Last updated: November 3, 2012
This page features a dynamic collection of what I consider to be the tools needed to start and develop your muse, and anything else related to helping you make money online. These resources will be constantly updated as I find and experience new tools online.
Most of these tools are geared toward online muses, but there will be a handful of items that will help you in any endeavor.
Note: Some of the resources below contain affiliate links for products that will earn me a commission if you purchase them. However, I am only recommending these products because I have either experienced them or heard amazing things about them and believe that they could be of great help to you. Because I don’t cover my main page with annoying ads, hopefully you can understand my use of affiliate links on this page.
Website Hosting & Domains
Personally, I don’t believe free hosting options will provide you with the infrastructure that you need for long term success online. You’ll find that hosting is relatively cheap, and will really allow you to grow your business without worrying about limitations. My switch from a free blogging platform (Blogger) to a WordPress blog on my own paid hosting account was probably the best decision I’ve made so far with respect to blogging.
- HostGator - This is what I use to host this blog and many of my other websites. They’re extremely reliable, and allow you to host unlimited domains on one hosting account. If you sign up with the coupon code MY4HRWORKWEEK, you’ll receive $9.94 off the package price.
- BlueHost – I recently started using this to host the majority of my AdSense niche sites, and it’s been great! Just as reliable as HostGator, but they have some nicer feature that allow you to mass-update WordPress installations (which is a great help when you have over 50 WordPress sites!).
- GoDaddy – I use GoDaddy to purchase all of my domains. I love buying domains because it’s like a piece of the internet that you own. It becomes your property, and may become valuable depending on what you do with it (or like many people do, you can later resell domains for a profit). If you sign up with my link, you’ll be able to purchase a domain for $6.89 instead of the usual ~$10 price. Please note that you won’t see the discount until you go through the checkout process.
Blogging, Themes, & Plug-Ins
Blogging is an excellent way to kick-start your muse and build a following. If you can provide interesting content with your own unique spin, there’s also some good potential to make money while blogging.
- WordPress.org - There are a lot of blogging options on the internet today, but in my mind (and in the minds of most people online), WordPress is by far the best. Please note the distinction between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is their free blogging platform (they host your blog for you), but you’re very limited in what you can do and how you can customize your blog. WordPress.org is also free to use, however you must use your own hosting server for your blog. Hostgator (above) allows for very easy WordPress blog installation (pretty much a one-click installation). I believe BlueHost offers this as well.
- Blogger.com – I used to use Blogger, and it’s a great (and free) platform to blog with, however I really don’t recommend it if you plan on making blogging an integral part of your business or muse due to its limitations. The only reason I’m mentioning it here is to provide a free alternative to WordPress.
- Blogger to WordPress Migration - If you’re like me and you started with Blogger but want to switch to WordPress, you want to make sure to do it right. This was the service I used to migrate my blog, and I have to say they did an excellent job for a very reasonable price. Within minutes of my inquiry, they went to work and completed the entire process within a few hours.
- Woo Themes - This blog currently uses a Woo Theme, and I can honestly say that these are some of the best premium WordPress themes you’ll find. Although most of the themes cost money, there are a handful of free themes to download as well.
- Theme Lab – This site has some pretty cool free WordPress themes.
- The Best Free WordPress Plugins – This was an article I wrote, which highlights some of the best WordPress plugins I’ve found throughout my blogging experiences.
As you may have noticed, if you’re creating content online (be it through a blog, website, or article directory), keyword research plays an extremely vital role. Here are some tools I use to research proper keywords (that will help my content receive more traffic by ranking in search engines for keywords that people are searching for) to ensure that I’m not wasting time when I create content.
- Market Samurai – This is by far one of my favorite tools that I use when I’m looking to create ANY type of content online. It’s powerful software that really allows you to understand your chances of success in a niche before you even create a website or content. I’ve written about it at length here, here, and here. Although this software does cost money, you can download a fully functional version of the software for free for 12-days. I definitely recommend at least downloading it for the free trial.
- Long Tail Pro – While I love to use Market Samurai to evaluate competition, Long Tail Pro is now my “go to” tool for researching new keywords. This is a must have tool for anyone who builds niche sites, as it allows you to search hundreds of keywords at once AND will check for exact match domain availability (something that saves me a ton of time). I wrote more about my use of Long Tail Pro here.
- Google’s Keyword Research Tool - This is a free tool that allows you to see the monthly traffic of any keyword. I use this tool all the time in conjunction with Market Samurai, and it’s a great starting point to get a feel for which keywords are competitive and what kind of traffic they receive.
You’ll constantly hear that if you want to really create a steady and reliable stream of income online, one of the best ways to do it is to build and maintain an e-mail list of people (who want to be a part of the list). This isn’t to spam your subscribers – it’s an effective way to build a relationship with your followers and keep them connected to your blog or business.
- Aweber – This is what I use for my muse creation newsletter, and it’s really a powerful e-mail subscription/marketing tool. Right now, you can try out the service and only pay $1 for your first month (and you can cancel after the first month if you don’t like it).
Ultimately, you should aim to outsource as much work as possible with respect to your muse creation and online passive income projects. It may not be something you can do right away, but you should be working to free up your own time by outsourcing certain tasks to those who can perform them at a relatively inexpensive rate.
- Elance - This is currently my preferred source of virtual assistants who have helped me with various online tasks. They have a great review and rating system so that you can see how each freelancer has performed on past projects. I highly recommend using Elance and getting experience with outsourcing (even if it’s for something as simple as writing one article).
- ODesk - This is a lot like Elance – also a great service.
- Virtual Staff Finder – This is a service provided by a blogger/entrepreneur who I respect and follow, Chris Ducker. Basically, this service takes all the pain out of hiring a virtual assistant. You pay them a one-time fee, and they find you the best VA for whatever it is you’re working on.
- MicroWorkers – This is a great site for outsourcing very simple tasks. You can read more about it in the review I wrote.
Sometimes search engine optimization and word-of-mouth advertising only takes you so far (especially when you’re starting out). Here are some advertising resources I’ve used, and strongly recommend.
- Google AdWords – You’re probably familiar with this one, as it’s the most prevalent form of advertising on the internet today. Build an ad for your website, and gain exposure on not only Google’s search results, but also the millions of websites that display Google ads through their AdSense service.
- 7 Search – This is a much lesser known advertising platform that shows your ads similar to Google Adwords, except that they’re displayed on some of the lesser known search engines. I’ve used this before, and the best thing about it is that you can bid on competitive keywords for a fraction of what it costs at Google Adwords. This will never be your only means of advertising, but it’s a great one to add to your list of advertising platforms.
- Facebook – You’re well aware of Facebook as a social networking platform, but did you know that it’s one of the best places to advertise? The primary benefit of advertising with Facebook is that you can have laser-targeted ads due to the fact that Facebook will let you target very specific people (remember, Facebook has a TON of information about its users).
- 48 Hours Logo – This site allows you post a project for a logo with your own customized specifications, and a bunch of graphic designers will compete for your business. Within hours, they will post their designs of your logos, and the one you choose will be the designer who gets paid. You can get professional logos designed for as little as $79, but you get to set how much money you want to pay (higher amounts yield more designers competing to give you the best logo possible). Use the code ERIC with your set price, and you’ll receive an automatic $10 discount. For example, if you’re setting up a project with a price of $79, you’ll type in 79ERIC where is says “Set your project award.”