These work from home resources will help you get started and making money fast
One of the most common questions I get on the blog are about the tools and resources I use to grow my work from home income.
I started my online business in 2013 and have tried a lot of different resources. It’s been frustrating at times and I’ve wasted more money than I want to admit on plugins, services and products that ended up not working as promised.
After five years though, I’ve also come across some really useful tools for helping to start and grow your work from home business.
I put this page together to highlight those resources I use and the ones I recommend to new bloggers or YouTube channels. It’s not an end-all list and I’m constantly adding to it, but the tools below will get you started quickly and (hopefully) avoid making some of the same mistakes I did.
Some of the resources are affiliates while others are just simple links. All are resources I use or have used and recommend whole-heartedly (Remember the first rule of affiliate marketing, it’s not worth destroying the community you’ve worked so hard to build by recommending bad products).
I’ll start off with blog resources then share the ones I use for YouTube and finally some business resources.
Resources to Start a Blog Fast
Tools to help you run a blog can get out of hand fast but it takes surprisingly little to get started. All you really need is a domain and web hosting though it helps to have a few more basic services. There’s no reason you can’t get started for less than $35 a month.
Blue Host is the go-to hosting company for most new bloggers for its easy pricing and inclusive package that comes with basic WordPress hosting. The basic package includes a free domain, a security certificate for your website, one-click installation of WordPress and 24/7 tech support for just $3.95 per month.
Web hosting is the very minimum you need unless you’re starting a free blog, which I don’t recommend because you’ll limit your control and how much you can make. Blue Host delivers your website through its servers anytime someone visits your blog.
I used Blue Host for my first two years of blogging but have since migrated my websites to another provider. I still recommend the basic plan on Blue Host for new bloggers because it’s a less inexpensive way to try blogging out before you commit to more expensive hosting from another servicer.
As an added incentive, the Blue Host starter plan comes with $50 in advertising credits from Google, effectively paying for your web hosting costs the first year.
GoDaddy is probably the best well-known web hosting company due to its millions spent on commercial spots. I usually recommend Blue Host to new bloggers but I used GoDaddy for my first website in 2011 and was happy with the service.
Most of GoDaddy’s services and prices are comparable with Blue Host. You get more storage with the basic GoDaddy plan but miss out on the free $50 in advertising.
Where GoDaddy excels is in its customer service. I remember setting up my first website in 2011 at 11:30pm on a Thursday night. Even at that hour, I was able to get through to live tech support for help setting up my site. Blue Host has 24/7 support but it is restricted to chat or email during some hours.
For me, the decision to launch my second (and third, and fourth) sites on Blue Host came down to price and the free advertising credits. If you want a little better customer service and storage space, you might consider GoDaddy.
Beyond web hosting, there are few services you absolutely need to get started blogging, but I’d consider email management one of the most critical. As a new blogger, you’re not going to get a lot of traffic or email subscribers at first. You could just go with a free plan from a service like MailChimp but then you’ll have to think about migrating to another service once your list grows.
I’ve used a few mail providers including MailChimp and Aweber. MailChimp closed down one of my lists without warning. In fact, it was the list to this blog. The site has been cracking down on making-money sites and related blogs over the past couple of years so might not be an option for your blog.
After a few years of trying different email service providers, I’ve finally found one I really like.
ConvertKit makes managing and growing your email list extremely easy. Since switching from Aweber, my email deliverability has gone way up and they no longer get stuck in subscriber’s spam folders.
I’ll be honest, the reason why it took so long to switch to ConvertKit was because of the price. The basic plan starts at $29 a month for up to 1,000 subscribers which is slightly above some other providers. The price is totally justified though because the site really has some great features.
Segmenting an email list and designing smart email campaigns is easier on ConvertKit than anywhere else I’ve tried. The time I’ve saved setting up forms, campaigns and segmenting has more than made up for the price.
Think about it this way. If you can convert one more visitor into an email subscriber and convert them into either an affiliate sale or a customer each month, you’ve more than made up the difference in costs on email management.
Resources for Getting Started on YouTube
I can’t believe I waited so long to start on YouTube. I created the channel a few years ago but never took it seriously until 2018. In less than a year, the channel was seeing higher traffic and nearly as much income as all four blogs combined.
The future of the internet is in video and you need a video presence. Whether that means a channel you create videos for and promote or just one that hosts show video summaries of your blog posts, don’t miss out on the opportunity.
I’ve grown my YouTube channel from just 25 subscribers to over 20,000 in less than 10 months. I reached 1,000 subscribers to monetize my channel within four months.
Much of that success was due to good keyword research and all the other points you need to hit to optimize your videos to rank. Whereas there are lots of SEO research providers for blogs, there are really only two for YouTube – TubeBuddy and VidIQ.
While VidIQ has a great channel with some excellent tips, I prefer TubeBuddy for the research part of optimizing my videos.
I’m planning a TubeBuddy review because the features are really too many to name here. Beyond the basic keyword research that can help a video go viral, the automation available will save you hours a month.
While you can use the TubeBuddy extension for free and get some insight into your videos, the best features come with the packages (duh!). The Pro plan is discounted for channels under 1,000 subscribers for just $4.50 a month. I have the Star plan and am thinking about upgrading to the Legend plan for more detailed competitor research.
Watch any of the biggest channels on YouTube and it’s a good chance they use TubeBuddy to grow their community.
The beauty of starting a YouTube channel is that you can probably do everything with that studio in your pocket. Most smartphones are more than capable of recording and editing decent videos.
That’s enough to start. When you’re serious about really ramping up your growth, below is linked the equipment I use to shoot and edit video.
In fact, I’m still using the ‘starter’ equipment I bought when I finally got serious about growing my YouTube channel. I spent a total of $1,000 for camera, tripod, lights, microphone, and stands. I’ve since made over $8,000 in ads and sponsorships on the channel.
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T6 – You’ll see DSLR camera reviews that say you need to start with a ‘cheap’ camera at $1,000 or more. It’s not true. This camera package comes with a great camera that shoots HD video and all the accessories you need…all for under $500. ($469)
Lights: Emart 600W Photography Set – I know a lot of YouTuber’s swear by a ring light but I still prefer the old school umbrella lights for complete coverage and a more professional look. ($56)
Audio Equipment: Zoom H4N Pro Digital Recorder – Everyone thinks a great video is all about…the video. It’s not. Video quality is easy. It’s in your audio that will make all the difference and the Zoom H4N Pro provides crystal-clear sound. ($220)
Tripod: AmazonBasics 60-Inch Tripod – This is the basic tripod every YouTuber buys. It’s almost funny walking around a video conference and seeing how many have the same tripod. ($23)
Teleprompter: Caddie Buddy Teleprompter – Unless you’re a Rockstar at remembering a speech, I highly recommend starting with a prompter. This has cut my editing time in half and have made my videos look more professional. ($159)
Hair light: StudioFX 400W Boom Set – I picked this light up later and was amazed at the difference when adding a backlight to helping me pop out in the videos. ($63)
Resources for Creating Courses and Other Products
You can start a blog and make a solid income from advertising and affiliates but the real money comes from creating your own products and services. Why take a portion of the profit from commissions or clicks when you can take all of it?
Teachable is a platform that hosts and helps manage your online courses. I host all my courses on the platform because the site is easy to use and really does have everything laid out for creators. Teachable makes everything from marketing to getting affiliates for your course easy, basically all you have to do is upload your course and create the sales page.
Teachable also has a free option to use the platform and actually includes a lot of the features as the paid programs. You pay a higher transaction fee per student under the free plan so it makes sense to choose one of the other packages if you expect more than a few students a month to your course.
Teachable features include:
- Payment processing integrated
- Discussion forums for your course
- Basic and graded quizzes
- Coupon codes
- Integrated affiliate program for your course
- Integrated email marketing
I use the Professional plan on the platform to save the 5% transaction fee which more than covers the monthly fee on the plan. Check out the other plans on Teachable and how easy it is to use.
Udemy gets the honorable mention here for creating your online courses. The platform was one of the first to host video courses and I still use it to take courses myself.
Udemy is completely free to upload your courses and payment processing fees are comparable to Teachable. The difference is that Udemy takes a 3% cut of the student fees you bring to your course or 50% of the income from students that find your course through Udemy.
This is actually a pretty good deal for someone that doesn’t want to do much marketing for their course. Udemy gets much more traffic than the other video course websites so you’ll get students directly from the site.
The problem with Udemy is they’ve built a culture of discounting on the courses. You can price your course up to $200 but students on the site expect to be able to get courses for $15 because massive discounting is so frequent.
It takes a long time to develop a course and you deserve to be compensated. I would use Teachable first and switch to Udemy if you find you’re not covering the costs of a plan with student fees.
Fiverr is a freelancing platform that operates a little differently. Instead of freelancers bidding on a project, they detail projects they are able to do and pricing levels for services. The platform started with most projects starting at $5 but now it’s typical to see projects starting at $10 and higher.
Fiverr is a great way to freelance small jobs that can be used to build a relationship with someone to expand into a broader freelancing job. It helps if you can automate as much of your ‘gig’ as possible so it’s worth your time but it can be a solid source of income.
I like Fiverr for finding and testing freelancers as well. The lower cost-per-gig means I can try out a few freelancers on a project to find the best and then expand the scope of the project.
Basic Business Tools and Software I Use
Blogging isn’t the three-hour a week hobby it used to be. If you’re planning on making money then you need to treat it like a business. That means having the accounting and legal software to make even the most numbers-phobic among us a capable entrepreneur.
Quickbooks is a web-based accounting solution for small businesses that really makes it easy to keep track of your profits. The service links up with your business bank account and payment processors so much of the accounting is automatic.
I’m a long-time excel user and was doing all my business accounting on spreadsheets. I was surprised how much easier it was when switching over to Quickbooks. The Simple Start plan is as much as most small businesses will need and the time you save is easily worth the monthly price.
TaxAct is the online tax software I use and has always made filing my personal and business taxes easy. There are quite a few options for tax software and I’ve reviewed TurboTax as well. TurboTax comes with a few additional features but I use TaxAct because…well, I’m cheap.
TaxAct offers a low-price solution to getting your taxes done but still has everything you’ll need to make it easy. My last year’s taxes automatically get carried over so I carry-forward any deductions and the software remembers a lot of my information.
You can start your taxes for free before deciding which service level you need on TaxAct and some filers will be able to complete theirs totally free. Get started on TaxAct for free here.
LegalZoom is the go-to choice for setting up your business and a lot of other legal documents. I used it to set up the LLC for my online businesses, a highly-recommended move that will save you tens of thousands in taxes.
LegalZoom offers flat-fee pricing which is really nice considering most lawyers want per-hour pricing at rates of $150 and higher. Most services are pretty reasonable, I paid a total of $175 to set up my LLC. The site can also connect you with a lawyer for work that needs customized.
The only thing I didn’t like about LegalZoom is they try to upsell you in a lot of related services so make sure you know exactly what you want and don’t get sucked into other offers.
Check out prices on LegalZoom here before going to an attorney
Gusto is an online payroll management service and something you’ll need if you decide to incorporate your business or switch from a sole proprietorship.
I started using Gusto when I switched to an LLC for my business because I really didn’t want to manage the business tax withholding and personal withholding myself. Gusto makes all this automatic. You link it up to your business bank account and pay yourself or employees each month. Gusto takes care of all taxes and reporting to the IRS and direct deposits employee salary into their bank accounts.
Blog Plugins I Use
Plugins are the way us non-techie bloggers get anything done without having to learn how to code. Most are available for free download while there are some premium plugins I recommend. I would say to use the free plugins to run your blog until you’re making enough each month to justify the extra investment, then find out which premium plugins are worth it.
Ad Inserter – is a free plugin that makes your FTC disclosure for affiliates easy. The plugin allows you to put a disclaimer at the top of posts or in various places.
Akismet Anti-Spam – is a must have free plugin that will filter out most of the spam comments you receive on a blog.
Broken Link Checker – is another must have plugin that enables you to check your website for broken (404) links. Google hates broken links because it’s a bad user experience so you want to catch these as soon as possible. Don’t leave the plugin on continuously because it slows down your site but turn it on one weekend each month to check your links.
ConvertKit – is the free plugin that goes with the email provider and makes it easy to embed forms and other email capture items on your site.
OptimizePress – is an inexpensive landing page plugin that makes it easy to create sales pages and other focal pages. I prefer the software because of the one-time price rather than monthly pricing on other landing page plugins and I can use it on up to three websites.
Pretty Links – is a paid plugin but hugely worth it. The plugin allows you to create custom URLs you can use for affiliates or any other redirect. That means visitors see myblog.com/specialoffer instead of that ugly affiliate link. Best part though, it makes managing affiliates much easier because you can just switch out the affiliate link in your pretty link dashboard instead of going back through every post to change it. I’d consider this one of the few must-have paid plugins.
Redirection – is a useful free plugin for redirecting old pages on your blog and to fix other problems. You could technically do this in Pretty Links but I like to keep different redirect uses separate.
Shareaholic – is a free social sharing plugin that will put floating share buttons at the top or side of your pages. Easy to use and a must-have for getting social traffic.
ShortPixel Image Optimizer – I just switched to this one from the free EWWW Image Optimizer. Images take up a lot of space and time loading on your site so an image optimizer is absolutely critical. The free plugin is OK but ShortPixel is relatively inexpensive and does a much better job. Your site will run faster and it will make a big difference in search traffic.
TablePress – a free plugin for creating data tables on your blog. These make for easy ways to compare affiliates and give your visitors material. I’ve seen a couple of my tables shown in the featured snippet area on Google search so that made me an instant convert to the plugin.
Wordfence Security – is a free website security plugin and all most bloggers will need to keep their site safe. They have a paid level but haven’t tried it.
Yoast SEO – is the go-to free plugin for SEO on blogs. You’ll still need to learn SEO and how to use it to boost your site’s search ranking but the Yoast plugin gives you a lot of helpful feedback on posts.
Have a work from home resource you think should be on the list? Let me know. I'm always looking for good tools and resources to make my work from home business run more smoothly.