As I encounter and use software, hardware, media and web resources that are valuable for successful print-on-demand designing, blogging and promotion, I’ll add them to the list of internet resources below. This page is likely to be updated often!
Some of these are affiliated links (full disclosure) to sources I trust or use myself. If I tried a resource and didn’t care for it, you won’t find it on this list!
To Establish Your Online Presence
- GoDaddy – The big daddy of domain registrars. The prices are decent and the coupon link on the right should save you money, too. Every time I’ve called them with a question, I’ve talked to a live, helpful person. If you’re in danger of losing a domain name that’s not set to auto-renewal, they will send you repeated emails. And sometimes call you. My recommendation is to register your domain with GoDaddy, and host your site elsewhere.
- HostGator – I tried three other hosting companies before I switched to HostGator. I like them. If I have a question or concern, it’s easy to just call them up and ask. They’re responsive to customer questions. The service has been very good. The price is reasonable, especially with the unlimited domains package. Usually, you can try them out for a penny for the first month. They are a Texas company and employ a lot of people in the area. Plus, HostGator’s site is pretty easy to navigate. No bombardment of ads! You can just work. Make sure to back up your own stuff because they will stop auto backups if you have a over 50,000 of files. (Of course, you would do that anyways, right?)
- WP Engine – RightBrainLeftTurn.com is hosted on WPEngine. WPEngine is a way different type of web host! They host WordPress sites and nothing else. The hosting is 4x faster than other hosts, on average, and is heavy duty enough to handle a sudden surge of traffic if your new Honey Badger t-shirt takes off in a big way and gets you on national TV! They also do a lot for security of your site. (A big WordPress theme company’s site was recently hacked big time on their old hosting service and they subsequently moved everything over to WPEngine for the security.) WPEngine is not for everyone. For one thing, they cost more. For another, they assume you know something about what you’re doing. And they don’t provide free email. They do have knowledgeable support people you can email and your support ticket is numbered and they make sure you got your answer. If you’re building a seriously business WordPress site, consider WPEngine. You can check out their generous risk free trial to see for yourself./li>
To Create a Base for your WordPress-based Site: Themes
Every installation of WordPress automatically includes at least one version of one of the basic WordPress themes. Currently, the 2010 and 2011 themes are included. These are rock-solid themes and you can’t go wrong using them! The new 2012 theme is scheduled to be released on 12/5/12 and it’s likely to be even better. However, sometimes you want to be able to exercise more creative control over your site. These are a couple of premium themes that I’ve tried.
- Thesis Theme – If you want lots of control over your site, lots of flexibility and top-notch tutorials and forum, Thesis has that. There is a menu that lets you choose the font, type size and font and background color for current and hover links, for instance. You can choose the developer’s option to build WordPress sites for others using the Thesis theme or buy a single-user license. There’s only one basic theme that you can customize til the cows come home, or you can buy “skins” for it from other developers. Thesis is coming out with a new, updated version in fall 2012.
- WooThemes – If you want moving pictures on your front page, you might like WooThemes. They’re an innovative company, striving to put out new themes every month. They’ve got a lot of cool built-in features. It’s pretty close to plug and play if you choose a theme that works for you. They’re include categories such as Magazine, Business, Tumblr, eCommerce and Portfolio. This site is built on their very flexible Canvas theme.
- Premium ZStore Plugin for Zazzle Store Builder – The easiest way to add a Zazzle store to your WordPress site! Plus, it includes zoom feature for customers to see products better.
- ZStore Helper WordPress Plugin for Zazzle Store Builder – If you have a Zazzle Print-on-Demand store, this is an excellent free plugin by Paul Robinson. It works with the Zazzle Store Builder to create store pages on your WordPress.org blog.
- Twitter – If you can say it in 140 characters, you can use Twitter. It’s not easy to get referrals from Twitter, but you can get traffic and attention. And it’s free!
- HootSuite – If you want to follow several social media sites you’re operating, try Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. HootSuite is free until, like me, you’ve got more than 5 Twitter accounts or want more control, check out the free 30-day trial of HootSuite Pro.
- Tweetdeck – Similar to HootSuite, it lets you manage your Twitter more efficiently. You either like HootSuite or you like Tweetdeck – it’s a personality thing.
- Facebook – A Facebook Fan Page aka Business Page is what you want. People can’t help seeing what you’re up to once you’ve got them to like your page. Just don’t make them crazy by posting too often – they will turn you off in heartbeat.
- Google+ – Open to everyone now. Some people get it, others are shaking their head: is it going to work or not?
Print on Demand
- CafePress – Umpteen thousands of user-designed t-shirts, flip-flops, mugs and more. Artists can sign up for a CafePress “store” and sell their designs. The program changed a lot two or three years ago, so make sure you understand the changes if you’re going back there.
- Zazzle – Also umpteen thousands of user-designed products, but a lot more paper products like invitations. It’s easy for end customers to customize products and easy for Zazzle storekeepers to create new ones. It’s a choose your own royalty program.