I’ve created this resource page for your online commerce and website needs. Bookmark or save it into Evernote, so you’ll have the page handy when you need it! A lot of trial and error went into selecting these resources. For every product or service on this page, I rejected at least three others. So I consider these the cream of the crop for solopreneurs.
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. This means I will earn a commission — at no additional cost to you — if you decide to purchase products or services via these links. I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they provide quality products and services.
Affiliate Advertising Networks
The best affiliate network is the one that provides products and services that your customers want. In my experience, though, using only one affiliate network isn’t adequate.
Amazon Affiliates: Amazon Affiliates offers a low percentage per sale (4 to 6 percent), but the Amazon program is easy to use, offers a massive number of products, and people trust the platform. I’ve created, grown, and sold websites that were monetized solely with Amazon Associates. If I was allowed only one affiliate network, it would be Amazon.
CJ Affiliate (formerly named Commission Junction): This is a solid network. The user interface is excellent and it’s easy to get up and running quickly.
Shareasale: Shareasale is comparable to CJ Affiliate. The complaint I have with Shareasale is its antiquated website and worst-in-class user interface. Even the search function is maddening.
Auction House for Domains and Websites
Flippa: Someday you might want to sell your website. Flippa is an online auction site for domains and websites.
SoundCloud.com: an easy-to-use tool for publishing audio online. The customizable widgets are great.
Voices.com: marketplace for hiring professional voice talent
WordPress: is the #1 blog-publishing platform. It’s free, easy to customize, and supported by an enormous community. I use WordPress for all of my websites.
Woo Themes: is an excellent resource for premium WordPress themes. My favorite is Canvas, which is a good choice for people who want to build a custom website but don’t want to start with a blank page.
“Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers”: The best business books rise to the level of being invaluable tools. This is one of them.
Adobe Creative Cloud: This is a service that gives you the latest versions of Adobe software, for a monthly fee. For the marketing-communications work that I do, Adobe Creative Cloud is a powerful tool and great value.
E-Mail Subscriptions and E-Mail Marketing
Mailchimp I’ve used Mailchimp since day one and I’ve had no reason to seek a different service. The user interface couldn’t be easier to use. The reports are very good. Mailchimp is free, up to 2,000 subscribers.
Aweber: Aweber is Mailchimp’s main competitor. I’ve never used Aweber, but I’m including it here because so many solopreneurs swear by it.
Webtype: I love using Webtype fonts. They’re beautiful, functional, and the Webtype system for installing the fonts couldn’t be easier. The 30-day trial period for fonts is awesome and makes it easy to experiment with different looks for your website.
Google Adsense: With Adsense, you can make money by placing relevant ads on your website. The ads come from advertisers that use Google Adwords. Adsense is free to use.
Google Adwords: If you want to advertise on Google, this is where you go. You pay each time someone clicks on your ads.
Bluehost: Eighty percent of my sites are hosted on Bluehost. I originally chose Bluehost because WordPress.org recommends it. Bluehost’s one-click, five-minute WordPress installation is a breeze, and I think their customer service and technical help (both chat and on the phone) is very good. You can use the same hosting account for multiple domains. Click this link to get a discount off the regular price.
Media Temple: I first tried Media Temple about three years ago, when I was growing dissatisfied with Bluehost’s reliability. But Bluehost subsequently eliminated the reliability gap. I’m including Media Temple here because I think it’s a fine service and you might prefer it to Bluehost. I’ve stuck with Bluehost because I’m so familiar with its control panel.
Images and Photos
Flickr Creative Commons: This is a wonderful resource for free images for your website. But MAKE SURE you read and understand the Creative Commons rules, so you don’t violate copyright laws.
Hiscox: Hiscox specializes in providing professional liability, general liability, and business-owner insurance to professionals.
Trident Kraken iPhone case: If you’re like me and you value protection over fashion, then this is a great case. It’s cheap insurance for your phone.
Blog Talk Radio: I hosted a podcast for two years on Blog Talk Radio, and if/when I return to podcasting, I would definitely use BTR. Three reasons: 1) they do all of the technical stuff for you, which allows you to concentrate on your programming; 2) BTR’s platform and promotion extends the reach of your show; 3) BTR’s audience demographics are a good fit for me — BTR listeners are more affluent and well-educated than the general population.
Product Distribution and Shopping Carts
e-junkie: I use e-junkie to sell website subscriptions and some of my e-books. It’s compatible with all of the major shopping carts. It functions beautifully and it’s inexpensive to use.
Paypal: If you’re going to sell anything online, having a PayPal account is a necessity.
Hootsuite; I would be lost without Hootsuite, a social-media dashboard that I use on my laptop and my iPhone. I love Hootsuite’s versatility. I use it to monitor Twitter in multiple ways: streams, lists, and search terms. I use it to monitor multiple Twitter accounts. And of course, I use Hootsuite to post. You can hook up your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, too. I use the free version of Hootsuite and it meets my needs just fine.
SurveyMonkey: I began using SurveyMonkey shortly after it launched. Today SurveyMonkey is the standard for online surveys. It’s powerful, flexible, and easy to use.
Google Analytics: A website analytical tool is a must, and Google Analytics continues to set the standard. Keep in mind that if you ever want to sell a website, the first thing prospective buyers want to see is the Google Analytics numbers.
Plugins are the add-on programs that make it possible to customize your WordPress website. Most WordPress plugins are free.
WP Super Cache: This plugin makes websites load faster by producing static HTML files.
Animated Gif Resize: Just like it sounds, this is a plugin for resizing GIFs.
Gravity Forms: There are a lot of forms plugins out there, but Gravity Forms is my favorite.
BookingBug: After a thorough search for the perfect online scheduling app, I chose BookingBug. I’ve used it ever since. I have no complaints and no reason to change.