the mic. I use the Eggsnow mount which I’m pretty sure is a tad small for this mic. Be sure to check the diameter of the mic you us as well as the diameter range of the shockmount you use because this one will barely fit the ATR2100.
Professional – (Advanced + $254 = $740 approx)
Rode Procaster: The Rode Procaster is an analog dynamic microphone, which means it has an XLR connection on the bottom. Because it is not a digital mic, you won’t be able to record directly onto the computer. Personally I’ve never used this one but its said to be a significant improvement over cheaper mics. One cool feature is it comes with a built-in pop filter to help you reduce your plosives. And since its still a dynamic mic you wont need external power for it.
Behringer Microamp: If you plan to do a lot of recordings with live (in person) guests then you might need a stereo amplifier. To tell the truth I don’t have a lot of live guests but every time I do I’m reminded that I need this upgrade. This amp allows you to support up to 4 headsets. Which means no your live guests would be able to hear there own levels and adjust accordingly. It also means they can hear and enjoy all of the sound effects of your live production. I haven’t picked this up yet but I’m seriously considering adding it to my setup in the VERY near future.
AmazonBasics Boom Microphone Stand: This isn’t really specific to the Pro level setup. I mic stand is great for any setup. What I like about this one is it has a boom arm so I can use it as a traditional stand. Or I can use at my desk by swinging the arm horizontally to the ground. Added bonus if you play an instrument like the Cello you can position the stand to hold a mic near the base of the Cello as well. Lots of options with this bad boy. I highly recommend it over a traditional mic stand.
The Hemmingway App: This is my bread and butter when it comes to creating content. Don’t mind the name its not actually an app its a FREE website. I use it to highly run-on sentences, poor grammar, complicated sentences, etc. Its easy to use too! All you do is copy and paste you draft onto the webpage and it’ll highlight the areas that need attention as well as tell you the approximate reading time. You can use the Hemmingway App here.
Canva: I’m not a graphic designer by any means but I create almost all of my graphics myself. One way is with Canva a web-based program similar to Photoshop. I use the free version as I don’t need all the extra features of the pro level. Its pretty easy to use and comes with plenty of versatility so definitely give it a try.
Adobe Photoshop: For more advanced stuff I use Photoshop. Now again I’m no graphic designer not by a long shot but I get by. I mostly use Photoshop or Illustrator to deal with graphics that need to be edited like adding/removing backgrounds. I also use it for T-shirt graphics and logos. You can pick up Photoshop from Adobe for a monthly subscription as well as other Creative Cloud products here.
Pixabay: Most if not all of the photos I use on the site are stock images. You can find stock images all over the web typically the best stuff costs a little bit of money. But I found this little gem a few months into my blogging career and have been using it ever since. The best part is its FREE to use.
Upwork: This a great website to find freelancers. I mainly use it to find people to create t-shirt graphics or custom promotional pieces. But I’ve been looking at it as a potential place to find an affordable virtual assistant. You can find free lances that do virtually anything. If you’re looking for designer work then hit up my boy Nick Yonce and he’ll take care of you. Another alternative to upwork is Fiverr, you can find pretty good freelancers for cheap but be warned sometimes it’s hard to find quality freelancers at these cheaper price points
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: One of the biggest challenges for bloggers is figuring out ways to monetize their website. Myself included, I mean I love blogging and writing but I also would like to make a little or a lot of side income through my blog. The biggest mistake that new bloggers make is ignoring affiliate marketing and trying to go it alone. Hell I did this starting out. I wanted to create my own product right out of the gate. Then it occurred to me I have no idea what my audience wants. Plus I’d never created a product before so that added to the problem. Since then I’ve learned that when you are new its better to promote someone else’s product that’s been proven and polished. There are a lot of established brands offering quality products/services and they crazy part is they’ll PAY YOU to bring them customers. This is affiliate marketing, you make yourself the bridge between customer and offering and are rewarded for each relationship you establish. That doesn’t mean you can just plaster links and banners all over your website and start raking in profits. There’s levels to this shit. Fortunately Michelle show’s you the way. As a blogger who makes more than $50k per month from affiliate marketing she’s the perfect person to show you the ropes. So whether your new or have been around a bit this course will get you going the RIGHT way. For a complete breakdown of the course you can read: SID Reviews: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Budgeting for Budget Haters: I hate budgets, saving money, frugality all things related to limited yourself because your income doesn’t match your wants. If you ask me I’d much rather focus how I can make more money than penny pinch. That’s why when I was told about this course I was hesitant to check it out. Anyway I gave it a shot and I’m glad I did. Adam (the creator) of this course is a true professional. Like literally he’s actually a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with years of experience so he knows his stuff! In the course you’ll learn how to set financial goals, create an annual budget that you’ll actually stick to, pay down debt effectively, make your money work for you and more. Plus you get access to an exclusive Facebook group filled with other students so you can share tips and tricks as well as stories of your journey.
FBA 5-Day Crash Course: I don’t know if you know this but a lot of the things we buy on Amazon are sold by average people like you and I. Early on in my blogging career my brother and I took a gamble. We wanted to make some extra money and we heard that you could make a killing selling on Amazon. We jumped in with both feet and quickly began flipping new and used products that we found anywhere from Clearance sells, to Thrift Stores, to Garage Sales, and even Swap meets. As we detailed are journey selling online we noticed a lot of people started asking the same questions. “How can I get started? Where do you find stuff to sell? Is it worth it? Do you really make money?” So I decided to build a course. This 5-Day FREE email course is designed to teach the most inexperienced person how to find and sell stuff on Amazon like a Pro. I cover everything from setting up your account to evaluating deals and getting them online. You wont be disappointed plus its FREE so you’ve got nothing to lose!
There’s nothing like a good book to help you figure out the answers to your every challenge. These are the 10 most impactful books I’ve read thus. And these aren’t all the books I’ve read there’s many many more and you can find them ALL here!
The Go-Giver: The Go-Giver tells the story of an ambitious young man named Joe who yearns for success. Joe is a true go-getter, though sometimes he feels as if the harder and faster he works, the further away his goals seem to be. Desperate to land a key sale at the end of a bad quarter, he seeks advice from the enigmatic Pindar, a legendary consultant referred to by his many devotees simply as the Chairman. What I like about this book is its Personal Development in the form of an interesting story. You follow along as Joe discovers the true secret to massive success.
Rich Dad Poor Dad: Called the #1 Personal Finance book of all time. Rich Dad Poor Dad tells the story of Robert Kiyosaki and his two dads. His real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad, and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explores the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you. Now this isn’t a true financial book in the way that people think after all Kiyosaki isn’t a financial adviser. Still many entrepreneur attribute this one book to changing they way they think about money. It got me to shift my money conversations from “I can’t afford this” to “how can I afford this.” If you can understand this concept then you’re already well on your way to financial success.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “Fuck positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is fucked and we have to live with it.” The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is his antidote to the coddling, let’s all feel good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up. I actually heard about this book while listening to a podcast interview. I knew 10 mins into the interview that I would love this book and I was right. Don’t be fooled this book isn’t about not giving a fuck per se Its about figuring what things in life are worth giving a fuck about. And that’s a HUGE difference!
The 4-Hour Work Week: I Love Tim Ferris he has a unique way of looking at obstacles and hacking away at live to maximize outputs all the all the way optimizing inputs. Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan. There is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, or earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint. The way Tim breaks it down you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to get the physical version as I find it serves as a great reference guide for transforming the way you live you life.
How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age: A new age spin on an old time classic. The first and best book of its kind has been rebooted to tame the complexities of modern times and will teach you how to communicate with diplomacy and tact, capitalize on a solid network, make people like you, project your message widely and clearly, be a more effective leader, increase your ability to get things done, and optimize the power of digital tools. This is the book that started it all for me. The very first personal development book I EVER read. The knowledge contained within this book will easily propel you forward from any point in life so long as you act on this knowledge. If you’ve never picked up a book of its kind I would highly suggest you make this one the book you start with!
The Richest Man in Babylon: Beloved by millions, this timeless classic holds the key to all you desire and everything you wish to accomplish. This is the book that reveals the secret to personal wealth. The Richest Man in Babylon is a book by George Samuel Clason which dispenses financial advice through a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. Through their experiences in business and managing household finance, the characters in the parables learn simple lessons in financial wisdom. This book happens to be a pretty short read at 92 pages. But don’t worry those 92 pages pack a serious punch. After reading this book I immediately started putting away money to invest with. Once you get to the end you’ll know exactly why lol.
The Cashflow Quadrant: Yes another Robert Kiyosaki book haha! In this second entry of the Rich Dad series Kiyosaki explains that the reason most people struggle financially is because they’ve spent years in school getting educated. All the while never being taught about money. His rich dad taught him that this lack of financial education is why so many people work so hard all their lives for money… instead of learning how to make money work for them. Hands down, this book WILL change the way you think about jobs, careers, and owning your own business and inspire you to learn the rules of money that the rich use to build and grow their wealth.
#AskGaryVee: If you don’t know who Gary Vaynerchuk is then stop reading and look him up on YouTube. This man knows how to get shit done, have fun, and be massively successful. A marketing and business genius, GaryVee (as his fans call him) had the foresight to go beyond traditional methods and use social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to reach an untapped audience that continues to grow. #AskGaryVee showcases the most useful and interesting questions Gary has addressed on his popular show. Distilling and expanding on the most urgent and evergreen themes. The best part is his he ALWAYS offers practical, timely, and timeless advice on marketing, social media, entrepreneurship, and everything else you’ve been afraid to ask but are dying to know.
The Compound Effect: No gimmicks. No Hyperbole. No Magic Bullet. The Compound Effect is based on the principle that decisions shape your destiny. Little, everyday decisions will either take you to the life you desire or to disaster by default. Darren Hardy presents this easy-to-use, step-by-step operating system that allows you to multiply your success, chart your progress, and achieve any desire. Matter of fact this book is so great I dedicated like 3-5 emails for my VIP members just to talk about the concepts in this book. If that doesn’t tell you how useful this book is I don’t what will. Trust me just pick it up!
The Four Agreements: In The Four Agreements, bestselling author don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. Honestly this book is the back bone of my life right now. I try to remember the four agreements that I made with myself on Jan. 1st 2017. I could tell you what they are but that would spoil the book lol. Be warned this book does get a little biblical towards the end which almost turned me off but I’m glad a stuck it out. Another short read, I’m sure you will enjoy this book!
PrettyLink: This is something I didn’t know I needed when I first started blogging. In fact I didn’t find out until almost a year into it. Pretty Link is an awesome way to direct people to parts of your site with out have to create dedicated pages or buy additional domain names. It allows you to take any URL and clean it up kind of like a URL shortner. For example, I use http://socialintrovertdad.com/latest to redirect to all my latest material. The best part is I can update where the URL points to at anytime so instead of going to multiple places to update links I can update them all in one place without missing any. Its free but the pro version has even more features you might want to check out.
Digit: As mentioned above I hate budgeting/saving money. I’ve just never been a fan of it so until recently I’ve never done it. What I like about Digit is it makes saving effortless. I don’t have to think about when or how much to save Digit automatically calculates that and transfers your money into a FDIC insured secret account for you to use as you please. As far as cost Digit charges $2.99 per month for the service which is great because it means they aren’t making money by investing or loaning the money in your account like a traditional bank. Read: SID reviews: Digit for a full rundown of how it works.
Ibotta: I don’t know how to cook (yet) so I don’t do a lot of grocery shopping still it was a no-brainer to sign up for this service. It’s a couponers best friend I would think. Basically it allows you to redeem rebates when you go shopping right from your phone. When I do happen to take a shopping trip any where I find myself checking my phone to see if what I’m buying is going to earn me some cash back. Sign up through my like and get $5 when you claim your first rebate. And don’t worry its completely FREE!
Siteground: Personally I use Bluehost for all my website hosting needs but there are some great alternatives out there. One of which is Siteground. Now I don’t have personal experience with this host but based off of other reviews I can tell you a few things. Siteground has better uptime performance (the amount of website downtime in a 12 month range), and they have faster hosting speeds than Bluehost. With one caveat, they cost more than Bluehost as well. Still its said they are a great host for eCommerce heavy websites. So you might want to check them out.
A2Hosting: If there were one other host I would consider for my website it would be A2hosting. On a number of reviews A2 has ranked as the best of the best with the fastest hosting speeds, best Uptime, and overall functionality. If you have deep pockets pick up their highest hosting plan and get speeds reportedly “20x faster than the competition!”
Spreadshirt: Want to start a clothing bran but don’t have a lot of money to spend? Perfect, spreadshirt is for you! They’re an online fulfillment service. All you have to do is provide them with your designs and they handle the printing part. The best part is its print on demand. So they print shirts as they are ordered and ship direct to your customers. This means you hold no inventory and thus don’t have to make a large upfront purchase. The only downside is the margin is a little lower than if you did it the traditional way because the take a large cut of each sell. Still a hands of clothing business has got to be worth something right?
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