My Best Recommendations

by Kelsey Clubb — Updated: August 15, 2019

Since I started blogging two years ago, I’ve wasted a lot of time and money on products that were frequently recommended to new bloggers, but ended up hindering my site (especially with regard to hosting and WordPress themes).

As a result, I’ve done an exhaustive search to find the absolute best tools for starting a WordPress website and quickly growing a profitable blog, and I want to share my list with you.

I keep this list up-to-date when new or better products arrive and I personally use all of these products on each of the five websites I’ve created.

Note: If you use a link below to make a purchase, I may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more about affiliate links

Namecheap

Best Domain Name Registrar

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Namecheap is the best company to buy your domain name from.

I do not recommend buying your domain from the same company that you buy hosting from because you will usually pay more and, if you decide to switch hosting companies at some point in the future, you might have a hard time transferring your domain.

Namecheap has nearly the lowest prices for domains and renewals, and they offer free WHOIS Guard for life, which prevents your home address from being displayed publicly to anyone who knows how to easily look up your domain.

I own 14 domains and I use Namecheap to renew and manage all of them.

Kinsta

Best WordPress Web Hosting

Kinsta is the best company to host your WordPress website.

It is on the more expensive side, especially for a brand new website with no traffic, but you get what you pay for and, if you are treating your blog like a business, hosting is one thing you do not want to go cheap on.

Don’t be fooled by the cheap hosts (like Bluehost) that almost every other blogger recommends (but doesn’t actually use), and definitely don’t buy a multi-year plan (like I did with HostGator 😢).

Your host will directly affect the frontend of your site, especially how fast your website loads for your visitors. It also determines if your site can handle a large traffic spike (for example, if a post goes viral) or if your site becomes inaccessible and you lose out on traffic and subsequent money.

Your host will also affect the backend of your site, such as how fast your WordPress Admin loads when you’re writing a new post or customizing your design, and how many extra WordPress plugins you’ll need for security, backups, and caching (hint: with Kinsta you won’t need any of those plugins!).

I have five WordPress websites and I use Kinsta to host all of them. If your budget allows, Kinsta is my #1 recommended product for a profitable blog.

SiteGround

Best Cheap WordPress Web Hosting

SiteGround

SiteGround is the best cheap WordPress hosting provider.

If you’re just getting started and you can’t afford Kinsta, SiteGround is my recommendation.

Astra

Best and Fastest WordPress Theme

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Astra is easily the best and fastest WordPress theme.

It’s super lightweight and the free version pairs perfectly with Elementor.

It’s also the best theme if you ever want to use WooCommerce. If so, I highly recommend upgrading to Astra Pro to take advantage of infinite scrolling product lists and off-canvas sidebars (for filtering products on mobile)

I have five WordPress websites and I use Astra or Astra Pro on all of them.

Elementor

Best WordPress Page Builder

Elementor is easily the best WordPress page builder.

The free version has 2+ million active installations and 3,300+ 5-star reviews.

Before I learned about Elementor, I bought four different premium themes from ThemeForest. Each of them had a feature I really liked, but was limiting in other ways. I was also very new to blogging and didn’t realize how slowly these bloated themes made my site load.

The best thing about Elementor is you can design your site the way you want and you don’t have to know how to code.

The free version of Elementor will get you far, but I highly recommend upgrading to Elementor Pro to be able to integrate your opt-in forms with ConvertKit and to save tons of time with templates and global widgets.

I have five WordPress websites and I use Elementor Pro on all of them.

Best Legal Pages Templates

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Legal Bundle is easily the best legal pages templates for bloggers.

Every website needs three vitally important pages to comply with the law (especially if you want to make money with your blog): (1) Privacy Policy, (2) Disclaimer, and (3) Terms and Conditions.

And, to comply with the law, you should not copy someone else’s legal pages without their permission.

This legal bundle was written by an experienced lawyer and, maybe even more importantly, it’s what she actually uses on her own blog.

A major reason I purchased the Legal Bundle was for the wording about requiring mediation first and the mediation having to be held in the same state that I live in. This statement alone is worth the cost of the bundle to me.

I have five WordPress websites and I use these legal bundle templates on each of them. If your budget allows, I highly recommend you do, too.

ConvertKit

Best Email Marketing Software

ConvertKit is the best email marketing software for bloggers.

It is on the more expensive side, especially for a brand new website with no traffic, but if you are treating your blog like a business, you will want to start collecting emails at some point (the earlier, the better).

One of the reasons I use ConvertKit is that their main focus is to get your emails delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes. That might sound obvious, but just because you send a broadcast email to your newsletter subscribers doesn’t mean it won’t get filtered to their spam folder.

Another major reason I use ConvertKit is because they let me use their physical address for free in my emails. As a solopreneur who works from home and values her privacy, this lets me comply with the law and saves me the time, money, and stress of having to rent a P.O. Box.

I have five WordPress websites and I use one ConvertKit account to manage my email marketing for each of them. If your budget allows, ConvertKit is my #2 recommended product for a profitable blog.

G Suite

Best Custom Email Provider

G Suite is the best way to get and manage a professional email for your domain (you@yourdomain.com).
It’s yet another monthly recurring cost, but if you already use and love Gmail for your personal email, I’m betting you’ll love G Suite for your business email.

I have five websites and I use G Suite to create my custom domain email on each of them.

Optimole

Best WordPress Image Optimizer

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Optimole is the best image optimizer plugin for WordPress.

It is extremely easy to set up and then it just works automatically behind-the-scenes after that.

It also has a free plan that you can try out forever until you reach the quotas or get (even more) serious about how fast your site loads.

I love that it can create and serve WebP and Retina images automatically and the optimized images are stored and served from a fast CDN.

Another major reason I use Optimole is because it’s the only reasonably-priced image optimization plugin that can automatically serve retina images without the help of another plugin (and I only have to upload one image size).

I have five WordPress websites and I use one paid Optimole account to serve and optimize my images for each of them. If your budget allows, I highly recommend upgrading to a paid plan so your images will load even faster across the world.

WP Rocket

Best WordPress Performance Plugin

WP Rocket is the best WordPress performance plugin.

If you want to score a perfect 100 in Google PageSpeed for both mobile and desktop, this is a must-have plugin.

It can generate critical CSS and eliminate render-blocking resources and it is one of the main reasons my websites load in only one second on mobile.

I have five WordPress websites and I use WP Rocket to speed up all of them.

Perfmatters

Best WordPress Script Manager

Perfmatters is the best script manager plugin for WordPress.

All WordPress themes, page builders, and plugins have associated scripts (CSS and JS) that help them run. But it’s not always necessary to load every script on each page of your website.

Perfmatters lets you disable scripts from being loaded on individual pages and posts, and this can significantly reduce the time it takes your website to load.

I have five WordPress websites and I use Perfmatters to speed up all of them.

Canva

Best Graphic Design Tool for Bloggers

Canva is easily the best way to create images, opt-in freebies, and eBooks.

You can even probably get away with a free account, unless you need to upload a custom font.

I use Canva to create most of the graphics on all 5 of my websites.

Social Snap

Best Social Sharing Plugin for WordPress

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Social Snap is the best social sharing plugin for WordPress.

I used to use Social Warfare, but it had several major issues recently and I came across Social Snap and really liked the look of the buttons.

Social Snap has all of the features I liked about Social Warfare and then some. Especially being able to customize the title, description, and image for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest on a per post basis.

CoSchedule

Best Content Scheduler and Social Media Scheduler

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CoSchedule is easily the best way to schedule your content and social media.

With CoSchedule, you can schedule individual posts to be published at a later date (like while you’re on vacation).

You can also schedule social media posts (with specific titles, descriptions, and images) to be automatically published on a specific number of days after your post goes live.

Another feature I like is being able to create and save to-do checklist templates and apply them to each post.

KWFinder by Mangools

Best Keyword Research Tool

KWFinder is the best keyword research tool.

Keyword research is crucial for getting organic traffic from Google Search.

KWFinder has a beautiful user interface that provides historical search volume and keyword difficulty as well as related keywords.

Teachable

Best Online Course Platform

Teachable is easily the best online course platform.

Affiliate Marketing is a great way to start making money online, but creating and selling your own online course is often even more profitable once you have an engaged audience.

Teachable provides unlimited courses, students, hosting, and videos. It also handles taking payments and you can even set up your own affiliate program for people who take your courses.

I have two WordPress websites that I use Teachable to create and manage online courses for. If you’re ready to sell an online course, Teachable is my #3 recommended product for a profitable blog.

Want more?

There is one additional product I use to make my site load lightening fast, but I don’t want to give away my biggest secret to just anyone 😉