It is by no means a comprehensive or all-inclusive list, these are my personal favorites. You have a very large number of choices, and your preferences may vary.
In some cases the links on this page are affiliate links, which simply means that if you use the link to make a purchase, I earn a small commission. It adds no extra cost to your purchase, but supports this blog.
Lets start with the easiest recommendation of all. When it comes to selecting a platform for your blog, go with WordPress. You have two options when it comes to WordPress.
I recommend WordPress.org
This is also known as self-hosted WordPress, and is the most flexible of the two options. It is perfect for a fully custom website. If you need a full custom design, let’s talk.
You can also chose to go with the free WordPress hosting platform at WordPress.com With WordPress.com your options are a bit more limited. While hosting is free, you may find that you want certain things that you will need to pay for, and you may run into things you want that you simply cannot do with WordPress.com.
- Your choice of themes are limited to those offered by WordPress.com
- Custom plugins not available
- Limited storage space and you must pay for upgrades as needed
- You must pay to remove ads if you don’t want them on your site
- You will not have FTP access to your files
- Adding things like membership functionality or eCommerce capability requires an upgrade
It’s also important to know ahead of time that you can’t use third-party advertising solutions (such as Google AdSense) with WordPress.com, and tracking with Google Analytics is not an option.
With WordPress.org you have no limitations. You are fully in control and you can create any kind of site you want with it. It also requires that you take care of maintainance and protection to keep your site safe.
WordPress started as a blogging platform, and has now evolved to the point that it powers 25% of all websites on the web. Yes, you read that right, ALL websites. Not 25 % of all blogs.
I personally started using WordPress in 2008, and switched completely to using WordPress in 2012, for all the websites I create.
If you go with the self hosted version of WordPress, you will need to select a host for your website. There are many choices out there.
I recommend SiteGround
I host my own sites with them, and have been happy with both the service and the support. They offer different plans depending on your needs.
Choosing your WordPress Theme – Free or Premium (paid)
After settling on using WordPress for your website, you need to decide which theme you will use. Choices are abundant, but not all themes are created equal. There are free themes, and premium (paid) themes. When you chose a theme for your business, I highly recommend that you chose a premium theme. The cost is negligible, but the advantages are substantial.
It is critical for the safety of your website to chose a theme that is regularly updated to address security holes to minimize the risk of getting hacked. Free themes are often abandoned, and not updated. Updates are critical, as they protect you from security issues and make sure your site continues running without issues. Typically free themes are not supported, so if you run into an issue with your theme, you may be on your own trying to figure out the problem.
After trying many different themes and providers, I have chosen the Genesis Framework by StudioPress for the vast majority of my projects.
Using a Framework like Genesis is a great way to make it easy to keep your site updated without loosing any customizations you might have made to the theme. When you use the Genesis framework, you will select what is known as a Child Theme. The updates are applied to the Framework itself, leaving the Child Theme untouched. Even if you do not end up using Genesis, or a framework, you should always use a Child Theme for your blog, in order to be able to safely update without loosing any customizations.
StudioPress offers a large selection of Child Themes to chose from. There are also many premium Genesis Themes available on the market. My personal favorite among the premium themes is the Utility Pro theme
No matter how carefully you chose the theme for your WordPress website, chances are you will want to make some customizations to make it truly yours. After all, you want your website or blog to be unique and you want it to truly represent you and/or your business.
Adding the Beaver Builder Plugin to your toolbox is a great way to easily change the design of your website. Beaver Builder integrates beautifully with Genesis, but works with other WordPress themes as well. You can also get a version that includes a Beaver Builder specific theme. There is even a light version of Beaver Builder that is completely free.
Beaver Builder allows you to customize your site without knowing any code.
One of the best things about Beaver Builder is that you can switch themes without losing your content. If at some point you decide to stop using Beaver Builder, you will not lose your content, you will be able to work with it right in the WordPress editor.
If you take me up on the recommendation for using the Genesis Framework, there are a few additional options for customizing your chosen Child Theme. While Beaver Builder will work on any WordPress theme, the options below requires the Genesis Framework.
Genesis Design Palette Pro is made by StudioPress themselves, and provides a very easy way to customize colors and other basic elements. It is perfect for someone who wants to make small changes, and who knows nothing about coding.
The Genesis Extender Plugin is very powerful and allows you an infinite number of ways you can customize your Child Theme. Genesis Extender allows the non-coder to make design changes to a theme, but unlike Design Palette Pro, Genesis Extender does require a certain basic level of coding knowledge for you take advantage of all the features offered. If all you want to do is make some very basic changes, Design Palette Pro may be all you need. If you want to remove all barriers and gain the ability to fully customize your Child Theme, then Extender is for you.
Dynamik Website Builder is made by the same company that created Genesis Extender. With Dynamik you can create you very own Child Theme, not just customize a theme you have chosen. You will still be building on the Genesis Framework. Dynamik offers “skins”, which can serve as great starting points for building your own theme.
Email Marketing Solutions
Services I have used and recommend:
AWeber is a great tool for automating your email marketing. I have used them for years.
is a great way to start, as they offer a completely free version. As you grow and require more you can upgrade to paid plan. If you want to set up an auto responder, you will need to start with a paid plan. I am currently using MailChimp for this website.
I have not yet tried this service.
I am including it here because it is getting absolute rave reviews from online marketers and web professionals alike.
Do you want a WordPress website that is custom made for you? Tell me what your needs are!