Tools of the Trade

 

:::UPDATE::: WE SHARED OUR 2016 FAVORITE TOOLS IN THIS POST COMPARING ‘THEN & NOW’

Check it out to see what’s changed since this post was written.
 
 
Today, I discussed The Mogul Mom’s income and expenses with a business broker friend of mine.
 
When my friend saw my 2010 and 2011 profit and loss sheet, he was surprised at how little it costs to power The Mogul Mom.
 
Almost all of my income is profit. And that’s the absolute beauty of an online business like mine.
 
So, I’d like to share my tools of the trade with you. Maybe you can use some of them to run your business more profitably, too.
 
 
 

Website:

The Mogul Mom runs on WordPress with a Thesis theme. With Thesis, you can control every last detail of your site and design with three revolutionary features you won’t find in any other WordPress theme. See what they are, here.
 
(You can also check out Studiopress for other options.)
 
Wordpress is awesome because you can add, edit or remove content whenever you want to instead of paying a web designer $100 an hour every time you want to make a simple change. Been there, done that.
 
Thesis is awesome because it allows you amazing customization options and kick-ass SEO capabilities.

 
 
 

Hosting:

For hosting, I use Bluehost and have been very happy. It’s fast, safe and cheap…about $6 per month!
 
 
 

Advertising Sales:

Part of my income comes from advertising sales and my favorite advertising “program” is actually a WordPress plugin called Max Banner Ads. With Max Banner Ads, you can easily add and rotate banner ads in blogs posts, pages or on the sidebar without messing with code. Best of all? It’s free. Download the Max Banner Ads plugin here.
 
 
 

Information Product Sales:

The bulk of my income comes from info product sales.
 
To sell information products like Get Famous and Get Retail Ready, I use SendOwl which costs me just $15 per month.
 
I love it because it’s cheap and easy to use and you can do cool things like set up affiliate programs and create discount codes.
 
 
 

Information Product Creation:

I create all of my information products (as well as interviews, videos and video tutorials) on a Mac using Pages, Grab, and iMovie.
 
Oh, Mac…how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. No, never mind, that would take too long.
 
Let me just say that I have earned back the $2,000 I spent on my Mac and Mac tools…about ten times over.
 
 
 

Photo Editing:

To edit photos, I use PicMonkey and love it. Best of all? It’s free. I have also heard fantastic things about Gimp and Pixelmator. I’m going to give them a try soon.
 
 
 

Email Marketing:

Email marketing is a must for any business. (If you need help getting started, here’s a complete reference guide.) After trying nearly every email offering out there, I fell in love with that silly monkey at MailChimp.
 
Every time I log into my account, I’m greeted with a little quip that makes me giggle. MailChimp has loads of cool features like reporting, social sharing, autoresponders and pretty templates. It costs me $50 per month for almost 4000 email subscribers. Not bad, little monkey. And, if you’ve got a list under 2,000, it’s free!
 
Since then we’ve nearly doubled out mailing list and have moved on to Convertkit. We also recommend any of these other mail providers (most have free options) include:
AWeber
 
Get Response
 
InfusionSoft
 
 
 

Payment Processing:

Back in the day, I had a merchant account that cost me tons of money to set up and in monthly fees.
Now I just use PayPal to accept payments – it’s safe, it’s easy and the fees aren’t so bad either. People can use the credit card of their choice or whatever might be in their PayPal balance.
 
 
 

Social Media:

I run multiple Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts and Hootsuite is my hands-down favorite for managing them.
 
HootSuite allows you to monitor and post to multiple social networks all from one dashboard. It also gives analytics reporting, the ability to schedule tweets & posts and a cool app for your iPhone, Android or Blackberry.
 
I use the HootSuite Pro account and it costs $5 per month. Try it free for 30 days, here.
 
So, my monthly expenses are roughly $100. Not bad, eh? 🙂
 
 
Here are some more programs we use and love:

 
 

Which of these tools are you going to try and why? Share with me in the comments.

 
 

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Heather Allard

Heather Allard is a mom of three kids + one big rescue dog. She's a wellness buff, an essential oil educator with dōTERRA, and a self-professed “entrepreneur to the core”.
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36 Comments

  1. Jenny Beck

    This is awesome info, thank you so much for sharing with us! I’m going to get on a few of these asap! =)

    Reply
  2. Bill

    HootSuite sounds like the ‘real deal’ for me. I have always wanted to manage several Twitter accounts at once / from the same program and it sounds as if HootSuite can do this. It’s after 2:30 a.m. tonight, so I’ll give it a try tomorrow.

    Reply
  3. Bonita Wyckoff

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment on https://www.themogulmom.com/2011/05/tools-of-the-trade but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

    Reply
  4. Alissa

    Your directions sound easy. But now where is the install tab under themes on the dashboard? I did find the forums helpful and watched an amazing webinar from a lady on ftp uploads.

    Reply
    • Hillary

      How is it going?

      If you haven’t figured it out yet when you click on “Themes” on your left sidebar in the wordpress dashboard you come to a page. On the top of the page there are two tabs: one says “manage themes” and another says “install themes”. The install themes tabs might be harder to see because it’s very light text until you click on it.

      Then you will see a place to search for files to upload from your computer!

      You are so close!

      Reply
      • alissa

        I love the help btw! I think one of the issues is that I do not Internet Explorer 8. Am dowloading it now. Then I should be able to upgrade the wordpress to the 3 version.

        Reply
  5. Alissa

    I signed up for Thesis, but I have to tell it is so HARD to install, I am loosing my mind! There is no phone number to call for help, and they haven’t responded to my emails. If your review wasn’t so awesome I would think about a refund. The issue I am having is the ftp upload and wordpress doesn’t have a ftp host name, so I can’t transfer. Ugh! I am learning in the process though!

    Reply
    • Hillary

      Hi Alissa,

      I’m sorry you are so frustrated. I remember hitting my head against the wall the first time I was wrapping my mind around this stuff. I use Thesis and found it worked just like any other theme. In fact it’s easier than it used to be–Download the file onto your computer and then go to “Themes” on your WordPress dashboard and click on the “Install” tab. Then upload the zip file from your computer and activate it.

      Also, if you have questions the Thesis forums are pretty active and people are very friendly and helpful.

      Hope it resolves easily!

      Reply
      • Heather Allard

        Hillary,

        I just finished explaining my process to Alissa and then saw your comment. I *never* knew you could just upload themes right on WP! That’s SO cool!

        Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this!! 🙂

        Heather

        Reply
        • Hillary

          You’re welcome! I think it’s a relatively new feature and I only learned about it while helping someone build a wordpress site from the ground up. So much easier than when I did my first install!

          Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Hey Alissa,

      Whenever I install Thesis (or the newest version of it), I don’t bother with the FTP deal. I always go right into my C Panel (*NOT* your WordPress panel) and go to File Manager > Web Root > Public HTML > WP Content > Themes. Then, you’ll see the “Upload” icon at the top of the page – just click, select the Thesis zip file and click “open”. Then, when you return to the file manager – you’ll see the Thesis zip file (it’ll look like a little box icon). Select it and then click “Extract” up at the top. I believe that should do it.

      Then, you’ll have to change the permissions (also right there in your C Panel – NOT in your WP panel) – you can find out how to do that at http://diythemes.com/thesis/downloads/install/.

      I hope this helps – if you’re still stuck, maybe I can walk you through it over the phone or if you’d like to give me your C Panel login info, I can do it for you. 🙂

      Thanks,
      Heather

      Reply
      • alissa

        I think I don’t have a file manager. Looks like you have to download a program and there are so many choices, I don’t know which one is a decent fit.

        Reply
        • Heather Allard

          Hey Alissa,

          Then just follow Hillary’s instructions – they’re much easier anyway! Make sure you have the latest version of WordPress (3.1.3) and then go to your WP dashboard > Appearance > Themes. Look up at the top and you’ll see tabs that say “Manage themes” and “Install themes”. Click on “Install themes” and look at the tiny tabs directly under it that say Search Upload Featured Newest Recently Updated. Click on Upload, choose the Thesis zip file from your desktop (or wherever you have it on your computer) and click Install Now. After that, you’ll probably have to Activate it and then you should be good to go!

          Heather 🙂

          Reply
  6. Living the Balanced Life

    Hi Heather!
    This is an awesome list for someone who is starting out, for sure! I have been using Aweber for about 10 months, but recently have heard many sing the praises of MailChimp and so just today I signed up with them! now I need to learn how to use, and to utilize as many of the features as I possibly can!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Bernice
    Moms in business learn to prioritize their lives

    Reply
  7. Patty West

    I am excited to try MailChimp for our email marketing. I have been disappointed by the design options with Constant Contact. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      You’re welcome, Patty! You’ll love MailChimp. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Michele Rollen-Hanson

    Thank you so much! Just before I read this post I started my new empire!
    http://www.thecreativewindow.com. The website isn’t up yet but your list follows the philosophy I intend to emulate. Low overhead! I’ll definitely be back for more advice soon! Thanks again for being so generous with your knowledge!
    Michele

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      You’re welcome, Michele! So glad you enjoyed it! Congratulations on your new empire! 🙂 Keep us posted!

      Reply
  9. Hillary

    Happy Birthday! We celebrate birthdays for *at least* the weekend 😉

    Loving your list and I use almost everything you do! WordPress, thesis, mailchimp, hootsuite, picnik, and my mac….oh my mac. I love her too. Maybe a little too much. (nah 😉

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Yep, I try to stretch it out all month – between Mother’s Day and my birthday, it’s pretty easy. 😉

      Reply
  10. Peri

    I am still “kicking around” my ideas for an online business and am soooooo enjoying your newsletter! You share so much info free of charge! I have signed up for several other “free” newsletters and all they are is a bunch of nothing wanting you to click on their icons so they can then sell you info they said they were going to give you for free. I don’t mind paying for something I’m truly interested in but I resent being mislead by their claims. Thank you for being straightforward and truthful in your newsletter and for truly wanting to help those of us struggling to be entrepenuers!!

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Aw, thanks Peri. I’m so glad you’re enjoying The Mogul Mom.

      Thanks for the compliment – means the world to me. 🙂

      Heather

      Reply
  11. Renee Lindo

    Hi Heather,
    This was awesome! I am planning on launching my site June1, and this info is great to have. Several of the items I have heard about but to have someone else speak to their virtues is helpful. Here is what I will be investigating thanks to you-hope you’ll get some affiliate moola!
    1) Mail chimp-heard about Aweber also, but since you use the little monkey and love it I’ll go there first. Think I’ll wait though until I have some email subscribers!!
    2) Wanted to get my site and content up and kick ass before even thinking about the money. I am really doing my site because I think it will fill a great gap in my market now. Once the site is up and I have developed some traffic then the ads. I will start in earnest looking at affiliate programs and other monetizing options. Will look at “Max banner ads”
    3) Paypal
    4) Will look at Hootsuite because I do have FB and twitter. What I am using now I am just not “getting”

    Thanks again
    Renee

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Hey Renee,

      You’re welcome – so glad you enjoyed it! You should try MailChimp now – they have a free account up to 500 subscribers and you can create a sign up form so you can GET some email subscribers. 🙂

      Let me know how you like these things and when your site is ready. Can’t wait to see it!

      Heather

      Reply
  12. karen

    This is too freaky. As I was reading this on my e-mail (delivered by your monkeys at MailChimp), I checking each one of them off, saying, “I do that, I use that, I’ve done that, I don’t sell on my blog so I don’t need that but maybe I should, I totally use that and love it…….” all the way down to your last item. How cool is that? I use EVEYRYTHING you said on this list that’s not related to Ads.

    But now I’m thinking, I should start the ads, now that I know what YOU use! 🙂

    Thanks for the list!!

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Karen – you should try some ads. Nothing to lose. 🙂

      Reply
  13. kelly

    Hi Heather,

    I’ve just discovered your website…. love it! I have a children’s coat design that I’d like to get a design and sample made. Can I ask who you’d recommend? Any other suggestions you’d have would be great!

    Thanks.
    Kelly

    Reply
  14. Abi

    Heather,

    Your posts are always so helpful and practical. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It’s amazing how many awesome FREE tools are out there to help small businesses. Every time I find a new one, I tell all my friends that are small business owners too.

    I know you have covered Google Apps, Docs, Analytics, etc. in previous posts and those are certainly tools that I couldn’t go a day without. I also use Freshbooks (invoicing), Outright (bookkeeping) and Manymoon (project management), which all, by the way, are integrated with Google. Love it!

    Thanks again for being “The Mogul Mom”! I’ve learned so much from you! 🙂

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Hi Abi,

      So glad you enjoyed the post. I love sharing these tools, too.

      I recently discovered Outright and LOVE it. Outright made it so easy for me to pull up my income/expenses for the past 2 years. I actually just wrote a post for American Express OPEN Forum and shared a few more tools (including Outright) – when the post runs, I’ll be sure to share it here too. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Holly

    I just switched to WordPress and am loving it! I was able to find a membership plugin that is free and I am over the moon about it!

    A couple online tools that I wouldn’t be able to live without are dropbox for online file storage and sharing (perfect for client files that we both need to access) and HiTask to track my time per client. Love them both! Dropbox is free and HiTask is maybe $5 per month.

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Hey Holly,
      Glad you’re enjoying WordPress! Thanks for sharing Dropbox & HiTask. We love them too – covered ’em both recently. 🙂

      Heather

      Reply
  16. Jenni

    I’m hoping to start a new blog with WP pretty soon, so this is all very helpful information. Thanks! 🙂

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      You’re welcome, Jenni! So glad it’s helpful. 🙂

      Reply

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