My Toolkit

I have been in this line of work for over two decades. And I say that in order to make 2 points: (1) I have used, tested and reviewed a helluva lot of tools, and (2) I see right through shiny objects and hypey launches and make it part of my job to help my clients, students and readers avoid wasting money as they build their blogs and businesses.

This page contains my top, official recommendations for various tools that are necessary for pretty much all online businesses.

Nothing goes on this page without me having personally owned and used it. These are tools that I use, recommend and stand behind. Some of the links are affiliate links which means if you click and buy, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Wordpress Themes

Much more than a theme. Theme Builder is a platform. Take full visual control of your site design and mold it into anything you want without knowing a lick of code.

The BuddyBoss theme is purpose-built for robust membership sites and community learning sites. It is what I use right here at Blog Marketing Academy. I call it “the perfect membership site theme”.

Page Builders

Part of the Thrive Suite, this page builder is (to me) the most streamlined and easy-to-use page builder for creating all landing pages, sales pages… and even editing blog content.

While not as streamlined as Thrive Architect, Elementor makes up for it in terms of sheer flexibility and third-party integrations. Quite the powerhouse. This site uses Elementor extensively because of it’s integration with Buddyboss and WP Fusion.

Email List Hosting

Use code bmamember to save 20%.

FluentCRM is a marketing automation system that runs right inside of WordPress. It now rivals the “big boys” of marketing automation. It is what I use personally and what I now recommend as my top tool for managing your email list. Read my review.

If you don’t want to self-host your email list inside of Wordpress, ConvertKit is the best all-around fit for bloggers for email list hosting. It offers the right balance of power and simplicity.

When it comes to hosted marketing automation platforms, Drip is my preference. While I have personally switched to FluentCRM, Drip is a powerhouse, integrates with everything, and I used it for multiple years before switching.

Web Hosting

Cloudways is my top hosting recommendation… and I use personally. It is far more cost-effective because you are getting a virtual private server with far more horsepower and flexibility than most consumer web hosts. I use Cloudways. I have switched many of my clients to Cloudways. I stand behind it fully.

Siteground is my secondary recommendation for web hosting. They’re solid as a rock and a great solution for people who want it all in one place. They are also very friendly to newbies.

How To Choose The Right Web Hosting. This is my official guide on how to shop for a host – as well as some companies I would stay away from. A lot of bloggers recommend Bluehost or Hostgator and… not me. I’ll tell you why.


Thrivecart is my top recommendation for a hosted shopping cart. They are easy to use, supports any kind of funnel you’d like to do, and is (currently) available as a lifetime license.

WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform online and built to work right inside Wordpress. It is also free! Has tons of extensions to give it almost any capability you’d ever want.

Cartflows works alongside WooCommerce to enable full sales funnels, upsells, order bumps, and more. Essentially, all the power of Thrivecart, but right inside of Wordpress itself and far more customizable through your favorite page builder.

Wordpress Must-Haves

Builds a tight integration between Wordpress and your CRM. Protects Wordpress content based on user tags. It is the “swiss army knife” for Wordpress marketers and absolutely in my list of top plugins.

My top recommendation for Wordpress forms. I use it across all my sites. Everything from simple contact forms to fancy surveys and payment forms can be built with it.

RankMath is my Wordpress SEO plugin of choice. It offers a way better value than Yoast, in my opinion, and has a much nicer interface. The free version is enough for most people, but PRO gives even more capability.

Online Learning

All of the online courses inside course library are powered by LearnDash. I chose Learndash because of the extensive community behind it and all the add-ons. You can make it do whatever you want, essentially. And it works beautifully with BuddyBoss. Read my LearnDash review.

Thrive Apprentice is a great online course platform for people who want full visual control of the look and feel… an don’t need the fancy options like quizzes and grading. A solid platform from the folks at Thrive Themes.

Hosted Tools

ConvertBox is my top recommendation in terms of hosted call to action managers. Build and manage all of your opt-in forms and calls to action in one place. Simple to use editor. Powerful two-way integration with your CRM. Available as a lifetime plan, too.

FastMail is what I use for all of my email addresses to manage my email. Powerful alternative to Gmail or Google Apps, but without the creepy factor of handing all your email to Google.