WordPress business toolkit part 1


tools of the WordPress trade

Running a WordPress business?

Of course you are! If you’re not, you can use these services for any form of online business.

In part 1, we’ll briefly cover WordPress hosting, a few plugins, and a couple or my choice productivity tools. There’s some cross compatibility from the blogging tips post, but I’ve wrapped some new context around the areas that apply. This post was inspired by Carrie Dils and her review of SaaS software for her own WordPress business.

I hope this helps you make some new decisions and enables you to run a better WordPress business.

Tools of the WordPress trade

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WordPress business toolkit part 1

 
 
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Some of the following links are affiliate links. They help pay for the show and put food on the table for my family. Thank you!

WordPress hosting

As I stated in the podcast and in the video, this is not an in-depth review of WordPress hosts. This is a quick fly-by of hosts I’ve use and how you can use them too.  I do plan on discussing WordPress hosts more in depth in another post.

Linode

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Linode is a great VPS service if you’re looking to get your hands dirty. Their offerings are powerful and affordable. If you’re looking to host many WordPress websites and you know your way around Linux security give these guys a shot. In terms of uptime and performance I’ve had great results. Their support is also fast and friendly which is very important.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Powerful features
  • Great support

Cons:

  • Support is not WordPress specific
  • You have to know how to configure your own linux instance
  • Your on the line for major performance or security issues

Digital Ocean

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A $5 a month stomping ground. There’s a handful of localhost development environments, but there’s nothing quite like the real thing. Digital Ocean provides little droplets for running various flavors of Linux. Like Linode, you will need to be up to speed on setting up a Linux environment and locking down anything you don’t want the bad guys to get. I think this is a great solution for testing plugins or running dev environments.

Pros:

  • $5 a month
  • Fast
  • Easy

Cons:

  • Not sure how their product will scale compared to a Linode
  • You still have to configure/support yourself

SiteGround

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Support. Support. Super fast support. This is the most important factor for me. Period. This site has run on SG for the last 3 – 4 months and I’ve been blown away by their level of support. I’m not just talking talking level 1 “we got your message and we’ll work on this” SOP responses – I’m talking full blown, in-depth responses. Backups, staging servers, and WordPress specific optimization plans are also available.

Pros: 

  • Awesome support
  • Affordable
  • Feature rich

Cons:

  • Still a shared environment
  • Not your typical “managed WordPress” host

Namecheap

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Not much to say here other than it’s my go to source for registering domains. Easy to use control panel with zero fluff or complexity. They also have an awesome API to tap into if you’re into that kind of thing.

Pros:

  • Unadulterated domain registration
  • Affordable

Cons

  • They don’t give me free domains

Plugins

SearchWP + FacetWP

Visit SearchWP

Visit FacetWP

I love the combination of these two plugins for building search rich sites. We build a lot of sites for travel and tourism that end up needing a directory of content. I’m also working on a podcast search function for this site leveraging both that I’ll do a write up on. If you need to extend your search capability, look no further!

Pros

  • Better search
  • Faceted search

Cons

  • You need to know how to build some basic template files for search output

WPTouch

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Do’t get me wrong, I love responsive design but sometimes it’s not the best for every situation. Further, if you’re selling your client on the ability to manage mobile content and the layout of it — this plugin is for you. Their latest version is awesome and I don’t think it gets enough credit.

Pros

  • Super simple mobile website development
  • Awesome add-on features
  • Great looking themes

Cons

  • Not for the purist web developer
  • Unsure how it will handle scale or truly unique layouts

Advanced Custom Fields

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9 out of 10 custom WordPress projects I’ve done require some type custom post type and group of custom fields. ACF is a plugin I can say I absolutely enjoy using. The admin UI is buttery smooth and intuitive which makes for a a great combo when handing the keys over to a client.

Pros

  • Awesome UI
  • Great for rapid prototyping
  • Add-ons

Cons

  • I’d love to see more powerful add-ons
  • You still have to know how to build templates for output

Productivity

Trello

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I love lists. I also love boards and cards thanks to Trello. I didn’t make the switch form Basecamp to Trello just because it’s free either. It’s simply a more productive environment for collaborating with my team and the tasks/projects we have at hand. The fact that it’s super reactive and real time doesn’t hurt either. Looking for a great productivity tacker? Try Trello.

Pros

  • Free
  • Super easy
  • Share files, tasks and more with teammates

Cons

  • It’s not a place for clients
  • Upload limits on free plan. (seriously, just pay)

Screenflow

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If you’re training clients or documenting custom features do it with Screenflow. If you want to start your very own podcast, do it with Screenflow. Want to make product demonstrations? You guessed it. Do it with Screenflow.

Pros

  • Best screen recording software on the market. (Mac)
  • Easy to use
  • Export directly to YouTube or Vimeo

Cons

  • Premium price tag
  • I’d like to see more effects
  • I’d like to see more editing capabilities for audio & video

That’s a wrap

First, I want you to let us know what tools you’re using in the comments section.

Second, if you’re just starting out with your new WordPress business shoot me an e-mail if you have a question about any of these services or apps. I’m happy to help anyway I can. Don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list to stay up to date.

Listen to this Episode

15 Comments

  1. Paul on January 11, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Just chatting to Boris at SiteGround – excellent pre-sales support so far. I might be migrating my WP sites to them soon

    • Matt on January 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      Awesome!

      • Paul on January 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm

        Thanks for the podcast, btw. I too have used Digital Ocean. It’s geeky but, if you’re prepared to roll-up the sleeves there’s nothing to touch it for price and spec.

        Trello is awesome too. My workflow has improved since using it – particularly good for my pre-site-launch checklists!

    • Dave Foston on January 15, 2014 at 8:59 am

      I’ve only ever had a good experience with Siteground. I’ve used them for lots of things over the years.

      • Matt on January 15, 2014 at 9:26 am

        Awesome Dave!

  2. Ghost on January 12, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Resource full post. I am using Digital Ocean it pretty good. And liked WPTouch for their customer support.

    • Matt on January 12, 2014 at 11:32 am

      Nice!

  3. Lech on January 13, 2014 at 1:18 am

    Ditto on Trello. Trello + Bitrix24 = the best free productivity combo in the entire history of human race.

  4. Brianna Norcross on January 14, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Over at Reaktiv we rock Asana for task/productivity management. Trello is great but my team never took to the UI. Other important tools for us are: UberConference (loved it much more before their UI change in the past few weeks or so), QuickBooks Online for accounting/invoicing, and HipChat for private company chat. Looking to dev our own or find a good cloud quoting tool soon. Getting real tired of Word/emails 🙂

    • Matt on January 15, 2014 at 9:26 am

      Thanks for stopping by Brianna! I’ve heard some good things about Asana but never really put it through the paces.

    • Jaki on May 20, 2014 at 3:23 am

      Try Bidsketch for Proposals or Quotes. We also use Freshbooks for creating quick estimates.

  5. Jeff Matson on January 15, 2014 at 9:19 am

    I use Advanced Custom Fields on one of my sites and it surely makes everything insanely easier.

    • Matt on January 15, 2014 at 9:27 am

      I install ACF on every project just to play with the UI even if we don’t use it 🙂

  6. brusacco on January 14, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    WP-Types for custom fields in WordPress … WP-Views ,,, are the best.

    • Matt on January 14, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Thanks for sharing. My product, Conductor, gets compared to them all of the time 😉

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