Tools I Use

Waking up inspired is the BEST!

I’ve been thinking about my website, and small improvements I need to make, including links and resources for all of my visitors.

I’m often asked how I know about all of these little shortcuts and products to use to make my life easier.  The truth is, I watch loads of webinars, sales pitches and YouTube videos on how it all works.

Everything from autoresponders to web hosting, and everything in between.

As an Artist, I feel like I have a few needs that go unmet with the standard stuff that’s out there.

Sometimes I need programs and software that have more room for customization, but still have the drag and drop ease of use.

I love playing with technology and seeing how it all works.  I’ve also learned the hard way that to be able to outsource and delegate tasks to others, I must know how it all works first.

Just handing a project over to someone blindly has never worked well for me.  Either I had no idea how it worked and I was spending too much $ to pay someone else, or they had no idea what I wanted since there was no example to work from.

Showing someone what I mean is exactly the same as “a picture is worth 1000 words.”  Being able to hand someone a blueprint of what I’m looking for, and finding tools that make all of that a piece of cake is priceless!

My 3 favourite tools that I absolutely cannot live without right now are the following:

 

 

A little background on why these are my fav tools and how I found them.

I started using Thrive Themes and A2 Hosting last summer and I am IN LOVE!

Thrive Themes works on wordpress.org not wordpress.com.  There’s an article for you if you need more info on the differences on WordPress here.

You have more control, and versatility with wordpress.org than wordpress.com.  Some of the plugins and themes don’t work with wordpress.com because of the limitations.  In all honesty,  I used wordpress.com when I first got started to save money, but it’s not worth it in the end.

 

You do need to self host your site, so that’s where A2 Hosting comes in.

I’ve tried lots of other hosting companies, but for the ease of use, value for money, A2 is the best, especially for us Canadians.  There’s nothing worse than finding a great hosting company that only deals in US funds, and the exchange rate can be costly.

You can also buy your domain name through A2, which makes it way easier to set up with the hosting.  I used to purchase with GoDaddy, but my account has been hacked a few times, and their prices are slowly increasing. For a few extra dollars, I have less hassle and more security with A2.

(I am in the process now of transferring all of my business to them because I’m so impressed with their support!)

You can check out their rates here.  I went with the Swift shared hosting plan.  Eventually I will go with a dedicated server, but I don’t require that right now.

I loved Thrive Themes right from the beginning because it was all included.

I opted for the annual membership, so I have access to all Themes and all Products that thrive offers.  I also have full access to Thrive University which has tutorials and mini courses on how to use the tools properly.  I learned so much and gained a ton of confidence by spending a little time to enhance my skills.

Check out this blog post to see what I mean.

 

Create images for your business or brand

I’ve been using PicMonkey for a while now.  I love that with the paid version, I can save all of my work, and I have all the tools unlocked and available to use.  I don’t have to worry about buying graphics, photos, etc and it works so easily without having to watch a tutorial to figure it all out.

(They also have lots of templates ready to go in proper sizes for all social media, and you can easily resize your work as you go!)

Friends of mine like using Canva, but I do find that the features I require are not easily found, such as turning the grid on and off and many of the images in the library require purchasing.  For the number of projects that I make, spending more time and money on images and graphics is annoying.  I’d rather pay an annual fee and have access to everything.  But that’s just me 🙂

Don’t take my word for it.  Check out both and see which you prefer!

For Canva click here.  For PicMonkey click here.

 

Why bother telling you any of this?  I’m paying it forward my friend!

I think of my younger self that needed info like this to make my life easier. 

After trying so many systems and trying to piece things together to make everything work at the best price, this is what I’d pick if I had to start over again.  (And I am starting over as I transfer everything to Thrive Themes)

Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with!  I’d love to see and hear what you’re creating!

xo Brandi

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