Start Your Blog With WordPress Website Hosting
WordPress — This is obviously the first tool in my toolkit. My website teaches you how to create a blog using WordPress and is of course powered by WordPress. Over 72 million websites are run on the WordPress platform and it is by far the best content management system available to start a blog
WPengine — The only managed WordPress hosting provider I recommend and personally use. I only recommend WPengine if you have the budget for it. Managed WordPress Hosting is not for everyone but if spending a little bit more money is not a problem for you and you plan on turning your blog into a serious business then I recommend you go with WPengine. Keep in mind you can always transfer over to WPengine once your blog is making enough money to afford the higher price tag.
InMotion Hosting — TheBloggingBuddha tutorial and TheBloggingBuddha WordPress Academy utilize the InMotion Hosting platform. InMotion Hosting offers all the WordPress essentials, WordPress pre-installed, stellar customer support for your WordPress website and is extremely reliable. I recommend starting your blog with InMotion Hosting.
Hey Mike thanks for putting this resource together it has helped me acclimate myself to the WordPress community and I find myself referring back to this list time and again when people ask me for recommendations on what WordPress resources to use.
Custom WordPress Themes
StudioPress — TheBloggingBuddha is built using a custom StudioPress Child theme powered by the Genesis Framework. StudioPress has really set the standard in the industry with the Genesis Framework, it’s parent/child theme structure makes it highly-customizable and ultra-flexible. The Genesis Framework provides me with secure and search-engine-optimized foundation for TheBloggingBuddha.com. It comes built-in with features like custom body post classes for each post, multiple layouts, breadcrumbs, numeric navigation and tons of other really valueable features.
Elegant Themes — Not only offers really beautiful custom themes but really powerful plugins as well. You can pay one price and have unlimited access to their entire suite of custom WordPress Themes and they offer ongoing support and updates.
ThemeForest — Is just one part of the enormous Envato Marketplace. Envato is a huge ecosystem of websites and a marketplace offering digital products created by the global community. ThemeForest is one part of the larger Envato ecosystem and offers premium website templates for WordPress.
TemplateMonster — Is another great place to look for premium WordPress themes to customize your blog with. TemplateMonster offers over 46,000 designs to choose from plus 24/7 Support and 100% satisfaction guarantee.
I never new there were so many different themes available to build my blog with. The free WordPress themes are great but having so many choices for premium themes really opens up the options to what I can create. The Blogging Buddha has helped me learn so much about what is available to build my website.
Email Marketing For Your WordPress Blog
MailChimp — I absolutely love MailChimp and this is the email marketing service we use here at The Blogging Buddha. MailChimp has a beautifully simple interface that anyone can use and is great for beginners and professionals alike. MailChimp integrates seamlessly with WordPress and works perfectly to create beautiful customized emails.
ConstantContact — Ideal for small business and is a pioneer in the email marketing industry. They provide excellent customer support to help you learn their platform. Developing your email list is the second most important function of creating a blog. Constant Contact is another great solution for your email automation and marketing needs.
You were right about MailChimp I absolutely love the user interface and they make it so simple to create amazing email templates. Trust me if I can do it anyone can, I don’t have a technical bone in my body.
Enhanced WordPress Speed & Security
MaxCDN — CDN stands for Content Delivery Network and is a method for increasing the speed on your website by hosting your static content on various servers across the world. By having your files accessible from a wide range of servers visitors are able to browse your site faster due to the proximity of the servers to the visitors. I recommend MaxCDN if you are already making money from your blog or simply have the extra money to spend. CDN’s are not a necessity for your blog they are luxury and are most necessary for people with well-established large websites.
CloudFlare — Another CDN (Content Delivery Network). I really like CloudFlare because they offer a Free plan so if you want to get more familiar with how a CDN could potentially benefit your site or you are just a speed freak like me and you love optimizing things then I highly recommend give them a try. The CloudFlare user interface is super intuitive and easy to use. CloudFlare is my choice of DNS’s especially for beginners.
BackupBuddy — Even though most hosting providers will do automatic backups of your site it is always best to make your own backups and that is exactly what this WordPress plugin does. This plugin is very easy to use and offers several options to have your WordPress site backed up and stored off the server where your website lives which is a necessity if you want to ensure you have a secure backup of your WordPress blog.
VaultPress — Created by Automattic which is the team behind the creation of WordPress.com this plugin is an all-in-one solution that connects your WordPress site to the VaultPress servers. VaultPress acts as both a backup service and a site security option by conducting regular security scans on your site daily. This is my recommend solution for your blogging peace of mind.
Sucuri — Highly respected within the WordPress community and offers a complete website security suite of tools. The WordPress plugin is free to install and you can test out all the features they have available and get a feel for the value of their service. Sucuri is another great option to ensure you WordPress blog or website is backed up and secured from potential disaster.
JetPack — One of the must have WordPress plugins and is really a no-brainer when it comes to deciding on which WordPress plugins to install. JetPack connects your site to WordPress.com for traffic and customization tools, enhanced security, speed boosts, and so much more. It is Free to install and I highly recommend this as one of the first plugins when you start a WordPress blog. JetPack is another product developed by the Automattic team that is behind the development of WordPress.
Kraken.io – I did extensive research and asked more than a dozen developers and they all agree that Kraken.io is the best tool to use for image optimization. I personally use Kraken.io to speed up my load times so you guys don’t have a bad user experience. Get a boost in your SEO by speeding up the load times of your pages. Setting up an account is free check’em out!
I just finished learning how to create my first blog using your step-by-step tutorial and going through the e-learning lessons you provide in The Blogging Buddha WordPress Academy. The walkthrough plugin and video tutorials are amazing! I tell everyone about your website who asks me how I learned to use WordPress. Thanks!
WordPress SEO & Lead Generation
Yoast SEO — Is a WordPress plugin you should not start your blog without. Yoast SEO is one of the most downloaded plugins within the WordPress repository it is absolutely Free and will ensure your onsite SEO is optimized for the search engines. I personally use Yoast SEO on all of my WordPress sites and recommend it as one of the first plugins to install on your new WordPress blog.
GravityForms — I use GravityForms on TheBloggingBuddha it is the best form builder available for WordPress and you don’t have to know any code whatsoever. Hands down this is the best form builder available and it has integration with several top web applications.
GetSiteControl — A Free full-featured Free plugin that will increase your website engagement. GetSiteControl is packed with features one of the main features will allow you to put a notification bar at the top of your blog to capture more leads and convert more customers.
OptinMonster — One of the best lead generation tools available and I personally use OptinMonster on TheBloggingBuddha. I use OptinMonster to help grow my email list and to provide my audience with the information that is most valuable for their success.
The Yoast SEO plugin is so easy to use. I was unsure of which SEO plugin to use but after seeing it listed on your site I knew I made the right choice. Keep up the good work and thanks for all the help.
WordPress Membership, Ecommerce & E-learning Plugins
WooCommerce — The world’s favorite eCommerce solution. If you are interested in selling items on your blog or website this is the plugin you want to install. WooCommerce was acquired by Automattic in 2015 so you know this plugin is authentic. I provide step-by-step instructions on how to use WooCommerce within The Blogging Buddha WordPress Academy.
MemberMouse — A membership plugin which allows you to easily create password protected member’s area. This plugin allows you to sell products, subscriptions and memberships. MemberMouse is highly robust and recommend only for advanced users who have a special need for creating membership based sites.
Restrict Content Pro — Another highly respected and utilized membership plugin. Restrict Content Pro allows you to create an unlimited number of membership levels plus it includes a Free trial version. I recommend Restrict Content Pro if you need to secure content easily and simply behind a members area.
LearnDash — A customized Learning Management System that allows you to create custom e-learning courses, deliver quizzes, award certificates. TheBloggingBuddha WordPress Academy is created using LearnDash and is how I am able to teach you how to create various types of WordPress websites and blogs and provide the lessons to you in a fun and engaging format.
I just started my blog so some of the tools on your Toolkit page are not really relevant to me but after doing research on some of them I have come up with new directions to take my blog. Thanks for providing such a well-researched list of utilities.
WordPress Customizations, Maintenance, and Support
Zen WP – This California-based development company provides unlimited WordPress fixes and ongoing maintenance to make sure your blog is running in top shape. Once your website is running with Zen WP’s support plan, concerns are fixed before they become problems and existing issues are solved within moments, not days.
Codeable — I personally use Codeable when I need to have something done to a website that I do not know how to do or need help doing. Codeable is the number one outsourcing service for WordPress and a great resource to have at your disposable for the more difficult tasks.
WPcurve — I personally know the guys at WPcurve and would recommend them to anyone who needs to outsource development or maintenance work on their WordPress site.
Maintainn — Brought to you by the guys from WebDevStudios, one of the most respected WordPress design and development teams for enterprise level projects. Maintainn is another solution for help with custom development for your WordPress site but I would only recommend them for me complex and large level projects.
I never even knew there were outsourcing services specific to WordPress. This is so much better than trying to find someone on Upwork or another freelance site and crossing my fingers to pray for the best results. My experience using Codeable was great. I would definetly recommend them. I can’t speak for the other patforms but if It’s on your Toolkit list I trust they are just as reliable.
Content Curation Tools To Start Organizing Your Blog Posts
Evernote — This an extremely powerful tool and the more you use it the more you will realize how amazing it is. I use Evernote mainly as a web clipper to save articles for later use. I use Evernote in conjunction with Pocket and Feedly to curate content. Click the Evernote image above to get a free month of Evernote Premium – all you need to provide them is an email and password.
Pocket — Is a great must have tool that allows you to save content that you want to view later. Pocket offers an app and browser extension for Chrome and it’s Free!
Feedly — This is a tool you must have in your content curation repertoire. Feedly is the most popular RSS and blog reader. I use Feedly to subscribe to all relevant blogs in my industry. Imagine all the blog articles you want to follow available to you organized all in one place.
Scoop.it — Another piece of content curation and content marketing software any serious blogger has in their toolkit. Discover, curate and publish amazing content on the fly.
I’ve always wondered how people stay so well informed about what is going on and how they are able to come up with ideas for their blog posts. Now I know. I espcially found Feedly to be the perfect tool for me. I can’t thank you enough for putting this site together.
Stay Organized: Social Media & Content Management For Your WordPress Blog
Hootsuite — I use Hootsuite to manage all my social media profiles. In today’s social media atmosphere if you want to be effective you need to be managing your social profiles. Hootsuite allows you to keep up with your ever growing community.
Social Quant – Is an auto-pilot solution to help you grow your Twitter followers fast, all while strengthening your brand and increasing leads and sales from Twitter. You provide keywords your target market is actively tweeting and Social Quant does the rest. Try a risk-free, no credit card required 14-day free trial today!
Buffer — Is another social media management tools allowing you to publish on social media. You can use Buffer in conjunction with Hootsuite or by itself. It is important when you start a blog to be able to manage your social media presence.
CoSchedule — I absolutely love CoSchedule and personally use it to manage the blog and social media content on TheBloggingBuddha. CoSchedule keeps you organized and allows you to plan your content before you publish it.
I have one thing to say 'CoSchedule'
Web Based Help Desk Software
ZenDesk — The most popular and well known help desk software available. ZenDesk allows you to create a support ticket system and is extremely robust. This is a super innovative company that knows how to marketing themselves.
HelpScout — A web based help desk that I personally use to help keep track anything related to customer support on my blog. HelpScout is packed with features but is very user friendly and ideal for smaller sites like The Blogging Buddha that is run my one or two people.
I just want to say thank you for building this site and providing us all with so much helpful content. The 'how-to' tutorials make it easy for anyone to start a blog. Please continue to publish more 'how-to' videos on your YouTube channel is also a great resource.
Backend Operations, Organization & Productivity
Wunderlist — One of the best to-do list apps. I personally use Wunderlist to keep track of all my daily to-do’s and it allows you to collaborate with others and capture those eureka ideas that you have to capture before you lose them. When you start your blog you will tons of great ideas and things you need to keep track of so get this app you won’t regret it and the best part is it’s Free!
Google Apps for Work — Gmail is by far the most superior emailing platform available. Most hosting companies will include email hosting typically both IMAP and SMTP. InMotion Hosting providers email hosting for all of the domains you own and they offer easy Google Apps for Work integration which comes with Google Hangouts, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets and more. I personally use Gmail for my personal email and for all my domains.
Google Analytics — Offers freemium web analytics for your WordPress blog and websites. When starting a blog it’s necessary to some basic data about where your traffic is coming from. Everyone who is interested in blogging should setup Google Analytics on their WordPress blog.
Dropbox — I use Dropbox to store and share files with people in the cloud. The service is Free and you can purchase more storage if what they provide is not enough. Dropbox can be used to store pictures, videos or just about anything you want to be able to access on the fly from anywhere. Dropbox is a great place to store your WordPress backups too. By joining now, you get an additional 500MB of space for Free!
Slack — An awesome messaging app for teams. Slack is Free to use and is a great tool you can use to bring your team together. Instead of going back and forth via email I use Slack to communicate in real time and it’s packed with many other useful features like file sharing, collaboration and you can use it anywhere on any device.
99designs – Is my number one choice for any logo design work or custom images that need to be created. 99designs has some top talent and I have always had a good experience working with their platform. They offer multiple ways to go about having work done. I personally prefer working one-on-one with a designer of my choice. If you are looking to have a logo created 99desgins is your best option.