Awesome WordPress plugins and handy services
WPEngine - They are a dedicated WordPress host with second-to-none support. They are a little more expensive than other options, but definitely worth it.
SiteGround - When I need a host that's a little less expensive than SiteGround, or, if I need a host that also hosts email accounts, I go with SiteGround.
SpinupWP - OK, not directly hosting, but, a super-easy way to spin up WordPress installs on a server (I use Digital Ocean for mine).
CloudFlare - When it comes to domain names, web hosting and DNS, I like to keep all 3 of them separate. CloudFlare has free options available, offers a level of caching for your site, and you use it to redirect domains to other domains, along with a lot of other cool stuff.
KeyCDN - One of the reasons I really like KeyCDN is how easy it is to integrate on your site. Install the plugin, connect it to your account and the plugin does the rest.
Must Use Plugins
Here's a question I get asked regularly, "What plugins do you use on every website?" I can't say there are any plugins I use on EVERY website, but almost every site I build use the following two plugins:
Akismet - If your website accepts comments on pages or posts, you should absolutely use Akismet to help block spam.
Yoast SEO - The free version of this plugin is a great way of getting your site ready for search engines. I you need some more advanced features, check out their pro version.
Themes / Page Builders
Beaver Builder - I've used a number of page builders over the past couple years. If I could only use one, I'd pick Beaver Builder. It's easy to use and easy to teach others to use, too. Be sure and purchase the Beaver Themer add-on, too. It's an absolute game changer.
Ultimate Add-ons for Beaver Builder - If you're going to use Beaver Builder (and you should), the Ultimate Add-ons is a nice add-on that has a bunch of extra modules and templates. I've ended up using it on about 95% of the sites I've built with BB.
Beaver Builder Power Pack - This is another add-on for Beaver Builder that has a bunch of great features. Lots of templates and modules that can be used to save you time.
Genesis - I don't use Genesis as much anymore these days, but over the past 5 or 6 years, I've built a HUGE number of sites using Genesis. For this one, you'll probably need a little more PHP knowledge than you would with a page builder.
WP Rocket - No plugin has helped more with increasing page speed than WP Rocket. Easy to install and configure, this plugin is worth its weight in gold!
Gravity Forms - There are several good plugins for creating forms, but none I've used are as versatile as Gravity Forms. Yes, you can use it for a simple contact form, but that's just the beginning. It can be used for complex, multi-page forms, selling products, and much more.
Gravity Perks - If you use Gravity Forms, Gravity Perks is a crazy awesome set of add-ons for Gravity Forms. It's worth the cost for the Nested Forms add-on alone.
Migrate DB Pro - There is no better tool for helping move your WordPress database from server to server. I use this a ton when working on sites locally, moving to a staging site, and launching sites live.
Easy Digital Downloads - If you're selling any sort of digital product, EDD is the only way to go. I use the Recurring Payments add-on to sell monthly subscriptions for services like hosting and support.
Restrict Content Pro - What I love about RCP is that if you need a SIMPLE membership setup to provide hidden content to paid members, you can set it up in a matter of minutes. And, if you need something more complex with multiple levels of access, it can handle that as well.
Custom Post Type UI & CPTUI Extended - If you need to create custom post types and don't want to write a line of code, CPTUI is the plugin for you. And, if you want an easy way display your post type data in multiple, multiple ways, you should check out CPTUI Extended.
Pretty Links - I use this for creating easy to remember links to affiliate I may want to send. For example, clicking https://vegasgeek.com/prettylinks will redirect you to this awesome product! It also keeps stats on how many clicks your links receive.
AdSanity - For display ads, I don't know if there's an easier way to manage them than AdSanity. You can set up multiple locations on a page and then have multiple ads in each to have them rotate, or just picked randomly on page load.
WP All Import - This isn't a plugin you're going to use on a regular basis (most likely), but holy hell. There has never been a plugin that has saved my butt more than this one. If you need to import data into a WordPress site, there is no better plugin than this.
Backup Buddy - If you're looking for some flexible ways to backup your site, Backup Buddy has your back. Ha, see what I did there? My lame jokes aside, this is a solid plugin that will let you backup your site to a number of services.
PowerPress - I've tried a couple different plugins for managing a podcast on my site. But, I just keep coming back to PowerPress. You can check out my podcast using PowerPress over at hawktalkpodcast.com
SimpleCast - For actually hosting the podcast audio files, I'm now using SimpleCast. I like them because it's inexpensive and they give you stats for how many times your episodes are downloaded. That's not something you get from iTunes.
Active Campaign - For marketing automation, there is no better tool than Active Campaign. Build up a mailing list, create drip campaigns, and so much more.