10 Tools I Used To Start and Grow My Side Business

There has never been a better time for you to start or grow your side business. Whether your business in online or offline, you offer a product or service, getting on the fast track to bringing in extra income is at your fingertips.

In today’s post, I share the exact tools I used to both start and grow my side business.

10 Tools I Used To Start and Grow My Side Business

This post contains affiliate links

Bluehost

Every business needs a website from the very beginning. Your website is where your clients will find you and return when your services and expertise are needed. The easiest way I know to build a website or start a blog is through self-hosting using Bluehost. While you can do this with free-hosted options like WordPress.com, TypePad.com, and Blogger.com, you will get the most control by using self-hosted WordPress. By using a self-hosted site with Bluehost, you own the content on your site and are not at the mercy of the host, who can delete your website and hard work.

ConvertKit

Building an email list in one of the most important aspects of starting and growing a successful business. Whether you’ve got a growing list or you’re starting from zero, ConvertKit makes creating forms, landing pages, and organizing your list easy. I switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit about a year into my business and I love the added tagging features in ConvertKit. I use ConvertKit for weekly emails and the automated email sequences people receive after downloading one of my free products.

Buffer

Buffer is my go-to for scheduling social media content. I especially love the Instagram scheduling feature. I use the Chrome extension, which allows me to copy any sentence from any web page and add it to my Buffer queue.  I’ve used both the paid and free versions, but it is really nice to be able to drop an unlimited number of posts into the system and know my Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts will be active all month long.

Canva

Canva is online software that allows everyone to be a graphic designer. The intuitive interface and made-for-you templates make creating graphics for your business a breeze. I use Canva to create everything for social media content to covers for my online courses and paid products. Canva is great because the free option has all the tools to get you started and when you need to use one of their graphics in your design, the cost is only $1 each.

SumoMe

One of the first things I ever added to my website was SumoMe share buttons. I love this tool because it makes it obvious and easy for readers to share your information from my website on social media. The share buttons show up on the side of your blog and scroll with the post. SumoMe also offers pop-up opt-in boxes and landing pages that you can use to capture emails on your website. I love SumoMe because it offers several free tools to get you started and tons of free information on how to grow a website.

Acuity Scheduling

When I began offering 1-to-1 coaching to my clients, I knew I needed a system to automate scheduling and paying for sessions. I love that Acuity allows my consulting clients to add themselves to my schedule, send me their Skype info, and answer background question so our call time is maximized. Acuity automatically shows the user the available times in their time zone and it syncs with my Google calendars, so I don’t have to worry about adjusting my availability when a new appointment is added. Plus it allows me to add a buffer before and after sessions. The free option is great for beginning edupreneurs.

Gumroad

If you can’t tell by now, I love tools that offer free options. Gumroad is no different. I use Gumroad to deliver digital downloads to my audience. I love Gumroad because of its ease of use and it allows me to deliver both paid and free products. Gumroad has been instrumental in helping me grow my email list because it integrates nicely with ConvertKit and I can embed products from Gumroad directly on my site. Payments are also totally automated for paid products.

PayPal

Whether you are offering a product of service in your business, you will need a way to get paid. PayPal is great because it has become a trusted way to pay and get paid. This platform has taken the guesswork out of accepting money in your business and you can easily transfer your PayPal funds to the bank account of your choice. Each of the automated software I use in my business is connected directly to my PayPal account, which makes it easy for me to track my business income.

Evernote

I started using Evernote when I was a classroom teacher before I ever started my side business. Evernote is a key tool for me and I am always finding new uses for it both in my business and personal life. I currently use Evernote to write and save my blog posts, subscribe to the email newsletters of other teachers, and brainstorm for new products and posts. The notebook feature allows me to keep all of my posts, emails and ideas organized in one place.

Teachable

One of the first paid products I offered with Edupreneur Today was a mini course. I began using teachable about a year into the business, after trying a few other platforms.  Honestly Teachable is one of the best, and they offer a free option with lots of advanced features. There is no coding or design, complicated installation, or set-up. You literally add your payment email, upload a few images, build your sales page and then upload your course content. Videos and worksheets can be embedded directly in the lessons and I can track how my students are moving through the course.

*This post contains affiliate links. 

To make it super easy for you to reference this list whenever you need it, these tools are also available as a free PDF download.  Enter your email address in the form below for the PDF.

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  • I have to get on the gumroad and teachable band wagon! Thanks for the extra nudge 😉

  • I use most of these too! I’m going to check out Acuity that is a new one for me.

  • Dicia

    Great tools! I love canva for my blog. It makes it so easy to make professional pinnable graphics for my blog. I use it with most of my blog posts.

    Dicia ~ itsmymommylifenow.com

    • Kiana Porter-Isom

      Agree! Canva is my favorite for creating beautiful graphics

  • Emily Lindsey

    What great tools! I’m familiar with some but some are new! Canva and BlueHost are great ones!

    • Kiana Porter-Isom

      Canva and Bluehost are two a certainly use daily

  • Lesley Sullivan

    Great resources. Ive heard great things about canva, never tried it myself

    • Kiana Porter-Isom

      Canva is a must!

  • What a great list! Thanks for sharing, a few I need to check out!

    • Kiana Porter-Isom

      Hi Stacy,
      I’m glad it was helpful

  • Because I Said So Baby

    I love using Canva! It’s a great tool for bloggers.

    • Kiana Porter-Isom

      Canva is for sure one of my favorites

  • ccmaine

    Girl…this is a great list! I use many of these too. However, I’ve never heard of Acuity! Gotta check it out 🙂

  • Julie Porter

    Thanks for the great list! I’m in the middle of building a website and while I knew of most of these, there are a few I didn’t know of, that I am definitely going to be adding!

  • Haylee Cater

    Canva has seriously helped my photos so much. I will have to check out these other tools.

  • You just taught me so much I had no idea these sites existed. I have been working far too hard! Thanks so much for sharing this great piece of knowledge!

  • Chanel van Reenen

    I haven’t heard of a lot of these, so thank you so much for sharing! I just bookmarked this for future reference!

  • I’ve been thinking about a post scheduler. Have you tried any others, other than Buffer?

  • I LOVE canva. Seriously has helped me so much.

  • Lindsay Katherine

    Canva is a huge game changer; definitely checking out these other tools!