If you’re new to WordPress or blogging the information you have available to you can be somewhat overwhelming, or not available at all, depending on how you search for it. Everything from choosing a host, choosing a theme, to what plugins to install, will be on your mind. For every Google search you make on a topic in an attempt to learn that aspect of WordPress will flood your screen with hundreds of options and opinions on what theme or plugin you should use or what you should be doing to your site to make it better.
At Blogger2WP we have our own opinions about this, backed by the knowledge and experience of migrating more than 400 sites to self-hosted WordPress. Our approach is minimalistic – since everything you add to your WordPress blog can slow it down, and is a plugin conflict or 500 internal server error waiting to happen. We also believe in only using well coded, and well supported themes and plugins.
To that end we’ve put together this WordPress Tools & Resources page to try and help you get your new WordPress Blog or Site off the ground in the best way possible. These are the tools and services we’ve used (and are still using today) on blogs we migrate and on our own sites, we find them useful for us and think they can be as well for your WordPress blog or site.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this page are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item or service, we may receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. This helps to keep the lights on, and bringing you great content.
As far as shared hosting goes, SiteGround is our top choice for hosting your WordPress blog. We think they offer incredible value with their fast servers, cPanel tools, freebies, and of course – the BEST tech support in the industry, in our opinion. We wrote a full post about how to choose hosting for your WordPress blog, with all the reasons why we think SiteGround is the best host for our blog.
With more than 10 million domain names registered, Namecheap is one of the most popular and most reliable domain registrars today. Not only is their pricing one of the best in the industry, you can also get discount pricing with Namecheap if you have 50 or more domains registered with them.
In addition, Namecheap also helps keep your personal contact details secure by offering free WhoisGuard privacy protection for domains where available – this is unique in the industry as almost every other registrar charges extra for whois privacy. Interesting in selling your domains you don’t use? Namecheap also has their own domain marketplace for buying and selling domains.
If you’re new to blogging WordPress.com can be a great place to start out. Not only do they have a free plan, but the support is incredible, and you don’t have to worry about the hosting issues typical with a self-hosted WordPress site, like security, backups, etc.
Best of all, since the software is still WordPress, when your blog grows up and you want to move to a self-hosted WordPress setup, the move is super easy since there’s no compatibility issues. We’ve already written about why WordPress.com is a good choice for starting a new blog for blogger newbies.
GreenGeeks web hosting is another top choice for us. Again, great value here with their fast servers, cPanel tools, and great support – with the added benefit of a commitment to the environment by offsetting their carbon footprint through investments in renewable energy, helping your blog or site “carbon-reduce” its footprint.
Another good reason for going with GreenGeeks, you can pay monthly – a rarity in this industry, and easing the burden on your wallet, especially if you’re not sure about this whole “blogging thing” if you’re just starting out.
Ever since the pipdig debacle we’ve been looking for an alternative fashion/beauty/lifestyle theme developer we would feel comfortable recommending as a suitable replacement. Well, we’ve found them! Bluchic themes have similar styling, ease of use, speed, up-to-date coding, support, and features that work great for new and seasoned bloggers in the fashion, beauty, and lifestyle blogging niche. The themes are easy to setup even for new WordPress bloggers, and don’t have any complex interfaces or onerous options pages, so you can get your blog up and running quickly and continue doing what you do best – creating great content that drives traffic!
One of our favorite developers is Elegant Themes – the makers of the famous Divi theme and page builder plugin, among other things. The Divi page builder plugin is bundled with some of their themes, like Divi for example, and others, including Extra – the theme we run here at Blogger2WP.com.
Elegant Themes offers their portfolio of themes and plugins for one annual subscription fee, making it possible to download and test all of their themes and plugins without having to pay for each one. In addition to that, if you’re a designer or freelancer, you can install any of their themes and plugins on your clients’ sites using your license key to ensure your clients also get the latest updates – though support will have to come through you. And we can’t say enough about the continuous development, new templates, and constant how-to articles Elegant Themes is constantly releasing.
WordPress Email Marketing
Bloom is an email opt-in and lead generation plugin from Elegant Themes, the makers of our favorite and the famous Divi theme and page builder plugin.
Bloom takes the process of creating opt-in forms super-easy – yet highly customizable and effective, with various options for form placement. Bloom includes a ton of templates too, making getting an opt-in form up and running a trivial task.
Connecting Bloom to your mailing list is also very easy to do, and it supports all of the major email integrations like MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, Mail Poet, Infusion Soft, Hubspot, and many others. Best of all, if you’re already an Elegant Themes subscriber, Bloom is already included in your subscription, so you can download it without having to pay anything extra.
MailChimp is likely one of the most popular email marketing services out there. We like MailChimp because you can start your list for free, up to 2,000 email subscribers before having to decide wether to upgrade or not, and up to 12,000 emails sent per month. Let’s face it, you’re not going to hit those numbers when you’re starting out. Plus, by the time you get to those numbers, you’re probably generating enough revenue from your blog to justify paying for the service at that point.
The limit also forces you to take a closer look at your email list and keep it focused to signups that matter. There’s no point in having or paying for a large and bulky list that doesn’t convert. Remember, having a 2,000 email list that converts 10% is a lot cheaper than a 10,000 email list that converts at 2% 😉
Speed Up / Optimize WordPress
When it comes to caching plugins, you simply cannot beat the power of WP Rocket. We’ve tried many different caching plugins available, and none have come even close to the results we’ve seen with WP Rocket. The plugin also integrates with other 3rd party services like Cloudflare and other CDN’s, and plays very nicely with SiteGround’s own SuperCacher plugin.
Compared to other caching plugins, it’s super easy and intuitive to setup, even for a novice WordPress user. And if you still get stuck, their tech support team is there to help! We’ve switched all of our sites to WP Rocket and still can’t believe the difference it makes.
We don’t like people to get too paranoid about site loading speed, but it is important to know where your bottle necks are and get an indication of how efficient your site is loading. The free service from GTMetrix does just that.
You can test your site loading speed with GTMetrix to see what your load times and page sizes are. Then you can dive in deep in the PageSpeed, YSlow, Waterfall, and Timings tabs to see where your major issues are and start looking how to improve. You can also sign up for a free account and get a weekly report to see how your site is doing over time.
The Imsanity plugin is a great alternative to other image optimization/resizing plugins available. We like Imsanity because unlike its competitors, it resizes and optimizes images as they are uploaded, keeping only the optimized images stored in your media library. This is critical because your hosting company usually has a drive space limit which can quickly get eaten up if you’re uploading high resolution images. Other optimization plugins save both the original large high resolution image AND the optimized image – great for page loading speed, but tough on your drive space limit and wallet if you’re forced to upgrade your hosting plan.
Imsanity solves this issue by keeping only the optimized image on the server.
Cloudflare is a CDN – or Content Delivery Network – service. It adds two main features for your site – it speeds up your site, and adds an extra level of security. From a speed perspective, Cloudflare caches your content on servers all across the world, ensuring your content is close to your site visitors so it loads faster, as well as taking a load off your own server. This is important as most shared hosting plans have a restriction on CPU usage, so as your site builds traffic, you’re forced to upgrade your plan to increase the server CPU usage limits. With Cloudflare, since your content is cached outside of your server, visitors to your site rarely touch your server, drastically reducing the CPU usage and your need for upgrading. Best of all, this works perfectly well on their free plan.
Useful WordPress Plugins
Jetpack is a plugin that’s really a whole bunch of plugins all in one. Jetpack includes features that cover everything from security, design, social sharing, marketing, and a whole lot more. Even the free version of the plugin includes all features of the plugin, and these features continue to expand on a monthly basis. The latest versions are now shipping with additional Gutenberg blocks to help you build your site and posts content.
Add a paid plan and get some cool features like Priority support (it’s like the WordPress.com support on a self-hosted WordPress site), access to premium themes for free, free backups and restores, site migration tools, and lots more!
Duplicate Post is another free plugin available from the WordPress.org repository that adds functionality not available in core WordPress – copying or duplicating posts!
And it’s not just posts, it can copy any post type, so that includes pages, products, or any other other custom post type created by your theme or another plugin. This helps avoid creating new pages or posts from scratch, helping you spend less time working on your blog or site.
TinyMCE Advanced plugin is a free highly recommended plugin if you’re looking to get your blog post formatting game on! This plugin adds significant new formatting styles and options to the default WordPress editor, giving you a ton more flexibility when creating posts and pages.
And better yet, the latest version is compatible with WordPress Gutenberg, and adds the formatting options you’re missing from the classic editor, plus a ton more. We personally love Gutenberg – the post writing workflow is so much better – and with TinyMCE Advanced it just got a whole lot better!
The Admin Taxonomy Filter plugin is one of those useful plugins that comes in handy when doing bulk edits on pages or posts. For example, your normal Posts page in wp-admin only allows you to filter by dates and categories. On a default WordPress installation, the plugin also lets you filter by tags, for example.
If you have additional taxonomies as well, like products, testimonials, etc, you can filter by those as well. Admin Taxonomy filter is nice and lightweight, and adds some basic functionality that’s missing from core WordPress.
Redirection is another useful plugin you may not need initially, but it’s essential if you’re going to be changing things like your permalink structure (please be careful doing that), or even something as simple as changing a post or page slug (permalink).
Redirection lets you add a redirect so that an old or no longer valid url can be safely redirected to a valid link, ensuring your site visitors don’t get a “404 Page not found error”, or worse yet, causing you to lose backlinks which are critical for maintaining your domain authority.
Contact Form 7 is probably one of the easiest contact form plugins to use on your site. We like how easy it is to setup and add a form, and we can usually add a basic form in less than a minute.
After installing the plugin, a basic form is already included with the plugin by default. Simply copy the shortcode, and paste it into your contact page. It doesn’t get any easier. With other form plugins the process of creating a form and making all the connections can get in the way of getting your site setup quickly, and not something you need to be messing with when you should be creating content. Contact Form 7 is not short on features either, and has the flexibility to hang in there with the other contact form builder plugins.
Insert Headers and Footers is by far one of the most useful and lightweight plugins for adding code that’s required for some integrations. I can’t see not having this plugin installed on a site. Think Google Analytics tracking code, Facebook pixel code, or any other code where you’re asked to include a snippet in your sites header.
There’s no need for a child theme and custom page templates or to modify your theme files (heaven forbid you actually do that – shame on you). The plugin automatically inserts the code for you and does it beautifully, no fuss, no hassle, and fast!
Regenerate Thumbnails is not a plugin you’ll use very often, but it’s a must use plugin whenever you change themes.
You may not know this, but WordPress creates multiple sizes of every image you upload to your media library. Besides the default images sizes, your theme may also call for other image sizes as well, and these are all created when you upload the image. If you change your theme, the new theme may require different image sizes than was created by the old theme, and is a common cause of pixelated images when changing themes.
No worries though, install this free plugin and run it once! It will recreate all the image sizes for already uploaded images in your Media library your theme is calling for. No more pixelated images! Yay!
The Code Snippets plugin is great way to add extra code snippets to your theme without having to modify your theme files.
Usually, adding a bit of extra code to your functions.php file would require a child theme to avoid losing any changes you make in the theme’s main files when an update for your theme gets pushed. With the Code Snippets plugin there’s no need to go through the hassle of creating and installing a child theme. You can create as many snippets as you need, and in assign them to run in various areas, like everywhere, just on the front-end, or even just a run once! The plugin is a great tool if you only have a few snippets to add.
The WP Mail SMTP plugin is a great way to ensure emails from your site get to their intended targets.
It’s not uncommon for the built in WordPress wp-mail() function to fail, causing your site to not send out email notifications when it should. This usually happens because most hosting companies’ servers and properly setup to send mail using php. This plugin fixes that issue that using SMTP and easily connects to common email providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.
Don’t miss another contact form email again!
Akismet is a free spam fighting service that protects your site from comment and contact form spam. Akismet already protects millions of websites, is designed by the folks at WordPress.com and protects all of their user’s sites already.
For blogs and non-commercial sites, Akismet is free to install and works on your site without any additional settings, plus it’s one of the most effective anti-spam plugins available.
When it comes to SEO and ranking, there’s no more important tool than Google Search Console.
Track your ranking, which keywords are getting you traffic, check for any sitemap errors, crawl-ability issues on desktop or mobile, manual actions against your site, and so on.
If you’re not using Google Search Console, you’re not serious about increase your organic traffic – the holy grail of traffic! Oh yeah – it’s free!
When it comes to SEO, there’s no better tool than Yoast in our opinion. Yes, you’ll hear arguments from others promoting other SEO plugins, but none have the following or developer backing like Yoast to stay on top of Google’s ever changing ranking requirements.
Yoast, or any other SEO plugin for that matter, is not automatically going to help you rank higher in search results. However, Yoast does give you the tools and documentation to help you get there, more than any other SEO plugin out there. We Yoast on all our sites, and would never consider using anything else.
SEMrush is without a doubt the best all in one SEO toolkit money can buy. While the pricing may be a bit steep if you’re new to blogging, give the free trial a go to see what amazing insights you can find out not only about your own site, but your competitors as well
SEMrush covers everything from technical SEO audits of your site, SERP rank tracking, suggestions for increasing your organic traffic, backlink audits, competition analysis, social media analysis, and so much more!
Having an AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) compatible blog or site can help increase your organic traffic as Google gives AMP pages higher ranking in search results on mobile devices. AMP compatible themes are still rare, but you can still make your site AMP compatible using the official AMP plugin.
While there are several configurable settings available in the plugin’s settings page, our recommendation is to leave the default Reader mode set (formerly called Classic). This setting ensures your site is 100% AMP compatible, without any hassles.
Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP is a basic plugin designed to ensure your AMP pages are still SEO optimized, helping to further increase your mobile search ranking on Google.
The plugin also includes some basic AMP page styling features you can use to help customize your AMP pages styling.
Let’s face it, you’re probably not blogging just for the sake of blogging – it’s no secret you’re in to earn some money through affiliate links too – we do it 😉
Thirsty Affiliates is a plugin that helps mask those those ugly super long affiliate links with a simpler and eye pleasing link using your site’s own url, and it can also automatically add the no_follow attribute and target=”_blank” (open in a new tab) to your links. Add to that it includes a link finder directly in the editor (both classic and Gutenberg) making it super easy to add affiliate links to your content as you go. The premium version of the plugin also includes auto-linking, geolocation, Google analytics integration, detailed reporting, link checkers, Amazon link importing, auto-display affiliate disclaimer, and a whole lot more!
Skimlinks is a great way to monetize your blog if you write about products or product reviews. What makes Skimlinks unique is it automatically adds affiliate links to your content, even previous posts and pages, so you can earn revenue from multiple different vendors without having to sign up for each one’s affiliate program. Skimlinks takes care of all that for you. All you need to do is add some code to your site, and Skimlinks takes care of the rest.
This works great if you have an existing blog with lots of content already, or if you’re just starting out as it makes it easy to monetize your site without having to worry about adding individual links on every page or post.
If you’re looking to sell products on your blog or website, look no further than the free and incredibly supported WooCommerce plugin. Whether you’re selling physical products, downloadable products – like pdf files, ebooks, etc., or virtual products like services, WooCommerce does it all. Plus, you can accept credit cards and many other payment forms right on your site using different extensions. Set your tax rates, shipping options, volume discounts, add coupons, whatever you want – it’s all there.
Installing WooCommerce also automatically ads your Shop page, Cart page and Checkout pages, and an account page for your shoppers. WooCommerce will also work with all themes, even if the theme doesn’t specifically declare compatibility. Oh yeah, did we already mention the base plugin is free!!
AdRotate and AdRotate Pro is a plugin that helps you manage various different ads programs conveniently, let’s you rotate which ads show, keeps track of your best performing ads, and even lets you show ads based on location using their Geo targeting options.
AdRotate uses a shortcode based system allowing you to insert ads anywhere on your site as ad groups, then you control what ads are shown in those locations. You can also set what ads show based on what device the user is on, schedule ads to start and stop (for limited time promotions for example), and allows you to the flexibility to display ads from different ads partners all in the same locations.
If you’re new to WordPress it can be difficult to find out how to do things. Yes, there’s lots of Youtube videos out there, plus other sites that show up in search results, and these can help you learn WordPress. But most are outdated and no longer relevant, or simply just wrong! This is where WP101 comes in.
To get the most from your WordPress blog, we highly recommend signing up for WP101’s WordPress tutorials. Honestly, you will save yourself, hours, weeks, or even months of headaches from not using WordPress to its fullest potential. The WP101 courses are up to date, easy to follow, and will let you maximum your time by showing you how to properly use WordPress from the start, so you can concentrate what matters in blogging, content!
Other Tools & Services
Canva is a favorite tool of many bloggers for creating outstanding graphics for your site and your social media accounts.
Canva includes templates for the common social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc, all set with the correct image sizes and aspect ratios so you don’t need to worry about it. Plus, Canva is packed with stock image content, vector graphics, fonts, etc., so you’ll never run out of ideas and content to create. Oh yeah, and it’s free!
Google Analytics, next to Google Search Console, is equally important when it comes to understanding how visitors to your site or blog use your site.
Not only will you be able to see how many visitors you get, but you’ll be able to see where they’re coming from, what pages they land on, what pages they visit when they get to your site, how long they stay on your site, and a ton of other data to help you understand your traffic.
You can then use that information to help optimize for example what social channels you should be promoting, and what you need to do to help increase your traffic.
Google Analytics should be the very first thing you setup on your site or blog, period.
Blogarama is one of the oldest blog directories on the internet and can help drive traffic to your blog.
Don’t expect miracles here, but when you’re starting out and trying to build traffic, Blogarama can bring in some much needed referral traffic to help with your SEO building strategy. Most blogs can use the free plan, but the paid business plans have some great benefits like additional traffic and keeping your indexed posts more relevant and higher up in the listings.
G Suite is a premium tool, but getting professional tools for your growing blog is neeeded to if you’re going to run with the big dogs.
Besides professional email that gets delivered! You’ll have – just for your blog/site/business – Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and much more. Now you get to separate your personal life from your blog life!
Writing blog posts and maintaining your blog is a lot of work, add to that the constant social media marketing you need to do to keep driving traffic to your blog, and you quickly get overwhelmed with how much work there is to do. That’ where Tailwind comes in.
Besides being just an automated scheduler for your Pinterest and Twitter posts, Tailwind helps you to grow your Twitter and Pinterest followers by including indispensible analytics to help you know when and how to schedule your posts