Pen and Parent
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Resources and Tools for Writers and Parents

Sometimes it's hard to make a decision when it comes to buying baby products or finding that perfect book to help you craft your latest masterpiece. We discovered that following recommendations from people we trusted made a huge difference. 

Below is a growing list of writing and parenting resources and tools that we've personally used and would recommend. We do receive a small commission for some of the products and services, but we would never recommend anything we don't personally love or use. 

We will add to this list as we come across new resources that will help you become better parents and writers. 

Writing Resources and Tools

I (this is Melissa) had a hard time coming up with a list of our top books for writers to read. I wanted to cover a few different writing genres. But, I managed to narrow it down to 12 books that belong on any writer's bookshelf. Get a cuppa coca and settle in!  

Recommended Reading: The 12 Best Books for Novelists, Bloggers, and Screenwriters. 

Recommended Reading: 18 Parenting Magazines, Blogs, Websites that Pay Freelance Writers

Grammarly is the best grammar editing tool. Honestly, this resource will save you hours of time and help you write clearer, stronger sentences that shine. We love that it will give you explanations for grammar rules. You can also add Grammarly to Chrome or Windows. This will enable you to edit anywhere. 

Writers need an online presence, even if it's a simple website with a page describing yourself and links to your books. We learned the hard way about creating an online presence. But, we also found some great resources that helped us become more professional without spending a lot of money and time. 

Blue Host is a great web hosting company that's recommended by Word Press. We found that it's easy to use and the customer service is excellent. You can host as many domains as you want. The monthly cost competes with other hosting services too. Your initial purchase comes with a 30 day money-back guarantee. 

Thrive Themes is a great choice for a premium theme at a good price. Each theme comes with templates and short codes to help you design a professional site. They also have great tutorials and the customers service is outstanding. Our questions (and we had a lot) were answered right away. Thrive Themes also has some great plugins for your site that are fun to use and make it easy for the novice to navigate. 

Mailerlite is a pretty cool company that will manage your email list. They are a new company that only makes one product and super simple to use. You can also make landing pages, opt-ins, and can set up automations.

The best part is that ALL their features are free right away. You don't have to pay a monthly fee to access them, like with other online marketing services. However, they are free up to 1,000 subscribers; after that there is a monthly fee. 

PicMonkey is an online photo editor that's intuitive. The free account has all the features you need when first starting out. They also have templates for all social media accounts. You can post directly to Facebook, Pinterest, etc., right from their interface. We can't say enough great things about their service. 

Boardbooster is pin magic. If you're interested in using Pinterest to grow your email list or increase your followers, then try Boardbooster for free. Once you reach 500 pins, you have to change to a payment plan. The best part is once you set up your pinning scheduler, you only need to spend a few minutes a week to keep pinning on auto-drive. Truly, it's board magic! 

Social Warfare is awesome. It gives you control over what pictures people pin or save from your website. The first time I saw one of my pins on Pinterest for an article I wrote, I cringed.But, Social Warfare allows you to choose the pictures people pin from your website.  I learned about Social Warfare and haven't regretted purchasing it. 

Pinterest Legacy is a great course. It tells you exactly how to create a Pinterest strategy that will get you followers and viral pins. A lot of the courses out there are expensive, but Pinterest Legacy is affordable and easy to implement. Lisa (the creator of the course) responds quickly by email and wants you to succeed. If you're going to spend money on a Pinterest course, I recommend this one. 

Parenting Resources and Tools

Are you about to be a mom or know someone who is? Check out this great list of baby products to buy before bringing the baby home. I know when I was about to become a mom I was overwhelmed with what I needed. This list will help you become prepared and only buy the products you need. 

Recommended readingEssentials to Buy Before Bringing your Baby Home Part 1

The Honest Company rocks! I (this is Amber) first started using the diapers because of all the cute designs. Hello, photo shoot!

But, I also wanted a diaper that was super durable and earth/baby friendly. You can sign-up for a diaper bundle to get 25 percent off. You can cancel anytime and set when the bundle ships.

In addition, the wipes are amazing. They are super strong and make even the worst BM manageable. I've tried so many different brands of wipes, but I always come back to the Honest wipes. Even my husband won't use anything else. 

I also use their baby formula. I had the hardest time breastfeeding with both of my kiddos, so I felt better by giving them organic formula that was comparable in cost to the other brands. You can also add formula to your diaper bundle and save 25 percent. I could go on and on about The Honest Company, but I need to go change a diaper. Seriously, check them out. 

Blue Apron is awesome for parents who don't want to plan (yeah, you're busy) but love to cook. Basically, it's a subscription service that sends you all the ingredients for the meal, and you do the rest. You can tell them how many portions, what kind of meals, and when to send it. 

Whip up one of their creations, and you'll wow your family with your culinary skills. We have a friend who told us that she feels proud after she cooks a Blue Apron meal. 

Stitch Fix is addictive and fun. Instead of having your food delivered, you can have hand-picked clothes just for YOU delivered right to your door. My sister (this is Amber) gave me a gift certificate for Mother's Day, and I've been hooked ever since.

I wrote a post about my experience with more of the ins and outs. Seriously, Stitch Fix is changing the way we shop. Beware, once you try it, you'll be addicted like me.  

Recommended reading: How this Busy Mom Shops with Stylish Ease

Ibotta is the coolest app. Okay, so if you're like me - overloaded with apps - I understand if you're hesitant to add another one to your smart phone. But, Ibotta helps you save money. Yes, all parents need extra cash to buy shoes.

They will pay you moola for the items you buy. Scan your receipt and the bar code of the item, upload the information, and get cash back. All your favorite stores participate. The earning potential is hundreds per year. 

Is there something you use and love? We would love to for you to tell us. Send an email to penandparent@gmail.com