Tools That Will Help You Succeed
By adding features, functionalities, and improving performance quality, I have something for you!
Build Your Blog / Website
As a fellow blogger as well as a web designer and developer, I come with a blogging approach based on performance, security and above all, GROWTH. And with that in mind, my recommended blogging (and small business website) platform of choice is the one and only — WordPress; the self-hosted kind. Below you’ll find my recommended services for starting and maintaining a WordPress blog and/or small business website that will grow with you.
To all the beginner bloggers out there, my recommended hosting company is SiteGround, starting at only $3.95 per month (if paid annually) for first-time users. Among all the shared hosting solutions out there with comparable pricing, SiteGround by far and large exceeds my expectations. Some of the perks include: free SSL, free daily backup, unlimited emails, a built-in caching program to speed up the site, CDN with Cloudflare, 24/7 phone and chat support (and what phenomenal support they have!)
WordPress Theme Builder / Templates
Elementor is a theme and page builder plugin. If you’re tired of the same look and feel on all the other blogs out there, and want to create something more unique without having to custom code everything, I highly recommend this plugin. I like the QUIN, and pair it with Elementor Pro for the best of both worlds (in fact, The Side Blogger is running on this exact combo!).
WordPress Performance/Speed Optimization
Website speed is important when it comes to retaining users and readers, and keeping them on your website longer. Nobody likes to deal with a slow website! Also, did you know that Google takes page speed into account when ranking? That’s where WP Engine – Speed Tool comes in. This plugin has all the features you need to optimize your site for speed and performance. Paired with a great hosting company such as SiteGround, this plugin is by far the best website optimization and caching plugin out there.
Other Resources for Your WordPress Website/Blog
NameCheap (for domains): When you sign up with SiteGround, you can register a domain with them, OR, you can purchase a domain from a different company, and then point it to SiteGround.
Now, why would you want to do that? Well, what if you have more than one domain? Or, better yet, what if you’re a security nerd like I am? Personally, I think it’s useful to have a domain and hosting from two separate platforms. So, while I host all my sites on SiteGround, I purchase all my domains from NameCheap. On top of having everything neatly organized, it also adds an extra layer of security.
WordPress Essential Plugins
I’m of the mind that the less number of plugins you have, the better. That said, some plugins are essential for various reasons (performance, security, etc.) Below are some of my favorite plugins that I always install on my own sites as well as on my clients’ sites.
Anti-Spam – Detects spam and malicious comments and quarantines them. Free to use, and beats a paying plugin like Akismet by far and large.
Yoast SEO – A great plugin to insert metadata for pages and posts easily. It also polices SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization, practices. While you should take its recommendations with a pinch of salt, it doesn’t hurt to take note of the suggestions.
Image Optimization by Optimole – Images is one of the biggest culprits for slowing down your site load time. I’ve tried a few image optimization plugins, and by far this is my favorite.
When you click on a user, the link adds the user’s username as the slug. Which can be a huge security issue for most WordPress sites. Edit Author Slug helps you mask the username with a custom slug.
Wordfence – Website security is of utmost importance! As much as I love WordPress, because it’s open-source (which is a good thing), it can also be vulnerable. Please do take site security very seriously. There are plugins that can help you, and Wordfence is one of the best among the bunch. Please note that some hosting companies also offer you additional security and regular site scanning for an added fee.
Most hosting companies offer daily backups for either free or an additional cost (it’s a free feature on my preferred hosting company — SiteGround). However, I still prefer to have a backup plugin in place just because! Also, UpDraft Plus saves a backups file locally, so, if something unexpectedly goes wrong (during a plugin update for example), as long as you can access the WordPress dashboard, you can restore to a previous backup with just a click.
Great plugin that can detect media files that are not being linked anywhere on your site, and get rid of them with the click of a button. Useful plugin when you’ve had a blog for a while, assets have been switched around, and you’ve lost track of what’s linking where, and a bunch of unnecessary files is just sitting there on your media library. Use this plugin to do a bit of house-cleaning every month to keep your blog’s back-end clutter-free.
As your blog/website grows in content, traffic, and scope, the frequency of attacks to hack into your site and inject malware grows alongside. A security plugin like iTheme Security or WordFence is great, but for heavy-duty attacks, you need heavy-duty protection. Sucuri is one of the best website security solutions out there, and it’s definitely worth the yearly investment. You can sleep better knowing that even if someone tried to do something malicious to your site, Sucuri has your back!
There are a lot of email marketing platforms out there. My favorite, however, is Mailerlite, especially for bloggers, because this platform makes creating multiple forms, multiple sequences or automation for different opt-in freebies, super easy! As a blogger, you’ll likely want to offer more than one opt-in incentive scattered across different blog posts. The Mailerlite platform is super intuitive and makes offering these different incentives simple and stress-free.
Graphics and Printables
As a blogger, you’ll constantly find yourself needing high-quality images and creating graphics, printables, promotional materials, etc. for social media platforms, Pinterest, your blog itself. Canva can be a one-stop platform for all your graphics needs. Stock photo companies such as Pexels and Pixabay are integrated seamlessly within Canva, so you do not even have to switch your browser tab while you pick you a stock photo for graphics. Pretty neat, right? And with the “Pro” version, you have access to an even larger collection of photos and illustrations, and special features that only comes with the paid version.
This marketplace is full of high-quality graphic design elements, as well as templates and custom fonts. If you want to add some jazz in your designs, Creative Market is the place to go looking for unique design resources.
Writing and Editing
Nothing I write would be the same if I didn’t have the assistance of Grammarly. I have a Grammarly extension for my browser to make sure everything I write makes sense and free of stupid spelling and grammar and punctuation errors. It has a free and a paid plan. The paid plan is definitely worth it, but even if you don’t invest in the paid plan, do make sure you’re making use of the free plan at least. You’ll save time and face, trust me!
Another amazing tool to help you edit your articles. This one polices the use of passive voice, adverbs, difficult sentences, etc.
Tailwind is a scheduling tool that is usually considered to be one of the best in the industry. This amazing Pinterest tool has ample functions that let you go in and schedule pins in bulk to be published over a set pinning calendar
If you like what I do, please take a moment to share this super useful list of my recommended tools and resources for bloggers, with YOUR audience. I appreciate you for sharing and supporting my efforts. Thank you!