Welcome to the Resources page, where I have listed some of the services, tools and software I recommend (and personally use) to help with your online business.
Important disclaimer: some of these links are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. The only reason I have listed these companies is because I have experience with them and currently use them to run my business.
It is not because of the commission that I could earn.
So only purchase the products if you feel that you need them and that they can help you to achieve your online goals.
- Hosting Companies
- Web Design & Development
- Digital Marketing Tools
- Productivity Tools
- Web Security Tools
- Business Tools
- WordPress Plugins
You will not be able to have anything displayed online without some kind of hosting. Below are the host companies I use for my business to host my website, podcast and videos.
This site is hosted by 34SP, one of the leading managed WordPress hosting services based in the Manchester, UK. With over 17 years helping businesses to exist and succeed online, they understand the importance of having well-designed, secure and structured WordPress hosting and excellent customer support too.
I have talked about the benefits and importance of using Managed WordPress Hosting for those who are serious about their online presence, so using a brand like 34SP can go a long way.
Some of the benefits of using 34SP include:
- 24/7 support from WordPress experts
- automated and daily backup of your site
- UK-based call centre
- open and honest mentality about their data centre, best practices and services
- major contributor to the WordPress community
As mentioned in the last point, another upside of 34SP is their commitment to helping the WordPress community. The company is an active member of the community and regularly sponsors WordCamps and local meet ups across the UK.
On top of that, they are happy to chat and discuss anything when you approach them face-to-face at many WordPress events.
If you refer to this site when purchasing hosting from 34SP, you will be eligible for 1-month free hosting. Just make sure you enter iamahmedkhalifa.com within the referrals section of the shopping basket.
Some of you may have listened to my podcast (and if you haven’t, you’re missing out). This requires a dedicated podcast host, and this is where Buzzsprout comes in – it is the easiest way to host, promote and track your podcast.
Buzzsprout has done an amazing job to create a user-friendly and an efficient way for podcasters of any level to upload, track and share their own podcast.
If you sign up to Buzzsprout via this link, you will also receive $20 Amazon voucher if you upgrade to any paid plan and stay for 2 consecutive billing cycles.
You can also read the Buzzsprout review about my own experiences too.
Even though I have a YouTube channel, there are times when I want to upload videos privately and securely for personal or business use.
In my opinion, Vimeo is great for that. Even though it’s primarily a platform for the creative filmmakers, that’s not to say that you cannot use it for your own use too.
For example, you can use it to host private training videos for your members. Or you can use it to store your holiday videos privately and behind a password. Or perhaps you want to interact with the creative community of filmmakers.
There is something for everyone at Vimeo.
If you click on this link to Vimeo, you can save up to 25% on an annual Plus or Pro membership.
Even though I am not a developer or a designer, there are a few platforms out there which have made things a little bit easier for me when it comes to developing and designing my own site. There are certain tasks which many of us can do ourselves, but sometimes, it is better to outsource it to someone who is more experienced than you.
Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense talking about WordPress without using its fantastic CMS myself.
In the past, it had a reputation for being a blog platform, but it is anything but that. Today, you can use it to power your entire site, much like this site and millions of others.
To read more about who else uses WordPress, check out these top 99 brands.
Many people are also using WordPress.com, and even though you will have less control compared to WordPress.org, it is still a very useful platform and it has its own benefits.
Having said that, if you have the .com version, I have written why you should covert from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and how it can help move you to another level.
StudioPress is one of the best-known players in the WordPress community where they provide high-quality themes and plugins, suitable for any WordPress. They currently have over 182,500 customers and I am one of them.
They are also the creator of Genesis, probably the most popular framework theme. As StudioPress describes it, think of your site like a car – WordPress is the engine of your car, child themes is the paint job and Genesis is the frame and body of your site.
Genesis provides your site with:
- strong, rock-solid security
- well-coded and responsive HTML5
- search engine optimised foundation
- fast performing loading
For more details about the Genesis Framework and why it’s used for this, read the blog post here.
One of the best service sites for outsourcing your WordPress development is without a doubt, Codeable. It is a one-stop shop to find some of the best WordPress developers and freelancers to help with your technical work, be it a small or a big job.
Codeable goes through a strict process of finding the best contracters, who all have to go through a manual review before being handpicked to join the company. Once picked, they are only allowed to choose certain projects that they specialise in to ensure the best quality results, and delivered in good time too.
When you submit a project, the available developers will give their estimates. There is no bidding process so this will give you fair pricing, and you will have direct communication with the developers.
It doesn’t matter if you are a small business, agency or blogger, you will find all the technical WordPress assistance you need with Codeable.
As a digital marketer by trade, there are a number of tools which I cannot live without for my clients’ business and my own.
Having the best tools in the world does not make you an expert. They are useless if you do not know how to interpret the data, make the most of the tools and apply the relevant actions to your site.
That said, no marketer can perform without using at least 1 tool.
Definitely one of the most powerful and vital tools to have in your arsenal. If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your site, you are missing out on valuable data about your site and audience.
Google Analytics is the most popular analytic tools in the world and it’s easy to see why. Just some of the features include:
- understand which source of traffic is popular for specific pages
- how your visitors navigate through your site
- why some of your visitors are not converting on your site
- understand the demographics of your visitors and what device they are using to visit your site
This is just a taster of what Google Analytics can do. The easiest way to install it on your WordPress site is to use the MonstersInsight plugin for free which I use here at Khalifa Media.
- find broken links
- list the Page Titles & Meta Description
- generate XML Sitemaps
- review robots & directives
- discover duplicate content
- and so much more
You can download it for free for a limited site crawl. But the paid version (which is only £149 per year) is incredibly powerful and offers more features including unlimited crawl limit, Google Analytics integration, crawl configuration and free technical support.
SEMrush is one of the most powerful yet versatile and highly accurate digital marketing tools. It provides an incredible amount of data within SEO, PPC, content, social media and beyond.
Although it is a big hit within the SEO world, anyone with a website can gain insights when using this tool.
Just some of the features include:
- research your competitors’ keywords
- view the top advertisers and publishers
- create alerts every time someone mentions your brand but without linking to you
- create projects to look for quick SEO wins
- understand your competitors’ most popular landing pages
- find long-tail keyword opportunities
- go “head to head” by comparing your domain’s organic performance against any other
- measure the content you have published by tracking its social metrics, traffic and backlinks
After many frustrations with Google’s Keyword Planner, KWFinder has caught my attention and it has been a breath of fresh air.
KWFinder makes it easy for you to find long-tail keywords in a beautifully, well-designed interface and provides with many important metrics that you need, all in one screen.
Not only does it provide an alternative keyword tool, but it also has other products such as the ability to analyse the SERP (search engine result page) for a particular keyword. They are soon launching a rank tracker tool.
Follow this link to get an exclusive 20% off any of the packages.
Or you can read the KWFinder review to learn more about this fantastic tool.
I use ConvertKit as my email service provider and email marketing platform.
ConvertKit has many benefits that come in handy with email marketing, and my favourites include the beautiful, responsive and embeddable opt-in form, create email courses & guide, and the ability to design your own custom landing page with 3 templates.
Whether you think you are incredibly productive and efficient or not, there is no harm in using technology to help us to become more productive.
Below are a few tools that are essential to the running of my business.
And you can also read the productivity method of ‘Eat That Frog’, where I use a combination of 3 of the tools mentioned below to help me to get more things done.
Quite possibly my favourite and most important tool, Evernote is a lifesaver for those who are looking to organise personal life and business. The note-taking productivity tool can help you in many ways:
- organise and create project to-do lists
- record audio, save article drafts, snap pictures
- access your notes from anywhere and with ease
- find your notes fast
- search for handwritten notes
- share with anyone
As an Evernote Community Leader, I am also qualified to provide advice on how to make the most of Evernote for your specific needs, plus staying ahead with the latest tips and advice on how to use this fantastic tool.
An essential part of my productivity and project planning tasks is using Trello on a daily basis.
Trello is like an online whiteboard. Instead of having that board filled with sticky notes for each task and team member, it is online and you can attach photos, attachments, checklists, etc., within that sticky note.
You can also integrate it with a number of apps so that you can automate and organise your tasks. Just some of the apps you can integrate it with include: Evernote, IFTTT, Zapier, Zendesk, Slack and so much more.
I also tend to use the ABCDE method, mentioned in that ‘Eat That Frog blog post’, and Trello is a big part of it. You can get your own copy of my ABCDE Project Trello Board for free.
It’s not just for business. I also use it for personal use too. For example, one board is for organising my favourite recipes, which I can assign to a particular day of the week. Another board is for organising my to-do list in the house e.g. paint a room, clear out garage, buy a new shelf, etc.
As someone who works with clients, it is crucial for me to stay on top of how much time I spend with each client. This is to ensure that everyone gets fair and honest treatment when they are paying me to work on their sites.
And Toggl is my time-tracking app of choice.
But you don’t have to work with clients in order to make the most of Toggl. If you want a better idea of where you spend the most time, applying Toggl to everyday tasks will give you a true and fresh insight into how you are using your time.
For example, at the time of writing, I am tracking the time it takes to write this very page you are reading (which is hours and hours!). Other times, I track how long it takes to record and publish a podcast so that I can find out where I can speed up the process.
Even the free package can make a big difference to your time-keeping.
And you never know, you might find that you are wasting too much time on a particular type task, which you could outsource instead and save you hours per week.
Just think what you could do with that much extra time on you hands!
If you are not automating your tasks, then you are missing out on a huge number of time-saving techniques.
Short for “If This Then That”, IFTTT is a fantastic tool which allows you to create automated tasks between specific tasks. And this can apply in business and in your everyday life.
For example, I have several favourite “applets” which I use daily:
- if I star an email on Gmail, it will automatically add a card on a Trello project board. This is great if you want to create a project or task out of an email
- if I ‘heart’ a tweet, it will automatically save that tweet on Google Docs. Useful if you are bookmarking a tweet for future reference
- when leaving the office, the phone will automatically switch from WiFi to Internet data
There are hundreds of different “applets” across various web apps and tools. And you can even create your own if you can’t find what you want.
Bear with me on this.
Yes, Spotify is primarily used for listening to music. But it also a very useful tool for those who feel more productive when working with headphones on.
But it’s not just about listening to any music, it’s about listening to “focus music“, which can help you to become even more effective and focused on the tasks at hand.
There is no denying it, cyber security is essential if you have some kind of online presence. Not only does this mean for your own site, but also for social media profiles, email accounts and shopping accounts.
Unfortunately, it’s not a case of “if” you get attacked, but when you get attacked by hackers.
If you want to better protect your website, you can follow the simple steps on making your WordPress site more secure.
When it comes to securing and protecting my clients’ WordPress sites, Sucuri is my top choice for a web security platform.
Some of the features include:
- protection to stop future website hacks such as DDoS, brute force and vulnerabilities
- speed up your website
- detect and receive web security alerts
- remove website malware
- backup and restore your site
They even have a free website malware and security scanner, which can help to detect any malware, blacklisting status, website errors and out-of-date software on your site.
A big fear for many is losing all the files and documents on your computer.
But if you have automated backup in the background, you will have all of your files safely stored away for when you desperately need them.
To ensure that your company’s data is safely backed-up, my choice of data storage is Backblaze. They provide unlimited cloud backup of your Mac, PC and even external hard drives at a low cost. As one of the best and most popular online backup solutions, it is one less headache to worry about if you somehow lose your data.
Once you have it set up the first time, you never have to touch it again (unless it’s an emergency or your computer hasn’t been on for a long time) as it works in the background without you knowing it.
Get 1-month of data storage for FREE when clicking on this link and purchasing from Backblaze.
VPN stands for ‘Virtual Private Network’ and it is designed to hide your IP address so that you can create a secure connection to another network over the internet.
Many people use VPN to access region-restricted websites, but a crucial part of using a VPN is to protect you and give you privacy online.
This is particularly important if you are accessing public WiFi. Doing so without a VPN will enable you to be visible to anyone who is using the same WiFi connection, which can then make you vulnerable to attacks without you knowing.
So next time you are tempted to use a public WiFi, think about how vulnerable it can make you to attackers. The best way to stop that is by using a VPN and my favourite is NordVPN, which is a very easy-to-use platform and offers cutting edge encryption technology, privacy and freedom.
Get 20% off NordVPN when clicking on this link and start by installing it on your computer, tablet and mobile devices to protect yourself.
One of the biggest reasons why attackers have managed to hack into accounts is because of weak passwords. It is very common to see many people use the same set of passwords across a number of sites.
And using “password” as your password (yep, people do that) is not clever. In fact, it’s very careless and dangerous.
And once the hackers have access to just one of your passwords, they will have access to almost all of your online profiles.
It is essential to use a password manager and my top choice is LastPass. Once you have created one complex, unique password to access your LastPass account, you can create even more complex and unique passwords for every single online account that you have. Don’t worry, you only need to remember the master password, and LastPass remembers the rest.
And that is the recommended approach when it comes to creating passwords.
Get yourself 1-month FREE premium LastPass, by following this link.
In order to do the best for your customers, it is vital that you invest time and resources into nurturing your business.
There is a reason why airline security videos always ask you to put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.
Before you help others, you must help yourself first.
So make sure you focus on yourself now and then so that you can consequently help others around you…for the better.
It is crucial for me to make sure that I am on top of the latest trends and techniques by regularly taking part in courses.
One excellent platform to learn new skills or improve your existing ones is Skillshare. This is an online learning community where a host of talented, experienced and sometimes well-known figures have created their own video course about a specific topic.
And you are bound to find a topic that is relevant to you and your business.
But this is also a great platform to learn something new, even if it’s not directly related to your business.
If you want to enhance your knowledge, get yourself 3 months of Skillshare Premium for $0.99.
As a podcaster myself, it makes sense that I listen to podcasts on the go. It’s one of the best ways to learn something new, be inspired, entertained…or all of the above.
My podcast player of choice is the Pocket Casts app, which you can listen to on iOS, Android or your browser.
There is a monthly subscription or some kind of freemium version. You can try it out by signing up for a 14-day trial. And if you like it, it will only cost you $9…forever.
What a bargain!
If you are on this site, there is a chance that you are running your own online business. And one thing that we all must do is to manage our finances. How boring!
By using FreeAgent, you can really simplify the whole process. It’s not just about watching your expenses and keeping an eye on your cashflow, but you can also:
- instantly create a template for your invoices and estimates
- automatically send and chase up invoices
- fill and file your tax return
- automatically import your bank feeds for a real-time view of your cashflow
- track time spent on your clients
- automatically generate and submit your VAT return to HMRC in one click
- plan ahead with corporation tax forecasting
Like any WordPress siteowners, we like to make the most out of using the 50,000+ plugins that are available to download and to implement on the site in order to create new features and functions.
Obviously, you should refrain from downloading too many plugins as it can have an impact on your site’s speed and can also cause issues elsewhere, such as broken pages and functionalities due to clashes between plugins.
Nonetheless, they can be powerful and I use them on this site. It is impossible to list them all one by one but if you want to get an idea of what plugins are used here, you can download a free report below (and it will be updated accordingly):