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Ultimate Resource List

Ultimate Resource List

 

If you’re a resource-addict like me, you’re going to love this list. And even if you’re not, there’s probably still something in here for you! I invite you to peruse this list of goodies, click on something that catches your interest, and bookmark this page (oooh, better yet, clip it to Evernote) and come back to it whenever you need something. Have fun in here! Oh, and if you don’t know what Evernote is, well, you’ll just have to scroll down the page :).

 
Want to go straight to a specific section? Just click on your section of choice below:

Online Education {For current or aspiring graphic designers, web designers, virtual assistants, and all other entrepreneurial types.}

Nicole’s Classes – Short (2-4 weeks), life-changing, mind-rockin’ classes such as PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign, Web Design, Photography, Sewing, Watercolor, and more!

Atly – A huge variety of classes ranging from design to crafts to health and more! Taught by some of the most talented, creative teachers you will ever find!

Web Designer Beauty School – The home of the web design support group I belong to where we expand our knowledge of WordPress, Thesis, CSS and more. A full web design course is on the horizon, so check the site and be sure to hop on the email list.

Ali RittenhouseVA training programs and business coaching for all types of entrepreneurs. Enjoy access to the course material and wonderful support for LIFE!

Skillshare – A large variety of classes ranging from photography to design to entrepreneurship.

Lynda.com – Classes in everything from design to photography to animation…and tons more!

Build Your Own Business WebsiteRick Anderson is the mastermind behind this incredible website that offers thousands of videos on WordPress and the top two premium WordPress themesThesis and Genesis. He offers free and premium memberships, both complete with their unique set of benefits.

MailChimp Mastery – Learn all the behind-the-scenes tips and tricks to mastering MailChimp. Created by the very talented Jamie DuBose of Zenplicity Now, this course will help you get your message, brand, blog posts, and much more in front of even more people!

Brandgasm 101 – An affordable, quite handy DIY design and copywriting crash course taught by Ash Ambirge from The Middle Finger Project. While I haven’t personally gone through this experience, I know lots of fellow entrepreneurs who have (and they loved it!).

Website and Blog Content Management Systems {CMS}


WordPress – The most flexible and customizable website content management system available! Tons of free “themes” are available, but even more paid (and more customizable) “premium themes” are available. WordPress.org is self-hosted (meaning, you pay for your own website hosting). Note: This is different from WordPress.com.

Does managing your own website sound a little scary? It doesn’t need to be…and I’m here to get you all set up – the right way from the get-go! Contact me to schedule a consultation to discuss your website needs!

Blogger – A free blogging platform run by Google. Very easy to set up; you can remove “.blogspot.com” from your domain name for a small fee; and little to no experience is required to be up and running in minutes. This is best for small, personal, hobby-style blogs that won’t require any real customization, advanced functionalities, etc.

WordPress Premium Themes


Thesis – This is the theme I use for my personal websites and websites for clients. While I have dabbled with Genesis and a couple other themes, Thesis is truly my preferred theme due to its incredible flexibility and wonderful support forum. I prefer to start from a blank slate and customize the look of every tiny little part of a website, whereas other themes come with a lot of code already installed. Personally, I find it easier to start from a blank slate vs. searching through [someone else’s] code to find what you want to change or delete.

Genesis – I think Genesis is a great theme with great support. A main difference between Genesis and Thesis is that when you install a Genesis Child Theme, you are using the same theme (a.k.a. “same look”) as potentially thousands of other websites. However, you can customize nearly every aspect of a Genesis Child Theme should you wish to change the look entirely (or even just a little).

There are literally thousands of premium themes out there…but the above two are the ones I have actually used and feel comfortable recommending. In the end, it’s a matter of personal preference in terms of what features you are looking for in a theme. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to pick one theme and stick with it. You not only learn more about the theme each time you use it, but you also become friendly with the support people, which can be a great thing! 🙂

WordPress Products to Enhance your Website {Plugins, Ecommerce, and more!}


CodeCanyon – A diverse array of affordable and useful WordPress plugins, themes, and so much more!

Ecwid – After playing around with a few other ecommerce products, Ecwid is by far the easiest and most flexible one out there. It’s also free for up to ten items!

WordPress Back-Up Products {Please Be a Safety Girl/Guy!}


All three of these WordPress back-up plugins are excellent in their own ways. It’s truly a matter of preference as to which one you choose, and there are plenty of side-by-side comparisons available if you Google one vs. the other. While your decision shouldn’t be based solely on price, I have included some pricing info below.

Back-Up Buddy – $80/year for two sites and $100/year for up to ten sites. Check out the website for a full list of features and additional pricing categories.

BlogVault – $9/month for one site and $19/month for multiple sites. Check out the website for a full list of features and additional pricing categories.

VaultPress – $5/month for daily back-ups and $15/month for real-time backups. Check out the website for a full list of features and additional pricing categories.

WordPress Afficionados


Kim Doyal, The WordPress Chick – Kim really is one awesome chick! She provides all sorts of tips, tutorials, plugins, and more about WordPress and, specifically, Genesis.

Ask WordPress Girl! – A self-proclaimed WordPress junkie, she offers WordPress tips, classes, and lots of useful resources.

Carrie Dils – Carrie is a WordPress expert and a fellow freelance web designer who also offers a plethora of advice, tips, and tutorials on WordPress plugins, ecommerce, customizations, and the Genesis framework. She’s also a Genesis developer who created the Utility Theme.

Chris Lema – Online entrepreneur who blogs daily (yes, daily!) about all things biz and WordPress. This guy is a major wealth of knowledge!

WP Tribe – Easy-to-follow WordPress tutorials, plus tons of resources and tips.

Web Hosts


BlueHost – Sure, there are plenty of web hosts out there these days, but not many compare to BlueHost’s 24/7 live chat support, unlimited domains on the same account for one very low price, and the first year free for one domain. Make your life (and your website) easier by using this high-quality, user-friendly, low-cost host. You’ll thank yourself (and me) later.

Online Safety + Security {Protect Your Info!}


LastPass.com – If you have a lot of usernames and passwords to remember (for yourself and/or clients), LastPass is definitely the answer! Who wants to open up a spreadsheet every time they need to remember a username or password…or look for that special piece of paper where it’s all written down? Not me! Store everything in one place, access your “vault” from anywhere with one username and password, and never have to remember login credentials again (except your one LastPass username/password). This is a true lifesaver (and time saver).

Burn Note – Send a self-destructing message to anyone. Worried about someone looking over your shoulder? No problem – the “spotlight” feature allows you to use your cursor to unveil only a few words at a time, while the other words are blacked out.

SEO and Google Analytics Resources and Experts


Liz Lockard – Marketing consultant who helps you get more traffic and conversions, improve your SEO, and grow your biz!

Alistair Gill – SEO and Google Analytics expert who truly knows his stuff! Sign up for his email list here to get informed of his upcoming online course offerings.

Email Marketing


MailChimp – A very user-friendly email marketing program that is free until you reach 2,000 subscribers. Create custom templates or choose from a variety of pre-designed templates. The little MailChimp monkey just makes this a fun program to use…and it does all the important stuff like tracking opens and bounce rates, allows you to import a list without obtaining their permission again (great for times when/if you switch email marketing programs), and more!

AWeber – A fabulous, uber flexible email marketing program with great support, a 30-day trial, autoresponders, and more! If you decide to switch to AWeber from another program, you will have to ask your subscribers to opt-in again, as AWeber doesn’t allow you to import a list. But, other than that, it’s a great product!

Free Design + Photo Enhancing + Collage Programs


Canva – A simple, drag-and-drop, design software that’s completely online and free to use.

Pixlr – The closest thing to PhotoShop out there. Easy to learn, totally web-based (so there’s nothing to install on your computer), and totally free.

PicMonkey – Ahhh, do I ever LOVE PicMonkey! Need to quickly edit a photo (i.e. resize it, add effects, fix red eye or a blemish, add a drop shadow, etc.)? PicMonkey is your go-to place for quick, easy, online (so, no need to download anything) photo editing and enhancing. Want access to extra icons, effects, filters, and more? Sign up for their Royale program (only $4.99/month). You can also get a free day of Royale here. It’s totally worth trying it out…you’ll see how awesome it is!

Polyvore – Ever see a mood board or vision board in a magazine or on a website and wonder what it’s called or how to create one? Well, Polyvore is the place to do it, and it’s super easy and FUN! Now, go create and see how much fun it is! Send me the link to your creation via my contact page, and I’ll feature it in a blog post!

Paid Design Programs {Graphics, Web, and much more!}


Adobe – Adobe is the mother of all design programs! PhotoShop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat and so many more…you can find them all with Adobe. After you get your feet a little wet with the free programs out there, sign up for a 30-day trial with any of the Adobe products to go for a test drive. Adobe is also even more affordable than ever now that they have monthly subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud vs. the olden days where you paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for one program and then had to buy it again when a new version was available. With the Creative Cloud, you get updates as soon as they’re available and for no extra cost.

Vector Graphics, Textures, and Stock Images


Design Cuts – Amazing deals on fonts, textures, vectors, photos and more! Most deals are $29 and include a TON of files! {sometimes the fonts in the bundle were previously for sale for over $100 and are now part of a bundle of other goodies for a fraction of the price!}

Creative Market – There is so much goodness in this site! Fonts, themes, graphics, brushes, templates, textures, and more! Have fun in there!

Deviant Art – The largest online social network for artists and art enthusiasts. Get ready to be inspired!

Graphic Leftovers – This is my go-to source for stock photos (they have vector images, too). The prices are soooo good, and you don’t have to have a membership or pay a monthly fee. You just make a deposit into your account and use those funds to make your purchases.

iStock Photo – Stock photos and vector images for all types of online and offline projects. Buy credits to use for your purchases (the more you buy, the less it costs per credit).

ShutterStock – Stock photos and vector images for all types of online and offline projects. Pay as you go or buy a monthly or yearly subscription.

Can Stock Photo – Affordable stock photos and vector images with a variety of easy purchasing/downloading options.

Color Inspiration + Education


COLOURlovers – Simply stated – this is color inspiration heaven!

Design Seeds – Beautiful color inspiration for all of your projects (for the home and on the computer). You can even sign up to have two color palettes delivered straight to your inbox daily.

Hex Hub – While it’s not the prettiest site on the web (far from it, actually), you can find a specific color by looking in the categories at the top (neutrals, warms, greens, blues, and purples).

Brandi Girl Blog – A major color lover, Brandi Hussey blogs about color trends, color theory, and color palettes. She also provides tutorials on how to make your own color palettes, photo tips, design tips related to photography and color, and other awesome DIY goodies.

Fonts


All of the resources below offer great fonts for inspiration, purchase and even free downloads. Go have fun searching, downloading, purchasing and getting inspiration.

Printing


UPrinting – All I have to say is: SQUARE biz cards! While my business cards may be small (they do have two square sizes if you want something bigger), they definitely stand out! They also have other shapes available (oval, circle, rounded rectangles, and more!).

SmartPress – I absolutely love that SmartPress offers small quantity printing! Choose your quantity, paper weight, scoring, folding, and a plethora of other options, and you’ll have great quality delivered to your mailbox pretty darn quickly.

Overnight Prints – A wide variety of paper weights and textures for just about any type of print job you desire.

Video Sharing + Embedding


Both of these video sharing resources are fantastic and very popular. Choose one or both to share your videos on your blog/website.

Business + General Resources


Evernote – Think of Evernote as a way to bookmark (save) websites and online PDFs + create/save notes (about a project or simple notes-to-self)…and be able to tag/categorize them so that you can easily find those resources/notes any time you want. Evernote is a true lifesaver, and I couldn’t imagine NOT using it now that I have it.

Wave Accounting – If you’re like me and you want to track your business income and expenses as well as your personal expenses – all in the same place – then Wave is for you. Bonus – if you have more than one business, you can track that in the same Wave account as well. Double Bonus – it’s 100% free! Yep – user friendly, flexible, AND free! Triple Bonus – you can choose to upload your statements manually or have them automatically updated on a regular basis. They also offer premium plans that include live chat support and a few other features. However, the free plan works really well, and the email support has been great with a pretty quick turnaround response.

Freshbooks – Freshbooks is similar to Quickbooks, but a bit more pleasing to the eye and easier to use. They have a free version if you plan to only send a few invoices to a few clients plus a few paid versions for more functionality.

Pancake App – Invoicing, time tracking, proposals, project management, and more can be found in this delicious little program. Bonus – you only have to pay once!

PayPal – I’m sure you have heard of PayPal by now, right? In case you aren’t aware of all the awesomeness that PayPal provides, you’re kinda missing out! From invoicing to creating “pay now” buttons for your websites to transferring money to friends for no extra fee, PayPal really does do it all.

Feedly – If you ever used Google Reader, you’ll grasp the concept of Feedly easily and quickly. If a reader is something new to you, just think of it as a place (accessible via a website or an app on your phone) where you can read all of the blogs you follow in one place vs. having each one visit your inbox separately. What’s the benefit? Well, other than not having blog posts clog up your inbox and sweep you away to reading heaven every five seconds, Feedly is practically crucial for websites/blogs that don’t send new content out to their visitors/readers. An example: Nicole’s Classes (my favorite site for graphic design classes) sends out a newsletter once in a while, but they post to their blog quite frequently. Their blog posts include fantastic tutorials and discounts on some of their classes. The downfall is that they don’t send out their blog posts (they only send out an occasional newsletter, which doesn’t include their blog posts). In order to ensure that I know what’s on their blog, I add their site to my Feedly account. Then, when I look through my feed, I’ll see that they have a new post (or any type of new content), and voila…I’m in the loop.

Docracy – Long gone are the days of mailing or faxing a contract then waiting for it to come back to you signed, sealed, and delivered. With Docracy, you just upload your contract content (or copy and paste it), then “invite” someone to join in on the signing. Once all parties have signed the contract, the final version with signatures will be sent to all parties. Pretty simple and pretty darn awesome!

Skype – Talk to anyone in the world from the comfort of your own home or business, through your computer.

WebEx – Host an online meeting with ease with this awesome program where you can share your screen, pass the presenter role to anyone in the meeting, and even record your meetings. They offer a free, 14-day trial for their Premium plan. But, the free plan has lots of uses and benefits as well.

DropBox – Have some photos or documents you need to send to someone, but they’re too big to just email? DropBox is your answer. Upload your files then just share them with a friend or colleague, and it won’t clog up your inbox. DropBox also serves as cloud storage to back up your files (it’s free up to two gigabytes).

Camtasia – Ever seen a video tutorial on a website or blog and wondered how in the world they were able to record their screen (with cool text and highlighting included)? Well, Camtasia is how! Check it out if you have a need to record your screen for any type of online tutorial – you’ll be glad you did.

WiseStamp – These days, you can add an electronic signature complete with links, colors, and even images in most email programs. However, WiseStamp lets you add a whole new experience for your email recipient. Add social media icons and links, choose from different signatures based on who is receiving your email, and much more with this great product!

Coffitivity – Do you prefer to work in silence or have a little background noise? Sometimes music can be a little distracting, and talking that you can actually understand can be quite annoying. In comes Coffitivity – coffee-shop style chatter that serves as perfect background noise for your creative (and non-creative) workflow.

Unroll.me – Similar to Feedly and how you can read all of the blogs you subscribe to in one place, Unroll.me allows you to “roll up” all of the email lists you subscribe to in one big email (the “Daily Rollup”). So, instead of opening up your inbox and having to look at 20 new emails, you can receive them in one email at the time of day you prefer. Or, you can read them no Unroll.me while logged into your account. You can also unsubscribe directly from Unroll.me. Talk about efficiency!

Social Media Sites + Specialists


Hootsuite – Manage your social media with this powerful dashboard. Schedule Tweets and posts, analyze your social media traffic, and much more.

Jackie Johnstone – Social media tips, tutorials, resources, and more!

Laura Roeder – Her company, LKR Social Media, will teach you how to leverage your social media and online marketing through a variety of online training programs.

Life + Biz Coaches


Each of the coaches below is unique in her own way. I invite and encourage you to check them all out, and even if you don’t have a need for a coach at this time, it’s worth it to just check out their blogs and maybe even hop on their email list.

Websites and Blogs To Inspire + Teach + Help Us Evolve + Make Us Laugh


The Freelance to Freedom Project by Leah Kalamakis – My online buddy and fellow web designer, Leah Kalamakis, created this amazing website for current and soon-to-be freelancers and entrepreneurs. Her tips, freelancer spotlights, and amazing Facebook community are not to be missed!

Eli Rose Social Media – This blog provides some really great info on social media, client relations, and a whole lot more.

James Clear – An incredible writer who provides helpful information about forming and sticking to habits, setting goals and systems, getting better sleep and much more!

James Altucher – Wikipedia says it best: James is an “American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, bestselling author, and podcaster. He has founded or cofounded over 20 companies, including Reset Inc. and StockPickr and claims to have failed at 17 of them.”

Derek Halpern – Derek provides excellent tips on how to sell your products and services effectively and efficiently.

The Uncaged Life by Rebecca Tracey – Rebecca is a total badass when it comes to giving real, tangible advice on life and biz. Explore her site for her coaching services, but definitely sign up to receive her blogs posts. They’ll inspire and entertain – guaranteed!

Screw the Nine to Five – Do you love the title of this site as much as I do? Jill and Josh are a cute-as-can-be couple who literally did screw the 9-5…and now they’re traveling the world and giving awesome biz tips on niche marketing, DIY website building (you could always follow their instructions to get your site set up, then hire me to customize it!), and lots more!

Build a Little Biz by Karen Gunton – It always amazes (in a good way) and inspires me when I see fellow freelancers sharing their massive wealth of knowledge and resources. Karen does just that with her site, and you’ll want to check it out for all sorts of goodies like free printables, best practices for planning and goal-setting, tutorials on how to use some of those freebie design programs I mentioned above, and so much more!

Aeolidia, Simply Attractive Design – A fantastic design firm that produces some of the most attractive websites around as well as great business and design advice.

Mayi Carles – An entrepreneurial little bundle of awesomeness who offers a life-planning boot camp, awesome biz tips, sweet printables, and the always fun and energetic “Friday Video Time”.

Cassera Communications by Melissa Cassera – A self-proclaimed “PR Rockstar”, Melissa is definitely someone who can and will get you in front of the right people to showcase your product or service.

HubSpot – You’ll find lots of useful info in here about design, marketing, social media, and much more!

1st Web Designer Blog by Dainis Graveris – Enjoy blog posts about WordPress, design, fonts, tutorials, and more!

Blog Spoon Graphics by Chris Spooner – Incredible PhotoShop and Illustrator tutorials that are so easy and fun to follow! Plus, Chris offers tons of freebies such as textures, PhotoShop actions and brushes, vectors, and tons more!

YFS Magazine – The name says it all: “Young, Fabulous & Self-Employed”. Enjoy!

CopyBlogger – Tips + tricks about online content, internet marketing, and more!

Seth Godin – Bestselling author on the topics of marketing, leadership, and most of all – change!

I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi – Hokey name – NOT a hokey guy! Tons of advice about MONEY…and how to make it (realistically). Free tools, lots of products, and so much more are found in this site for entrepreneurs of all ages and industries.

Healing for the Healer’s Soul by Emma Mitchell – A professional energy healer who teaches, inspires, and guides. She also sells healing-infused jewelry and provides healing sound meditation through her unique Singing Bowls.

Purpose Fairy by Luminita D. Saviuc – Fantastic wisdom, advice, and inspiration about LIFE – delivered straight to your inbox.

Gretchen Rubin – Author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home – As the names of these books might suggest, you actually don’t have to be sad, depressed, or at rock-bottom to reap the benefits of these books. The simple, achievable activities laid out in these books make them a must-read for anyone wanting a little nudge to accomplish a task, idea, or just to be able to get through life a little easier and more efficiently.

Blissbombed by Stephanie St.Claire – “Guidance counselor and law of attraction expert” who writes about love, business, and much more on her blog. Make sure you don’t miss her VERY popular and important post 11 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business!

The Blog Maven by Jeni Elliott – Fantastic blogging tips!

Disclaimer: There are a few affiliate links sprinkled throughout this page, but please know that I would never recommend a product, person, or service unless I have personally experienced it/them or know and trust someone who has. Thanks so much, in advance, if you do happen to click on an affiliate link and make a little magic happen. I really do appreciate it tremendously.

Did I miss any resources that should definitely be added to this list? Please contact me to let me know your suggestions, and I’ll do my best to add them if they fit appropriately. Thank you!

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