Here's some of my top picks for running my online business. Many of these links are affiliate links which means if you click on my link and make a purchase, the company will pay me a small referral bonus at no cost to you.
I think a lot of people take advantage of a free domain when they buy hosting. I've never liked to do that because I like to keep all my domains in one place and separate from hosting. I've used other domain registrars in the past, but I really like the Namecheap interface, so I've stuck with them. I've only had to use their customer service a couple of times and I can report they've been great so I can give a hearty 5-star recommendation.
Budget Website Hosting
When I started my VA business, I was looking for reliable yet inexpensive hosting. Hostinger has been easy to use. Their customer service isn't live or quick, but they have been able to help me in every instance. I have unlimited websites on my hosting plan and feel good about the four year plan I purchased which was a screaming deal at the time for only $125.
The thing you need to know about hosting is what you're going to pay on renewal when your plan expires. You can sign up and maybe pay a few bucks a month but when you renew, that could jump to $15 per month. Read the terms before purchasing.
Premium Website Hosting
SiteGround is my favorite hosting company because they are so user-friendly and their customer service chat specialists are fantastic! SiteGround offers budget pricing for your first plan but renewal will go up in price. As they say, "you get what you pay for", and I appreciate all of the features that come with a SiteGround account so I highly recommend them.
Online Design & Publishing Tool
I cannot believe I'm recommending Canva.
For the longest time, I wasn't interested in Canva. When I first tried it years ago, it felt super clunky and non-intuitive for me despite everyone else raving about it. I was accustomed to using MS Publisher. Then Adobe Photoshop. And PicMonkey. I never liked Canva.
I started doing some VA work for a friend who used Canva and I fell in LOVE with it's ease of use! It took about 2 days to decide I couldn't live with out the background remover tool and signed up for the pro account.
I still use Photoshop but Canva is so quick, I find I use it more and more. You're going to love it! Even if you don't have any design background, Canva makes it simple to create graphics. Don't wait!
Email Marketing Service Great for Beginners
MailerLite offers a wonderful free plan and it is intuitive and easy to use for beginners with less than 1,000 email subscribers. I use MailerLite for one of my clients and I'm very happy with it.
Full-Feature Email Marketing Service
I've used ConvertKit in the past and they are really easy to use.
I highly recommend them.
Email Marketing Service
I've used ConvertKit, Flodesk, and Mailchimp.
I think Flodesk is super easy to use. And I love the deep functionality of ConvertKit. Mailchimp just makes everything really difficult and I don't find them intuitive, IMO.
Pricing and features are always changing but my first recommendation is ConvertKit. Then Flodesk.
Things to know:
- You can get a free account at ConvertKit but not Flodesk
- ConvertKit pricing scales up with email subscribers
- Flodesk is $39 per month no matter how many email subscribers
- Mailchimp has a free option but if you intend to schedule an email, that's going to cost you
I follow the Creative Director for ConvertKit and their headquarters are here in my state, so I guess I'm a partial.
WordPress Themes/Page Builders
WordPress Themes & Plugins Designed to Convert
Have you ever tried to build your own WordPress website? If you're like me, you get to a certain point where the theme doesn't do what you want. It is either too flexible or too rigid. You throw up your hands and go on a search for the next thing you hope will work.
There is nothing like Thrive Themes! Do not buy another WordPress framework, theme, or page builder ever again! Thrive Themes has everything you need to visually create your website.
For only $14 per month, you can build your own customized theme (SUPER EASY) using their front-end visual website theme builder called Thrive Theme Builder. It will take you step by step to create your own website theme! No need to purchase paid WordPress themes or frameworks. No need to purchase any other drag and drop editor subscriptions. I've tried MANY and my last stop is with Thrive Themes because it does it all.
Next you'll use their intuitive drag and drop editor for WordPress called Thrive Architect. This page builder is just SO INTUITIVE and easy to learn. Not because it doesn't have depth. You can select from numerous designs. And you can fine tune your design down to the pixel. Or use templates if you need a place to start...or finish. It's just SO GOOD!
If that weren't enough, in addition to Thrive Theme Builder and Thrive Architect, they offer a robust suite of tools which includes a course interface (yay!), A/B testing for landing pages, and a quiz builder just to name a few. It's only $25 per month for the entire suite of tools. Just the course interface makes that price totally worth it!
You can install Thrive Theme Builder and Thrive Architect on five websites for the $14 per month price (paid annually).
If I'm a fan of any tool on this page it's Thrive Themes (and Canva!).
Website Builder Platform
If you want to create and maintain your own site, Wix provides a terrific platform for service and ecommerce businesses.
Website Builder Platform
If you want to create and maintain your own website, Squarespace is a great choice.