My Essentials Toolkit
Of all of the resources I’ve used over my career, the collection below includes some of my most trusted tools in my arsenal. I hope that you find them useful on your own journey! Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or would just like additional information on anything mentioned below. I have personally used and purchased each item below (some multiple times!), none have been given to me or requested endorsement. Fair warning: I’m a bit of a book hoarder and I don’t discriminate between digital or print copies.
For full disclosure, some descriptions do contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission (at not additional cost to you!) if you decide to purchase them. I will never list anything here I don’t truly believe in … and free resources are linked as well!
Read on, gather your own tools, and go do that thing.
X | Theme for WordPress
A majority of the sites I have customized over the past few years utilize my absolute favorite WordPress theme ever – X by THEMECO. In addition to its gorgeous design, endless customization options and frequent automatic updates, the knowledge base and forums are unmatched by any other developer support team I have had to consult. It’s truly worth every penny. Available on Envato Market.
I discovered the Passion Planner last year during a Kickstarter campaign, and I instantly fell in love! It’s literally the ultimate planner, especially for those who have entrepreneurial goals. The planner includes inspirational quotes, writing prompts, guides for creating your own goal-oriented roadmap, and reflection exercises along with the typical scheduling pages in weekly layout. I’m a major paper nerd, and approve this quality piece. Want to try before you buy? They have every size and layout of planning pages available as FREE downloads .
I also love color coding and doodling in my planners (see? nerd), and while my beloved Sharpie Ultra Fine Points are great for some things, double-sided pages? Not so much. For bold and colorful writing utensils that won’t bleed through, my favorite set is the Sakura 50075 16-Piece Pigma Micron 05 Assorted Colors Cube Collection Ink Pen Set which you can get MUCH cheaper on Amazon than at Michaels or any other art/craft supply store.
Though paper is my first choice for note-taking, sometimes it’s just not the practical option. Evernote helps me organize articles, notes and lists using “notebooks” in the cloud (hooray, I don’t have to haul them around in my purse all day and can access them from almost anywhere). It’s FREE for up to 60 MB of data per month. BONUS: The FREE Evernote Web Web Clipper extension for Chrome makes it super easy to saves bits & pieces off the internet in a neat and tidy format.
Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook
I purchased Building a Framework well after I stopped writing on my first blog, in preparation for my next project. You know that saying, “the more you learn the more you realize how little you know”? Yep – right here. That was me. I was really proud of my first blog and in reading this book, I learned that I did do a number of things right with little to no insight on blogging best practices … but, man is there a lot that never even crossed my mind. This handbook is an excellent overview of all the areas you need to take into consideration when starting up (or even reexamining) your blogging project. The author dives deeper into some topics than others, including plenty of external resources for those that are less detailed. In my opinion, Abby sold herself a little short with the price tag of only $25 for the Starter Package, as I have seen many blogging guides priced much higher … but that’s another reason I support it. Abby and her husband Donnie state in other articles/courses that they prefer to price on the lower side so that information is accessible to a larger audience – they really do want you to get the most bang for your buck and see you succeed.
Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers
In the previously mentioned eBook, there is a single 4 page section on affiliate marketing. It is very helpful to those who weren’t even aware of this method to monetize their website or blog – but it’s a very high-level overview. Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers provides 125 pages of great detail on this single subject, with plenty of links, tips and tricks to get you on your way to earning some good money with your online project.
Tasha’s writing style is cute and quirky, which makes subject matter that could be pretty dry much more fun to go through. Who’s excited about “nofollow” links? ME! ME!
In all seriousness, can you google information on affiliate marketing? Yes, of course – but I find great value in products that provide a comprehensive collection of all the information I need in one place, saving me even more valuable research time (time is money, people). If you decide you’re going to spend money to make money, the $22 cost should easily fit into your budget.
The Conquer Kit by Natalie MacNeil
One of my favorite books in my Essentials Tool Kit is a “kit” in and of itself – The Conquer Kit: A Creative Business Planner for Women Entrepreneurs by Natalie MacNeil of She Takes On the World. Anyone who needs some help pulling together all of those great ideas swirling around upstairs into one cohesive plan can benefit from this guide. It’s not a textbook – it’s an interactive workbook to help get those creative juices flowing and identify answers to some of the questions you didn’t even know you had to ask. It is also helpful that this is a beautifully designed and enjoyable book to go through – nothing is worse in my opinion than sitting down with a dry, boring, bare-bones guide and trying to translate its advice into something fun, exciting and innovative. There is no lack of creativity in these pages – and with it, there won’t be a lack of creativity in your finished product either. … oh yeah, remember those no-bleed, archival Sakura Pens I mentioned before? You’ll definitely want something fun to help fill this out!
This. Book. Rocks. I love reading other entrepreneurs’ success stories – particularly those with whom I share some sort of commonality. It’s invaluable to be able to learn from the experiences, mistakes, triumphs and failures that paved the way to who they have become. As Bloomberg Business notes, “among the glut of leadership books featuring paunchy old men in power suits … it’s clear why young women admire her,” and why they have made this book a NYT Bestseller.
Sophia Amoruso is a self-described “creative millennial who is a jill-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none” seeking opportunities to innovate and try new things. She comes from more than humble beginnings, and has built an incredible brand and respected reputation for herself all before the age of 32. 32! Really? I have to start acting quickly if I’m going to try and catch up.
Reading #GIRLBOSS is like sitting down with a friend and brainstorming over a glass of wine – with no filter. In the words of Sophia herself, “… don’t idolize me. I don’t know shit … but if I can pull this off, so can you. Take that and run with it.”