If you want to make your website successful, you need the right tools.
In building WPKube, I’ve done a lot of trial-by-error testing in trying to find those tools. I’ve used a lot of plugins and tools that have worked great…as well as some that didn’t make the cut.
Below, I want to share a list of the best tools that I use on WPKube based on all that trial and error.
If you’re building a website, this list will share some really useful tools that can help you out. Or, if you’re just curious what I use here at WPKube, this list will give you a “behind the scenes” look at what’s going on underneath the hood.
I’ll divide everything into four categories:
Let’s start at the beginning…
Platform and Hosting
Here are the basic building blocks that power WPKube…
Self-Hosted WordPress (WordPress.org)
Like 40%+ of all the websites on the Internet, I use the free, open-source WordPress software as the foundation for WPKube. By self-hosted WordPress, I mean that I actually host the WordPress software from WordPress.org on my own web hosting, rather than using WordPress.com – you can learn the difference between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com here.
If you want to make a self-hosted WordPress website like WPKube, you can check out our guides on how to make a website or how to start a blog.
Flywheel is the WordPress host that I use for WPKube. It’s a managed WordPress host, which means it takes care of a lot of the basic maintenance, security, and performance optimizations so that I can focus on growing WPKube instead of messing with hosting and other technical details. Check out our Flywheel review to learn more.
While I use Flywheel for hosting, I understand that Flywheel’s pricing is a little expensive if you’re just launching your site. If you’re on a budget, InMotion Hosting is another good option that offers good performance (for the price).
Genesis Framework (Theme)
I use the Genesis Framework theme as the basic foundation for WPKube and then I added my own custom child theme on top. Unfortunately, because I’m using a custom child theme, you can’t use the exact design of WPKube.
However, you can use the Genesis Framework and one of the pre-made Genesis child themes from StudioPress. If you use Flywheel for hosting, you’ll get free access to the Genesis Framework and all StudioPress child themes.
Or, I also recommend Divi (see our review & 20% off coupon) and Meridian Themes (my own theme shop) as other good spots to find quality WordPress themes.
Marketing Plugins and Services
Here are the tools that I use to grow WPKube – these include SEO, email marketing, and social media.
MailerLite is what I’m using at the moment to manage the WPKube newsletter and send emails to subscribers.
Previously, I used Mailchimp but I’ve found MailerLite to be a better & less expensive option for my needs.
I use Buffer to manage all of the social media accounts for WPKube. It lets me queue up posts in advance and schedule them to go live when at the perfect time.
To save some time, I also use the WordPress to Buffer plugin so that I can automatically add new posts to Buffer for scheduling when I publish them on WordPress.
Yoast SEO really needs no introduction as it’s the most popular WordPress SEO plugin by a mile. I use the free version to manage all of the SEO for WPKube, including setting titles and meta descriptions, basic schema markup, etc.
While Yoast SEO helps me implement SEO on WPKube, it doesn’t help with research, analysis, or rank tracking. For all of that, I use Semrush. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it if you’re serious about SEO.
Mangools is a good affordable option if Semrush is out of your budget right now.
I use ConvertBox to display the email opt-in forms that you see on WPKube. It lets me create a variety of different lead capture forms and hook everything up to MailerLite. It also supports other email marketing services.
Performance and Security Plugins and Services
There are the plugins that I use to speed up and secure WPKube.
Beyond choosing fast hosting, WP Rocket is another tool I use to make WPKube load faster. It’s pretty much an all-in-one WordPress performance toolkit, covering everything from caching to code and media optimization.
Flywheel already handles page caching at the server level, but WP Rocket has built-in compatibility with many hosts (including Flywheel) so that you can still benefit from the many other performance optimizations that WP Rocket offers.
I use a lot of images here on WPKube, so it’s important to compress them to avoid slowing down the site. To do that on autopilot, I use the free WP Smush plugin. It’s free for unlimited use, which is more generous than most other image optimization plugins. The free version only supports lossless compression, though – you need to pay for lossy.
Wordfence is an all-in-one WordPress security plugin. With its firewall, malware scans, and other hardening features, it gives me confidence that WPKube is secure from malicious actors.
Two Factor Authentication
Brute force attacks are one of the most common ways WordPress sites get hacked. Two Factor Authentication lets me lock down the WPKube login page with the same two-factor technology that banks and other security-conscious organizations use.
Login LockDown is another free plugin I use to protect the login page from malicious actors. It lets me track failed login attempts and automatically temp-ban an IP address if they make too many failed attempts in a short period.
Login No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA
The last tool I use to protect the login page is Login No Captcha reCAPTCHA. It lets me add a reCAPTCHA box to all of the login, password reset, and registration pages.
With these three plugins, I can pretty much guarantee that no one will brute force WPKube and I can also cut down on a lot of bot traffic with the ReCAPTCHA and Login LockDown.
Every WordPress site needs a backup solution. I like Jetpack Backup because it automatically backs up my site every day and lets me restore to any point with a single click.
Most sites will be fine with the basic daily backups, but if you have an eCommerce store or membership site you can also pay extra for real-time incremental backups.
Other Useful Plugins and Services
Here are some other plugins and tools I use that don’t fit neatly in any category…
Every WordPress website needs a form plugin and I’ve found Gravity Forms to be the best and most reliable plugin for my needs. Via its built-in features and huge third-party extension marketplace, you can use it to create pretty much any type of form, from simple contact forms to payment forms and more.
If you’re on a budget and just need a basic contact form, the Simple Basic Contact Form plugin is a good free alternative. Or check out all the best form plugins.
Trello is a really useful tool for any type of project management. Personally, I use it to manage content for WPKube, with separate Trello boards for every team / project. I can assign topics to authors and keep track of when everything was submitted.
I use Pretty Links to manage and cloak all of the affiliate links on WPKube. It lets me insert affiliate links more quickly when I’m creating content and also create prettier links that more clearly tell visitors where the link will take them.
Embed Code is a really handy plugin for when I need to add code snippets to the header or footer of WPKube. You can use it to add tracking scripts (e.g. Google Analytics), Typekit fonts, site verification snippets (e.g. Google Search Console), live chat integration, and lots more.
The neat thing is that you can use it to embed code sitewide or only on specific pieces of content, which gives you a lot of control over where you add certain scripts.
And there you have it – the tools that I find most useful in managing and growing WPKube. Give them a try and see if they can help you as much as they’ve helped me.