Are you just starting out with building your own website or blog?
Don’t know what to use?
I’ve been using WordPress to build websites and blogs for 4 to 5 years. I’ve used hundreds of tools and resources during this period, some are great but many are downright duds! I created this list because I thought if I saw this list 5 years ago, I would have saved a lot of time. So hopefully, you’ll find it useful.
I have a list on my Resources page, but this one is the The Complete & Comprehensive Guide!
Here we go, Grab a coffee, Bookmark this page cause it’s a huge list!
Right, I’m going to start off and essentials.
Note: this is what I have personally used and love, obviously there are hundreds of other popular resources. And you can also suggest those ones, that I’ve missed – down in the comments!
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If Hostgator doesn’t have the extensions you want for your website, this is what I recommend.
I normally get my domains here, it’s cheap, reliable and I’ve just had an overall great experience.
Note: Before you can Install WordPress or have your site live, you’ll have to change the name server details and add the domain in your hosting account. Check out my FAQ for more info.
There are literally hundreds of WordPress Themes, Free and Premium. I haven’t tried all of them. I don’t really recommend many free themes, because you eventually have to upgrade anyways – if you are serious about your website/blog. And they aren’t really customizable, switching themes is like moving houses – it’s time consuming and stressful. So pick the right theme to begin with to save time later on.
Themify – Drag n Drop WordPress Themes
This isn’t for you, if you want to build something like Amazon, eBay or a social network like FaceBook! This is the theme that I use personally, for Hoganchua.com. Thousands of viewers of my tutorials are using the same and so are over 62,238+ members at Themify Community. The easy drag n drop builder and beginner friendly interface is ideal for beginners but also powerful enough for web developers who have clients who want all the bells and whistles. I love it most because of the flexibility to be able to create virtually any layout. And yes, it also supports woo commerce, so you can make an online store!
But the best thing is, I’ve created tutorials for this theme to give you the perfect jumpstart!
I personally recommend getting the Master Club Membership, with all themes, plugins & addons. (This is a MUST if you are a web developer because some of the amazing things you can now offer your clients.) Or you can get the individual one, such as ULTRA which I use in my tutorials. USE my Themify Coupon Code: HOGAN for 30% OFF.
WordPress Plugins (Free)
1. Easy Google Fonts – This is one of my favourite plugins. It has all the Google Fonts but the great thing about it, is you can control the spacing and also font weights. This is really useful to making a beautiful website.
2. Contact Form 7 – This has got to be the most popular plugin of all time. It’s a simple yet flexible contact form which you can embed onto your page and allows people to send you a message.
3. Yoast SEO – This plugin is great for optimizing your website for search engines. This is crucial to have your website ranking well in the search engines. And if you don’t know already, search traffic is targeted, with billions of searches a day.
4. All in One WP Security & Firewall – WordPress generally has good security, but it’s also good to add an extra layer to prevent hackers and bots from compromising your website. You would always add an alarm/security to your offline businesses – so do the same for your website.
5. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP – This allows you to easily connect your Google Analytics with your WordPress Website. But the best thing about it, is it shows you a dashboard with the stats – so you have an overview of how many views, bounce rate etc. Which means you don’t have to constantly login to your Google Analytics Account to check the stats.
6. W3 Total Cache – This plugin helps you optimize the performance of your website, speed up your site and reduce the load times for your visitors. Having a fast website is really important, as its been proven if your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load – people are more likely to click off your site and go to your competitors.
7. UpdraftPlus – It’s important to backup your website in case anything goes wrong. E.g. Your site got hacked or you did something but regret it and want to restore it back. Whatever the reason, this is the plugin – it’s easy to setup and use!
8. WooCommerce – If you want to setup an online store on WordPress then this is the plugin. It has over 14.5 million downloads and powers over 37% of all online stores – It has a ton of resources online and I’ve created a tutorial on it too!
9. MailChimp for WordPress – Great simple plugin to connect your MailChimp account with your WordPress to easily collect email leads.
10. Disqus Comment System – a comment plugin which replaces your WordPress Comments. You’ll get notifications and reply by email, powerful spam filtering and a lovely interface.
11. Smart Slider 3 – This is an amazing, powerful responsive slider. You can create sliders for Images, YouTube, Vimeo & WordPress Posts. And it’s just jammed packed with features and best part it uses a drag & drop builder and live preview.
12. BONUS: Audio Dock by Themify – Enables you to play music on any WordPress Site. Ideal for people who want to set the perfect mood with music when people browse your website.
WordPress Plugins (Premium)
1. Thirsty Affiliates – I use this for my affiliate links. You don’t want your affiliate links looking like long lines of code. This plugin shortens the links your affiliate partner gives you and make it look nice and clickable. This is a MUST if you are into affiliate marketing.
2. Builder WooCommerce – Usually to show your Woocommerce Products, you need to add in shortcodes. Sometimes this is confusing and hard. But with this tool, you now have an additional module which you can drag and drop to any page to show you products without using shortcodes. Watch my tutorial here. Note: you’ll need have to have a Themify Theme and WooCommerce Installed.
3. MAXCDN – this is not really a plugin, but I use this in conjunction to with W3 Total Cache to speed up my website load times. This is a Content Delivery Network Service. Don’t get this if you only have a few visitors per month, get it once you start getting into the thousands. I recommend trying the 100GB Free Trial. It makes a huge difference and your visitors won’t tell you but they’ll love it and reward you with lower bounce rate and more page views!
Free Image Sites
(do whatever you like – copy, modify, distribute, use for commercial without need to credit or ask permission – under creative commons zero)
These are my favourite sites that have images that you can use for commercial use, blog posts, social media and for your website.
1. Unsplash – High quality images, 10 new images uploaded every 10 days. I love the great user experience, no annoying popup ads and just a really clean design.
2. Stocksnap.io – Hundreds of high resolution images added weekly.
3. Pixabay – Over 650,000 free stock photos, vectors and art illustrations.
4. Flickr Creative Commons – Read the rules on the right hand side before you begin. Highly Recommend! Many pictures to use, as long as you credit the author. Use the advanced filtering and search for no attribution for images which don’t need crediting. Read here for more info.
5. BONUS: Subtlepatterns – These are awesome for your website backgrounds where you normally have white space, you can use these patterns instead to create a completely different vibe! Note: You will have to provide credit to the author.
Premium Image Sites
The images you choose for your website are very important. When people arrive at your website, they need to know within a second – if they can trust this site, what the site is about and should they stay and look at the other content. Choosing an image that properly represents your business is important. Have you seen a nice website with low quality, blurry, old images? If you want to stand out, and can’t find the images on the free websites – it’s time to invest.
1. Photodune – One of the cheapest options out there, great if you are just looking for a few photos for your website. Starts from $1, so it’s worth the time to browse through here and not break your bank.
2. Adobe Stock – Over 50 Million of high-quality royalty-free photos, vectors, illustrations and graphics curated by Adobe.
3. Shutterstock – Extremely Popular site, with probably the biggest library on the web. Pricing can be per image or Subscription based.
4. iStock – Similar to Shutterstock in terms of quality and library, however I found that for the signature package you’ll have to sign up for 1 year to get 750 images/month. Whereas Shutter and Adobe you can go month to month for same amount of images.
5. Bigstock – a subsidiary of Shutterstock, about half the library, at about half the price. So if you want something in between, then this is the option. Plans are charged on monthly basis.
6. 500px – The most authentic images. All images are done by the top photographers in the world, so you’re likely to get images which are truly unique. But of course, with quality comes a bigger price tag. If you have the budget, then this is highly recommended.
Free Video Sites
These are great if you want 1 or 2 videos to add to your website as a Video background, but sometimes it does take a little while to find a great one specific for your business.
3. Coverr – Operates Similar to Unsplash but for Videos. 7 New videos every Monday. Great thing I like is that the videos are already cut to 15 seconds. It would be even cooler if the file size was reduced too, but we can manually do that.
Note: I recommend note uploading a file size larger than 2-3 MB the reason is because it will show down your load times. And if you do use a homepage video background – make sure you have installed and configured W3 Total Cache. And I would also use a Content Delivery Network Service such as MaxCDN. This is will dramatically increase load times, as your website files will be stored around the world, allowing the distance to be less from server to user. Test your speed on Pingdom Website Speed Test and aim for less than 2-3 seconds.
Premium Video Sites
Again, picking the right video to represent your business is crucial and getting a paid video site is probably worth the investment.
1) Videoblocks – Get 90% OFF for 1 Year of Unlimited access to over 115,000+ Studio Quality HD Videos, After effect templates, motion backgrounds and more.
2) Videohive – Probably the cheapest option, if you want to get a single video for your homepage. Starts from $8.
3) Pond5 – Over 4.5+ million royalty-free video clips (more added daily!)
5) iStock Video
Music/Audio Sites (Free)
1. Free Music Archive – You may download the music for free, however what you’re allowed to do with the music depends on the license for each individual associated with each track. For more info, check out the FAQ (shows where to look for each of the licenses associated with track & what it means.).
Music/Audio Sites (Premium)
1. Audio Jungle – Great option to get started with cause you can just get 1 or 2 tracks. It’s cheaper then the alternatives below which are also awesome.
2. AudioBlocks – Subscription-based resource for downloading stock production music, sound effects, loops, stingers and more. Get 1 year of unlimited downloads (royalty free license) for $99. Save 90%!
3. Shutter Stock Music – Bigger Library, if you can’t find what you’re looking for at Audio Jungle – check it out.
4. iStock Audio
Photo Editor (Free)
1. Fotor – My favourite tool to upload large images, so I can resize, crop, add filter, add text and more to it before I upload it to WordPress.
2. Pixlr Express/Pixlr Editor – This is more like a baby version of Adobe Photoshop, so it’s great if you want to edit logos/graphics you got from freepik. And also if you want to do some basic editing to pictures.
3. PicMonkey – This is also a great tool, I don’t use this as often but it’s pretty similar to Fotor (some people prefer this) and you can make create thumbnails for your YouTube Videos or Feature Images for your Blog Posts.
Photo Editor (Premium)
1. Adobe Photoshop – In this day an age, it’s very useful to have Photoshop skills. With plenty of Tutorials, everyone can easily learn how to do the basics. Don’t let it intimidate you, practise and you will get better.
2. Canva – You can easily create stunning designs which can be used for social media posts, presentations, posters, Facebook covers, Facebook posts, Instagram Posts, Blog Graphics, Cards, Email Headers and more! ($1 for each design)
1. Fiverr – This place, isn’t just for logos – they have many services from logo design, transcription, graphic design, virtual assistant, proof reading, social media and more. Read the reviews, read the descriptions. Don’t expect Leonardo Di Vinci work, But overall it’s a great experience and great for beginners with a low budget. Note: Don’t get SEO Services which promise thousands of links to boost ranking if you don’t know what you’re doing.
2. 99 Designs – If you have a bigger budget, this is for you. You get to launch a contest and designers will submit the designs according to your brief. You pick your favourite! I like it because of more variety and higher quality. But of course there is a price tag.
You can get logo design, packaging design, brand identity, website design, t-shirt design, business card and much more here. Basically any sort of design work.
3. Freepik – Over a million free vectors, PSD, photos and free icons. Use the icons here and transform it into your own logo using Pixlr or Adobe Photoshop. Or you can use it straight, but you’ll need to add a credit on your website. i.e. on the footer or something.
4. BONUS: Real Favicon Generator – Helps you change your logo into favicon size which is then ready to upload!
MailChimp – Currently I’m Mailchimp and love the great interface and easy to use features. And best of all it’s free to get started!
Aweber – Also a great option, many top internet marketers use Aweber. So they have to be doing something right! You can get started with a 30 Free Trial to see if you like it.
Color Tools (Amazing!)
Having problems with your colour scheme? These are some very useful resources to inspire your imagination and also make life easier.
1. Material Palette – A great site for beginners and non designers, which allows you to pick two colours and it will show you a preview of how it looks and give you a colour palette guide. This is awesome, because it tells you where to apply those colours to make everything nice.
2. Color Lovers – You’ll find over 4,232,845 user-created color palettes to inspire your ideas
3. Pictaculous – Ever wonder what colours to use with your image/website? This is a simple tool that allows you to upload your image and it will determine which colours to use. Awesome for beginners, really simplifies the process.
4. 0to255 – This is another awesome tool. I normally use it for checking which colour to use for hover over effects. Sometimes you need a lighter/darker shade, rather than selecting manually – this helps you get it perfect!
5. Flat UI Colors – Some great flat colours to choose from to jumpstart your website which looks fresh, clean and modern.
6. Paletton – This tool helps you create different colour palettes that play well together.
Website Analysis Tools
1. Google Analytics – This is a great free tool that every webmaster should have installed, because it tracks your visitors and their behaviour. This is important, because it will tell you whether or not your content is what they are looking for or not. So rather than just guessing your site is awesome, this is the true test. Looking at the the bounce rates, page views per visitor and time spent are easy ways to determine whether your site is bad or great.
2. Ahrefs – Check where your links are coming from, but also check where your competitors are getting their links from – so you can reverse engineer their SEO Linking strategies.
3. SEMrush – See what keywords your competitors are ranking for in organic/paid search. This is a MUST have tool if you are serious about taking your game to the next level. You will get some valuable insights and plan your search strategy accordingly.
Test Website Speed/Responsiveness
1. Responsinator – Check your website responsiveness across all popular devices. Important to make sure that all your content is viewable for not just iPhones but there are people who use older devices too!
2. Pingdom Website Speed Test – See how quick your website actually loads up for your users, based on different locations. Note: Try to keep it under 2-3 Seconds, any longer then people might not have the patience to wait and leave.
3. Google PageSpeed Insights – Quick tool to test your website for performance on all devices. Also provides tips on how to improve it, but don’t stress if it’s not perfect. For e.g. My Mobile speed is 73/100 but my user experience is 100/100, which I’m happy about since I did put a lot of effort into creating different versions for the Desktop, iPad and Mobile Devices.
4. Google Mobile-Friendly Test – Test if your webpage has a mobile friendly design, which it should if you’ve been following my tutorials!
And for those who are wondering, this is what I’m using to create my tutorials.
ScreenFlow (Mac) – I have to say that I like this more than Camtasia, cause the interface is so simple to use. But I do have to export the video into something like Adobe affect effects and Premiere Pro to do some final additions/editing. (That’s just me, but you will be good to go just editing within the app)
Camtasia (PC) – When I didn’t have my Mac, I used Camtasia – which was great cause they also had a decent video editor! It’s the best screen capture tool for PC that I know of, give it try on their free trial!
Blue Yeti – Great Mic, I got it because of all the rave reviews and it did not disappoint. It’s a good upgrade from my first mic which was the Samson Go Mic (which isn’t so bad itself. Super portable & great for travelling).
iMac 27 Inch Retina 5K – When I first saw the screen, it seemed way too big. But after a while you get used to it and now, I find any other screen bad. Once you’re used to this kind of clarity and crispness, you’ll never look back!
My Top 7 Must-Follow Blogs
You are probably following some of your favourite blogs already but these are some of the blogs I follow and I feel that these will really benefit you in your journey in building your online websites/business.
1. Smart Passive Income – Pat Flynn, if you didn’t know him already began from humble beginnings after being laid off in 2008. He started selling eBooks which taught people how to pass an architecture exam and since then has dedicated his blog in helping others make a passive income from blogging, podcasting and online business in general.
2. Entrepreneur on Fire – This is a great podcast, where John Lee Dumas interviews entrepreneurs around the world about their journey. He has interviewed people like Tim Ferris, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuck and many more entrepreneurs. I’m sure his podcast will inspire you in your journey.
3. Moz – This is a great SEO blog with great beginner resources to help you understand SEO but it also lot of more advanced techniques which targeted at the SEO Practitioner.
5. Conversion XL – This is a conversion optimization blog created by Peep Leja. In this blog it discusses many things that will help your convert your visitors into buyers, subscribers and readers.
6. Smart Blogger – A blog created by Jon Morrow, where he blogs about how to get more readers, becoming an authority in your niche and get more attention. This is based more on the craft of writing and content.
7. Backlinko – Brian Dean an SEO expert publishes super long, but super value packed posts on how to get you more traffic, leads and customers. I think you’ll find it very useful because you can actually implement some of these tactics right away!