Hosting and Platforms
- WordPress: I highly recommend self-hosted WordPress (wordpress.org) over other platforms such as Blogger, Typepad, Squarespace, or Wix. The flexibility is limitless with WordPress, whether you’re using it for a blog, a business website, or a blog + website. The options are endless– when you combine the thousands and thousands of themes available (both free and paid), the plug-ins that you can install to increase functions, the fact that YOU own your website and your content… I’m pro-Wordpress all the way. (Need more convincing? Check out these articles from website goddess Ashley Evans: 6 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD SWITCH TO WORDPRESS and HOW TO CHOOSE A BLOGGING PLATFORM THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU)
- Hosting: If you’re using self-hosted WordPress, you’re going to need to host it. I cannot recommend Bluehost enough. I’ve hosted with them from the beginning, and have nothing but amazing things to say. Their customer service is top notch– the number of times I’ve messed things up on my blog trying to be a coding goddess (um… I’m so not.) — all I had to do was give them a call and they restored a previous version of my blog. Love them. Best of all, if you’re a total newbie at the whole WordPress installation thing (I am!) , Bluehost has a feature that let’s you do a “one click install” of WordPress. PLUS, when you host with them, you get a free domain. WIN. And they are super affordable– use this link for a special rate that you can’t get on the site alone.
- Custom Domain: You need a custom domain. It just looks more professional than yourname.blogspot.com . Even if you don’t use self-hosted wordpress, invest in a custom domain. (Further reading: WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BUY A CUSTOM DOMAIN)
Website Design & Coding
- Restored 316 Designs: I cannot say enough great things about the themes from Restored 316 Designs. The themes are amazingly gorgeous, wonderfully functional, so easy to set up, and the support is absolutely WONDERFUL… including a private Facebook group. You need the Genesis Framework to use the themes, but I think the themes, as well as Genesis Framework, are absolutely worth it. I had my site on the Thesis framework before, and it was fine, but I’m finding I much prefer the Genesis Framework.
- NoseGraze: I love everything Ashley of NoseGraze creates. Her plug-ins are amazing (my favorites are the Ultimate Book Blogger Plug-In and the About the Author plug-in. I use both!), her blog designs are awesome (and don’t need Genesis or anything additional!) and her coding and support are… kick-ass is the only way I can think to describe it. I wish I had the budget have Ashley just do everything on my site for me. She’s amazing!
- Erin Flynn: Another designer/code wizard that I can’t say enough about is Erin Flynn. She’s AWESOME. Not only is she great with websites and coding, but she’s great with advice and keeping your design business going well. Be sure to check out her eBooks and Scripts as well as her Unstoppable Design Crew.
- I love selling digital products, and having a store front of my own that matches my site is amazing. I currently use WooCommerce, a (free) plug-in for WordPress. I also use Restored 316 Designs themes that are already “WooCommerce ready” and make it so easy to integrate. I love this system– I love how easy it is to create a new product page– just as easy as creating a post!
- Shopify is another great option if you have more physical products, or want to incorporate it right into your website– or even sell “offline” like at a craft fair. Plus, it’s gorgeous!