The internet is overloaded with tools and resources for building a website, setting up an email list and everything else you need to do in order to build a web platform. We have taken the time to test them all and find the best ones out there.
Website – We use WordPress for every site we build. It is an extremely easy platform to setup a website and has a large array of plugins and customizable options.
- WordPress.com (hosted) – This is the easiest and most straightforward way to get a website up fast. You can signup for a free blog that has a lot of options, themes and plugins to choose from. For a small fee, you can use your own domain name (which I highly recommend) and unlock a great set of features. If you aren’t technically savvy at all, this is a great place to start. WordPress takes care of all of the hosting and upgrades. The downside is you can’t install any plugin you want or any theme you want. You have to use what they offer.
- WordPress.org (self-hosted) – This option of using WordPress gives you full control of your website. You can install any plugin you want and add any theme you want. If you feel comfortable at all setting up your own website, this is the option you want to use. Also, if you use the hosts we recommend, they make it extremely easy for you.
Hosting – If you choose to go with WordPress.com you can skip this section. However, if you want to setup your own website then you are going to need to get a host so you have a place to put your website online. There are hundreds of hosts out there and most of them are awful. Here are the two good ones:
- Page.ly – This is a fantastic host. They have stellar support and only host WordPress websites. They also manage all of the WordPress and plugin upgrades so you don’t have to do that stuff. You can also install any plugin or theme that you want. Also, if you are up for doing some coding yourself, they also offer FTP access. The downside is they are more expensive than other hosts (base package of $29.95/month), however if you have the funds it is well worth the investment.
- Dreamhost – The budget option. They start at just $9/month. They also offer good support and 1-click install for WordPress. However, it is not nearly as easy to set everything up yourself and you manage a lot of your own upgrades. If you go this option, plan on spending some time reading their tutorials and walkthroughs to make sure everything is setup correctly.
WordPress Themes – Once you have WordPress installed, you have to make it look right by adding a theme.
- Free – There is a huge number of free themes available and you can browse all of the good ones at the WordPress.org repository. This is a great place to start.
- Premium – There are a large number of premium themes out there that offer additional features, high end design and support. WooThemes, StudioPress, and Theme Forest are three great places to start.
Email Marketing – If you’ve made it this far in the course, you know you have to start an email list. The one and only service we recommend is MailChimp. They are easy to use, have great support, offer free service up to 2000 subscribers and are constantly innovating and adding new features.
Analytics – Once you get everything setup, you’re going to want to know what is going on. Who is visiting your site? Where are they coming from? How are people signing up for your mailing list? Here are the products we recommend:
- Google Analytics – The best web statistics service and it’s free. This will give you all of the information about how many people are coming to your site, where they are coming from, etc. This is a must-have.
- CrazyEgg – Where are people clicking on your website? This allows you to see what people are clicking on and how often they are doing it. I love this service because it helps me know what my visitors are doing.
- Chartbeat – This service is fantastic for real-time stats so you can see who is on your site right now, what pages they are looking at and where they came from. Also, it tracks your site to see if it goes down and will notify you when it does.
- Twitter Counter – A free service that allows you to track how many people are following you on Twitter and how fast your follower count is growing.
- Pagelever – A new service that allows you to track your Facebook page stats extremely easily. They offer way more options than the current Facebook statistics.
Ecommerce – Most authors and tribe leaders don’t have a huge amount of stuff to sell. You aren’t running an online store with 100s of products. However, you may want to put up the occasional e-book or audio file for sale. Ejunkie is a great service for this. While you do have to have some technical knowledge to set it up, they do a great job taking the really complicated stuff off your plate.
Social Media – How do you keep up with Twitter, Facebook and everything else you are doing in social media?
- TweetDeck – This service is free and has a ton of features including mobile apps, updating all platforms, etc. This is what I use personally.
- HootSuite – While this also has a free version, the paid version offers fantastic extras like analytics, integration with other platforms, etc.
- Wufoo – This is a service that makes it extremely easy to setup web forms. If you are running surveys, getting feedback, letting people signup for something, etc., Wufoo makes it extremely easy (and fun!) to add these features to your website. I have been using them for years.
- VaultPress – WordPress backup and security. I put this in here in case you already have a host and you don’t want to move. Page.ly (above) already provides all of this and costs the same as Dreamhost and this combined.