At any given time, my website portfolio is somewhere between 10 – 15 sites that I manage (including a few sites that are partner sites where I work with other people on them). As you might expect, I spend a decent amount of money growing my sites and just in general expenses for my business. So far this year, I’m averaging around $5,000 monthly in expenses related to my website portfolio (including my agency).
My expenses cover a variety of different categories – from domain registrations to SEO tools to WordPress plugins to courses and books. I always find it interesting to see the types of things that other successful online entrepreneurs value the most when it comes to what they’ve spent their cash on, so I want to share with you my absolute favorite things that I’ve spent money on this year for my business. (disclaimer: some of the links below are affiliate links)
While I technically purchased this around Black Friday of 2017, I didn’t actually start using it until this year.
The product is advertised as access to a databased of sites (broken down by niche) that link out. So basically, it’s a database of places where you might be able to score some links. That’s actually what I bought access to it for – I got the $997 all niches package.
The truth is that I don’t really use it for the database of sites because there’s something much more valuable here.
The case studies.
While there haven’t been nearly as many case studies as I would have liked (number six just went live this November), I do think it’s pretty valuable. (Though I wish I’d gotten a cheaper one-niche package…..especially before it renewed today for the $997 all niches package…oops).
If you’re familiar at all with Glen from Viperchill fame (and you really should be), then you know that the content of the case studies is truly epic. Honestly, I’d pay for a subscription of monthly case studies like this if he offered it.
You can learn more about Detailed Pro here.
If you’re promoting Amazon products and not using this plugin, then you’re truly missing out.
This plugin makes it super easy to make awesome looking tables, including comparison tables, that keeps you compliant with the Amazon Associates operating agreement. You do everything with shortcodes, so it’s a LOT quicker than using Tablepress or an html table generator.
You do need access to the Amazon API in order for this plugin to work, so if you have a brand new Amazon Associates account you need to get your three sales and have the account officially approved in order to gain access to the API.
And one thing that I think a lot of people miss about this plugin is that you can use it with other affiliate programs if you’re making a comparison table. I use it like this all time so that I can mix Amazon products in with products from other affiliate programs.
Plus, the customer support is amazing – you can ask a question and get an answer super fast that solves whatever your problem might be.
For years now, I’ve sang the praises of Siteground hosting but recently they’ve been not so great for me and I actually ended up switching to WPX hosting earlier this year.
Honestly, I should have made this move sooner instead of sticking with Siteground. The customer support at WPX is better than Siteground ever was – and their support was one of the things that I always loved at Siteground…until it started going downhill.
An important thing to know about WPX is that they don’t have that traditional cPanel. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that since I was used to my hosting having a cPanel. But now I actually prefer it. There’s so much less clutter and the simplicity of my account is actually quite refreshing. I can still do all the same things that I need to – and when I can’t find something I just submit a ticket to support and it’s quickly taken care of.
I also really like that they will move all of your sites to your account at no cost.
You can learn more about WPX Hosting here.
I actually learned of this site from one of my students and prior to this I was using Tailor Brands to create logos, or just going the DIY route in Photoshop.
I didn’t used to really put much effort into creating logos for my sites, but this year I decided to focus on branding and giving my sites more of a “real” business look. And, having a professional quality logo is one of the ways that I’m accomplishing this.
For the price, I think that this is truly a great value, especially since a professional looking site really helps when you’re doing outreach or responding to HARO requests. To give you an idea of what you can create, the logo on my agency website was created on Logojoy in about 15 minutes.
You can learn more about Logojoy here.
Northwest Registered Agent
If you’re earning money from your sites and don’t have an LLC set up (and you’re in the USA), then you should really get on that.
Right now, I have eight different LLCs setup for my sites. I try to split up my sites as separate businesses since most of my affiliate sites are Amazon sites and they are notorious for closing down accounts (I’ve actually had to sue them in the past when they closed an account for no reason – and yes, Amazon lost in court and had to pay out the money they were trying to keep).
So, for most people only one LLC is needed unless you manage a large number of sites or just want to separate your highest earners to limit risk if Amazon closes an account. Or, if you’re trying to get into an affiliate program that only allows affiliates from a handful of states due to Nexus laws (hello, Wayfair affiliate program!), then you might want to get another LLC setup.
Fun fact: one of my LLCs is setup in Colorado just so that I can stay in the Wayfair affiliate program after they kicked out affiliates in my state.
Before I registered my first LLC a lot of time was spent on determining where was the best state for me to register in and how I should go about doing that. In the end, I chose to using Wyoming as my top choice due to low setup fees and no state income tax. And Northwest Registered Agent is who I use to act as my registered agent for the LLCs in that state.
For the money, what you get is pretty decent – they file all the paperwork to set up your LLC in your preferred state and they accept incoming mail and then scan it and email you a notice that mail has arrived. I started using this service around four years ago and still use them to this day.
Learn more about Northwest Registered Agent LLC creation services.
Link Research Tools
When a few of my sites got hit with an unnatural link penalty earlier this year due to some spam links sent by neckbeard assholes, Link Research Tools (LRT) is what I used to recover from that penalty.
This is a premium tool and not really something that I would advise you to pay for every single month. This year, I’ve only paid for it a total of two months (plus some money spent on extra credits for link detoxes). Even the 7-day trial is a bit expensive to me at $77 since it previously was only $7 to try it out.
But I will say that I have not seen any other tool like this one. The real benefit of it is that every single link that points at a site is found by LRT. Even those PBNs that you thought you’d hidden away so carefully.
It’s also super easy to make your disavow file with LRT if you have the misfortune of being hit by a links penalty.
Honestly, if the monthly price of this tool was cheaper, then I would pay for it every single month just to uncover all the links of my competitors!
Learn more about Link Research Tools here.
Even though I already have a subscription to Thrive Themes, My Theme Shop, and StudioPress, I still ended up buying the GeneratePress Premium theme a few months back.
The first thing that you need to know about this theme is that the base version is actually 100% free! And you can make a really great looking site with that free version. So, why did I pay for the premium version? To have more control on customizing the theme.
For me, I find it 100% worth it to have paid for the premium version. And I did test out the free version before deciding to make the jump.
One of my favorite things about this theme is how quickly it loads up. I also love that it just lets you create a really clean looking site that is designed just like you envision it in your head – without the need for CSS or other coding knowledge.
Learn more about GeneratePress Premium here.
Though you can make a great looking site with GeneratePress Premium and the basic version of Elementor, I think that you can really take your site’s design to the next level with Elementor Pro.
If this is a new product for you, then here’s the basics on what it is – it’s a site builder like Thrive Architect (previously Thrive Content Builder), but without all the glitchiness that you get with Thrive. And like GeneratePress, there is a free version that you can use.
So, why upgrade the Pro version? Because you get access to a lot more widgets and options that you really should want for your site. For instance, the free version doesn’t have a drag-and-drop widget for displaying a list of blog posts, but the Pro version does.
With the pro version you can also do things like create price lists and integrate with Woo Commerce. You can see a full list of the free vs pro versions here.
Learn more about Elementor Pro here.
So, if you’re looking at all the items listed above and wondering how the hell I manage to spend around $5K each month on my sites, then let me give you some additional insight on my monthly spending.
Right now, I have recurring monthly charges for:
- Microsoft Office 365
- Adobe Creative Suite
- Moz Pro
Other expenses that I have throughout the year include:
- Other hosting packages (mostly for my PBNs)
- Domain renewals/registrations
- Intellectual property attorney
- Cloud storage
- Random shit I buy and never use from AppSumo sales
- Random SEO services like social signals or other things I’m testing
And if you’re wondering what my biggest waste of money spending was for 2018, well, then that’s an easy one for me to answer. I paid for a full year of Shopify (so around $900) with the intentions of testing out ecommerce shit. Spoiler alert: I never even opened my store. What a total waste of cash that could have been spent on links or content.
In case you’re wondering, I made to website screenshots with the free tool at https://shrinktheweb.com/
Latest posts by Shawna (see all)
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