RESOURCES I USED TO BUILD MY WEBSITE
It has been a very long process in creating my website and I have spent hours upon hours of research comparing what the best tools and resources are to build my website. Below are the resources I used to build Ebony Can Help!
Namecheap is one of, if not the best under hosting websites for those with a tiny budget or are just starting their website. Namecheap boasts 99% uptime, but since this host primarily shoots for large businesses with dedicated IT departments, it’s not necessarily user friendly. Using a quick dummy website icegsay.com, I did a test to see what the current price is going for to get a domain and hosting for a year; about $19.
This is a much more feasible option for those who aren’t ready to make such a price or time commitment for their website as sites such as Blue Host and Siteground offer. But the cheap price comes with a price; a really steep learning curve. As I call myself a bit of an IT nerd who is a fast learner when it comes to all things computer related, I found myself spending tons of time reading instructions, help articles and begging customer service for assistance. Although their customer service is kind and responsive, time for me was still lost spending 10-20 minutes in an Internet chat getting help for things that may be a 1-click install on other hosting websites. I have Jetpack and Uptime Robot installed which will email me if my website is experiencing downtime and I was SUPER afraid when I got an email every 30 minutes or so informing me that my website was down, and then back up. However, with a wipe of my brow I have to chop that up for one really weird day as I haven’t had any notice of downtime since that day. So when it comes to that 99% uptime, it seems so far so good. I will be making a detailed review of Namecheap in a few months once I can get a proper measure of how it handles all the traffic that will be coming! Until then, if you don’t mind learning (hey you can turn it into valuable content later!), then Namecheap would be a great budget value host and domain name provider to choose.
I am pretty familiar with WordPress.com as I have hosted a couple of personal blogs on their so it was a no-brainer for me to get a self-hosted WordPress.org account. WordPress is the tried and true and has tons of plugins, themes, SEO, support, and more locked down.
Although I purchased a pre-made theme from https://www.useauthority.com/, I actually didn’t use it at all as planned and built my website custom theme on my own. However, the base GeneratePress Parent theme is really great and eases my anxiety over not purchasing the coveted Genesis theme. Of the research I did, it seemed my website would be SEO doomed if I didn’t get some sort of popular Genesis theme. But I didn’t want to pay the price. I researched for another SEO friendly theme and found the GeneratePress Parent with the Authority Child theme. The great thing about GeneratePress is that the development is similar Genesis but it is available as a free framework that is speedy, customizable, and doesn’t have the bloated plugins that other themes have. Best thing is the premium version is only $39 which is much cheaper than the $60 Framework you have to get with Genesis before dropping another stack of cash on a child theme. I purchased my theme on Etsy for $35 but the owner has since shut down his Etsy page.
I’m in love with Elementor and will purchase the unlimited license to continue to build plenty of websites from it. There are so many features available in the free version, but the pro version I’m using is even better with almost a new feature every month.
Zapier is task automator that I use when I want to create my own custom pop-ups and landing pages. That’s right! I do NOT use any paid services such as Landing Pages or ConvertKit to create custom opt-ins. Zapier is free and limits you to 5 zaps (a zap is the integration or connection of services) and 100 tasks (the action taken from the zap) per month. As I am just starting, this was perfect for me as a budget-friendly way to get my landing pages and opt-ins the way I wanted while saving money. Right now, I am using one “zap” which subscribes people who opt-in on my landing page to Mailerlite. Right now on the free service, Zapier will automatically subscribe 100 people (equal to 100 tasks) per month. If you need more tasks or Zaps, you can upgrade the account for $20 a month, billed annually (or $25 a month).
It’s so odd to me that people jump straight from Mailchimp to ConvertKit without knowing that Mailerlite is the better first choice! Mailerlite is free for up to your first 1000 subscribers and I find it much better than Mailchimp! Simply, Mailerlite is lighter and faster than Mailchimp. Paying for ConvertKit was out of the question for me starting out, although it is still in consideration once I begin to make consistent income! It seems to be the second best to ConvertKit if you’re looking for a free service. I’ll let the comparisons speak for themselves:
I was lucky enough to have a copy of Photoshop given to me by an associate a few years ago so I am able to skip the $20 a month Adobe Cloud subscription services to use it. Photoshop is my love, and I am self-taught (with the help of a few YouTube tutorials as well). Learning Photoshop has saved me thousands of dollars as I believe the designs and graphics I make are premium and stand out thanks to it.
I’m just going to come out and say it: PICMONKEY IS BETTER THAN CANVA
But alas, that’s just my opinion and it’s a bit biased. Before Canva, I was using an online Photo Editor called Piknic which I finagled to allow me to create and manipulate graphics in a way I’m sure the program wasn’t originally intended to be used for. After a few years however, Piknic closed and a VERY SIMILAR (in fact in suspicious it was the same thing haha) website called Ribbet appeared. It literally had the exact same EVERYTHING as Piknic so there was zero learning curve. However, I discovered PicMonkey which is a billion times better. PicMonkey allows you to work with layers, which really changes the game. In addition, it’s really simple to add your own graphics (using the overlay feature), has gridlines, and has a hub where you can store all your finished and edited projects. Although Canva is nice for those who want something easy and regular, it was quite hindering to me as it doesn’t have enough features to create unique designs. Also, Canva has the infamous “blurry photo syndrome” that I absolutely HATE… I can see a Canva graphic from a mile away because it’s fuzzy and blurry due to the major image compression that happens after you download the finished product. I had to do some research to see if there was a way to prevent the image compression which leads to blurriness and although there is, I feel it should be Canva’s responsibility to make sure the program does it automatically. There are also paid ebooks and courses that teach people Canva but DON’T teach them how to prevent blurry images. (sigh) I’ll leave it at that as it’s not my intention to bash Canva, but to show my love for PicMonkey *hearts* I currently have a paid PicMonkey subscription but will be transitioning to the free service as I handle most of my graphic making to Photoshop.
Need I say more? Google Drive is the most popular Cloud sharing service and in integrated with Gmail.
It’s a simple web-based lightweight email interface that provides 3GB of email storage. Most importantly, it gives me email@example.com which looks a billion times better than firstname.lastname@example.org. I use my Gmail for signing up for services and other important access points just in case something happens to my private email address. I use my private email address as a legitimizer to help get accounts approved (for instance, Share-a-Sale will count your approval chances against you if you don’t use a private email address), and as the contact point for my newsletters. It just looks more professional and helps show that you take your business more seriously.
With the help of these tools with an added touch of my skills and knowledge, Ebony Can Help was born! I kept my start-up costs pretty low, less than $100 and I was able to launch with a very solid, professional looking website.
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