Making a website isn’t easy! Here’s how I do it. (This page contains my affiliate links to the services and software I use.)
Please note—this is a page in-progress. I use a lot of robots to make the magic happen, and I’m totally going to share them all with you! If you’re looking for something in particular, leave me a note! I probably have a recommendation.
Also ps- that’s not me in that header photo. It’s some Stock Lady on her Macbook. Thanks Stock Lady!
The first thing you need is a webhost. This website is hosted by Flywheel. I also have an account with Dreamhost. I’m an affiliate for both, but I strongly, strongly recommend Flywheel for managed WordPress hosting. They’re a dream to work with, the support is awesome, the site is fast, and they have great features like free site migrations, daily backups with one-click restore, and free staging sites (so you can build your site and then make it go live — or change your theme and redesign your site on staging before pushing it to your live site). The admin is also dead easy. No more crazy cpanel or a thousand options to fudge up. It’s just WordPress hosting designed for WordPress.
With all that ranting and raving about Flywheel, you may wonder why I also have a shared hosting account on Dreamhost? Well, I have a few project sites that aren’t worth the expense of managed hosting (yet!). And I think Dreamhost is just fine for that.
Mel recommends: Namecheap
In a word, they’re awesome. Good price. Great features. Excellent support. The admin/dashboard is easy and intuitive to navigate. I’ve been super happy with them since I moved all my domain registration away from Dreamhost in 2015.
Mel recommends: Google Apps
Look, it’s 2016. You should just submit to your Googley overlords. It’s $5/month and it’s arguably the most reliable and useful email on earth. I use Gmail with Streak CRM to manage my inbox—which is always Zero.
This one is tricky. I worked at The Theme Foundry for 18 months and during that time, used their themes exclusively. They do good stuff. For this site, I’ve chosen a Genesis child theme, designed specifically for the kind of blogging I do. I don’t have any hard recommendations on WordPress themes, just buy something from a reputable developer (one that’s been around for a few years and has an actual site, rather than a Theme Forest storefront). I also recommend you do a quick google search for support reviews—especially if you’re not able to tweak/work with your theme yourself.
or How the Magic is Made
This site uses plugins to work. I’m not afraid of plugins, and neither should you be. Just make sure that the plugins you install—just like the themes you select—are built by reputable developers and keep them all updated. Here are my favorites:
Ultimate Book Blogger, along with basically anything else Ashley codes, is the ultimate for managing book reviews through WordPress. While setup is somewhat complicated (by that I mean it’s more than just activate and go), Ashley’s created awesome documentation and tutorials to walk you through each step. I’ve been super pleased with the plugin since I purchased it originally, and now use it on multiple sites. A+++
Gravity Forms isn’t the only contender, but it’s one of the biggest and most supported form plugins around, and it happens to be the one I chose when I first started building WordPress sites. I find it so useful, I continue to pay for a Developer license, though I’m not even freelancing anymore.
I adore the team at Postmatic. Super smart, friendly, and fun folks to hang out with. I use Postmatic so you can subscribe to comments via email (but mostly so I can reply to your comments via email—MAGICAL TIME SAVER). I also use the social login plugin, and Epoch to make comments faster and better. A+++