It’s taken me a while to find some of these tools. Keep in mind, these are ones I use, but I’ll also provide alternatives to check out! All the tools are related to ways to build up your web presence.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you decide to make purchase. The amount is pretty insignificant, but it goes towards running this website. Hope some of these are helpful for you!
Tools I Recommend
Bluehost – All of the websites I’ve started, including CrowdCrux, KickstarterForum.org, SalvadorBriggman.com, this website, and more use Bluehost as a hosting provider. I’m happy with their service and can reach a english speaking human anytime I want when I have questions. They have a very nice one-click WordPress install feature that makes it easy to set up a new website and start at about 4$ per month.
Now that I think about it, it was actually bluehost that suggested I start using cloudflare, which is a free tool I highly recommend to make your websites cache and load faster. I don’t fully understand the specifics of how it works, but I believe it will show a webpage based on the server nearest to that individual to cut down on load time. Either way, it was free to set up through bluehost.
ThemeForest – ThemeForest has proven to be a good marketplace for finding paid premium wordpress themes. I used them for this site’s theme (see the listing). You can also google around for free wordpress themes, though some are better than others.
Design doesn’t seem like it matters, but it makes a big first impression.
Buffer – Buffer is my favorite social media scheduling tool, which is free. It’s a great way to track which posts are doing well on your social channels and which are getting retweets instead of click throughs. They also have a $10 per month plan to schedule posts further into the future and connect more social media accounts. As an added bonus, they suggest posts to share! Hootsuite is an alternative to check out.
MailChimp – I use MailChimp to send out my other blog’s newsletter to 6k+ subscribers. They give a good overview of analytics, what links people are clicking, and who is opening your content. In addition, they have “auto responder” sequences, so you can easily design an email course or thank someone for subscribing. As an added bonus, they are free up until 2,000 subscribers. If you’re looking for an alternative, I’d check out Aweber, which has been around for a while and has stellar delivery rates.
Libsyn – Libsyn has been a great host for my actual podcast. They are pretty affordable and also give statistics and download numbers. I’ve been very happy with their service.
I think that we’re going to see more improvement on the design and look and feel of the podcast player. In addition, their website itself needs a design upgrade.
OptimizePress – Finally, I used OptimizePress to design my new online course with videos, downloadable notes, and an ebook. This course is related to Kickstarter, not podcasting. Although there is a steep learning curve, the software has been awesome for making a course. It can also make sales pages or pages to give away an ebook to listeners, but I’m considering checking out LeadPages and their software in the future for making sales pages because I’ve heard good things.
Finally, if you’re going to be recording podcasts via Skype and your mac computer, then Ecamm is a must. It’s pretty affordable and works great. There are also several add-ons you can use if you have a windows computer (see here).
* You don’t have to set up your website with WordPress. You can also use a builder like Wix or SquareSpace. However, longterm, I think it pays to make your own site, and your own domain name while we’re on the topic.
Plugins That Are Awesome
OptinMonster – OptinMonster is my plugin of choice for a popup subscribe window. It’s true that there are free plugins that accomplish this, but I liked the themes that came with OptinMonster and it was pretty easy to set up. I use it on this blog and others and it has boosted the number of people who subscribe.
OptinSkin – The little subscribe form on the righthand side of this website, along with the one at the end of these blog posts was made with OptinSkin. The plugin also gives information about how many people are subscribing of your total website visitors.
WPTouch – WPtouch is a must-have plugin. In a matter of seconds, you can optimize your website for mobile, which is a lot easier than hiring a designer to make you a responsive website.
WP Super Cache – There is also W3 Total Cache, which is more sophisticated and uses a different form of caching to make your website run faster. Right now, I’m using the former and it works well. It’s a lot more simple to set up and works right out of the box.
Disqus Comment System – I know that there’s going to be controversy on this one. I use Disqus as the commenting system for all my websites because it’s very good at filtering out spam. It’s also search engine friendly. Others prefer Facebook comments or the standard wordpress comment form, but for me, Disqus has been a life saver.
Jetpack – Jetpack needs to be activated with WordPress.com, and it will give you basic statistics on your visitors. However, it’s no competition for google analytics, which I use religiously. Keep in mind that google analytics has more of a learning curve.
Learn more about other plugins I recommend here.