HostGator is a popular web host for beginners. They have all the features you will need as a beginning blogger or small business website owner, and their prices are great.
Use the coupon code WPSprout25 to get 25% off your order with Hostgator.
If you anticipate some serious traffic, or if you are looking for additional features beyond what Hostgator offers, then I suggest you check out WPEngine.
WPEngine is a hosting company that pulls out all the stops when it comes to hosting WordPress powered websites. In fact, they only host WordPress websites. Every member of their tech support team is a WordPress expert.
If you’re just getting started and want to learn more about web hosting then check out our Beginner’s Guide to Web Hosting.
Namecheap may not have the same brand recognition as GoDaddy, but they are my domain registrar of choice.
An added bonus is that they provide free privacy protection…that’s something you don’t get with most domain registrars.
If the process of choosing and buying a domain name is new to you, then start with our Beginner’s Guide to Choosing & Registering a Domain Name.
I use the Genesis framework by StudioPress for most of my sites, and I often suggest it to clients as well. Genesis is a search engine optimized theme framework with clean code and a large selection of designs (child themes) to choose from.
Genesis is what is referred to as a theme framework. The core code of the framework provides the base functionality. To achieve the desired design – the look of the site – you then apply a child theme to the framework. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry…it is really pretty basic. Genesis + Child Theme = Killer Website.
Genesis also has wonderful support through their online community, and for beginners they have a getting started guide that is invaluable. Download the guide and you’ll see that they take education and support very seriously.
Elegant Themes lives up to it’s name. They create beautiful looking themes.
They offer a lot more than just great design though. Elegant Themes are very user friendly for beginners.
Plus, at $39 for access to all of their themes, Elegant Themes is arguably the best value of any premium WordPress product.
WooThemes has some great looking themes. They also have some robust themes if you are looking for specific features such as e-commerce.
Thesis, like Genesis, is a very powerful WordPress theme framework. Developers and bloggers alike flocked to Thesis when it was released and it remains a very popular choice. While I am partial to Genesis, Thesis remains a valid option.
The number one reason to choose Thesis, in my opinion, is because one of the best child themes I’ve ever seen is only available as a Thesis “skin.” The theme is Marketers Delight 3 by Alex Mangini of Kolakube.com. This is the theme I’m using for this site.
Beginner’s beware though. Thesis 2.0 is a radical departure from previous versions of Thesis. Thesis 2.0 has some great features, but it can be downright confounding if you aren’t technically savvy.
There are way too many great WordPress plugins for me to list them all here, but I will use this space for the best of the best.
Akismet comes with default WordPress installs so there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with it. It is a must have comment spam protection plugin.
Full site backup solution. Unlike some other backup plugins Backup Buddy backs up all components of your site, from the database to the theme. Why take any risks when it comes to losing your site?
The first of two plugins by Yoast that make this list. This plugin not only provides Google analytics functionality, but it provides enhanced analytics tools that aren’t available with any other plugin.
Killer form plugin. I use Gravity forms for everything from simple contact forms to complex multi-page forms with conditional formatting. Contact Form 7 is a good free alternative for basic forms if you aren’t ready to purchase Gravity Forms.
Landing page software from the good folks at Copyblogger Media. You can see it in action throughout this site. I use it for sales pages like my Free WordPress Installation service, as well as for content pages.
The latest release of Premise completely blew me away. Now, in addition to amazing landing page software with copywriting tutorials it also contains a full featured suite of membership site tools. This allows you to drip content over time, place certain items behind a paid wall, and much more.
Another plugin from Copyblogger Media. This one is an SEO plugin. Scribe analyzes your content and provides helpful tips to ensure that each page/post is fully optimized for your target keywords.
Another SEO plugin, and the second plugin from Yoast to make this list. Yoast’s SEO plugin is hands down the best free SEO plugin on the market. Install it. Now. Seriously.
Fast loading sites are good for your users and there is evidence that they are also good for SEO. WP Super Cache speeds up WordPress websites by creating static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress web pages.
WordPress Websites & Services
I love this service. ManageWP is a service that allows you to access multiple WordPress sites from a single dashboard. Even if you only have one site ManageWP has enough features to make it worth the monthly fee. Features include full backups, keyword ranking reports, up-time monitoring, and a lot more.
The ManageWP blog is also one of the best out there.
This is where all the magic happens. Download WordPress, browse the support forums, browse themes, plugins, and much more on the official WordPress website.
If you want to stay up to date on WordPress news then there is no better place than WPCandy. They do a phenomenal job of breaking WordPress news, in addition to providing valuable tips and tutorials.
Corbett Bar’s course in creating a meaningful and profitable blog. Highly recommended, both to new and experienced bloggers.
Visit How to Start a Blog that Matters to learn more.
I’m a firm believer in content marketing. There’s no better place to learn great content marketing strategies than Copyblogger. If you aren’t already a reader then start with the Copyblogger Tutorials and sign up for their 20 part marketing course.
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