Please note: This page contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product using my affiliate link, I will receive a small commission or bonus. This will in no way impact the price you pay. Affiliate links on this page are denoted with an asterisk (*). 
Starting a Website

Domain Registration & Hosting: SiteGround* has cheap domain names, affordable shared hosting options, and wonderful tech support. A great choice for beginning bloggers OR those with tons of traffic. (I currently use GoDaddy on all of my sites and have had no problems, but SiteGround* seems to be the #1 recommended for speed & customer service.)


screenshot-2017-03-07-07-53-14Website Setup: I HIGHLY recommend setting up your website through WordPress.org. It's free, and how most professional websites are run. Using WordPress also means you own your own website & have full control over it, forever.


screenshot-2017-03-07-07-59-18Website Design: Once your website is up and running, it's time to design it. If you're creating a static website that needs a lot of design (like a course website or membership site) the Divi Visual Builder* from Elegant Themes* is my favorite! In fact, it's what I used to build The Unconventional RD Business Bootcamp. This theme requires no knowledge of coding, and features a really unique drag & drop website building tool. There is definitely still a learning curve, but it gives you total control over how your website looks. 

Running a Website

screenshot-2017-03-07-08-20-23Monitoring Traffic: It's essential to know how many people are visiting your site each day, how they get there, and which pages they are viewing. Use Google Analytics to keep track of it all! It's free, and they have an app for monitoring on the go.


screenshot-2017-03-07-08-30-44Setting Up an Official Email Address: Signing up for G-Suite* ($5/mo) allows you to set up an email address using your domain name, like erica@theunconventionalrd.com, while still using all the wonderful features Gmail offers.


Website Speed: A slow website can impact user experience & hurt your SEO rankings (site speed IS a direct ranking factor for Google). The WP Rocket* plugin helps reduce load times on your website, increasing the chance people will stay on your page, and improving your search rankings. It's 100000% worth the small fee!


screenshot-2017-03-07-09-01-27Image Compression: If you run a website with lots of images, like a food blog, image compression is a MUST. Bulky images slow down your website, big time. Luckily, the plugin Imagify can quickly and seamlessly compress the images, making the smaller without losing quality. Win-win.


screenshot-2017-03-07-09-54-33Website Backup: Sh*t happens with websites, and you don't want to be caught without a backup! Installing VaultPress gives you peace of mind. In the event that your site crashes, you'll always have a fresh backup copy available for quick installation.


Website Security: Protect your website from hackers and spam injections. Wordfence is a FREE top of the line security plugin that will protect you from the most common threats. This is a MUST HAVE!! If you take payments on your site, splurge for the paid plan.

Monetizing Your Website

screenshot-2017-03-07-09-59-59Ad Revenue: If you're a new blogger, Google Adsense is the easiest ad network to get started with. You won't make the big bucks, but it's an easy way to cover your hosting costs with a few unobtrusive ads. When you reach at least 25,000 sessions per month, you can apply for bigger networks, like Mediavine  and when you reach 100,000 page views per month, you can apply for AdThrive.


screenshot-2017-03-07-10-47-14Amazon Associates: Whenever you link to a product you love (books, food, videos, etc.) that is sold on Amazon, you can use an Amazon affiliate link. If someone purchases the product (or anything else on Amazon within 24 hours), you will receive a small % of the sale price. Easy peasy!


screenshot-2017-03-07-11-06-57Other Affiliate Sales: If you promote other products or events, you can sign up as an affiliate through Commission Junction or ShareASale*. That way, if you promote a product within a blog post, and encourage people to purchase it, you can earn a percentage of the sale.


screenshot-2017-03-07-11-43-27Selling Digital Products: If you're selling e-books or other digital products on your site, you'll need a way to accept credit card payments and deliver the goods. Gumroad is an easy low-cost solution! They take care of both payment & delivery for a low monthly rate & processing fee.


screenshot-2017-03-07-13-05-19Selling Courses: If you're ready to sell courses on your website, Thinkific is highly recommended. They provide a great user experience, and various pricing tiers to accommodate businesses at different levels. Not the right fit for you? Teachable* is another frequently used platform, with equally high reviews!

Marketing

screenshot-2017-03-07-11-49-32 Email Marketing: Let's face it, segmented and automated email marketing is here, and if you're not taking advantage of it yet, you should be! My favorite tool for keeping in touch with my readers is ConvertKit*. You can “tag” your readers based on their interests, and make sure you only send them emails that resonate.


screenshot-2017-03-07-12-02-23Graphic Design: Need graphics for your website, marketing materials, or social media accounts? Canva is your best bet. It's free for basic use, or $12.95 for a business account. I use it all the time. Highly recommend!


screenshot-2017-03-07-12-07-14Stock Photography: Unsplash is a FREE resource for stock photos. You can download them directly to your computer, and use them for any purpose, including commercial use, without attribution. Winning!


screenshot-2017-03-07-12-24-26Collect Information: If you'd like to survey your readers & collect information from them, Typeform is the way to go. Their user interface is gorgeous, and you can collect up to 100 responses/month for free!

Social Media
Editorial Calendar & Scheduling: Co-Schedule is a lifescreenshot-2017-03-07-13-34-22-saver for bloggers. It allows you to schedule social media posts directly in WordPress while writing blog posts. It also has a powerful content calendar to keep your blogging and marketing strategies organized. It's not cheap, but worth investing in once you're making some money.


screenshot-2017-03-07-14-32-00 Pinterest Scheduling: Tailwind* is my go-to tool for Pinterest management. Tailwind* allows you to bulk-schedule pins to be published at pre-set time throughout the week, ensuring that your pins are seen by the maximum number of people. Plus, you can knock out a whole week's worth of pins in an hour! Obsessed.

 

Legal
screenshot-2017-03-07-16-44-16Filing Legal Documents: If you're ready to incorporate your business, but prefer a low-cost DIY approach, Legal Zoom is for you. It allows you to file your own paperwork online to form an LLC or Corporation in just a few simple steps.


screenshot-2017-03-07-16-46-35Filing for a Trademark: Ready to trademark your business name? Want to make sure the name for your business or product idea isn't already taken? The United States Patent and Trademark Office allows you to search all registered trademarks, current and expired, to help guide your decisions.


screenshot-2017-03-13-17-49-19Registering for a Tax EIN: All business owners should register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for their business. With an EIN, you can put your EIN number on all payment and legal forms, reducing the risk of getting your social security number stolen.