This page contains some of the resources and tools I use regularly. What ends up here has earned its spot by being valuable multiple times or over a longer time period.
Drafting and Writing
- Scrivener for Windows: This program is perfect for drafting and outlining any longer piece of written content, like books, reports, scientific publications, etc. You are basically forced to cut your content down into smaller junks, which at the same time makes working on your book so much easier. Unlike in Word you never have to scroll through your entire document. You have full creative freedom and everything is right there. Difficult to explain because it is so different. I am running Windows, but I have heard the Mac version (Scrivener 2) is even better. Scrivener offers an incredible 30 usage days of free testing, which is a sign for how much the makers are convinced of their program. Just test it: Download the Scrivener trial version (WIN).
- Drafts (iPhone app): This is the only app I use to jot down every idea I have while on the move. Drafts acts as a hub for everything I want to remember: post topics, business ideas, short paragraphs (with voice recognition an easy task), phone numbers, etc. I can send it to virtually every possible platform, email, Evernote, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and many more, which makes it my one stop app for anything that comes to my mind. It also has a great search function and so nothing is lost.
- Grammarly: My secret spell-checking superpower. Through my browser, anything I write automatically goes through their database of spelling and grammatical checks.
Productivity Web Applications
All these are either free or offer a free plan. I also wrote a post about my favorite PWAs.
- Asana: Cloud task management for teams.
- Dropbox: Very reliable cloud storage. Comes with a lot of features.
- Evernote: If you don’t know it you could say it is a cloud notebook that can capture anything (notes, files, pictures, videos, audio…)
- Google Apps: Collection of cloud-based applications. Examples are Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, etc.
- Doodle: Scheduling made easy. Helps you determine times for meetings online.
- IFTTT: Connects and combines online applications with each other. Very powerful.
- Wunderlist: Very simple, sleek and effective online to-do list.
- Email Templates: Yes, there are times when having a template for the right situation saves you a lot of time.
Websites and More
- WordPress: It is the #1 blog publishing platform and that for a reason. Because it is easy, free and has a great support community. Using WordPress helped me getting into website publishing pretty easily. Please note there is WordPress.com, which is totally free and WordPress.org, which requires you to host your own web page. (WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org)
- Bluehost: After spending too much time resolving issues with other hosting providers I switched to Bluehost two years ago, and never looked back.
- Photopin: I used to get a lot of my images for free from Photopin. Although I am not using the site anymore, they were a great source for royalty-free photos.
- Stockunlimited: has become my default for getting photos and graphics that I don’t create myself.
Website Creation Tools
- Favicon creator: I tested several and this is the easiest to use and best favicon generator I found. Can generate transparent favicons in different sizes.
- Find out size of browser window: It can be very useful when tinkering with setting for different screen sizes to know what the current browser window size is. You may have noticed that this I am using a responsive Wordpress theme. To test when funny things happen I use this page: whatsmy.browsersize.com.
Plugins can either make your life much easier or create cool effects for your website. The only drawback is that too many plugins can slow down your site significantly. So don’t go overboard and limit the number of active plugins. I found it to be advisable staying below 15 active plugins.
Below are my favorite plugins. You can install all these plugins by clicking “Add New” in the Plugin section from your Admin panel when you type (or copy-paste) the names into the search field that comes up. The links below bring you to the developer’s websites to give them the credit they deserve, particularly when offering free plugins.
- Akismet: After spending too much time going through and deleting hundreds of comment and trackback spam every day, I finally decided to give this plugin a shot. These $5/month save me several hours each week. (update: while Akismet is still a great option, I solved the spam problem by switching to Disqus for my comment system.)
- Table of Contents Plus: Creates a fully customizable TOC when a certain number of headings is reached. I think it is great for posts like the ALT Codes post.
- W3 Total Cache: Absolute must when you care about your site speed at all. Make sure to use the preview mode some settings can have severe consequences. I consider it one of the most important plugins I use.
- Wordfence Security: This plugin adds firewall and anti-virus security to your site. One of the many benefits I have experienced is that it limits the failed login attempts and blogs the IP number after too many. That helped keep my site save during a brute force attack my provider observed.
- WordPress SEO: A pretty thorough WordPress SEO plugin for WordPress.org users. Easy to use, easy to understand, and very effective.
Site Optimization (Speed)
- Pingdom Website Speed Test: Does what it says: “Enter a URL to test the load time of that page, analyze it and find bottlenecks”
- Google Analytics: Google’s free website traffic and analytic tool. Not only gives you information about visitor numbers, traffic sources and visitor demographics down to screen resolution and mobile devices used but also lets you run different tests and helps with SEO and more. A must use. Quite addictive as well.
- Pingdom: You can signup for one free site. I use Pingdom to monitor DarnOffice for Server downtimes, response times, and to get an email notification should the serve be down for more than 5 minutes. Pingdom also offers real user monitoring. I can only recommend it (it is free!).
Again, I mention all these tools because I believe they are worth using. In other words, nothing on this list was not tested by me. Should you however, experience problems with any one of these tools, please let me know. I only want to recommend things that are actually helpful. I am also happy to help if you have problems if I can.
Disclosure: Please be aware that some of the links below are affiliate links. Through these, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking on the link at no additional cost for you. These are all products I find useful and can recommend because I am currently using them or I have used them in the past. You should never spend money on anything unless you are sure you really need it and it will help you to achieve your goals.