Recommended Resources

Updated: 11/22/2012  12/06/2012 03/26/2013 01/04/2015 03/02/2016 03/23/2016

So you want to get your business online? Getting your business online is easy. But getting it to look good and professional isn’t that easy. Below is a list of free and premium resources to help you get your website up and running. You will find products services for blogging, design, SEO, stock images, WordPress related, and marketing. All of these resources will help you and I highly recommend these products and services. I will add and remove resources whenever I need to make updates.

Web Hosting and Domain Registration Services

When its time to start your website, you need to find a reliable service to host your website. Cheap doesn’t always mean the best. In past experience, with web hosting services, I found that you get what you pay for. When looking for a hosting service, you want a host that has good customer reviews, high customer service ratings, almost no downtime, compatible with WordPress and other web services. Also, if you haven’t purchased a domain name for your site, you will also need find to find a service for that as well.

Hostgator – Hostgator is one of the top web hosts and has scored in the top 10 best web host lists for several years. They offer unlimited shared web hosting start at $3.96 – $10.36 for the premium business plan. If you are looking for a VPS service, you can also get a fully manage VPS service with a cPanel for $39.95. But they do offer a cheaper VPS service and higher end services as well. GoDaddy – GoDaddy is one of the largest and most popular domain registers in the world. They offer a lot of services and they have great support staff for Domain support.

Choosing the Right CMS for Business

Once you have your domain name and web host figured out, you need to figure out what kind of site you want. Do you want an HTML, WordPress, Joomla, Pligg, or Drupal website? I wouldn’t recommend an HTML website, unless you want a one or two page business card styled website. Building these types of sites can take time and if you do not have the HTML and design skills, you will have to hire a web designer to build your site and make updates as needed. Depending on your needs, I would go with WordPress, Joomla, pligg or Drupal for website. All are designed to be used as content management systems or they can be used for personal blogs.

The easiest and the most popular to use is WordPress and with the right theme and configuration it can be a CMS. I recommend using WordPress for almost any type of website. You can setup WordPress as a static website using only the page system, or you can set it up as a blog with static pages. It’s easy to install through Hostgator and only takes a few minutes to add pages and content to a WordPress site.

Another hosting company that I have recently been impressed by is WP Engine. Just by the name, you know they do WordPress hosting. But isn’t just a scam like some host might lead you believe. These live and breath WordPress. They will help you migrate your site, their host is secure, and they will support WordPress as well.

If you have used WP Engine in the past or are using them now and love them, join their affiliate program and earn some extra cash when sharing their links on your site. To learn more about using WordPress you can always contact us for assistance, if you would rather teach yourself, I would recommend the WordPress Video Library. The WordPress Video a lot of detailed instructional/training videos about WordPress.

Another great site for learning WordPress, fast, is WP 101. They offer a great selection of WordPress video series that will help you learn how use WordPress like a pro.

Adding SEO Tools to WordPress

Once you have WordPress installed and configured, you will need to add a few plugins to help the search engines find your site and new content as you add it. There are a ton of free and premium SEO plugins for WordPress. There are few that I recommend. You do not need them all and some shouldn’t be used with others.

Main SEO Plugins. Do not use all of these, just pick one.

Below, is a list of SEO Plugins that are designed to add features to WordPress that helps the search engines find your website. They will add the necessary meta tags such as the SEO title, description, and keywords, plus many more useful features you can configure to help your site’s SEO. I recommend the All-in-One SEO plugin and WordPress SEO by Yoast because I have used both of them and I know they both work well. Currently I am testing the Yoast plugin and I have found that it is very useful and is slowly becoming my favorite SEO plugin. As for the last two plugins, I haven’t used them, but they are both popular and have come highly recommend by other trusted bloggers.

Secondary SEO Plugins: On-Page – SEO

These plugins are premium on-page SEO plugins designed to scan your latest articles, grade the SEO quality, and tell you where you might have issues in the article so you can make those changes. These are great plugins and if you are new to SEO or just want some extra SEO advice as you finalize your articles before publishing them, then these SEO plugins will help you create content rich articles that are SEO friendly. Only choose one. You only need of them, except Keyword Winner. It’s a great tool to use with SEO Pressor or SEO Scribe.

  • SEO Pressor – no longer active
  • SEO Scribe – no longer active
  • Keyword Winner – no longer active

Choosing the Right WordPress Theme

With WordPress, you have the choice of using a free theme or going with a premium theme. It’s up to you. I always recommend going with a premium theme and not with a free theme. Free themes are limited and may have coding issues. This site uses a free theme, but it’s been modified and errors within the code have been fixed or I am tracking them down so I can fix theme. Once I find the right theme, I will move this site to premium theme. Also, never install a pirated premium theme; these themes may have malicious code hidden within the code that will end up harming your website and your brand. So always purchase and get your themes from reliable sources. For free themes, use the WordPress directory and always get a premium themes from the company that created it. Below is a list of some of the most popular premium WordPress themes and Frameworks. I will continue to add more premium WordPress theme companies as I find them and grow to trust them and their work.

Additional Recommend Plugins

In addition to the SEO plugins listed above there are a few Plugins you might want to add your website. You do not have to add all of them, but most of them are useful and help make things easier for you.

Build That List

Once you get your WordPress site setup and you have your theme in place, you will want to start providing content for it. As you add more content and the traffic to the site grows, you are going to want to build a list of readers and customers so you can send emails to your list about promotions, news, and other important things to your customers. Even if you do not have plans of using lists, it doesn’t hurt to build a list that you can use in the future.

To Help Get Traffic to Your Site

In addition to search engine traffic, you need to get traffic from referring sites. To get that traffic, you need to spend time networking, using social media, commenting on niche related sites, and using social bookmarking sites to get that traffic. Since this isn’t an article how to get traffic or how to use social media, I won’t go into detail on that, but I will list a few tools to help get traffic or encourage commentating on your site.

CommentLuv – not a social bookmarking site, but it’s a plugin for your site. There are free and premium versions. Both are designed to give your commenter’s and an extra field for their latest blog entries to post after their comments. This is great for them and it’s great for you when you comment on sites with this plugin installed. Make sure to always add your latest links when posting comments on Comluv enabled sites.

Social Media Tools and references

Another great way to build traffic is through social media. For me Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus are the best for engagement. But if you want to get a ton of traffic, then submit your articles and build your network on StumbleUpon. Just remember, you have to time on these networks. If you aren’t building a following and engaging with them, you won’t get that needed traffic, comments on your sites, purchase from your affiliates or using your services. Here are few social media tools and references I use to build traffic by using social media. I also use Tumblr and scoop.it Posterous, zootool and amplify to build backlinks and get some extra exposure from these social media outlets.

Books and eBooks About Blogging, Marketing, Business, and Blog Promotion

You can find most topics online, but when it comes to getting advice from professionals, you may not be able to find everything. I always recommend reading blogs and other websites to find information. But I always find that there is a lot of good information in a book or from ebooks. Below is list of my favorite books about marketing, social media, blogging, and small business.

Design Resources

Below is a list of design resources for Designers, design bloggers, photographers, and anyone looking for design resources.

Stock Photography

If you are web designer, graphic designer, or even a blogger you should be using royalty free stock images. You need to own the rights to use images in you projects. Images and stock images can be purchased or be licensed with a creative commons license. Either way, if you do not have permission to use certain images, you and your company could be held liable. So always get permission before using an image you can’t find a creative license for commercial use. Below are a few free and premium places to find stock images.

Textures

Just like with images, textures have the same copyright issues. You need to have the right to use them. Below is a list of sites where you can find textures for your projects.

Web/Graphic Design, Photography, and Content Creation Tools