Tia Ross | Editor | Coach

Tools I Use in My Business

Tools I Use in My BusinessPeople are always asking me what I use to run my myriad businesses. I don’t like to overpay for anything, and I do all my development myself, so they know if I use it, it’s going to be reliable, cost-effective, and budget-friendly. I created this handy guide for those who are interested in what I recommend.

On this page, you’ll find the tools and services I use in my own businesses. Bookmark this page and check back periodically as I will add more from time to time.

Getting & Keeping My Sites Online

When you’re running multiple websites, a good rule of thumb is to split them up and host them separately, whether that’s different servers or different hosting companies—especially if you’re on shared hosting space. I’m currently running twelve websites. I host six on one server, three on another, and three with another web host on a VPS. This is for several reasons, the two more important reasons:

(1) If any of your sites is a lot more popular than the others, you don’t want your other sites’ performance suffering because of your bandwidth hog.

(2) If you have one server hosting all your sites and it goes down, all your sites (and email) go down.

There are other reasons, but suffice to say you don’t want to host a bunch of sites on the same shared web hosting. (If you’re running your sites on a dedicated server, that’s a little different but that can still create new problems.)

Web Hosting

Interserver is my main go-to for web hosting. Over the past two decades I’ve tried (and left) Godaddy, Siteground, InMotion, Webhosting Hub, Bluehost, 1and1, and Scala. Interserver is the only one I recommend to anyone looking to host their own website at an affordable cost. They don’t overcharge you or gouge your wallet at the end of your initial contract. You can get hosting for under $2.50 per month with Interserver, and that’s the renewal rate too. They don’t try to nickel-and-dime you by tricking you into increasing your hosting package to pay for more than you really need. They also don’t upcharge you for email hosting. Their uptime is competitive and servers are reliable. And they offer stellar technical support and go above and beyond to help solve customers. Highly recommend.

Email Hosting

Along with the email hosting provided by my web host, Interserver, I use email hosting by MXRoute. Their uptime reliability far exceeds most web hosts, and having my email and web hosting separate brings me a different level of peace of mind. MXRoute offers budget-friendly rates with all the features you need, such as POP/IMAP/SMTP, mail forwarding, autoresponders, spam filtering, webmail, etc. In three years, I’ve never experienced any downtime. If you’re running a business, I strongly recommend that you get off Gmail’s free account and get a professional email address with your own branded domain. 

Website Development

I use WordPress‘s CMS platform, and WPAstra, which is my all-time favorite WordPress theme, along with Elementor Pro. WPAstra provides hundreds of website templates for non-designers to create beautiful, professional-looking websites and pages, while Elementor offers thousands of page elements to make formatting easy. With WPAstra, all you need is to add your logo and colors, swap out stock images, and replace the boilerplace content with your own text.

Editing Tools

Editing Software

Chicago Manual of Style Online – I bought my subscription with a group discount through Black Editors Network for $95 for three years. I have the hardcover (17th edition) as well, but you won’t catch me editing without an active account!

ProWritingAid – I use this program in various ways, particularly to identify writing weaknesses to watch out for before I even read a word of a client’s manuscript. Highly recommended for authors looking to polish common first draft errors before submitting to an editor. Use to shorten sentences, ditch weak adverbs, add sensory details, eliminate unnecessary adverbs and cliches, and flag odd dialogue tags, among others.

PerfectIt – They changed the game when they incorporated the Chicago Manual of Style into this program! I use this to double-check enforcement of style rules, consistency, and inconsistent or undefined abbreviations. It’s also good for editing Australian, British, and Canadian English.

Other Tools

List Builder

I’ve evaluated dozens of email list builders, scrutinizing the top 20 even closer, and the one I prefer by far is MailerLite. for its rich features, functionality, ease of use, and price. Your first 1,000 subscribers are free. You can create opt-in mailing lists with drip emails, which will send out the email(s) you specify at designated intervals. You can segment, group, and tag your subscribers, and lots more. Unlike Mailchimp or some of the others, they don’t try to nickel-and-dime you for every little feature you need.

Editing Business Operations

Of the dozen business managers I tested, the one that made the most sense at an affordable price was Dubsado. Dubsado handles lead intake, scheduling, proposals, contract, digital signatures, invoicing, client communications, and wrap-up for my team of editors. It also offers workflows, reporting, tasks, and email and other templates to help streamline your operations. It currently is priced at around $350/year or $35/month. Honeybook is what I use in another business with similar features and slightly lower pricing.


While Dubsado does enable electronic signatures on contracts, it’s a typed signature stamped by an IP address. The tracking makes it enforceable in any court of law should a problem arise. However, whenever I need a handwritten signature for any other type of document, my go-to is Xodo Sign, formerly Eversign. It offers 5 free per month. My other favorite was HelloSign; however, now that HelloSign has been bought by Dropbox, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes cost-prohibitive and headachy like Dropbox’s file sharing service. I also use SmallPDF and Pandadoc.

File Sharing & Backups

Box offers the absolute best bang for no bucks. I use Box to share client files (rather than attaching them to emails and eating away at my email storage allocation). Box’s free individual account comes with 10 GB of storage and 250 MB file upload limit.

iDrive offers 10 GB of storage as well at no charge, but it shines as a backup tool to ensure you never lose work on client projects (or that novel you’ve been secretly writing for years). it provides continuous backup of multiple PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices into a single account.

If more storage is needed, you can upgrade iDrive to 100 GB for only $2.95/year and go up from there.

I also use Apple’s iCloud, which is $0.99/month to $2.99/month for 50 GB to 200 GB and you have access via more than just Apple products—for my fellow #TeamAndroid folks. While I favor Android phones, however, I do use MacBook, iMac, PC/Windows, iPhone, and Samsung phones, plus an iPad, throughout my workdays, so I appreciate having access to all my files via iCloud no matter which device I’m on or where in the world I am.

And then there’s Google Drive, but if you use your Google account for photo backup or email, you don’t get to utilize the full 15 GB they offer for file storage. However, if you need more space, Google One‘s 100 GB plan is $1.99/month or $19.99/year; 200 GB is $2.99/month or $29.99/year.

Meetings & Messaging

Telegram — This is my first choice for real-time communications at home in the States and for friends and family to reach me while I’m overseas.

WhatsApp — Also good for international travel, this one is best for contacting local numbers before I can get my hands on a SIM card while I’m overseas.

Google Voice — This has proven to be invaluable in countless ways. When I was traveling throughout South and Central America for half a year, this gave me a second phone number friends and family could call me on as long as I was connected to wifi or data via any of my devices. I was also able to make free calls home to the States. Another thing I appreciate about Google Voice is using a GV number as a voicemail system on whatever tech résumés of mine are still floating around out there so that recruiters can’t blow up my personal phone number when I’m not open to new opportunities (but they can still leave messages).

Google Meet — Great for spontaneous virtual meetings when wifi signals are strong.

Zoom — While the free version has been scaled down so much that it’s barely worth the effort, the Pro plan makes sense for the monthly writers’ accountability and critique group meetings provided by my writers’ network. It’s also useful for screen sharing.

Skype — Another favorite for screen-sharing

Graphics & QR Codes

Profile Pic Creator – Upload your photo to create a professional-looking profile picture. You can choose from various background covers to match your brand.

QR Code Monkey – This is my favorite site for creating QR codes. You can embed your logo, your face, an icon in the center; customize colors and style; and link to your website, landing page, or anywhere you want to direct those who scan your QR code.

Canva – Although I use Adobe Photoshop for image editing and more advanced graphics work, I really like the ease of use of Canva, Its thousands of templates and simplicity make quick work of creating web graphics, flyers, logos, and other materials.

PhotoRoom background remover – I occasionally use this to quickly remove busy backgrounds from photos.


Note: A couple of these are affiliate links, but I don’t recommend any tools I don’t fully endorse or use.

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