This article is a little different from all the others on the site. It lists a short selection of products and services which I personally use and recommend. It’s a bunch of great things, all in one place, and there are some interesting offers and free trials here too 🙂
All of these products help me run my business, make money and organise my life. While I am an affiliate for some of the things here, that has nothing to do with what I’ve picked. These are products I personally use – many of them every single day.
Microsoft Office 365: It may seem a bit “old school,” but I firmly believe that there’s no substitute for having access to the full range of Microsoft’s office applications. Yes, I know all about Google Docs, and accept it’s an alternative on some level, but it doesn’t beat Word, Excel and Powerpoint. And when it comes to email, it HAS to be Outlook! These apps remain the industry standard, and are what many clients and companies expect you to use. You can now buy them on an inexpensive subscription basis, so there’s no need to pay out a significant sum to have the very latest versions. Click through from here to have a look at the options.
Trello: Trello organises my working life, and it costs me nothing. It’s a card-based project management system that helps me organise tasks, to-do lists, projects and much more. The interface is super-intuitive and easy to mould to exactly how you work. I have separate “boards” for various things, from managing my editorial calendar to brainstorming ideas for new sites. There’s a mobile app too, so I can see what I’m doing from anywhere. Find Trello here.
Mangools KWFinder: Probably the software I go on about more than any other, and actually use more than any other too, the Mangools suite is a collection of SEO tools that I couldn’t run websites without. I use it to research keywords, find out if ideas have true potential, keep an eye on the progress of my sites, and also to have a good snoop at my competition! You can read a full review of it here. Mangools has recently started offering a full 10-day trial of this essential software – you can sign up to try it free here.
Grammarly: The online advertising says that “if you write anything at all online, you NEED Grammarly.” Based on many of the emails I see, many people really DO need this useful grammar checker! It integrates with your web browser, so it’s far more useful that a normal spelling and grammar tool. It can save you from embarrassing mistakes, and it’s available in a completely free version. What’s not to like?! I’ve published a full review here. Why not sign up and try it out for free.
Dreamhost: I use Dreamhost for this website, and all of my others, including several I’ve built for clients. I’ve used the company for over a decade and never felt tempted to switch, which I think gives me a solid basis for a recommendation. If you’re thinking of starting a blog, web hosting is the first thing you will need, and I’d suggest buying it from Dreamhost. I can also offer an exciting discount, which gives you over 50% off. This means you can start your website for as little as $2.59 per month! You can get a free domain too. Use this link to grab the discount and get started.
Aweber: If you’re signed up to my newsletter, it arrives every Thursday thanks to the magic of Aweber. This email marketing software isn’t the newest kid on the block, but it’s been a faithful servant to me for many years, and – as with Dreamhost – I never feel inclined to switch my loyalties. The killer feature for me is its email deliverability; If you’re sending emails to customers, you want them to actually get them, and for them not to end up marked as junk mail. Aweber costs from just $19, and you can try it free for a month by using this link.
Tailwind: Keeping on top of social media is a significant amount of work nowadays, and Tailwind is one of the tools I use to make sure my feeds remain fresh. My Pinterest manager uses it to schedule and share pins, and I also use it to help me with Instagram (or at least I do when I’m not having one of my regular breaks from Instagram!) We have a full review of the product here, and it’s well worth a look if you plan to embrace Pinterest, which is becoming a big source of traffic for many bloggers. Use this link to sign up and get a free trial.
Crowdfire: Crowdfire has been through tough times, with some of its more useful features banned by Twitter in early 2019, something discussed in our review. However, it’s an economical way of managing LOADS of different social media presences all at the same time. There is a free version available, so it’s possible to check it out without handing over any money. Head on over using this link if you want to give it a try.
Kicksta: Many people want to be big Instagram influencers. I have more of a love / hate relationship with the platform, but if you’re keen to build up your followers, I’d recommend taking a good look at Kicksta. I gave the software a thorough once-over when I wrote up my review, and saw a pleasing uplift in my number of Instagram followers. You can check it out here.
Hiscox Insurance: Something very different next, but arguably more important than everything here. I’ve used Hiscox Business Insurance for around a decade now to bring me peace of mind when I’m out there selling my services. The company offers great packages which can combine coverage for all the different kind of business risks you face as a freelancer or small business. You can grab a no-obligation quote by clicking here.
MONEY MAKERS AND SAVERS
Topcashback: TopCashback is a website I’m always telling people about. I’ve earned over $2500 on the platform since I signed up, and it’s literally free money. All you have to do is search for things you’re going to buy anyway, and make sure you click through to the sites via TopCashback, as explained in more detail in my review. I’ve had particularly good results when I’ve been booking hotels, and buying financial services products like insurance policies. If you’re buying anything online and not grabbing cashback on it, you’re really missing a trick.You can sign up using this link.
Swagbucks: We review and discuss lots of survey sites on HomeWorkingClub. I have two reasons for deciding to add Swagbucks to my recommendations list: First up, it’s a really busy site, so unlike others, where you can be waiting around for surveys, there’s always something you can do to add to your balance. Secondly, there’s a $3 signup bonus – so you essentially get free money for getting started. You can take advantage of the sign-up offer using this link.
UserTesting: There are plenty of user testing sites out there (and we’ve discussed several here). However, the “original and best” that I always go back to when I need some extra money is UserTesting. You typically get paid $10 for each short test, and I generally find it easy to pick up several in a week if I remain logged on to the UserTesting site. You can sign up and get started here.
COURSES AND TRAINING
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: I’m not a fan of many courses with a substantial price tag. With a standard price of $197, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing isn’t an insignificant investment. However, I am recommending it here because it turned my head and made me realise that you really can benefit much more from learning from someone who’s “been there and done it” than you can from reading endless online articles. There’s a full review here. Even with years of experience in online marketing, I still came away from this course with a huge list of action points to take forward. If you want to make money from websites and affiliate marketing, I seriously recommend checking it out here.
The Science of Happiness: This is a bit of a strange one for me to recommend. It’s a psychology course on edX (review of the platform here), delivered in association with Berkeley University. The Science of Happiness literally aims to help you develop the skill of being happy! I’ve completed MANY courses over the years, yet somehow I always remember enjoying this one more than most. Best of all you can study this course completely free, and only pay for a verified certificate if you choose to. (I did, because it’s rather nice to have a certificate from Berkeley on your LinkedIn profile!) You can enroll for free here.
Pinterest Traffic Avalanche: Pinterest is a social network I’ve always struggled to understand. In fact, to this day, I continue to pay a virtual assistant to look after it for me! I’ve put two VAs through the Pinterest Traffic Avalanche course – one novice and one expert – and both have been very positive about it. (There’s a review here). Signing up also gives you access to the creator via a private Facebook group, and I’ve been impressed with how thoroughly she responds to queries, and how hard she works to keep everyone updated on best practices. You can find out all about this course here.
NEED MORE RECOMMENDATIONS?
Here are a few other articles where I’ve recommended products that may be of interest:
- Some of my all time favourite books for freelancers are here.
- I have some gifts for entrepreneurs here, so you know what to put on your Christmas list!
- Over on WriteBlogEarn, here’s a list of the blogging plugins I couldn’t do without.