We're regularly asked by newsletter and blog readers to recommend products and services that we use across our business... We're talking about the key essentials here, those vital day to day tools and resources that we use to build new websites, grow existing ones and generally make life that little bit easier.
SIDENOTE: We've been building businesses online since 1999/2000 (16 years wow!) so it's safe to say that we've tested, tried, loved (and loathed) hundreds of platforms, web services and software tools - And that means with this list you can save yourself some time, potentially months of research and avoid the pitfalls by checking out these solutions first...
Bluehost is our all time favorite web host and after almost 15 years online we've yet to find an easier to use or more cost effective service. Bluehost makes it simple to get your site live and their one click WordPress installation feature is a HUGE time saver.
From a single Bluehost account you can host multiple domains which means no extra costs when you build additional sites as your business grows. And you can get started now from as little as $3.45 a month (with a FREE domain name)
They also get our top marks for customer service, providing excellent, fast and helpful assistance whenever you need it. Their support team are always just a phone call away and they'll help you with any issue no matter how big or small.
Namecheap has made registering, hosting, and managing domains easy and affordable. If you prefer to manage your domains separately from your web hosting account NameCheap is the place to be.
We'd always recommend where possible that you use a .com extension but if you can't find what your looking for NameCheap also offers lots of alternatives...
... Alongside the more traditional Generic TLDs (generic top-level domains) which have worldwide recognition, such as .com, .net and .biz. you'll also find ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) which are country or region-specific extensions which are great for connecting with customers in specific locations.
With domain names starting as low as $0.88 a year Namecheap makes building up your domain portfolio simple, easy and very affordable.
ConvertKit is our top recommendation for email list management. With lots of competing services ConvertKit stands out from the crowd and makes the task of managing your email list and setting up autoresponders incredibly easy.
Segmenting your email subscribers into groups so you can send targeted and specific messages has never been simpler... And most importantly, open rates, click through and conversion numbers are way higher (in some cases double) compared to other services that we've tested over the last few years.
ConvertKit pricing starts from as little as $29 a month with unlimited everything and there are no restrictive limits on how many messages you can send out.
Thrive Content Builder is The ultimate click-to-edit front end builder for your website running on WordPress. Think of it as the ultimate theme, easy to edit and powerful enough to build pretty much any style of site you can think of.
The builder includes dozens of different elements that you can add to your posts and pages and all of them are beautifully designed. Each element is also made with a specific purpose in mind, such as increasing conversions or social shares.
If you need a new home page, a lead capture page, a sales page or even a resources page (just like this one) you can do it with Thrive Content Builder and it's easy and fast.
Right now you can get a full suite of landing page templates included with the main builder they're fully editable too and designed for maximum conversions.
BlogVault is a WordPress backup plugin that offers the perfect disaster management solution for your website. We consider it an essential and it's the first plugin we add to any new site we build.
Don't risk losing your content or your revenue! The plugin automatically backs up your site’s data every day in small increments, so your site is never overloaded. It also ensures that your backups are encrypted and stored safely in a remote location.
With BlogVault, all your data is easily recoverable and you can restore any site with a single click. With basic plans starting at just $9 a month it's a small price to pay to secure your business and protect your most valuable assets.
Social Warfare is another top of class WordPress plugin that adds beautiful, lightning-fast social share buttons to your website or blog to help you get your content shared and drive more traffic to your business.
But Social Warfare is about much more than just sharing buttons - The feature set and customization options are unlike any other sharing plugin we've tested and include custom tweets, shareable quotes, Pinterest images and lots more.
It's easy to match the buttons to your website's branding and keep things looking great - There are over 5,000 potential style combinations and don't worry, no matter what size screen your website is viewed on, the Social Warfare buttons will fit perfectly and look great.
AgoraPulse does it all, we use it to manage all of our social media messages in one central dashboard and it's great for scheduling and publishing fresh content around the web.
AgoraPulse also generates great looking reports with detailed stats and reporting which means you can measure everything, determine what's working and effective and what's just sucking away your time with no return.
Everything's built in which is a huge time saver and unlike most other social management tools AgoraPulse comes with a whole collection of cool apps that work in Facebook to run contests, quizzes and tests, voting, plus coupon codes to drive traffic and grow/engage your social audience faster.
ClickMeter has quickly become one of the most important tools in our marketing toolbox. We use it to monitor and optimize all our marketing links in one place to increase conversion rates and understand much more about our visitors and traffic flows.
ClickMeter offers more than 100 incredible features (including: link cloaking, conversion tracking and split testing) and while you may not need them all right now, choosing the best link management system first time round will pay huge dividends in the future and as your business grows.
For us, the key consideration when it comes to link management is how reliable the service is and we've found ClickMeter to be highly accurate, 100% reliable and vastly scalable due to it's high-performance infrastructure (it's built on Amazon servers) - So if you're affiliate marketing, using social media, running ad campaigns, selling your own products or services, or publishing content online you really can't go wrong with ClickMeter by your side.
Stencil has developed from it's humbler origins (as shareasimage) this powerful Chrome extension is now a fully loaded image/graphic making machine. And it makes for ridiculously simple image creation for social media, your blog and everything else in between. If the idea of creating any kind of graphic fills you with dread we think you'll love it!
Stencil is perfect for creating social media posts, ad graphics, content marketing visuals, email images & more! It includes over 700,000 royalty free background photos, icons and graphics, plus dozens of ready to use image templates.
You can test drive Stencil for free and create up to 10 images per month, then upgrade to a paid plan (the top level is just $12 a month if paid annually) which unlocks everything including unlimited image storage space.
Content Samurai is the fastest way to create incredible, professional looking videos that get results - With this simple to use, web based platform you can crank out insanely awesome videos for your business in just minutes and you won't need any previous editing experience.
Creating a new video is as easy as uploading your script, tweaking the slides and adding a voice over or audio track. (and it's all done in an intuitive way using the built in wizard helper that will save you hours of frustration)
Check out a quick example we made below (this took less than 5 minutes to put together and includes a link to a free 'YouTube Cheat Sheet')
Here are just a few more recommendations that although they didn't quite make it into our top ten are certainly worthy of recommendation and your consideration...
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