Of all the messages I get each week—email! Instagram DM! at workshops and in Facebook groups!—this is one of the questions that comes up over and over again. What do you use to make your Instagram/site/email list work???
And I get it—if you do any kind of creative work online, there are eight zillion tools to choose from to do ANYTHING. I try to keep things as simple as possible, but really, having the exact right tool for the job DOES make life simpler, so I try lots of things.
These are the tools I use to run everything I do online. New tools are created every five seconds, so this list is forever changing! If you’re wondering about something I didn’t mention, hit me up with questions on Instagram or Facebook.
But P.S. – Don’t get stuck at this stage.
Remember that it doesn’t really matter what tools you use as long as you START DOING THE THING.
If you have something share with the world, if you want to connect with people, if you want to create something or try something new—don’t get stuck on finding the perfect tools, okay? We’d rather see you start imperfectly than hide out in the planning stage forever.
(Also? Some of these are affiliate links, because I think they’re pretty great products.)
Planoly: Visual layout to plan your Insta feed. You can drag and drop the photos you’re planning to share to decide what goes where when, hallelujah.
VSCO: Photo editing app with more options than the Instagram app offers (like adjusting white balance and skin tone!).
A Color Story: I’m still learning to use this one, but it’s supercool for making your photos pop.
CutStory: For chopping longer video into Instagram-friendly clips. (15 seconds for Stories, 60 seconds for your Instagram feed.)
Ripl: For short & sweet animations. (Think: photos with animated text overlay.)
Photos & Editing
Unsplash: Royalty-free photos for free.
Death to the Stock Photo: Photos for creatives (that’s you). Some photos are free, and more are available for a monthly fee.
Canva: Free online graphic design and photo editing software, with pre-made themes for social media graphics.
Amazon: Because I like to talk about books.
Ultimate Bundles: I super-appreciate their marketing training and support for affiliates.
WordPress: My site has run on WordPress since forever. It’s a simple enough platform that I could get started on my own with a free theme, and able to grow with me into what the site is today.
Genius Blogger’s Toolkit: This one’s only available once a year, but always has new insights into what’s working in blogging and social media RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT.
For Overcoming Resistance
Freedom From Fear Workbook for Creatives: The exact process I use to deal with the fear that crops up every time I go to put my creative work in the world—all in one handy (and totally free) printable workbook.
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The Curio Co: My friends at The Curio Co host my site and handle all my website updating/backing up/fixing-when-I-break-something.
They’re super personal, willing to explain things, and never act like I’m an idiot for breaking things or not knowing stuff. (Ahem. That was not the case when I was hosted by one of the popular super-bargain-host options.)
SendOwl: SendOwl processes my ebook sales for me like magic. They can manage whatever digital stuff you have for sale: files (PDF, MOBI, EPUB, ZIP, or whatever you’ve got), bundles, and even subscriptions.
Genesis framework: Before I turned my site design over to a pro, I used Genesis to set up my own site super simply. You’ll need the Genesis framework + a child theme.
Beautiful Pro Theme: This theme is one of my favorites for Genesis, and I used variations on it for YEARS. But there are lots of others to choose from, too.
Email & Subscription Management
MailChimp: Free to get started, and it has all the more-fun-and-fancy features I need. (Segmenting! Automation! Hooray!)
ChimpEssentials: The course that taught me to use MailChimp. Courses that show me how to actually USE the tools I need are always worth it to me, and this one is EXCELLENT.
Contagious: To learn about the psychology behind social sharing. (Fascinating!)
Jab, Jab, Right Hook: For thinking about what to share when.
High Performance Habits: For getting it all done.
Essentialism: For keeping the main thing the main thing.
The Art of Asking: For a behind-the-scenes story of true community building.
Bird by Bird: On writing for publication.
Style: Lessons in Clarity & Grace: For help with writing more clearly.