As a thanks for hanging out with me, here are all my fave tools for building your business online!

 

A lot of them are freebies, some are my own products, and some are links to premium plugins that I recommend in the Free 5 Day Website Challenge or programs I’ve bought to help me with my business – and some of those links are affiliate links. You pay the same whether you use my affiliate link or not, and the commissions I earn help me to keep the 5 Day Website Challenge free.

If I haven’t spent my own money on it, used it and loved it, you’re not gonna see an affiliate link for it here.

 

Hosting

 

Bluehost*

WP+BFF is hosted with Bluehost, and I have several other sites hosted there as well. It is extremely easy to set up a WordPress site with Bluehost – it’s basically a one-click installation. Note that you pay for at least 12 months up front!

 

Themes

 

Make

WP*BFF is using Theme Foundry’s Make theme and it’s the theme I teach in the 5 Day Website Challenge. I purchased Make Plus for $99 to get some added functionality that I really like, but it’s pretty badass without it.

Headway Themes*

A highly customizable drag and draw WordPress theme that you can make look exactly how you want it to look. I think it’s more difficult to use than Make which is why I don’t teach it in the Challenge, but so many people have come to me with sites designed in Headway that I created a Headway Themes tutorial as well as an upgrade to the free 5 Day Website Challenge which you can buy here.

Elegant Themes

The makers of the popular drag-and-drop Divi Theme, Elegant Themes not only creates and supports WordPress themes but also some really cool plugins.

 

Marketing Experts

 

 

Hey, Nice Package!*

Yeah, so I teach WordPress… So do a million other people out there. How do I stand out? Hey, Nice Package! breaks down how to create the RIGHT kinds of packages that will make you love your business, and best part? It’s repeatable for every time you want to offer a new service.

Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn

If you haven’t heard of this guy you need to check him out right now. Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, his ideas apply to any type of business that has an online presence and wants to grow. While not WordPress specific, everything he talks about can be done with WordPress.

One Woman Shop*

Going it alone doesn’t have to be lonely. One Woman Shop is part resource, part community and all heart. Cristina and Sara will provide you with kick-ass inspiration, help you grow the business you deserve, and ensure that you never have another case of the Mondays. I joined over a year ago and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. The Espresso membership comes with all their courses, a mastermind, one on one coaching and Facebook group access.

OWS Courses & Books

Kickstart Your Content*

The 64-page, step-by-step guide that helps newbies + stalled pros create a content strategy behind your blog — then get it started

Building Your Online Community E-Course*

The Building Your Online Community e-course is the 14-week, step-by-step, action-packed guide you need to kick off and strengthen your online community as a solopreneur.

Here’s the thing: building your online community — the clients on your roster, the fellow solopreneurs you partner with, the readers of your blog, the customers buying your products, the business coaches mentoring you along the way — is an ongoing process, and one that’s never too early or late to start.

Solopreneur Sanity Handbook*

Your go-to guide for finding the intersection of productive and sane to maximize your time working so you can maximize your time living.

OWS Bundle*

The One Woman Shop Bundle offers you four OWS-created products — the Building Your Online Community e-course, the Kickstart Your Content workbook, the Solopreneur Finances course, and The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook — that address these four areas of solo business ownership. When you buy all four products together (a $204 value), you get them for $99!

 

List Building

 

Nathalie Lussier*

Take Natalie’s free 30 Day List Building Challenge and find out how to start your mailing list! If you need to build your email list, this girl is for you! Her FREE 30 Day List Building Challenge is helping grow my mailing list right now!

Bloom*

Add gorgeous branded opt-in forms to your site in seconds. Mobile responsive. Convert more visitors to subscribers and easily build your email list!

Mailchimp

With MailChimp, you can send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers for FREE. You can also set up automation where you send a series of emails automatically, sometimes even based on user behavior. Lots of options, easy to use! And if you want to master all of MailChimp’s advanced features and automation, check out my MailChimp Master Class!

Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft is an email provider, contact manager, task manager and e-commerce shop all rolled up into one! I graduated to Infusionsoft in 2015 when I needed a better way to segment and tag and market to my growing list. I made this investment in my business to save myself time and be able to better serve my community and it’s been absolutely amazing! Infusionsoft combined with AccessAlly is what I’m using to deliver my online courses. 

 

Design

 

Canva

“Amazingly simple graphic design for blogs.” Yep, that about sums it up!! Use your own images, Canva’s images or stuff from Creative Market – the possibilities are endless!

Creative Market*

A platform for handcrafted, mousemade design content from independent creatives around the world. Get unique logos, graphics, images, brushes, backgrounds, templates, fonts. You’ll definitely find your style on this site. Plus some great free stuff!

Tiny PNG

Upload large PNG files to this site and a little panda bear shrinks them down for you! Your images will load faster and that will make Google like you more.

 

Tools

 

Acuity

Create your own schedule so people know up front when you can work with them. There’s a free version which you can’t embed into your WP site, but you can link to it, and then for $10/month you can embed it into your site. Sa-weet! Totes worth it.

Zapier

Zapier calls itself the Swiss Army Knife of the web. It’s a tool you can use for automating mindless tasks. It connects different services together, taking the extra work away from you. It’s like my personal assistant – it’s working for me behind the scenes all the time.

 

Social Media

 

 

Facebook Live

Turn your Facebook Live videos into SEO-optimized blog posts, automatically with this awesome plugin.

Square Jellyfish Spring Tripod Mount for Smart Phones*

Found this cost-effective tripod to hold my iPhone 6s so that I don’t get all kinds of weird angles on my Periscopes!

Instagrate Pro*

Instagate Pro, and it connects your Instagram account to your WordPress site and posts all new Instagram posts as blog posts.
With the pro version you can get down to the nitty gritty, scheduling when you want the posts to occur, connecting hashtags to post categories, and much, much more. You’re also creating more new content for your website that’s full of keywords (um, hashtags) that will be a boost for your SEO! You’ll be able to use your Instagram images to drive more traffic to your site. It’s a match made in #nofilter heaven!

Pinfinity*

Did you know that Pinterest is the 2nd biggest traffic source to website behind Facebook? You can use this traffic to dramatically boost your traffic and sales and squeeze every last drop of value out of the content you’re working so hard to create! If you’re not on Pinterest, you need to be and this course is going to teach you exactly what to do. And if you’re already on Pinterest, learn strategies to make it work even better for your business!

 

E-Commerce

 

Easy Digital Downloads

As the name implies, this free plugin lets you sell digital downloads on your website for free! There are a bunch of add-ons for $39-$49 each to add payment gateways or other functionality (or you can get all 25 for $495). But you can create a store of digital products for free!

Gravity Forms*

With the purchase of the developer license, you can sell physical or digital products online. Gravity Forms is limited, however, as there’s no shopping cart function and sales tax calculation can be a little wonky. For just a couple of products or digital downloads, Gravity Forms is a great solution.

WooCommerce 

The perfect e-commerce solution if you’re selling physical products! It’s a little complex, so I have a module on setting it up in the BFF Academy.

 

Forms

 

Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms is much, much more than a contact form. It can be used to help you with administrative tasks, e-commerce, quizzes, and much more.

 

Social Sharing

 

SumoMe

SumoMe has some tools to help your visitors share your pages, share your images, grab email addresses, and tell you what your users are looking at on your pages (and what they’re skipping). It’s super-intelligence for your site and it’s the bomb dot com.

 

Video Editing

 

Anyone remember Pop Up Video on VH1? Anyone??

Jing by Techsmith

This free software lets you create short screen captures (less than 5 minutes) that you can share on your website, via email, on Facebook, wherever. Great for quick training videos, intros, how-to’s and anything you can convey via screen capture in 5 minutes or less. The only downside is that all the movies are in Flash which aren’t viewable on iOS devices.

Camtasia by TechSmith*

I create lots of training and educational videos and tried several different screen-capture methods, but none work as well or have as many features as Camtasia. First, they have a 30 day free trial. Second, they have step-by-step tutorials to show you how to get the most out of Camtasia. It comes with a library of animations and music (Windows version only), and did I mention it’s crazy-easy to use? Not only for screen captures but for editing videos you made on your phone, GoPro, Flip Camera or whatever the cool kids are using these days to make videos. You can save to multiple video formats, and publish to YouTube or Screencast.com in just a few clicks. Try it for free, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Membership

 

OptimizePress*

Much, much more than a membership plugin, OptimizePress is like a marketing genie. It helps you create launch funnels, sales pages, squeeze pages, online courses and membership sites. It integrates with PayPal and other payment processors, and it has a bunch of other features that put it at the tippy top of my list in it’s category. At $97/year, it’s a no-brainer compared to similar products that run close to $500/year.

 

Plugins

 

Post Types Order

This handy little plugin lets you drag and drop to reorder posts, pages, forms and lots of other things. Super handy if you have a site where you don’t want all the content ordered by the date you published it.  

List Category Posts 

This little guy lets you use a shortcode to list posts or pages that you’ve tagged with a certain category. I use it it tons of different ways and I’ll bring it up a lot in my tutorials.  

Simple 301 Redirects

Just as it claims, this is a really simple way to set up page redirects on your website. Handy if you’ve moved a page, or moved your site – super easy to set these up so that you don’t have broken links all over the place.

Display Widgets

Lets you change your sidebar content on different pages. Super handy if you want to display different info in the sidebar on different pages.

Sticky Widget

Makes sidebar widgets move down the page as the user scrolls. Not as gross as it sounds.

Pretty Link

Lets you shorten links using your own domain.

Bulk Page Creator

Lets you create a bunch of pages all at once.

Disable Comments

Lets you disable comments on all posts, all pages, your entire site which just one click.

Facebook Conversion Tracking Pixel

A must have if you’re doing Facebook ads and you want to know if your ads are converting. Just install this plugin and it puts a place for the tracking pixel code on every page of your site. You just paste the code Facebook gives you on the page you are driving traffic to from your FB ads and viola! You know if your ad is converting or not.

Image Widget

Lets you easily add images with links in your sidebar widgets.

Fast Page Switch

Puts a dropdown in your page editor that lets you switch between pages without going back to the main list of pages. Genius.

Insert Headers and Footers

Any time you need to insert a snippet of code into your site, say, for a Facebook WCA (retargeting pixel code), install this plugin, paste in the code and voila!

WP RSS Multi-Importer

This little nugget will not only display your RSS feeds, it will create posts out of them as well. Talk about automation! Plus you can categorize your feeds and have several different types of RSS feeds on your site. Many different templates to display your feeds too. I’ve tried several RSS plugins because I work on several sites that want to display the latest industry news, and this is hands down the best one.

 

SEO

 

WordPress SEO by Yoast

With almost 14 million downloads, this is the premiere SEO plugin for WordPress. It’s free version is packed full of options. The paid add-ons are $89 and include premium support, video SEO and training. I haven’t used the paid version yet so I can’t speak to whether it’s worth it or not. I learn more and more about Yoast SEO daily, and I’ll be posting a tutorial on my site.

Analytics

Google Analytics by Monster Insights

Once again Yoast gets my plug because it’s free, and the easiest to install and configure. I’ve tried WPMUDEV’s product and it’s great, but it’s not free. Of course Yoast has paid add-ons just like almost every other plug these days, but you can decide if you need them or not. I don’t use them on my sites.

 

Site Management & Security

 

WP+BFF WordPress Protection Package

I’ll protect your site  AND provide support if something ever goes wrong!

WordFence

With over 3 million downloads and 4.9 of 5 stars, I’m not surprised that it’s on my best list. This plugin does all kinds of work for you to secure your site, and it’s totally free.

For $39 a year, you get premium features include 2-factor authentication via text message, the ability to block certain countries (who shall remain nameless) from accessing your site, and the ability to schedule scans. I personally only have the free version installed on all my sites, but I can see the value in a paid subscription if you have lots of e-commerce or other mission critical stuff happening on your site.

Sucuri

Before I ever found WordFence, I had two sites get majorly hacked with some black hat SEO. Thank goodness for Google, because the whole entire internet recommended Sucuri. At $99 per site per year, it’s pricy but it works amazingly when you’re in a bind. Both my sites were cleaned up and restored within an hour. I also ran into an installation issue, and their support was top-notch. My suggestion? Install WordFence so you don’t get hacked. If you’re already hacked, get Sucuri – you won’t be disappointed.

WP Curve*

These guys are your WordPress insurance policy. You have an problem, do a little research, find no good answers, give them a call and for $69 they’ll take care of it. Or you pay them $79 a month and you have them on retainer. Genius!

10 comments

  1. Shannon says:

    So if you do any sort of credit card processing on your site, you need an SSL certificate, no matter the webhost. That’s why you see so many people using PayPal to process credit card transactions – if you do that you don’t need that extra security so you save money that way.

  2. Tim Magee says:

    Good morning Shannon,

    I hope you’re having a great week.

    I’m about to move a Squarespace 5 site over to WordPress and I came across your excellent guide here:
    http://www.wp-bff.com/how-to-move-your-website-from-squarespace-wix-or-weebly-to-wordpress/

    Thank you.

    It mentioned the 5 Day Challenge. Unfortunately, I think the pages are coming apart on Firefox (code is visible):
    http://www.wp-bff.com/?s=5+Day+Challenge
    http://www.wp-bff.com/5daychallenge/

    And the email sign-up links don’t work:
    http://www.wp-bff.com/process-optin-form/

    I tried it in Chrome and got the same result with the code showing up.

    The good news is that a Sumo popup appeared (in Chrome) and I was able to sign up.

    Thank you again.

    I hope this is helpful!

    Sincerely,

    Tim Magee
    http://www.timmagee.net

    • Shannon says:

      Thanks Tim!! That’s an old page using an OptimizePress template that I missed when I set up redirects 🙂 Glad you found my site helpful and glad you were able to get signed up in spite of the little mess I left behind 🙂

  3. I purchased the $10/mo plan at Mail Chimp but cannot click Automation and find the “create automated workflow button you click on your tutorial – they want more money? e-commerce integration?
    I am at the office again.

    JdMac

  4. Tammy says:

    I soooo want to be you when I grow up. Ok I’m prob a little older than you but still lol.

    I have a fairly new tech VA business with a focus on WordPress builds, maintenance and some other bits and pieces so I truely understand how much work you’ve put into your business and I for one appreciate the value here.

    My goal in the near future is to drop the VA from my credentials and go with a Set up for start ups type of business.

    Honestly I am in awe of you lol.

  5. Jill says:

    Hi Shannon
    Don’t know if this is the right place to ask this question. When putting an image on my sign up form I can’t see anywhere to resize it. How do I do that? Thanks a mill.

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