The Brown Paper Bag is known in hip-hop as a bag full of cash. This toolkit is the equivalent, as it will either save you money or earn you more money on your eCommerce journey.
Full disclosure: some links listed on this page are affiliate links. If you decide to pay for the product or service, I may be compensated a commission if you get there from my link. This in no way sways my opinion of any of these tools or resources. I genuinely love them!
Domains, Hosting, SSL
GoDaddy: If I ever need a domain, the first place I’m going is GoDaddy. The checkout process is super easy, and they almost always have a sale or deals going on. Don’t forget to buy domain privacy!
Big Scoots: Website hosts are not all created equal. I’ve been with the guys at Big Scoots for a while now. They are a smaller company, which means more attention and excellent customer service. These guys have saved my butt many time tamies.
Shopify: Shopify is my eCommerce platform of choice. It is so easy to use! Because it’s their speciality, they have thought of just about everything an online shop owner could ever need.
WooCommerce: WooCommerce is an excellent option for those who are already head over heels for WordPress. WooCommerce is now owned by the folks at WordPress, so it gets even more love than it used to. This is a great option for those who don’t want to incur extra costs when they’re first getting started.
Squarespace: Squarespace came on the scene and made things so much easier for people who were intimidated by WordPress. Not only can it make beautiful websites, but it makes some pretty online stores too!
Studiopress: Looking for a solid, trustworthy WordPress theme? Look no further than Studiopress. They regularly update their theme offerings, and they provide a lot of support. All of their themes are mobile-responsive (super important for an online store), and they were built with SEO in mind.
Divi: Elegant Themes are the creators of the super-plugin/super-theme Divi. Divi lets you create your WordPress website exactly how you want it. With a drag and drop editor, you can make your online store function how you need it to function. You’re not stuck with any one layout.
ThemeForest: ThemeForest has a whole bunch of nice looking WordPress, Shopify, and Squarespace themes for affordable prices. My recommendation: choose a theme that has been rated favorably.
Shopify: Shopify actually has some pretty nice themes, both, free and paid. Their paid themes are slightly more expensive than other sites like ThemeForest, but you can rest assured that the themes have been stress tested by the experts.
Money + Payments
PayPal + debit card: PayPal has been the frontrunner when it comes to payment gateways for years, thanks to eBay. A lot of people prefer to pay with PayPal because of the security attached. But don’t forget to sign up to get a PayPal business debit card. This gives you immediate access to your funds in your PayPal balance.
Stripe: Stripe is a great payment gateway as well. It allows people to securely make payments on your website using their credit card. You can set it up so that funds are direct deposited into your bank account daily. It’s a lovely feeling, if I do say so myself.
Capital One: I love Capital One as a “regular bank”. It’s very quick and easy to set up multiple accounts, including a Business Checking Account.
Shopify Capital: Need some startup funds? After a certain amount of sales, Shopify will offer lines of credit that you pay off with a percentage of your sales. This is a great option if you need to borrow some money for inventory.
PayPal Capital: Similar Shopify Capital, PayPal extends lines of credit to vendors after a certain amount of sales, and you pay off your balance with a percentage of your sales.
Social Media Management
Buffer: Buffer is bae. It’s a very simple platform to navigate when you need to schedule your social media posts, such as Facebook (include Facebook Groups), Twitter, Instagram (it sends you a push notification reminder), and Pinterest. It will also tell you the best time to post.
CoSchedule: CoSchedule is a little more advance, but is also awesome. Especially if you have a blog along with your online store. CoSchedule lets you take your editorial calendar into your own hands, scheduling content and social sharing.
Planoly: Planoly is a beautiful way to schedule your Instagram posts in advance. It shows you a calendar view, allows you to save photos in your content library to use for later, and will also send you a push notification reminder to post.
Iconosquare: Iconosquare is the leader in Instagram analytics. It not only gives you the insights into your posts and your followers, but it also allows you to schedule your posts in a calendar. It also has a content library, similar to Planoly.
Grum: Grum is my secret weapon. This is one of the very few platforms that let you schedule and post on Instagram without having to use your phone! You can schedule your posts for a certain time/date and it’ll take care of the rest. I also like Grum because you can include a “first comment”, which is a great place to include your hashtags.
Tweetdeck: Depending on how much you’ve got going on, if Twitter is a primary platform for your brand, you should download Tweetdeck. It is the native desktop app for Twitter, but it’s also great for what I call “social listening”. You can keep your eye on multiple hashtags and topics. This is great if you’re live tweeting an event, or participating in Twitter chats.
SquareFit: Even though Instagram lets you posts square and rectangle posts now, it’s still nice to have a neat little square every now and then. SquareFit is an app that does just that: makes your pictures fit as a square. Tada!
Boomerang: Boomerang is a great app to make quick gif-like videos on the fly. It’ll take fast shutters, and will loop the motion over and over. It’s a nice introduction to video content for your store.
Layout: Another Instagram related app, Layout allows you to create collages quickly and neatly.
Repost: Repost allows you to easily repost content from other profiles. This comes in handy when you want to share your customers’ posts of your products. The watermark of their username isn’t bad, especially when you want to give credit. However, I still recommend that you buy the premium version so that you have the option to remove the credit watermark if necessary.
SparkPost: Adobe SparkPost lets you create memes and quick graphics on your phone. It comes with pre-made layouts and fonts.
MailChimp: MailChimp is a great place to start your email marketing efforts. It integrates well with just about every eCommerce platform, meaning you can collect email addresses of your customers and be able to market to them again later.
Creative Market: Creative Market has been one of my best tools over the years. You have a marketplace full of graphics, backgrounds, mockups, and more. I have literally thousands of files from there. Many of them have helped me with creating new products, too!
Icon Finder: Just like the name suggests, sometimes you just need a simple icon. This site will help you find free ones and premium ones.
All the Free Stock: This site is sort of like bridge to other websites that offer free stock photos.
CreateHerStock: Looking for stock photos of people of color? They’re hard to find, aren’t they? I’ve been a supporter of CreateHerStock since they started. You can get their free photos, but I highly recommend becoming a monthly member, since you get new photos to use every month.
Photoshop: Self-explanatory much? Adobe offers a monthly Creative Cloud option. I highly recommend it. If not you, at least someone on your team.
Canva: Canva came through and shocked the world a few months ago, letting just about anyone create gorgeous graphics without Photoshop. I use it for social media templates regularly.
PicMonkey: Before Canva, there was PicMonkey. Another online image editor, you can also add some effects, text, backgrounds, and more.
ColorStory: I love the ColorStory app. It allows you to put in some pretty nice filters on your photos. Many of them are free, but their paid ones are gorgeous too.
Lightroom: Familiar with the Adobe suite? Lightroom is a great app and software to have for quick touchups of photos.
Asana: Need to keep yourself in check? Asana keeps me focused on what I need to do at all times. It’s more than a to-do list. It’s a great project management tool.
Dropbox: If you don’t have Dropbox, I’m not quite sure what you’re doing with your life. Also, invest in the professional version. Do yourself that favor so that you have plenty of space for the files you need at all times.
Google Suite: Most people have used Google Docs a time or two. Google Suite not only keeps track of your documents, but it allows you to easily share them if necessary.
Evernote: I have been an Evernote Evangelist since 2009, and I’m an official Evernote Community Leader. But that doesn’t cloud my thoughts on the software. I refer to it as my portable brain, as it goes with me everywhere (every device I have has it installed). It’s great for jotting down notes, inspiration, to-do lists, just about anything.
HelpScout: If you’re managing more than 1 mailbox, don’t drive yourself insane with fiftyleven different tabs open. HelpScout lets you turn your mailboxes into support buckets. It’s completely worth it.
Email templates: Coming Soon!
Fiverr: Looking for some quick virtual assistant work, or need some graphics done? I have found a lot of awesome and affordable talent on Fiverr. Some people run into issues, but I always choose people who have high ratings, and deliver the work by the deadline I need.
Dropshipping & Fulfillment
Printful: I love Printful! It helped me get my start in eCommerce without worrying about having inventory in my home. They have great quality in my opinion, and they are constantly adding products.
Shipstation: Shipping multiple orders each day? Shipstation has been my saving grace. It allows you to batch print your labels, which makes getting your orders out a whole lot easier.
ShippingEasy: Similar to Shipstation, ShippingEasy does just that: makes shipping your orders out easier. You can create batch labels too!
Packaging & Supplies
StickerMule: I love StickerMule so much. Not only do they have great quality products, but their customer service is A1. My hater mail lady conveniently didn’t deliver my order of magnets one time, and not only did they send me a new order, but they expedited the shipping, all for free! *thug tear* They print stickers, labels, packing tape, and more.
Amazon Prime: If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, you’re playing bald headed games. I’m just gonna be honest. For those times when you’re in a crunch and need packaging supplies ASAP, that 2 day shipping is a saving grace. And Prime Now, which delivers your stuff same day, will save your butt too.
eBay: Need to stay on budget? Shop on eBay for packaging and supplies at affordable prices.
This one is big because I am an absolute book nerd. I will update you with a list of recommended book titles, but for now, here’s where you can get some amazing books:
Kindle: Most Kindle books are $9.99 or less. I have over 700 (sorry not sorry) because quite a few of them are $4.99 and under! You don’t need a Kindle to read a Kindle book beloved.
Audible: Have a commute? Mundane 9 to 5 duties? Grab an audiobook from Audible. Owned by Amazon, you can sign up for a membership and get credits every month, or just buy them as needed.
OverDrive: If you have a library card, ask them if they use OverDrive, which is a service that allows you to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your library.
Blinkist: Don’t have time to commit to reading a book cover to cover? No sweat. Blinkist is a service that summarizes great books for you so that you can get back to filling orders.
Scribd: If your library selection sucks, or if you don’t have a membership, Scribd is definitely worth the money. You can borrow ebooks and audiobooks from them too for a monthly membership.
Half Price Books: Thank God for Half Price Books. Like the name suggests, you can get a ton of books for a fraction of the price you could get them at Barnes & Noble.
Google Analytics: Install it! You’ll need it if you want to be successful in eCommerce. Tutorials coming soon!
Microsoft Excel: Either Excel or Google Sheets, but having spreadsheet software is crucial for organizing, doing things in batches, and just keeping records in general.
Shopkey: Another secret of mine. This app adds an additional “keyboard” to your phone that connects to your Shopify store. This keyboard pulls in all of your products so that when you click on them, it pastes the direct URL to that product. Such a time saver.
I’m a member of quite a few Facebook groups with some awesome entrepreneurs in them. I’ll recommend them soon!