There are so many potential products and services online you can use to make your life easier (and your business more efficient). How do you know which is best for you? It’s kind of overwhelming, isn’t it?
Let me help you narrow down the playing field.
I’ve put together a list of (free and paid) plugins and services I use for my site or other WordPress sites I develop. I regularly update this page, so feel free to bookmark it for quick reference in the future.
Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for some of these resources which means that, at no cost additional to you, I make a commission if you purchase via my link. You can read my affiliate disclosure here.
Domain & Email Hosting
- Hover – Domain registrar with excellent customer service (seriously). They’re also my preferred email host.
- Google Workspace (formerly GSuite) – Email hosting for small business. Also integrates with other Google tools, which is nice.
- Namecheap – Straight up domain registration. The site is ugly, but I find they don’t bombard you with a million up-sells, unlike some domain registrars… You can also purchase SSL certificates here, although you can get free SSL certificates with the web hosts I recommend below.
- SiteGround – Web hosting with email (Typically I don’t recommend combining those services, but for smaller projects, it’s probably fine). They also include a free domain with every account.
- WP Engine – Managed WordPress hosting with lots of great features for developers.
- Flywheel – Managed WordPress hosting that’s perfect for designers. Easy to transfer billing to clients.
- SiteGround – Inexpensive shared hosting with a traditional cPanel.
Here’s a detailed WordPress hosting comparison for each of these hosts.
- Genesis Framework – 90% of my projects are built using the Genesis Framework from StudioPress as my base theme. I blog a ton about the Genesis Framework and teach Genesis courses at LinkedIN Learning. Explore my Genesis resources at a glance here.
- Astra – Want a flexible theme with minimal coding required for customization? Astra is light-weight but rich in features. I also appreciate their focus on web accessibility. Start with the free version and see if you enjoy it.
- ManageWP – A single dashboard for managing all of your WordPress sites (backups, updates, etc). Perfect if you manage multiple WordPress sites for yourself or over maintenance plans for your clients. I wrote a review about it.
- BackupBuddy – Whereas ManageWP is a single dashboard for managing many sites, BackupBuddy is a dead simple backup tool for single sites. Also, I have a personal relationship with and love the company behind BackupBuddy (iThemes). I trust their products and appreciate their customer support.
- Local – Easily develop WordPress sites locally. Does not require you to use Flywheel or WP Engine hosting but, if you are, the integration is beautiful.
- MigrateDB Pro – Migrate a WordPress database from one install to another. Perfect syncing development to production sites. Transfers media files, too.
Site Builder Tools
- Design Palette Pro – Made for Genesis. Customize your theme styles with NO CODE.
- Genesis Extender – Use with any Genesis theme to add custom CSS, custom functions, or custom hooks via the WordPress admin (no direct theme edits)! Here’s my comparison of Design Palette Pro and Genesis Extender.
- Beaver Builder – Theme-independent page builder tool great for non-technical folks and developers alike. If you’ve never used it before, I created a Beaver Builder course for you. (Developers, here’s a Beaver Builder review you’ll enjoy)
- WP Types & Views – Create custom post types, taxonomies, and meta boxes through a guided interface. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you’ve got it, you’re set!
- Gravity Forms – Contact form plugin. Tons of developer add-ons available for integrations with third-party tools (i.e. MailChimp, PayPal, etc.).
- Ninja Forms – Free WordPress form builder (pay for add-ons). Very easy to use and developer-friendly as well.
- Easy Digital Downloads – The de facto standard if you’re selling digital products. Very straightforward to use and quick to set up.
- WooCommerce – My favorite option for selling physical goods online. Setup is not quick if this is your first time.
Technical Training & Education
- WP Beginner – So many great tutorials here for novice WordPress developers.
- WP101 – Video series you can use to teach clients how to use WordPress. Available as a plugin or a stand-alone resource.
- LinkedIN Learning (formerly Lynda.com) – Learn about a range of topics from business to creative, to technical. Here’s a free 30-day trial.
- Sublime Text Power User – I love Sublime Text and I love this resource from Wes Bos. If you’re using ST, this quick guide will immediately increase your productivity (just with the shortcuts alone!).
- The Fearless Freelancer – Ok, I’m pimping my own stuff here, but these are some business “101” courses for new or aspiring freelancers. It’s pretty much all the stuff I wish I’d known when I started my business but had to learn through trial and error.
- MailChimp (great inexpensive place to get started with email marketing)
- Drip (pricey, but freaking awesome)
- Accessibility Checker by Equalize Digital – Want to make your site more accessible for every website visitor? This plugin does a fantastic job of “scoring” each page/post for common accessibility issues (similar to how WordPress SEO “scores” a page, if you’re familiar with that). The free version is great. I like the Pro version as it lets me see site-wide problems in a single place (vs on individual pages).
Performance Optimization / Caching
- WP Rocket – A really easy-to-use caching plugin for WordPress. It integrates with most CDNs (if you’re using one).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- WordPress SEO – This is my favorite SEO plugin and what I use on this site.
- Digital Marketing Kitchen – A TON of SEO resources (many of them free) by two folks I respect and trust a TON: Rebecca Gill and Cory Miller.
Financial / Legal
- Quickbooks – Complete suite of accounting tools for businesses of any size. Includes ability to invoice customers accept credit card payment for invoices.
- Freshbooks – Simple and straight-forward to use. It’s not as feature-filled as Quickbooks, but it’s perfect for small business owners looking for a clean, professional invoicing system.
- CorpNet – Starting your business? You can ditch the paperwork by using CorpNet to incorporate your business or otherwise file your starting papers.
- AffiliateWP – WordPress plugin for basic affiliate marketing. Very affordable and super easy to use (note that you manage affiliate payments).
- Shareasale – This is the “big boy” of affiliate management software. Shareasale handles all affiliate payouts (this is worth the money, in my opinion) and is feature-rich.
I’m an avid reader and invest in my business by way of listening to and reading books related to business and self-improvement. Here’s my recommended reading list.