This is the list I wish I’d had when I was starting out in digital marketing.
It’s a collection of tools and services that I use, have used in the past, or that come highly recommended from people that I know and trust.
- The basics
- Essential WordPress plugins
- Design tools
- Social media
- Reading and writing
- Organisation and productivity
The first step to getting yourself up and running online is registering a domain name. Namecheap provide a quick and easy service, they have good support (something very important for me as I always have questions) and are relatively inexpensive.
I use SiteGround for hosting this website and they really are a dream to deal with. The company I originally signed up with (who shall remain unnamed) were truly appalling. Their service was terrible and my website crawled along at a snail’s pace (5+ seconds was the average server response time). I tried SiteGround on a 30-day free trial and switched within the first day because I was so impressed.
If you’ve opted for WordPress as a CMS then I’d recommend using one of StudioPress’ themes. Just now I’m using Maker Pro, a third party theme that I purchased through StudioPress that runs on their Genesis Framework.
While not the cheapest option, you really do get what you pay for here. I was seriously impressed with how quick and easy it was to set up a slick looking website that runs like a dream.
I’ve never used this service, but I know that they are industry leaders and if I was ever to branch out into ecommerce, they would be my go-to guys.
Essential WordPress plugins
If you are using WordPress as a CMS then Yoast’s SEO plugin is essential. Even if you’re a seasoned digital marketing pro, this plugin will help you to keep your SEO game on point with keyword optimisation, readability checks and full breadcrumb control. There’s a premium option, but I find the free version offers more than enough to suit my needs.
Sumo sells itself as offering “the best website traffic tools” and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a really quick and easy plugin to implement and gives you lots of useful tools straight out of the box for automating your site growth. I’d recommend taking a look if list building is a priority for you.
Amazingly simple graphic design software – it does exactly what it says on the tin. Accounts come with lots of ready-made templates to experiment with and their Design School is a great place for inspiration and to learn more about design.
Gimp is basically a free, open source version of Adobe Photoshop, it even has a similar user interface. If you’re new to image editing, it may seem daunting at first but they offer a comprehensive set of beginner tutorials to help get you up and running.
This is a handy tool if, like me, you’re hopeless at picking colour palettes. You can enter a base colour to generate different palettes or explore their ready-made palettes for inspiration.
It’s really important that any images you use on your website are properly optimised to keep loading times down. This online tool will quickly and easily optimise up to 20 images at once.
My social media scheduling app of choice for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. It’s quick to set up, easy to use and their blog is pretty awesome too.
Another titan of the social media scheduling market. I’ve used this app before and although I personally prefer Buffer, lots of digital marketing professionals swear by this service. My advice would be to set up a free account with both and see which you prefer.
My photo editing app of choice for insta-ready snaps.
If you’re serious about growing your Instagram following I’d highly recommend investing in this tool. It provides in-depth analytics to inform your strategy alongside detailed competitor insights. They offer a 14-day free trial if you’d like to try it out and see for yourself.
Reading and writing
I use this app to help me keep track of my favourite blogs and make sure I never miss a post. It’s a particularly useful tool for anyone who needs to curate high volumes of content for social media or email marketing.
This tool is designed to help you be a better writer. It highlights long sentences and complex phrasing to make your writing clearer and bolder. I’d recommend this to anyone writing in English for an ESL audience as it keeps things simple, concise and easy to understand.
Another tool I use to make sure that my writing is free of typos and grammatical errors.
Organisation and productivity
I use Trello as my main organisational tool for everything from tracking invoices to planning content. It’s great for both individuals and teams, and their blog has a wealth of insights into how to get the most out of their software.
While I don’t use this as a freelancer, I have previously been part of a team working on a major website redesign project using Wrike for project management. I think it’s a good choice for large teams as it allows for easy task tracking, good communication and a high level of accountability.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that I will earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you choose to make a purchase.