Use the WordPress Resources We Use
Tools & Resources for WordPress websites.
WordPress Resources for Small Business:
We have spent countless hours over the years researching and building our library of WordPress resources that you will find below, including:
- Woprdpress themes,
- WordPress plugins,
- WordPress hosting and even
- WordPress courses and tutorials.
This knowledge and experience is used in all the WordPress websites we build for our clients. If you would like a specific recommendation, we suggest you check out our WordPress Coaching.
WordPress Hosting for Small Business
Getting the right hosting solution is important for a small business. Google includes site performance as a search engine ranking factor, websites need to be more secure from hackers then ever and your users don't want to be staring at a screen waiting for a page to load... in fact they won't.
There are plenty of more expensive hosting solutions out there. There are also cheaper. One of the benefits of Siteground WordPress Hosting is that it is affordable and scalable so it can grow with your needs. Their support, security and page speed all tick the boxes also.
Email Hosting for Small Business
There are a few reasons you would want to host your email separately from your website. For instance, if there is any issue with your website getting hacked, and your website host shuts down your account - your emails will remain unaffected.
For us it is simply peace of mind. Your website is looked after by people who do website hosting, your emails are looked after by a business that specialises in email hosting. That means your emails are backed up in the cloud and accessible from any device. You have them synced wherever you go and get the bonus of synchronised calendars, documents and more.
Email Marketing Platform for Small Business
The biggest challenge with choosing an email marketing platforms is the sheer number on offer and the time it takes to set them up... only to discover down the track one of the key components you need isn't offered.
We have loved Mailchimp for small businesses for a long time but recently we switched to Active Campaign. The reason? Simply the ability to create more powerful automated email campaigns in a way that we feel is more intuitive. Like any software it takes a learning curve but anyone that is attracted by the bright shiny lights of Infusionsoft, only to baulk at the price tag may find a happy medium in Active Campaign. While you can choose to just have the Email Marketing Platform, it also integrates with a CRM (customer relationship mangement) which means you can keep track of all your contacts in one place. Very handy.
Email Opt-In for Small Business
Email opt-in boxes are the pop-ups, slide-ins or fixed 'widgets' in the sidebars of websites that allow people to 'opt-in' for your newsletter or to receive a freebie (like an e-book).
There are two we would suggest you check out.
Bloom by Elegant Themes (some really nice advanced features and integrates nicely with Active Campaign).
Plus Pop-up Ally which is a free option.
Please note: a small number of the links below are 'affiliate links' which means we may earn a small commission (thanks for keeping our coffee supply going!). But that is just a small bonus for us, not something that drives our recommendations and it makes no difference in pricing for you.
The recommendations below are GENERAL recommendations, there is no guarantee that this will work for your specific website or application. If you want more specific advice, consider our WordPress Coaching.
Checking your WordPress site for broken links.
Broken links are URLs (website address links) in your website that are not functioning or opening. This can happen for a number of reasons, but broken links are considered to be of negative value as far as search engine optimisation of your website is concerned, plus it could be an important link for users of your website to access information. So, how do you identify broken links? Two options, Google Webmaster and a handy little plugin:
Broken Link Checker for WordPress is a great (free) plugin that even emails you if a link on your website is broken. This isn't just links to other (external) websites, it can be links to your images, videos, other pages and more. Very handy to ensure that everything is functioning as it should be!
The Google Webmaster option is a little more complex (especially if you do not already have Google Webmaster setup) but this is a great run through to help you identify the broken links that Google has found on your website.
Search engine optimisation for your WordPress site:
First, if you haven't already - then get a copy of our free guide "SEO for Small Business" as it also includes a checklist to run through for your website's search engine optimisation.
We recommend that your website has:
Yoast SEO plugin installed. This is a really simple to use, and VERY helpful SEO tool. It will get you thinking about search engine optimisation on every page, post and title you create. It also helps you craft the 'snippets' that appear in search engine results - why is that important? Well, if you are listed in Google search engine results with 10 of your competitors, you want to ensure what is written convinces people to click through to your website!
Email newsletter platforms:
For years we have been recommending Mailchimp because it is FREE. Yep, free. Love it. BUT it is only free if you don't want to send an automatic reply to someone once they have subscribed to your list. You know, something as simple as "Thank you very much, why not also connect with us on Facebook?" or more advanced calls to action like coupons, special offers, etc. It will send an automatic email to ask people to confirm they wish to 'opt-in' to your list. This is called 'double opt-in' or as far as the Australian government is concerned it is the best way to ensure you have people's express consent to add them to your mailing list which is a requirement of ACMA.
It is only USD$10 a month to upgrade to be able to send automatic replies so there is an easy, and affordable upgrade path for small businesses.
Want a little more from your email marketing tool - something that helps to automate your marketing?
There are SO MANY OPTIONS that I will not cover them all here. BUT, if you are excited by the idea of more advanced options like Infusionsoft and Ontraport then I would recommend checking out Active Campaign instead of Mailchimp. It really focuses you on creating tailored communications to different mailing lists, has a lovely layout for visual people and is only USD$9/mth so affordable from the get go. In fact if you are into marketing automation, funnels, etc. then Active Campaign is great!
Integrating email newsletters and email newsletter opt-ins:
Okay there are LOTS of options here too and they vary significantly. Firstly consider do you want:
- A simple form in your website sidebar
- A pop-up or scroll box (appears in the bottom right, as people scroll down the page)
- To offer something in return for their subscription (i.e. a free guide, template, e-book etc.)
- To add someone automatically when they fill in your contact form?
This may be when you call out for some digital marketing support, so that you can setup some more advanced strategies, or if you want to give it a go yourself, try:
Opt-in Forms this is a free plugin and works with Mailchimp.
Bloom by Elegant themes (we just recently fell in love with this one!!) this is a powerful tool that has a large range of options.
Gravity Forms - more on this later, but it makes it really easy to create great forms that integrate with your email marketing platform.
Leadpages - this helps you create marketing opt-in landing pages for specific purposes (webinars, workshops, events, courses, give-aways, etc.) and then it hands over the details to your email marketing software. Great for anyone that is stepping up their online marketing.
SumoMe is also quite popular and they have a lot of powerful options for free and a lot of people are very happily using their tools. HOWEVER, their aim is to get you on the paid versions (no worries there) but at the time of writing they were not sending advice to customers that their trial is expiring and in once instance simply charged a full year's fees once the date passed. This may be an effective way to get money but we do not believe it is a nice way to do business... just letting you know 🙂
Payment gateways (options for taking payments on your site)
Payment gateways are a very business specific item. If you have a good accountant talk through your options with them. Many banks will steer you towards their facilities / options - always check the fees and costs associate because these can add up quickly. The most important thing here is integration - you want your systems all talking to each other.
For getting setup quickly check out Paypal, we still use it, there are no ongoing monthly costs and so when you are just starting this can be a great option. It isn't the cheapest but it works and it integrates and it has become a trusted symbol for online payments.
Other than that, it is very difficult to make suggestions because INTEGRATION is KING. You will want a payment gateway that works with your e-commerce platform, your accounting software any point of sale system you might use, do you need to track inventory? Are you using it with membership software? As you can see, this can be a tricky area!
Securing your site (added protection from hackers)
Change you users from 'admin' to something personalised. Use a secure password!!! There are great options like TeamPassword that can help you manage all your passwords and keep them secure.
Then add a plugin like:
Also make sure you keep your software up to date (WordPress and Plugin software) plus store your backups somewhere other than with all your other website files (i.e. download it to your computer, save it to Dropbox, etc.).
Backing up your website:
While we are talking about backups... we have written a whole separate post on this topic! Check out our article "How to Backup Your WordPress Website". In it we mention, the top four often recommended plugins (and here we have included a bonus, number 5 which has just come to ur attention):
Social media integration and sharing:
There are again a few options here. Do you want:
- A share counter (like on the right hand side of this post) - then check out Cresta Social Counter plugin
- Icons to encourage sharing at the end of each post (this is often included with your theme)
- Social media icons with a direct link to your social media profiles (this should be on each page and highlighted on your contact page) - again your theme should have this.
- A fully featured social sharing plugin with powerful options - then check out Monarch by Elegant Themes.
Getting more detailed with forms:
There is an amazing amount of functionality that you can add through advanced forms on your website and ever since we implemented Gravity Forms we have loved it's flexibility. It works with most email marketing software and even integrates with payment gateways like Paypal.
I won't even mention other form builders here actually because this just works and it is great and it will grow with you. Yes, it has a price tag. It is worth it.[/fusion_text]
Getting a domain and hosting:
You can research and purchase domain names and hosting through Our Sister Site
Another option is to use Siteground which provides a similar offering with 1-click WordPress install. Link:
Extending the WordPress platform:
Once you have WordPresss installed the first thing you want to do is ensure it looks good. The simplest way to do that is to install a good WordPress theme. There are numerous free themes but many come with limitations. It is often worth spending a small amount of money to get a theme that offers you more functionality or ‘just works’ out of the box.
Elegant Themes has a variety of themes at one affordable price - on other words you buy once and you can check out the different themes they have to find one that suits your needs - without paying multiple times. They also throw in some powerful premium plugins for the same price that we have recommended above such as Monarch and Bloom.
A range of premium themes to suit different aesthetic needs and functionality requirements.