Whether your a blogger or business owner, we all need tools to make our lives easier. Below, I have listed a few of the resources I have used in the past or still use now to run my blogs and my business. These are all services that work well and have been proven over a long period of time.
*Please note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. At no cost to you, I may receive commission when you purchase/use one of these products. These commissions in no way influence my opinion about them.
Yeah, we’re going to plug our own WordPress course here. Why? Because we created it and we think it’s awesome.
How, you’re probably thinking, “how much is this going to cost me?”
Yes, we developed our WordPress course to provide to you for free. We believe you should have the opportunity to learn WordPress in a way you won’t find in other places. This course isn’t just written content, but full of screencasts showing you exactly how WordPress works.
So, check it out! Here’s our free Understanding WordPress course.
I always recommend starting a blog with WordPress, but the self-hosted flavor. You get the ultimate control over your blog and what you do with it. The free services don’t give you what you want, so why not start out with the best? Here are some of the better hosts out there to get you started. I don’t recommend getting the most expensive host to start out. Test the waters, then work your way up. Remember, we can transfer your website to a new host at any time, quickly!
These hosts are ones we have clients on, work with regularly, or even host our sites with. Since working with hosts and WordPress over the past 12 years, it’s easy to give you a solid recommendation we stand behind.
Site Ground is constantly on the list of top hosting companies for WordPress users. They are even recommended by WordPress.org. They have fast servers, awesome support (you can get someone on chat in one minute on average), and good prices. Their StartUp plan starts at $3.95 per month (regularly $9.95) when you purchase through our link. They are one of our hosting partners.
They offer free domains for as long as you’re a customer. You have to pay for at least one year upfront, but you can get their promo rate for up to three years. That’s a lot of savings for a great service.
We like when we can try a host company and be impressed with their level of service, fast response times, and serving people all around the world. GreenGeeks provides shared and VPS hosting plans for people who want to rock WordPress. Their dashboard is simple and easy to use. They also have the latest technology to make sure your WordPress site is loading quickly and efficiently.
Their WordPress hosting starts at $3.96 per month (pre-paid for up to three years to get the low price) when you go through here. We’ve moved a few clients over to their service and really like what they are providing.
We’ve recently started working with more and more clients on Flywheel and we have to say, we’re impressed. It’s a very good company to setup hosting with and they really take care of their customers. While they are more expensive than other hosts we work with and recommend, it can be worth it for some. They handle WordPress core updates and have automatic backups and a built-in caching setup (similar to SiteGround).
Big Scoots is a smaller hosting firm, but they have really good support (100% American based). Their customers love them! Their plans are a little higher than others, but their service is good and the price is warranted. You can also pay monthly if you want, so you don’t have to pay for a full year upfront, like the other two hosts. This will cost you more over time, but it is an option.
I get all of my domains from GoDaddy. Why? Their system is easy to use and you can find GoDaddy coupons almost everywhere. Seriously, they make it easy. What I will say is never buy their hosting. It’s not very good and not worth any price they charge you. You won’t want to be on their hosting servers. Buying domains is the only thing I use GoDaddy for.
Behind GoDaddy, NameCheap is the biggest domain registrar. While I wouldn’t use their hosting, their registration pricing is great, along with renewals. They also provide free WHOIS privacy to keep your contact information private off the WHOIS registry, which is searchable by anyone. Their interface is easy to use as well.
You can’t start a blog without a good looking theme. There are thousands of themes out there, some free and some paid. I prefer the premium, paid themes. They offer far better support and features. You can easily get started right out of the box with most of these themes. The two below places are ones I have used in the past and would recommend them to anyone. It just depends on what you’re looking for. These two are very different from each other, so make sure to understand each.
Genesis offers one of the most robust frameworks out there. It’s a choice for many large blogs because it works. You do need to purchase the framework and a child theme for the best results. They have quite a few to choose from. Genesis is what iMark Interactive actually runs on and it can be relatively easy to use.
If you’re a management client of ours, you get free access to all Genesis themes on their site. How cool is that?
ThemeForest is my go-to spot to get a premium WordPress theme. There are thousands of them, but it’s easy to find the best ones available. This is a theme marketplace, so you are buying a theme from a designer that they placed onto the site. ThemeForest is basically just a middle man, but they make it easy to search for themes. Most of their themes cost between $40 and $70.
Always make sure to reach customer reviews of the theme you’re interested in, but also see if it’s regularly updated.
Premium WordPress Plugins
Plugins are an awesome part of the WordPress ecosystem. You can do many different things with plugins by changing the look and feel of your site or adding new functionality. Here are some of the plugins I use and trust on my sites, along with those of our clients. These are all premium plugins, which come at a cost, but there are times when paying money for a good plugin is much better than dealing with a poorly supported free one!
Social sharing is so important for any blogger. While there are a ton of social sharing plugins out there, this one is well worth the low cost. It gives you the best options and it really does work. We have this installed on our blog and we love it. The best features include allowing you to choose different images for social networks, so when someone shares, the right sized image will come up.
I started Thrive Leads and Content Builder a few months ago and I’m hooked. It’s one of the best ways to get email signups. Well worth it. While Thrive Leads can be a part of the overall membership with Thrive Themes, it also is a stand-alone plugin. It’s all drag and drop functionality that you can build right in your WordPress editor. It’s what I choose instead of paying for Leadpages.
Image compression is really important to keep your site speed in check. Many don’t format their pictures correctly when they upload them into WordPress. They are either too big (like right off the camera) or not compressed for online use. Sometimes it’s both. ShortPixel is a great plugin that allows simple image compression, but it does one of the best jobs out there. There are free plugins, but this one blows them out of the water with how much it can save on image size.
Interested in making a membership site with WordPress? After testing many of the membership plugins out there (both free and paid), I found MemberPress to be one of the best. It has all of the necessary features and the price is right. This should be on top of your list if you want to do a membership site on WordPress.