BEST WEB HOSTING
Siteground is who I personally use and I looked FOR MONTHS before choosing them.
I looked at dozens of hosts, scoured the internet for “genuine” reviews (harder to find than you might think), cross-referenced those with Yelp reviews (which most hosts with US offices have; you just have to know their home city to find the right Yelp page) and cross-referenced that with social media comments.
Their sites load fast, their 24/7 live chat with their support team gets me answers to my questions in seconds, and their control panel is simple, easy to use, and full-featured. Plus at under $4.00/month for a basic plan, it’s very affordable too.
Click here to see all of Sitegrounds pricing and options and start your blog today! Just click on the Managed WordPress Hosting on their page.
BEST FREE WORDPRESS THEMES
As with hosts, I looked at hundreds and actually tried dozens of website WordPress themes before settling on the one I started my site with a free theme from aThemes (called Astrid, which is also my oldest daughter’s name!).
I love that theme and have confidence in this company.
Many others I tried aren’t responsive (meaning they don’t change when a user opens it on a mobile device), some weren’t customizable enough and some were basically just baiting you to upgrade to a paid theme.
Being a Middle Class Dad just getting his site off the ground, I didn’t have a lot of extra cash to pay for a “premium” theme (plus as many bad ones as I saw, I also wasn’t convinced that even if I paid it would be perfect for me).
These folks have great free (and paid) themes and I’ve been very happy.
Click here to see all of the free and paid themes at aThemes and start your blog today!
SOCIAL SCHEDULER FOR PINTEREST
I personally don’t do much in social media posting these days because I like to focus my time on what actually gets results. Facebook is great IF you want to pay for ads. Twitter hardly does anything for me and Instagram is mostly good for engaging personally with your fans.
Thus, all I do on a regular basis is Pinterest.
And technically, Pinterest is NOT a social media channel, just a graphic search tool. The tool I use for all my Pinterest work is called Tailwind, and it also works with Instagram too.
You can pin multiple pins at once, schedule them at the most optimum times, add custom descriptions and hashtags, and also use tools they have like SmartLoop (pins repeat on a set interval) and Tribes (like group boards).
Pinterest actually gets more people to my blog than Google, so for me, Tailwind is indispensable as what I can do in an hour or 2 a week on Tailwind would easily take me 8 or more hours manually.
Click here to see all the different plans at Tailwind and start saving time on Pinterest pinning today!
EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDER
If you’re starting a web site, starting to collect email addresses and building your list is a must; right from the get-go.
Now there are some great ones out there I’m sure you’ve heard of; Aweber & Infusion Soft being the 2 biggies. I haven’t used either and currently, both are out of my price range.
In my 9 to 5 job I use Constant Contact and I like them – great for segmenting lists, easy access to open and click-through rates and easy to design and schedule campaigns and also post to social sites. But I don’t use them for my blog as they are pricy and they don’t do automated email sequences, landing pages, and email opt-in forms (at least not at the price tier we use at work).
Thus, I started with Mail Chimp (not very intuitive and a bit hard to use, but free at the basic level). Then I switched to MailerLite. I loved them, but I had 3 different instances where a technical glitch on their end caused some of my forms to stop working or some of my email sequences to stop working.
They also had fairly poor customer service in my opinion; not very timely or responsive and didn’t always take ownership of their mistakes.
All 3 of those cost me time, money, and email subscribers. They are free up to 1,000 subscribers and do make nice landing pages and opt-in forms. But in the end, I knew I needed something more reliable.
Thus, I now use and love ConvertKit.
They don’t have a free plan, but I was finding with the others I used that you get what you pay for. I also wouldn’t recommend switching companies like I did as you have to export and then import your email addresses from one to another. If they are in an automated flow sequence of emails, that obviously would get interrupted too.
So if your budget allows it, just start with ConvertKit. You’ll be able to stay with them permanently as they will grow with you no matter how big your list gets and you’ll be very happy.
Click here to see all the different plans at ConvertKit and start collecting email subscribers today!