This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but the ones I feel have the most impact and use the most.
Some of the resources below are affiliate links, however I only endorse products I genuinely like and use myself.
And if you have a local HTML page that is not live, you can even upload the page to test it before launching. Thanks to Paul of Technically Easy for the recommendation.
Genesis Lifestyle Theme
This is the theme I’m using for all my WordPress sites now. I’ve been through dozens of themes over the years, and was a long-time Thesis fan.
However, after Thesis 2.0 launched in October 2012, I was planning to switch back. But after seeing how complicated it was to customize I looked elsewhere.
I had been using Genesis on another site and loved it so much, I decided to change this blog over to the same theme. You can watch me customize the Genesis Lifestyle Theme below…
Want to add a banner below your header? No problemo. Just paste your code in the box marked “After Header” and you’re good to go. Plugins like this really take away the intimidation that often comes with theme customizations.
I use this design tool if I need to create simple static HTML sites, but it can also be used to make your own WordPress theme.
This editor gives you maximum control over every element of your site — from the width of the site, header, columns to the colors, menu styles, fonts, shadow effects and so much more.
Watch my tutorial video below…
I was so happy when a subscriber introduced me to this free software. You can install WordPress on your Windows computer and design your site on your computer before publishing. Nothing like having a local testing platform!
Watch my video on InstantWP below…
Hexadecimal Color Tools
If you own a website, no doubt you’ve had to tinker with hex colors at least once.
They are the 3 or 6 digit codes that control the colors of various parts of your site (links, background colors, etc.) My tools will help you choose a hex color and even a color scheme if you wish.
This is a plugin by Copyblogger Media that allows you to setup landing pages in a snap. I used it to setup my WP Starter Tips landing page.
Notice the page is hosted on this blog, but has a completely different look. Without this plugin, you’d have to create the page manually or hope your theme has a blank template page that has the layout you desire.
Unlike many bloggers today, I’m not very reliant on automation, but when I do use it, HootSuite is my application of choice. It’s great for scheduling posts and finding other sites in your niche. I use the free version.
Simple Social Icons
I had the hardest time finding a social icon plugin that included the buttons I prefer to highlight and the style I desired.
Simple Social Icons is free, widget-based and you can change the colors (hover state too) of them very easily by changing the hex color codes.
It’s a very classy way to display links to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the other common social media sites.
This is one of the most popular email management systems online. Send one-off email broadcasts, blog broadcasts (automated mailouts of your new blog posts) or setup an autoresponder series.
The biggest regret I have about my business is not learning how to master email marketing earlier.
Everyone always says “The money’s in the list”, but that’s only true for people who learn how to make their lists convert… and that takes a lot of trial and error.
Be sure to read the following post with a simple email marketing strategy…
This is a great way to encourage more comments by offering incentives to your readers. For example, after so many comments, social shares, etc. your audience will be able to select which post they want to promote with their comment.
In other words, you can reward your readers for sharing your content. It’s really a genius idea and perfect for new bloggers looking to increase comments.
A notification bar is a great way to highlight sales, discounts, promotions or other must-read items on your WordPress site. Foobar is extremely flexible and even allows you to rotate multiple notifications and target them to different pages.
Max Blog Press Ninja
This is one of the fastest ways to instantly convert keywords on your pages into affiliate links.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to try one of these plugins because they are super convenient.
Easily assign multiple keywords to associate with the links and watch this plugin do its magic. It comes with tracking as well.