Hi. If this is the first time you've been to my website, I'm Don Osborne. I'm a blogger, membership site and conversion optimization guy. Nice to meet you.
I often get asked for suggestions on everything from hosting, to membership site plugin, to themes. I keep all of this updated on this page, and when I make a change, I explain that, too.
I have tested and personally used everything on this list on my own sites, as well as my clients' websites. These are well-tested and reliable tools (although they all have their quirks, so YMMV).
I hope you find this list useful! Enjoy!
About Your Website
There are a number of things I think about when it comes to my website, which I consider to be the core of my online business. Here's the list, and some brief notes about each topic.
Security -- No matter what kind of hosting you purchase, or what kind of Content Management System (CMS) you rely on, you want to keep the security of your website at the top of your mind. I'm currently using Sucuri to protect my sites.
Content Distribution Network -- If you have readership that spans the country, or goes beyond one country to several, then you want to think about a CDN. This improves your user experience because it speeds up your website. I won't go into the technical details here, but if you have a membership site, or a course that you're teaching, and if you have any content that requires a lot of bandwidth (think video), then you'll need a CDN.
Automated backups -- Another "must have." You need daily, automated backups of your site. It's an essential function for any business owner with a website at the center of the business. My website host handles this for me (see hosting).
Automated updates of software, themes, plugins, etc. -- The way most websites get hacked is through add-ons -- plugins or themes that are written by third parties who may not have the skills to write the most bullet-proof code. Updates are the solution here -- keep your site updated automatically. I'm currently looking for a good tool for this, and right now I'm updating my site by hand whenever there's a plugin that has a new release.
Third party shopping cart system -- When you take credit cards, you want a 3rd party handling this sensitive data. You don't want to be in the business of debugging, updating or fixing a cart system.
I'll write more as time permits, but in the meantime, here's the list of resources I'm currently relying on:
Hosting: wpengine.com -- By far the best solution for the price, because it comes with so much: Sucuri for free, a highly-optimized server platform specifically tuned to WordPress (nginx, memcache, no apache, page caching included server side, MaxCDN (best in class CDN)). Fantastic, 24/7 support (but you need to understand your WordPress / website vocabulary a bit, depending on the support person).
Webinar system -- GetResponse.com. They do a great job of integrating webinar with a CRM-like system.
Search engine / keyword tools -- SEMRush and Majestic.com
Plugins and themes: Thrive Themes. They are fantastic, and very marketing oriented. If you have the budget, get the "Agency" level membership and explore all their plugins and themes. The Content Builder plug-in is a lifesaver (I'm using it right now).
Shopping Cart -- Cloudnet360.com. Also goes by "Premium Webcart." This is a very feature-rich, powerful shopping cart + CRM. It's easier and less expensive than InfusionSoft. Mere mortals can understand and work with it. Yes it has its quirks, but you'll get used to them.
Best-in-class membership system / course creator -- WishList Member. This is a WordPress plugin that does a fantastic job of managing memberships, courses, or digital content delivery. They've been around forever and have very good support. Can't say enough good about them.