In this episode of the Brand It Girl podcast, we are diving into my top tips for places to spend your money when you are just starting out with your business. I know it can be super hard to know what you should spend your money on and when so I have broken down what I would spend my money on in 2017 if I were you!
STEP 1 | SET UP PHASE
Domain Name | Go Daddy
Before you do anything else, do this! Get your own website domain name. This is your www.yourname.com address and securing your ideal name is kind of a big deal. Remember, a name can only be sold once so if you let yours sit there for too long, someone else will eventually snap it up! So, if you have a brand or a business name and you have $20 (actually, it can be much cheaper than that), then my number 1 suggestion is buy your domain name. My favourite provider is Go Daddy. Intuitive to use, great support and all round reliable people! Not sure what you are doing? That's ok, read this tutorial!
Custom Email Address | Google Work Apps
The very first thing (OK, second, buying your domain name is first) I would do if I had $5.00 is purchase my custom email address. This means you can have a professional looking email address. For example, mine is firstname.lastname@example.org. The best part about purchasing your custom email address through Google Work Apps is that when you log into your email, it is essentially the Gmail interface, so it's super easy to use! If you are not sure how to set up your custom email you can find a full tutorial here. Note: Before you do this though, you probably want to get the domain name first! See the 'If I had $20.00' section!
Website | Wordpress
So that's Wordpress.org not .com. This can be confusing, but you want the version of Wordpress that is self-hosted. And to do that, you'll need hosting. Here's a tutorial all about installing wordpress on your hosting using cPanel. Trust me, it will make more sense as you are doing it!
Hosting | SiteGround, JustHost
If you are going the Wordpress route, you'll need hosting for your website. It is really quite inexpensive and I recommend that you go with one of the above services - but there's HEAPS out there that I haven't even tried. BlueHost is what I use for my membership site and my opt-in/landing page site and I have never had an issue with them!
Website | Squarespace
Alternatively, my favourite platform is Squarespace. I was with Wordpress for a very long time, and I still love Wordpress, I really do. But Squarespace has changed my business and so the switch over from Wordpress to Squarespace has been one solid investment! It is just so simple to use yet offers advanced coding options - I just swoon! You can read all about starting out with Squarespace in this recent post. I definitely recommend Squarespace to all businesses, check out their different packages and levels - I am sure you will find something to suit!
Business Cards | Moo
Another great way to invest $20.00 is to get some business cards printed. Moo is a great online service that does this relatively cheaply, and if you want to invest a little more, they have foiling and letterpress options. I recommend only taking this step once you have set up your domain name and custom email address. Remember to proofread everything before you hit the order button and if you are not confident designing your card on your own, Moo offers a great range of templates to choose from.
STEP 2 | SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook & Twitter | SmarterQueue
I am a huge fan of SmarterQueue. I love the fact you can build up content libraries and it recycles content. It really prolongs the life of your content and makes managing your social media so much easier. I use this for my Twitter account and both my private Facebook groups. It's inexpensive, and it run quite the same way as MeetEdgar - definitely an alternative worth considering!
Pinterest | BoardBooster
BoardBooster is perhaps one of the best, easiest and most cost effective investments I have made in my business. It is an incredible tool that is essentially a Pinterest scheduling and maintenance app that means you need to spend very little time making your Pinterest account successful. My Pinterest has grown exponentially since I started using BoardBooster and you can read all about the things I love about this tool here!
Instagram | PlannThat
This is my go-to Instagram planner and scheduler. I love the fact you can drag and drop your images to visually plan your Instagram feed. PLUS, it has a really handy hashtag library where you can pre-save hashtag sets and with just a click, copy and paste your hashtags into your Instagram posts!
STEP 3 | Email marketing + LEADPAGES
Mailing List | ActiveCampaign
The mailing list you choose is going to depend on your business and how you plan to utilise your mailing list as you grow it. So I can't recommend just one. I do however have a top three that I recommend you check out - starting with the one I use, Active Campaign. Now if you are JUST starting out, this might not be for you. It can be a little complicated, but I promise, it's not too crazy.
Mailing List | ConvertKit
Another recommendation is ConvertKit, it's similar in price to ActiveCampaign, but it can be a little easier to use and it quickly becoming a favourite in much of the online business community so worth checking out. I used it for quite some time and thought it was a great service!
Mailing List | MailChimp
Finally, MailChimp is a great one for beginners, you can start off free and upgrade as you go. It has come along in leaps and bounds and now offers many of the same automation options as ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit, so definitely worth having a look!
Landing Pages | LeadPages
If landing pages are a big part of your strategy, LeadPages is the place to go for beautiful and complex landing pages. Although people often argue that you can create landing pages without needing LeadPages (e.g. Using Squarespace Cover Pages instead) - and I do agree btw - LeadPages certainly makes it easier! You can have a beautiful, professional landing page up in minutes!
Landing Pages | OptimizePress
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to LeadPages, I totally get you! I felt the same, so I actually use OptimizePress (which can be used for more than just landing pages!). It is installed on Wordpress (so Squarespacers, this one wont work for you) and it's one-off payment of $99.
STEP 4 | MORE SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS
Graphics | Canva
If you'll be using graphics alot inside your business, you'll want to check out Canva! It's an online tool that's free and it's AWESOME!
Graphics | Adobe Illustrator
This is perhaps a little advanced for people just starting out, but Adobe Illustrator is absolutely my graphic tool of choice. I use it every single day to create the graphics for my business, blog and for my clients. It can be tricky to work out to start with, but there are so many tutorials out there and once you get the hang of it, it's simple!
Fonts + Graphics | Creative Market
I would also recommend investing in some beautiful custom fonts and elements from the Creative Market. As a designer, this is my number one place to go to for fonts, graphics, vectors and elements. Regardless of what I am making, I will always stop by the Creative Market to see if there is anything that tickles my fancy! For instance this font bundle!
Video Software | ScreenFlow
I love making vlogs, video tutorials and of course video lessons for my upcoming eCourse and so it was a god-sent when I discovered ScreenFlow. With ScreenFlow you can create videos by filming either yourself or your desktop - so this is how people do those slideshow-looking videos! I talk about how I use ScreenFlow in this recent post. I was using Camtasia, which I still think is great, but I love ScreenFlow more!
Microphone | Blue Yeti Microphone
I also talk about the Blue Yeti Microphone in that post, and let me tell you - it is the best thing since sliced bread! Once you get those settings right, this mic is AMAZING. The clarity is next level and the mic is adorable!
Audio Recording | Audacity
If you are looking at just audio editing, Audacity is a free tools you can download and that’s what I use for my podcast!
Call Scheduling | Acuity Call Scheduler
I use Acuity call scheduler and essentially you can make different call types, so I have one called Virtual Coffee, and determine how long the calls will be, set your availability and even set up a registration form to gather info from people who sign up for a call. Then you send out the link to people you are inviting to the call and they can jump on, select their timezone and your available times will be converted to their timezone and they can schedule their call with you. Grab a 45 day FREE trial here.
Tripod | Vectra 3720
I also have a tripod in my office with a iPhone mount on it. The tripod is a Vectra3720 and it’s a sturdy, lightweight tripod. Nothing fancy but definitely does the job for Facebook Lives and other videos I make. You can grab it for around $30, but just check if the iPhone mount is included.
Lights | Softbox
I also have a set of softbox lights on tripods in my office and you’d think that this would only come in handy if I were doing a lot of front to camera videos, but I even use them when I am Skyping people just so I am not super dark. You can grab a set for between $40-70 and again, I will pop in some links in the show notes.
(Note: Some of these links are affiliate links, which means I get a small financial kickback if you purchase them, too. However I only promote products I personally use and believe in!)