Now that my site is getting larger, yet before I add all of the eCommerce plugins and features, I’d like to mention what website tools: plugins, widgets, themes, etc. that I’m using. From this list, anyone can copy my steps and have a functioning website.
I bought my domain name, for one year, from WordPress. I paid around $20 USD for it. No complaints there.
Cost: $20 USD/yr
I host my content with BlueHost. Three years of basic service is about $40 USD. There are lots of places that offer discounts and coupons if you look for them. No real complaints other than the site is a little hard to navigate. I don’t have to do that often but the cPanel is a little slow and clunky.
Cost: $40 USD/3 yr
I’ve chosen to use a self hosted WordPress.org content manager. Definitely no complaints here, especially after the first week or two of using it.
Cost: $0 USD
I chose the Shopkeeper theme by getbowtied. It’s been easy to use, but there was a learning curve at the beginning, something that is probably true for any theme. The biggest headache is not knowing what will happen when you change a setting. It took some time to catch on to what would happen when you changed something. This is exceedingly frustrating when you are trying to get a certain look, rather than just adjusting something that’s already there.
It would be really helpful when you hover over a setting it would indicate how changes affected the theme. For instance, I fiddled for hours trying to figure out why my links were not showing up as underlined or a different color. Shopkeeper seems to think that they should follow the “main theme color” or something like that. That also influences button text colors, among other things. I don’t really want to edit them individually, a task that would prove futile at your next theme update. If you’re reading this, oh Shopkeeper admins, please provide some more clues in your theme tools or documentation.
Cost: $49 USD
Something I recently learned was to use a plugin for anything that doesn’t change the appearance of your theme. This keeps your site from breaking when your theme updates. Another tip I keep seeing out of the corner of my eye is to minimize the number of plugins that you have. They can also break your website.
- AddToAny Share Button by AddToAny v1.6.17 – I use this to add the social sharing buttons at the top of blog posts. This feature is also available in JetPack, but with less sharing options;
- Google Analytics for WordPress by praveenchauhan1984 v1.1 – This tool adds the Google Analytics tracking ID to every page. Much easier than hiding a meta tag;
- jetpack by WordPress.com by Automattic v4.0.3 – Useful for all kinds of website related tasks;
- Maintenance Mode by Muneeb v3.6 – I turn this on when making a major change to the site. It gives a nice “Under Construction” page. I think jetpack might be able to do this and I will look into it;
- MOJO Marketplace by Mike Hansen v0.8.2 – Honestly no idea why this is installed or how it’s different that just searching for a plugin or widget the normal way;
- UpdraftPLUS Backup/Restore by UpDraftPlus.com v1.12.13 – Used for auto backing up the website to Google Drive;
- Widget Importer & Exporter by Steven Gliebie v1.3.1 – Not sure why I got this either;
- WP Bakery Visual Composer by Michael M v4.12 – Comes with the ShopKeeper theme. Very useful and I would recommend it if you don’t get a theme, or if you get a free one. It’s like using Wix.com or similar website builders;
- Yoast SEO by Team Yoast v3.3.1 – The pinnacle of SEO. I’m not sure if it works, but it does have handy red, orange or green lights to help you steer towards high ranked search results.
You can find these plugins in your WordPress Admin -> Plugins tool. I included the author so that you can sort through the junk better. These folks are tricky and try to name their sorry plugins similar to the good ones to to trick us fine folks. Build a wall; stay safe.
Cost: $0 USD
I’m not using any widgets that didn’t come prepackaged with WordPress. No fancy stuff here.
Cost: $0 USD
Almost exclusively, I use free editing tools. My go-to vector creating artwork piece of software is Inkscape. Vector graphics are images that you can scale without them turning into unrecognizable pixelated cubes. Inkscape is the antagonizing opposite rival to its well-known cousin, Adobe Illustrator.
For raster based images, or those that you create with say, a camera, I use Gimp. Like Inkscape, it is a free piece of software that has an Adobe counterpart: Adobe Photoshop. I have yet, with my limited skills, not seen it to anything that Photoshop can’t do.
You can find lots of tutorials for using these pieces of software. Consider donating to the cause, especially if you earn revenue from the images you create.
Lastly, I use Cyberlink Power Director. The basic version came with my laptop, but it looks like it costs about $60 USD. I like it because I can easily load photos from my camera phone, do some basic editing, and export them for web (quality, size, etc.) in about a minute. Maybe this can be done in Gimp, but I don’t know how. My belief is that the Adobe equivalent is called “Lightroom”. I’ll most likely end up purchasing Lightroom when I start doing product photography.
That sums everything up. Total cost: $110 USD, give or take a few bucks. I expect to spend another hundred or so on credit card processing tools. This may be a low estimate.
Thanks for reading, I hope you can use this as a baseline to get started on your site!