With the right tools, you can turn your blog into a serious business, just like us here. We use this blog to share what we know about Elementor, Divi Builder, and WordPress at large — while also generating money from it. In case you have a passion in blogging or writing and want to create a professional blog with WordPress, we will share the ultimate toolkit you can use to create your professional blog in this article.
Being open-source software, WordPress has a very open ecosystem. You have a bunch of options for each entity. From plugin, theme, web hosting, to optimization tool. Conducting research to find the appropriate option for each entity can take you lots of time. You need to compare the features offered by a tool with another’s, as well as pricing, functionality, and so on. That is why we created this article to help you save time by narrowing down your options.
Here are the tools we use to run this blog and the reasons why we use them.
Web hosting: SiteGround
Web hosting is the first tool you need if you want to create a website. For a professional need, you need a web hosting that offers a solid performance. We use SiteGround as our web hosting provider. There are 6 reasons why we use SiteGround as we described in this article with Google Cloud being the main reason. We subscribed to one of its managed WordPress hosting plans.
Another reason that convinces us to use SiteGround is that SiteGround is recommended by both WordPress.org and Elementor. We prefer to use a managed WordPress hosting as it offers some easiness for bloggers like us. With a managed WordPress hosting, you don’t need to be a hassle on taking care of technical aspects regarding your website as they are handled by the associated hosting provider (SiteGround in our case). The technical aspects include:
- WordPress updates
- Daily backups
Since the crucial technical aspects of your website are handled by your hosting provider, you can focus on business aspects (like marketing and analytics) and content creation.
Page builder: Elementor
Page builder is a new norm in the WordPress industry. Today, most modern WordPress themes are bundled with a default page builder. Divi with Divi Builder, Jupiter X with Elementor, Newspaper X with tagDiv Composer, and so on. We use Elementor on this site with one main reason: it comes with a theme builder feature.
What is theme builder?
Theme builder is a page builder feature that allows you to create custom templates for your theme parts. All parts of this website — from the header, footer, homepage, single post template, 404 page, category page, search results page, and so on — are created with Elementor theme builder. Elementor comes with an intuitive visual editor that you can use to create beautiful pages and templates for your website. It offers 90+ design elements (called widgets).
Elementor itself is a freemium plugin and the theme builder feature is available on the pro version. We use the Personal plan ($49/year) as we only need Elementor Pro for one website (this website). In addition to theme builder, Elementor also comes with a popup builder feature to create beautiful popups and form builder to create beautiful forms (including email opt-in forms). If you see some forms or popups on this website, they are created with Elementor.
There are at least 12 plugin types that can be replaced by Elementor. It is great as you can save lots of money. Also, fewer plugins mean less resource usage which eventually leads to better site performance.
Theme: Agency Plus
Elementor is compatible with most WordPress themes. As you can use its page builder feature to create custom templates for your theme parts, you can use any theme you like. Hello, Astra, and GeneratePress are popular themes widely used by Elementor users. We personally use Agency Plus as it is simple, lightweight, and free.
Email marketing: Mailchimp
Email marketing is the main foundation of the entire internet marketing process, above social media marketing. Every online business should invest in email marketing. Blog is no exception. We use Mailchimp as our email marketing tool as it has wide integration supports with other tools and services. Most WordPress themes and page builder plugins support integration with Mailchimp, including Elementor. You can create email opt-in forms with Elementor and connect them with your Mailchimp account.
You can use Mailchimp to collect email subscribers and run certain campaigns like weekly newsletter, send promotions, and so on. In some cases, the number of email subscribers can be used as one of the selling tools.
Search engine is one of the most main traffic sources of a website. To get traffic from search engines, you need to optimize your website to make it appears on the search results page of search engines. Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress with over 5 active installations. It allows you to optimize every element of your website. From the home page, blog posts, category pages, and so on.
Yoast comes with crucial SEO features like XML sitemap, breadcrumbs, and content optimization analyzer. When writing a new blog post, Yoast will provide indicators whether your article already has a good SEO or haven’t. The article components that are analyzed by Yoast are:
- Outbound links
- Internal links
- Keyphrase length
- Meta description length
- Text length
- Image alt attributes
- SEO title width
Yoast itself is a freemium plugin. All basic SEO features mentioned above are available on the free version.
Analytics tool: Google Analytics
As a blogger (who is also a webmaster), it is crucial to always learn the statistics of your website. How many daily visitors you gain, bounce rate, how your campaign goes, and so on. Google Analytics is second to none when it comes to the analytics tool. You can install it on your WordPress site to monitor the number of visitors as well as supporting data such as demography, geolocation, how they get to your website, and so on. Google Analytics offers detailed metrics and most importantly, you can use it for free.
While you can see your website statistics from the Google Analytics dashboard, you can install the Site Kit plugin to monitor your site statistics via the WordPress dashboard.
Site optimization: SG Optimizer and CloudFlare
As we mentioned earlier, we use a managed WordPress hosting as we don’t want to be a hassle on taking care of the site performance. It’s our hosting provider job (SiteGound in this case) to taking care of our site performance. However, for maximum optimization, we still make some optimization efforts by installing SG Optimizer plugin and configuring CDN (CloudFlare). Both SG Optimizer and CloudFlare help you to optimize the content of your website, while SiteGround helps you optimize your site on the service configuration side.
Meanwhile, CloudFlare allows you to configure a free CDN for your website. SiteGround itself offers free CDN that is powered by CloudFlare, making it easier for you to configure CDN on your website.
The bottom line
Starting an online business — be it a blog, e-commerce site, membership site, or anything — requires the right tools. With so many options out there, it can be time-consuming to find the right option for every component of your website. If you want to start a blog with WordPress, we have narrowed down your choices so that you don’t need to conduct the research from the ground (if you still need to do so). We use all of the tools above on this website. If, in the future, we use other tools, we will add them to this list as well.