Here is a list of free and premium products I use for my online businesses spread across our network of websites including this blog.
Freedom: An absolute must have app if you get distracted too soon and feel your productivity is going down. This app was first recommended by my favorite writer/guru Seth Godin. In a single click, Freedom helps you block set of distracting social media sites, news sites from all your devices including laptops, mobiles, tablets. It is available for Mac, Windows, iPhone, Android systems. It has several advanced features, where you can schedule you non-distracting hours and the app will wake-up automatically in the background.
This is a perfect compliment to RescueTime which helps me keep track of my online activities and shows me how much time I wasted in a given week.
Product Launch Formula: This is a training course by Jeff Walker. It has helped me immensely on how to launch and conduct my online business. Even if you don’t pay-up to join his training course, I would suggest you to check the free videos he provide. It will open up your mind for several possibilities.
Google Apps for Work: If you are looking for a custom email like (email@example.com), you can never go wrong with Google Apps for Work. With this service, you get the same features and same level of spam prevention that you get with a regular gmail account and a huge plus that you have a professional looking email address. [I will write a detailed account why one should never conduct his business through regular gmail address]
Uptime Robot: Checks our websites at regular intervals for uptime. Notifies us instantly as soon as the website goes down. It is a must have for all website owners. Its free offering is pretty relaxed.
Hostgator: In my 10 years of experience I have found this to be most robust web hosting. Check my experience.
Around mid 2014, they were acquired by EIG and the support level has definitely gone down but the core services still work fine for me. I can say this with confidence, for a properly optimized wordpress site, Hostgator’s shared hosting can support a million page views a month.
BackUpBuddy Gold: With BackUpBuddy Gold you get a lifetime license from iThemes to securely backup websites on your own cloud space provider account. We use a combination of Amazon S3 and DropBox to store the backup of our sites.
Sucuri: We secure all our websites using Sucuri services. There server side scanning keeps a tab on all files stored on our server and promptly notifies us , in case it sees any abrupt file change.
MaxCDN: CDN stands for Content Delivery Network, here’s my detailed review of MaxCDN. In a nutshell, CDN is what you use when you wish to speed up your website and you have people viewing your website from all over the world.
MaxCDN services and support is par-excellence.
My Social Suite: Manage all Social Networks from a single place.
Elegant Themes/StudioPress/Thesis Theme: I used Thesis Theme till their last version (1.8.x) and recommended them to friends and site visitors. If my memory serves right, they were the guys who revolutionized premium WordPress theme market. I don’t really know what bug bit its founder in 2010. He went into an ugly spat with WordPress cofounder Matt Mullenweg, broke his long relationship with Brian Clark and to make it worse came out with Thesis Theme 2.x. The latest version made Thesis theme just the opposite of what earlier version was famous for. Even a simple thing such as having an opt-in form for a particular autoresponder service like Aweber, you now need a box to be downloaded. His forums are inundated with support requests even for these simple features. Ok, more on the rant later but I hope you get the drift. I no longer recommend Thesis Theme now – hence no link.
As of 2016, I recommend themes from two companies. Elegant Themes and StudioPress.
Elegant Themes: They have taken the premium WordPress theme market to a different level altogether. They have a knack for producing beautiful looking themes. Just visit any of their demo themes to get an idea. If you are aiming for beautiful themes on photography/travel/food niche or offline businesses wanting to have an online presence , go for Elegant Themes. You can never go wrong with them.
StudioPress: If you are looking for themes from pure blogging perspective and you churn-up lots of content on a regular basis and wanted to be sure that your themes are well SEO optimized, having proper schema markup, well implemented pagination go for StudioPress. Tech bloggers love their themes. Having said that, you should note, there is a bit of learning curve with them if you wish to customize the child themes.
Note 1: After thoroughly testing a product, if I find a product good for my needs, I try to go for lifetime deals – wherever offered.
I am a lifetime customer of BackUpBuddy, Elegant themes and StudioPress from the list above.
Note 2: Products listed above are a mix of free and premium products. I only link to products which I use personally or I have tested them thoroughly in the past. In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that for some of the products listed above, I have an affiliate relationship with the product maker/service provider which means that I will be compensated if you choose to buy the product. However, your pricing won’t be affected at all.
Feel free to comment below, if you want me to cover any other category in your line of business.