I often get asked what kind of plugins I use, where I get my information and what communities I’m involved in. So here are the various tools and resources I use in my business and recommend just for you. Please note that I do use affiliate links for some preferred resources, and I only have them for the products I use and recommend. These links are distinguished by an (*).
WordPress Plugins & Services I Trust
GeneratePress Premium Theme*
I have found my dream framework, and it is a Canadian-made theme called GeneratePress Premium. The versatility of this theme from header configurations to implementing hooks just amazes me. The free version can be found in the WordPress theme directory. If you’re interested in learning more on why I love this theme, check out this LunchPress episode.
Beaver Builder Page Builder*
Not all builders are created equal. When it comes to speed, solid performance and ease of use, Beaver Builder is number one in my books. Set global items, create templates as you work, edit with a simple interface or add in your own CSS touches. Any creation is easy with this builder that is built with Bootstrap for excellent responsive design. I gush about it on LunchPress a lot (video).
iThemes Security Pro Plugin*
All security plugins are not created equal, and I truly believe you should leave security to paid professionals. iThemes Security Pro gives you over 30+ ways to secure and protect your WordPress site. It has a very easy to manage dashboard with clear, user-friendly language. It gives you ultimate control over what you want to monitor and how you want to be notified of activity. The customer service and support at iThemes is also fast and friendly.
Backup Buddy Plugin*
The worst mistake you can make with WordPress is not back it up on the regular. There are lots of generic free backup options, but rarely do they tick off all the boxes you need for your site. Enter Backup Buddy. It offers restore, off-site destinations such as Dropbox and Amazon, and the most flexible scheduling and file selection scheme I’ve seen. A blogger’s site doesn’t need the same backup schedule as an ecommerce site, and Backup Buddy is built to be as customization as possible. Should you encounter a problem, the fine folks at iThemes are right there ready to help.
Jetpack is a single plugin with multiple WordPress.com features. It is free though you will have to have a WordPress.com account to use it (takes seconds to set up). Some of my favourite features are easy-to-read stats and auto-post to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Yoast SEO Plugin
Improve your WordPress SEO with an easy to understand plugin. I joke that this is the ‘Coles Notes’ of SEO but it’s true! Write better content, customize how it displays on social media and have a better understanding of how SEO works with your WordPress site. Their development team is always on top of updates, making them one of the most compatible plugins I’ve ever worked with.
Divi Theme by Elegant Themes*
A recommended theme if you’re the kind of entrepreneur who wants to maintain and design your own content. Powered by the Divi Builder, this theme has a very easy to use framework and a huge community in case you run into any issues or want to do something special.
Elegant Themes Monarch Social Sharing Plugin*
Asking your visitors to share your content should never feel obtrusive. Of all the social media sharing plugins I’ve used, I prefer the flexibility of Monarch. Bonus points that it has designs ideal for mobile visitors. Monarch is the one of the most sophisticated looking (and versatile) sharers out there.
East Coast Creative Collective
A monthly meetup for illustrators, animators, and visual artists in Halifax. E3C is a passion project of mine that is now 5 years old. It is a fantastic place to meet other creative people, get inspired and discover new resources.
WordPress Halifax Meetup
My first endeavor to expand the WordPress community to Halifax. We’re a group of local WordPress developers, designers, and publishers (individual bloggers to companies) who get together to share our knowledge and experience, and to meet other WordPress users in the area. Sometimes there are presentations, other times roundtables. Meets once a month and offers free snacks and beer as part of the programming!
Is my home-office away from the home office! A startup house for early stage technology product companies, Volta is a non-profit created by founders, for founders. Some perks of working out of this place includes free legal, HR/recruiting, and conference rooms. It is also the home of WordPress Halifax Meetup and many E3C events.
Creatively Speaking Toastmasters
Creatively Speaking is the Toastmasters that I belong to. It meets twice a month at the NS Writers Federation building. It is here that I have really honed my public speaking skills in an environment geared towards writers and other creative individuals. Interested in getting better at public speaking and leadership? I cannot recommend Toastmasters enough. Here you can find a chapter close to you!
SiteGround WordPress Hosting*
If you’re looking for a complete package when it comes to WordPress-centered hosting, SiteGround has you covered. This hosting company has built an environment exclusive for WordPress, and includes many features other hosting companies don’t bake into the price: updates, security monitoring, dedicated backups, SSL certificates and caching. Additionally, the larger hosting packages include features such as one-click staging (ideal for ecommerce and member sites, or anyone who wants a safe place to test new functionality) and Git-Hub support! They often have great introductory pricing, and the customer service is excellent.
Maritime Method Solutions
This is the company I use for hosting the Eraserheader Design website and many of its clients. There is nothing like being able to meet your hosting provider in person. Maritime Method Solutions is also a great local developer company with its heart planted firmly in ethical business.
A Halifax-based Hosting company that packs a punch! Ethical, environmentally responsible and proudly Atlantic Canadian.
I love using Hover to park domains, but did you know they can automatically connect to many popular web hosts in seconds? They take the guess work out of domains! Their customer service is also so friendly and helpful for the times you need a little extra TLC.
Service Providers I Work With & Trust
For monthly WordPress site maintenance, you can’t beat the service and quality of this Canadian Company. With a variety of plans to choose from, some stand out features of Satellite WP including easy-to-read reports and multi-lingual support. I personally know owners Jean-Francois and Maxime, and feel they are the embodiment of stellar WordPress service.
One of the most knowledgeable and quirky social media markers I have had the pleasure of knowing. Take in one of her many workshops, catch one of her presentations or hire her. If you’re not following her on Twitter, you’re missing out on massive amounts of expert content on everything social media. Go follower her!
Is a fantastic copywriter with years of marketing experience. What really sets her apart from other local writers is her ability to write for the web. When my clients use her, it cuts our own site development time in half!
OneRedCat helps businesses find their place online. Mike has very unique insight into life/work balance and is a fantastic public speaker.
Michelle Doucette Photography
Michelle has so much talent! Headshots that capture personality, food photography that makes you want to lick the screen, and an attention to detail I expect in a service provider. She will never let a wrinkle in your clothes or stray hair get caught in her view. This Halifax-based Photographer is crazy talented, and a must-have in upping your brand game.
The best boutique computer store in Nova Scotia. Costas and his team have kept Eraserheader Design running for over 6 years. I purchase all my technical gear from them, and their tech support is the fastest and effective I’ve come across. They are part of the success of my business!
WordPress & Web
LunchPress (hosted by yours truly!)
I’m LIVE every Tuesday at 2:00pm Atlantic to talk about all things WordPress and answer questions in the comments. Plus, one lucky person receives lunch on me. Get your daily dose of Alison while you nibble on your lunch.
Part of my morning routine is hopping onto Smashing Magazine to get the latest scoop on web design trends, tricks, and news.
One of the easiest-to-digest sites out there dedicated to beginner topics with WordPress. Just about every article offers both video and written versions, and they continue to update content regularly so you know you have the latest information.
The WP Crowd
Is a fun, informative podcast run by some WordPress professionals I know. Geared more to those in the profession that typical users, the WP Crowd has a number of topics to help inspire and challenge WordPress server providers.
Lighthouse trains passionate people in Web and iOS development. Their core programs are intensive, immersive boot camps that transform people into outstanding developers. Their part-time Intro to Web and iOS Development courses are perfect to get your feet wet when learning to code. They also offer free HTML & CSS courses so keep tabs on their events listings.
When I get stuck on coding, I go to StackOverflow. Considered the ‘reddit of code’, you can find answers to coding issues in seconds flat. All answers are voted by the community so you can see different solutions to the same problem and how relevant they are. My bible and secrete to keeping on top of my coding game!