Note: Some of these resources are free, and some aren't. Those that are paid resources are affiliate products or services, meaning if you buy them, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that I have personal experience with all of the following resources, which is why I recommend them.
Every writer, communicator, and platform-builder needs great resources. Here are some that I use and recommend. Hopefully, they'll help you as much as they've helped me.
Web hosting and design
- Bluehost: Need help hosting a blog or website? For as low as $3.95, you can get set up on Bluehost, the only hosting solution I recommend. Bluehost is one of the leading web hosts on the Internet, and they offer 24/7 customer service. They also help you register a domain and install WordPress, and you can get set up in minutes.
- WordPress: This is the free blogging software that I use and recommend. It's the best. Did I mention it was free? That link will take you to the Bluehost page where you can get a self-hosted blog set up.
- Tribe Theme: Great for capturing emails and making the content shine.
- Don't Hit Publish: A free tool we created that tells you if your blog post is a giant pile of junk or an amazing work of art (and we’ll give you tips to make it better)
- 31 Days to Building a Better Blog: This month-long workbook by Darren Rowse has helped thousands of people get better at blogging, learn how to reach an audience, and start making a profit with their blogs. Whether you're starting out or ready to go to the next level with your blog, this book is worth it.
- Unsplash: This is the resource I use every day to illustrate my blog posts with beautiful photos that don't cost me a dime.
- The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Launching Your Own Blog: This free guide will teach you everything you need to know to launch a blog.
- CoSchedule: Managing your content as you go from draft to published post can quickly get unruly. CoSchedule makes it seamless and easy. Plus they provide amazing tools to help you distribute and improve your content so you become a better writer and reach more people.
- You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One): This best-selling eBook by yours truly offers practical tips and inspiration for how you can start living the dream and become a real writer by believing you already are one.
- Bird by Bird: Anne Lamott has a wonderfully unique and frank way of describing life, faith, and writing. This book is worth it if for no other reason than it helps you understand that every first draft is terrible. The job of a writer is to keep going.
- The War of Art: I don't know why I went so long without reading this book. Quite simply, this book is a must-read for any aspiring writer. Beware: it will kick your butt.
- The Writer's Manifesto: This is a super-short eBook I wrote just for readers of my blog. It's based on the frustrations I've experienced as a writer — about working through the tension between writing for accolades and writing for yourself.
- On Writing Well: This writing classic is a must-read for any aspiring author who wants to write nonfiction. Frankly, I'm ashamed it took so long before I picked it up. It's accessible, challenging, and relevant even after being in publication for several decades.
- On Writing: This more contemporary approach to writing by Stephen King is essential for anyone who wants to be a novelist or writer of fiction. Similar to Zinsser, King pulls no punches and forces you to focus on no-fluff writing that gets to the heart of your message or story.
- Scrivener: Simply put, one of the easiest and best ways to organize your writing.
- ConvertKit: “Email marketing for professional bloggers.” I can't say enough good things about this tool and company. Whether you're just starting out or want to take email to the next level, go with ConvertKit. This is the tool we use!
- Mailchimp: Super easy to use and free for the first 2000 subscribers. Ideal for writers and artists who just want to share their art.
- Aweber: Has some technical advantages over Mailchimp but starts out at $19/mo and takes some getting used to. GREAT for small business owners.
- Feedburner: A free solution from Google. For many, this does the job.
- Sumo: Easy to use tools for growing your email list (pop-ups, scroll boxes, header bars) on WordPress (via a plugin) or any website (with a snippet of code). Works with Mailchimp, Aweber, and other providers.
Online shopping carts & product distribution systems
- E-Junkie: Easy-to-use online shopping cart. Great for selling eBooks and other simple products. Super cheap and has an easy-to-use affiliate program to help sell other people's stuff.
- Paypal: Basically an online bank account that makes it easy for you to receive payments.
- Clickbank: A more advanced shopping cart than E-Junkie with a pretty sweet affiliate tracking system.
Making a difference
- Wrecked for the Ordinary: This is a short eBook I wrote that was published through ChangeThis, a community of progressive thinkers who share ideas to, well, change things. Download it for free by clicking the link and share it with a friend.
- Permission Marketing: Seth Godin is renowned for turning traditional business thinking on its head. In his classic, Permission Marketing, he puts the customers, not the marketers, in control of how products are advertised. It's a classic.
- Platform: Michael Hyatt tells you exactly how to build a powerful platform that will get you heard in today's noisy world. (Fun sidenote: I got to contribute a chapter to this New York Times best-selling book.)
- Writing a Winning Book Proposal: Publishing veteran Michael Hyatt walks you through the process of crafting a great proposal for your book (whether it's a novel or the next nonfiction bestseller).
- Walking on Water: In this classic series of essays of faith and art, Madeleine L'Engle explains that writers don't write to get published. They write simply to write.
- Audible: This little tool is how I am able to read several books every month (sometimes as many as three or four a week!). I love the iPhone app and the credit system. What's more, you get a free book when you sign up! I'm a proud affiliate. Check 'em out.
- Quote Catalog: a quote database of inspiring and educational quotes, all with proper citations of their original sources.