Below you’ll find a list of resources that I use to keep my life running, personally, professionally and financially.
Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, and I may receive a commission for purchases made through the links, at no cost to you. I only advertise products and services I have personally used and recommend.
Rakuten. I’ve been using this service for years. Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten partners with brands to give you free cashback when you shop online (and sometimes in-store). The brands get more traffic and sales and customers get savings mailed to them in check form each quarter. I’ve earned $440 back this year when I booked travel through Priceline, shopped at Gap, Neiman Marcus, Ace Hardware and others.
Credible. Do you have and loathe your student loans? Hey there, I see you. I AM you. Repayment is inevitable, but if your loan terms aren’t great, you might consider refinancing them with Credible. Their service connects you with several lenders that essentially compete for your business. I consolidated the last of my variable-interest student loans (buh bye Sallie Mae!) at a fixed rate of 4%. The refinance saved me over $6,000 in interest!
American Express Platinum Card. Oh, how I love this card. I never thought I’d sign on for a credit card with an annual fee, much less $595 a year, but if you travel three or more times from January to December, you’ll earn it back, and then some. The Amex Platinum card is lousy with perks. A few of my favorites are 5X points on flights and hotels booked through Amex, $200 per year in airline purchase credits (e.g., checked bags and in-flight expenses like wi-fi), automatic hotel room and rental car upgrades, $15 per month in Uber credits, access to a zillion airport lounges, shopping benefits and discounts.
Bluehost. I’ve used a couple of hosting services, and Bluehost is my favorite by far for a few reasons: you can start and maintain a blog for $3.95 a month, they offer free WordPress integration, and 24/7 customer service, which means that if you hit a wall as a non tech-savvy user (raises hand), there’s always someone to help.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. You may not have heard of Michelle Schroeder-Gardner or affiliate marketing, and both are game-changers. This lady earns $1 million a year with her blog, thanks in large part to teaching others how to earn money online through her course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I joined the group a year ago and her advice and legwork have been invaluable to understanding monetization.
ConvertKit. I use ConvertKit to manage my subscriber list. I love their software because it allows you to insert style-specific forms into your site and send automated email sequences. Basically, they simplify all the complicated backend stuff that comes with engaging and maintaining an audience, and their Knowledgebase is full of guided tutorials to help you implement all bells and whistles.
PicMonkey. My Photoshop skills left me sometime around 2007, so I use PicMonkey to edit my photos. They have autocorrect options that allow you to tweak everything: light, contrast, color, sharpness…you name it. Their export options also allow you to choose file type, size and quality, which is helpful if you’re switching between print and online mediums, or you need to conserve space on the cloud or your hard drive.
Canva. While PicMonkey is great for photo editing, Canva is what I rely on for branding and graphic design. Their free service has tons of templates, color palettes, and font pairings to choose from, and the paid accounts take all the options a step further.
Flexjobs. I’ve been freelancing for nearly a decade, and Flexjobs is one of the few paid services I would recommend. There are so many free options available, but it’s tough to find sites that properly vet their job listings. In other words, you’re bound to run into a few scams. I’ve never had a problem with Flexjobs. They post opportunities in just about every field and their partners are often Fortune 500 companies. Check out their website to view the kind of gigs they post before signing up to get a better idea of what they offer.
Editorial Freelancers Association. Freelance writing has shaped most of my professional life, and I wouldn’t change it, but working from home can be isolating at times. I needed a community, which is why I signed up for an Editorial Freelancers Association membership. If you don’t have many local friends who understand what you do, the EFA can help you connect with other writers through your local chapter. They also have members-only job listings and (my favorite part) a complete list of competitive freelance service rates to rely on when negotiating with clients.
Society of Professional Journalists. There’s content writing and there’s journalism. I do a little of both, which is why the SPJ is also on my must-have list. The paid membership is full of perks, but their free website, the Journalist’s Toolbox, has a ton of valuable information, including fact-checking tips and links to data resources.
Amber Script Transcription Software. I actually shrieked when I found Amber Script. There might be nothing worse than transcribing interviews as a freelance writer. It takes up so much time, especially if you aren’t a fast typer. With this software you upload an audio file, choose the number of speakers, and click Upload. In less than an hour, you get a blissful transcript of your interview synced to the audio, which allows you to make edits and corrections along the way.
Wave Accounting Software. I was a Quickbooks devotee for many years before they switched to cloud service, and then it was just one more expense on the balance sheet (womp womp). Wave’s online app is a free option to track your earnings and expenses, send invoices, run payroll, create reports, etc.