- Who to host with
- Who to buy a domain name from
- What email marketing company to use
- What theme to use
- How to speed up your website
- What should I use if I’ve been hacked
- What booking plugin works well?
How did I pick these companies?
Mostly through experience with over 50 different clients since 2013. I’ve had the chance to try many different options.
See if there is a Facebook user group for the product and join it. (sometimes they only let people join who have bought the product). Then read some of the messages posted in the group – that’s where you’ll get the best feel for what people really think. Be wary if you see “support haven’t answered me so I’m asking here” and “I’ve switched to another product”. In fact try searching for these kinds of posts.
Who to host with?
I have had experience with various hosting providers throughout the years, as many clients I work with have been with different hosts. Additionally, I have also switched my own hosting arrangements multiple times.
Chemicloud has great reviews from some top players in the hosting review sector. It is an excellent price even for their top tier of shared hosting so a really great buy. You’ll get the best speed results for your site using their Turbo hosting tier, but you should still see an improvement if you go for the middle tier Pro plan. Whatever you choose you’ll get free SSL certificates, free migration of site, free lightspeed cache (one of the best caching plugins around), free CDN and free daily backups. You are unlikely to find anything as good as this for the price they are selling at. Oh and their support is good too!
Currently I have my own sites hosted with Cloudways. I like them as they are fast, and I have been able to move sites there really easily without fuss. There are some great video tutorials on how to do this available. BUT – this is not a host for a novice. You are basically in charge of the server, so it’s better if you have some technical knowledge. That said support have been excellent when I’ve needed it. It has increased in price since I joined and I’m considering moving away from them. One key point to note is they don’t offer email for free, so you need another email set up or to pay for theirs (approx $1 per email address per month).
Who to buy a domain from?
Cloudflare. Why – because they sell them at cost. You might get an initial good price from the likes of GoDaddy, but then when it comes to renewal the price often goes up exponentially. I think Cloudflare are great and easy to manage.
If you’re facing a large domain renewal bill you can also transfer your domain names to Cloudflare and pay cost price. Why would Cloudflare do this? They make their money elsewhere, and this is like their loss leader.
What email marketing program should I use?
I’ve used them all! And Convertkit is hands down the best option. It’s very simple to get started – although you do need them to approve you and check you’re not going to upload a whole lot of email addresses you have bought.
Once you’re approved they have a nice brand kit section you can set up. And then lots of templates you can customise to get started with. Funnels and automations are really helpful and do require the Creator tier pricing but if you only have one optin to start with you can use the free tier for that.
What theme to use?
Well my choice is contentious…but I love DIVI by Elegant Themes.
Divi is a bit like marmite, some people love it and some people don’t. Incidentally I love both!
Some of the reasons people warn against Divi simply aren’t true any more. And in my view, many of the benefits outweigh the few potential negatives.
Divi lets you create any design you can imagine. And then if you change your mind about a color or font, it’s a quick change in the options to create a whole new look across the site.
But most importantly Elegant themes listen and rebuild and rebuild Divi, and they keep working on the product. If you have a lifetime licence, this is fab because you keep all the benefits of this without paying a penny more.
If you choose to work with me and take up a maintenance plan then you can get Divi for free. If you decide to do your own maintenance, then you’ll need to grab your own divi licence to keep your site updated.
How to speed up your site?
FlyingPress is the best!
I love the story behind FlyingPress. And it consistently gets great reviews from top web speed commentators.
It requires a bit of patience to set up – but it seems to deal with all of Google’s rules more readily than other options. You can read more about it on my FlyingPress post.
What should I use if I’ve been hacked?
Yikes – heart sinking into your stomach? Don’t worry, Malcare are experts at hack cleaning. You pay a pretty modest fee and also get protected for the whole year which can help stop the pesky hackers coming back.
Why should I use them instead of asking you? Depending on the style of hack, I have been able to clean up some in the past. But Malcare are experts, it’s their main focus and they clean it faster than I can, and know where to look.
Obviously it’s preferable not to get hacked in the first place and I can help you get your site nice and secure to try and prevent hacks.
What booking plugin should I use?
WPAmelia is an easy to use booking system that should cover your booking plugin needs. You can read more about how I used WPAmelia for a client here.