Here is my Toolbox for you: favorite services and resources (free and fee-based) that I use for my site and the websites that I develop for my clients. These tools help me produce better content, design more functional websites and streamline security, backups and maintenance.
I am an affiliate for some of these resources (all these links are marked with an +), which means that at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission each time a purchase is made using my link. I like and recommend these services and am not paid to list them here. Since I frequently use these services and know that they work well for me and my clients, I signed up for their affiliate marketing programs. Your info will never be exposed or reported back to me. What it does do is give me a little extra cash.
I am an affiliate for some of these resources (all those links are marked with a + sign), which means that at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission each time a purchase is made using my link.
I like and recommend these services and am not paid to list them here. Since I frequently use these services and know that they work well for me and my clients, I signed up for their affiliate marketing programs. Your info will never be exposed or reported back to me. What it does do is give me a little extra cash to help stay afloat as a sole proprietor.
PerfectIt WordPress Plugin that works with Microsoft Word
Typely a free online proofing tool
Capitalize My Title a free online tool to help you which words to capitalize in a caption, according to a number of styles you can choose from (AP, Chicago…)
Dropbox is the easiest way to share content and large files with my clients. Runner up: Google Drive
Acuity + An online tool to schedule appointments. I use this for prospective clients to schedule a free consultation call with me.
ConvertKit + to create, schedule and manage email campaigns
MeetEdgar + schedule and manage your social media campaigns and automate your social media feed postings
Evernote + I use it to store all my links, screenshots and images for a virtual archive that is stored locally on my computer and synced in the cloud. It captures the pages that I want to keep for further research, and that I organize in folders. The content is always accessible, even offline, and even when the original source URL changes.
Network Solutions + is the service where I purchased and maintain my domain. I’ve been using their services since 1998.
WP Engine is a robust and professional platform for larger and professional WordPress sites and the host of my own website. I build password-protected sites on its staging platform, which allows my clients to browse through their new site as if it were live. I prefer this over static mockups.
SiteGround + a secure (using Sucuri scans) platform that offers WordPress migration, free HTTPS (SSL) and dedicated WordPress hosting.
Flywheel + this host also offers a stable local development install (Local by Flywheel), which I use to develop sites for my clients.
The best way to find the perfect WordPress theme for a design that we can then customize for your needs is to use a theme detector. Find a site that you like and run these online tools and browser extensions to get insights:
WordPress Theme and Plugin Detector is a Google Chrome extension. This also enables you to see whether a website is built on WordPress: If its icon in your Google Chrome toolbar turns blue, the site is powered by WordPress.
WordPress Theme Detector free online tool
WPTD free online tool
ScanWP free online tool
WordPress Theme Search free online tool
Whoiswp free online tool
SoftwareFindr free online tool
Kleanity + a clean, minimalist, robust and highly customizable theme.
DesktopServer + and Local by Flywheel. I use these programs to create a local WordPress install on my computer to develop WP sites for my clients that can then be exported to their host server.
…to be on the safe site, only use secure and trusted plugins and themes with high ratings that run on the latest WordPress version and delete all plugins and themes you don’t use any longer.
Yoast SEO Premium a user-friendly and visual plugin to help you write your posts and headlines according to the latest SEO guidelines
Limited Login Attempts WordPress doesn’t have a limit as to how many times one can guess a password to log in and determined hackers won’t give up. This plugin lets you limit login attempts and blackout periods.
Backup Buddy (by iThemes), a plugin to backup and restore your WP site
Broken Link Checker is essential to make sure all links on your site work. It scans your entire site and alerts you via email if broken links are detected.
Google Authenticator is a free plugin that lets you use a Google app on your phone for an additional layer of security (“2-factor-authentication”) when logging into your WordPress site(s).
Monster Insights/Google Analytics
Cookiebot and WP-GDPR + these plugins keep your site GDPR-compliant.
WhatFont a Google Chrome extension that lets you see what fonts a website uses
ColorPick Eyedropper and Color Picker are my favorite Google extension that helps you specify the exact colors (and their hex numbers, which I need to recreate that exact color you love) a website uses.
PopupAlly Pro + is an elegant, highly customizable and unobtrusive website form builder for opt-ins and pop-ups that I use on my site as well.
Sucuri + is a paid subscription service using a plugin that will scan your site regularly and alert you to any down times, blackouts, hacks and security vulnerabilities. If your site is hacked, Sucuri will clean it. It has helped me recover a blog that was hacked and blacklisted by Norton.
Scan your site for security breaches with this free Sucuri security scanner: https://sitecheck.sucuri.net/
WordFence a WordPress plugin that secures and backs up your site (this plugin is disallowed if you have a WPEngine-based website, since WPEngine already incorporates all its security measures)
UpdraftPlus a plugin that backs up your WordPress database to an external drive you specify, including on Dropbox.
iThemes Security is a plugin that offers file integrity checks, security hardening, limit login attempts, strong password enforcement, 404 detections, brute force protection and more.
ManageWP helps maintain and update WordPress-based websites (it requires a plugin) with one click. It also alerts you when plugins, WP version and theme updates are available and schedules a free monthly backup (and restore option) for the entire site. I use the paid version to maintain and monitor my clients’ websites if they chose to with my Peace of Mind Package: it lets me schedule more frequent backups and can also clone an entire site.
Google Analytics measures the reach, the engagement and the click through rate of your site. It analyzes and visualizes all the data from your site: where visitors come from (which search engines, which keywords, demographics), which pages they engage with and how long they stay on your site.
Allway Sync + this program (there is a free and a pro version) lets you sync all your specified data and folders locally or to an external drive. I use it to make sure that all folders that I back up externally are perfectly synced.
Acronis + is the best way to back up your computer and your data. It has saved me numerous times from total data loss after my hard drive died. The paid program takes an image of your entire computer—its operating system, its programs and all your data. The system image can then recreate your entire computer with one click in case of a total loss (or if you’re a victim of ransom ware). I suggest creating a full system image every other month and store it on an external drive in a safe place.
… what I read to keep me informed… and entertained
WP101 free online WP tutorial
WP Elevation: How-to-videos and articles on everything WordPress development and design as well as business-related tips and tricks.
Beginner Guide for WordPress free online tutorial
Shannon Mattern WP-BFF + offering a 5-day WordPress design tutorial and many more resources, workshops and classes.
AIGA — Eye on Design
Social Media Definition and Terms
Classy Fundraising for Nonprofits: Blog
David Meerman Scott Marketing and Sales Strategies
Rough Type Nicholas Carr
Offscreen Magazine: The Human Side of Technology and its blog/newsletter, Dispatch