I’ve been earning a full-time living online since 2010.
Below are the best tools and resources I’ve come across for building and running an online business.
Most of them I’ve used personally, and we continue to use many here at eBiz Facts.
Quick disclaimer: please do your own research and due diligence before using or purchasing any of the resources listed below. Just because something has worked well for others doesn’t mean it will work well for you.
💻 Web Hosting
As a site owner and long-time web designer, I’ve had experience with several web hosts over the years.
eBiz Facts is currently hosted on Kinsta, but I’m not ready to recommend them just yet.
Before I give you my recommendations, keep this in mind: no web host is perfect. Google around long enough and you’ll find positive and negative comments about every one of them.
That said, some are definitely better than others…
This is the host I have the most experience with. I’ve been a paying customer since 2011 and have never run into any major problems. Their chat support has always been good to me.
I currently have several sites hosted on a Dreamhost VPS, but if you’re just getting started I recommend going with their Shared Unlimited hosting.
Pay for one year of Unlimited and you’ll have secure hosting, one free domain, and a bunch of handy extras all for less than $100.
If you don’t like Dreamhost for whatever reason, give SiteGround a look.
I’ve never used them myself, but they’re recommended by people I trust and they also have an official recommendation from WordPress.org.
SiteGround’s plans work out a bit more expensive than the equivalent on Dreamhost, but they tend to score a bit better in terms of speed.
📬 Email Marketing
If you’re not yet serious about email marketing and just want to play around with it, sign up for a free Mailchimp account.
That allows you to have up to 2000 subscribers (or “contacts” as Mailchimp calls them), and single-step automations, which is plenty to get your feet wet.
It’s easy to upgrade to a paid Mailchimp plan later, or switch to another provider if you need better functionality.
I’ve never used ConvertKit extensively myself, but I’m continually impressed by their user-friendly design and focus on helping creators.
Many respected online entrepreneurs have switched over to ConvertKit in recent years, including the likes of Tim Ferriss and Pat Flynn.
ConvertKit is a little pricier than competitors – see a full price comparison here – but, if you’re serious about email marketing, it’s worth considering.
Sendy is what we use for email marketing here at eBiz Facts (subscribe to our newsletter).
It’s probably the cheapest setup you can have. We paid $59 one time for a Sendy license, and then $1 per 10,000 emails sent through Amazon SES.
For us, that works out to about $5/month after the license fee.
However, Sendy does have some notable drawbacks. The biggest is that you need to be fairly technical to handle setup and maintenance – it’s self-hosted software – and it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Mailchimp or ConvertKit.
I’d recommend it for tech-savvy bootstrappers, but that’s about it.
If none of the above sound right for you, check out Starter Story’s comprehensive list of email marketing services.
Here at eBiz Facts we review courses related to making money online, and pride ourselves on producing the most helpful, in-depth and objective reviews on the internet.
Here are the best courses we’ve reviewed to date…
The Authority Site System – Key Points
The Complete Copywriting Course – Key Points
Earn More Writing – Key Points
Social Media Marketing Agency 2.0 – Key Points
This is the tool we use for project management here at eBiz Facts. As a small team, it’s great for keeping all our tasks and communication in one place.
I’ve also used it successfully for client projects in the past.
They have a free version available, so you can give it a good test run before you buy.
(I’ve also heard good things about Asana, which seems similar in terms of pricing and functionality.)
If you’re going to work online, learning to type quickly and efficiently is a must.
TIPP10 is the free software I used to learn touch typing at the ripe old age of 30. Before that I was just pecking at the keyboard, and it really slowed me down.
I set aside 30 minutes per day to practice with TIPP10, and within a couple of weeks I was comfortably typing 50 words per minute, and nowadays type ~65 wpm.
(If you want to test your typing speed, TypingTest.com does the job.)
aText helps speed up your typing.
For example, I have it set so every time I type em1 my full email address appears instead, saving me from having to type out the whole thing.
You can set up a bunch of shortcuts like that with aText.
It costs $5 and you can use it for Mac or Windows.
(One limitation of aText is that it looks like it’s built and maintained by one guy in Vietnam. If you’re looking for a more robust software that does pretty much the same thing, you can try TextExpander, but you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription.)
These are my go-to guys for questions about business registration and taxes, especially as a digital nomad with no fixed abode.
After a helpful (and free) phone consultation, I used their service to register my LLC in the United States. That setup has worked out very well for me.
Or read this article on eBiz Facts: Business Registration And Taxes For Digital Nomads
This service allows me to receive old-fashioned mail in the USA without having a physical address there.
They scan any mail received and email it to me, and can also forward along any important documents to another address I specify, anywhere in the world.
This service gives me a US phone number so I can receive voicemail and texts via email. I researched a bunch of companies like this but Copycall delivers the best bang for the buck.
If you’re a digital nomad, you might be interested to check out our Travel Hacker’s Toolkit.
It’s a list of recommended resources for folks building an online business while traveling the world.
The travel insurance provider which costs me about $35/month yet covered my $4000 hospital bill in Indonesia.
The best site we’ve found for cheap cruises. You’ll often find cruises on there for less than $50/day. Great value for meals + transport + accommodation.
Put in your flight details and it creates a custom plan telling you when to sleep, when to wake up, when to drink coffee, when to stop, when to avoid bright light, etc.
For more travel-related tools and resources…
These are the top 3 books I recommend every online entrepreneur to read:
This is my favorite SEO software.
I use it several times a week – for keyword research, rank tracking, competitor analysis, etc. – and it’s so packed with features that I’m still only scratching the surface.
Note that Ahrefs is quite pricey and mainly for SEO professionals and serious site builders.
This is a simple (and free) web app that makes it easy to capture and flesh out ideas.
I use it for structuring articles before getting stuck into the writing. This very article you’re reading started out on Dynalist.
Social Media Management
We use SocialBee for scheduling and recycling social media posts.
We got lifetime access to it for only $49 via an AppSumo deal in 2019.
The regular price is $19/month, which is about the same as SmarterQueue, which we used previously and does pretty much the same thing.
SmarterQueue is actually a better tool, IMO. SocialBee can be buggy and frustrating at times, and my few interactions with their support team have been disappointing. If not for the lifetime deal I’d be back using SmarterQueue already.
Zoom is video-conferencing software, like an advanced version of Skype.
We use it for monthly group calls with members of Freedom Business Builder, our private community here at eBiz Facts.
What’s your #1 tool or resource for building an online business?
One rule here: please don’t recommend a tool if you’re involved in creating or marketing it.
Other than that, I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.