Andy Capaloff
February 15, 2018

7 Services, Tools and Plugins We Couldn’t Live Without

Services, Tools and Plugins We Couldn't Live Without

When we launched Curatti 2.0 in October 2016, I posted this article on the making of a website. It seems like a good time to revisit some of the tools, services and plugins we use. It’s barely possible to imagine Curatti without them!

I have no doubt that we could upgrade on some of these, and equally little doubt that some of them could improve YOUR site and workday. Please be sure to share your thoughts on any of what we have shared here, and don’t be shy about suggesting what you consider to be upgrades. I hope you include your reasons!

So Many Tools, So Little Time

When it comes to new services or tools, we get daily solicitations to try others. Some want us to try them; others to review them. But reviewing takes time. And there are sites that do that (none of which are called Curatti!). No worries. With Susan Gilbert as a regular contributor, we probably have that covered!

Also for our part, and surely most people reading this, there’s simply not enough time to try out new tools unless a dire need is discovered. I used to accept free trials. And in the blink of an eye, I found myself paying for something I hadn’t used (and might not ever).

Hopefully, if you have a specific need, this article will help you.

Here are the services, plugins and tools that you’ll find below. Feel free to click on one that catches your attention if you don’t want to read the whole article.

WP Engine

(Simply) Guest Author Name – Free  (This is used to name our guest bloggers)

(Simply) Guest Author Name – Premium  (And this is the souped-up version we’ve just upgraded to)

Social Warfare

Stencil

WP Smush

Bundlepost

Hootsuite

As a bonus, we’re bringing you a special offer on Design Wizard. Click here to check it out.

Note: I won’t bother talking about Grammarly, which we use daily. It has been in about 3 gazillion articles, give or take a few million, and I wouldn’t want to bore myself by writing about it again. I will say though, that if you don’t use the add-on that will be available for your preferred browser, you’re missing out. It works brilliantly with WordPress.

Full Disclosure: Some of the following are affiliate links. Each of those has been marked. Also, we use all but one of the tools we’ve given an affiliate link to. And the exception comes with a special offer for our readers.

Services, Tools and Plugins

Some of these write-ups are lifted largely or entirely from the original article…

WP Engine (affiliate link)

Unfortunately, we had cause to change our hosting company twice in our first couple of years. All 3 companies were recommended to us. One that we were forced to leave behind is still highly respected based upon articles I’ve read. This is what we left behind:

  • Being the subject of hacking attempts and cyber-attacks that caused outages
  • Questionable to poor customer service
  • Customer service confined to very limited hours
  • Frequent server maintenance leading to the site being down for hours at a time, and the sleepless nights that go with that.

What did we get instead?

  • No overages on billing
  • Sufficient redundancy in their systems that we’ve never outages due to upgrades
  • No reports of hacking attempts on our site, although they do rebuff 2 million attacks daily
  • I’d like to say great customer service, but we’ve never had any reason to find out!

And that glowing report has nothing to do with us enrolling in their affiliate program. They’re the gold standard, plain and simple!

 

(Simply) Guest Author Name – Free Version

This is a great WordPress plugin for all blogs that accept guest bloggers.

At Curatti, most of our authors – certainly our regulars, are given Contributor IDs. But for most new authors, we give run them through this excellent plugin. We use it to show you visually who the author of each of our articles is.

Here’s a nice visual. Other blogs will show authors who are not regular contributors simply as ‘Guest’ or ‘Guest Author’. But we can give full name attribution at both top and bottom of our articles, and on our Home and Blog pages. And it works seamlessly with Fancier Author Box.

Source

In case you want to read that excellent, thought-provoking article, just click on the image above (not the source link!).

(Simply) Guest Author Name – Paid Version

We’ve just upgraded to the premium. I’ll probably update this article in a few weeks with my findings. I’m already happy with the “Existing Guest Blogger’, feature. I can just select from the dropdown, and all of the profile I set up when I first published a guest blogger, automatically populates.

If you’d like to try the premium version, use the code CurattiGuest10 to get 10% off the one-time fee. The coupon is good thru the end of 2018. 

Social Warfare. (affiliate link)

After Twitter stopped supplying their share counts a couple of years ago, people had to choose between displaying counts for the other networks or removing the numbers altogether. Social Warfare was one of the first tools to integrate an API that includes Twitter counts. Check out the glowing testimonials below! We concur, and can add that it is very developer friendly.

It certainly helps that when there was an issue with Twitter counts again, some time back, Dustin Stout personally responded to my question. We like doing business with good people!

Stencil (affiliate link)

Forget the official blurb. Click on the link if you want to read that. What I love about this is how easily I can turn any image into an image with a caption and our logo. Also, even someone who is non-artistic can create simple memes.

There is a free version. However, it will be branded for Stencil. That’s fine for hobby users and broke beginners. The paid version though, is clean and looks professional.

Where do I get most of our images from? Well we love Pixabay, but are huge fans of 123RF. Far more reasonably priced that other Stock Image providers. And we usually (not quite always!) find images we love to perfectly illustrate our offerings.

 

WP Smush

Image optimizers are important! Not only can an un-optimized image play havoc with your formatting, but it can also slow down your page load times. I previously thought that perhaps we could optimize our images more than WP Smush does. And maybe that’s still true. But we’ve had no problems with page loading speed. So ‘if it ain’t broke….”. We’re happy with what we’ve got. Nevertheless, if anyone has a strong recommendation, please share it with us.

 

Bundlepost

This is one of the main content management tools we use to schedule tweets directly from the top RSS feeds in business and marketing. The platform is simple to set up and add accounts to. The latest articles are pulled each day to select for scheduling, which can be set up according to your preferred timeframes, hashtags, and mentions. Once you have a list of tweets set up for your schedule you can download these as a .csv file for uploading into a scheduler.

 

It was designed for Chrome and supposedly works best on that browser. However, in my experience, it works better still on Safari.

One little warning: Bundlepost will let you create large feeds. However, Hootsuite – and perhaps its competitors – only allow bulk uploads of 100 posts per script. If your list is larger than this, you’ll have wasted some effort.

Hootsuite 

Hootsuite provides scheduling for your social media accounts including Facebook profiles and Pages, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and YouTube. This is the platform we use to import and schedule our content. It’s simple to manage and check on the activity of your feeds. In fact, this is the main tool we use each day to stay on top of retweets, comments, direct messages, and replies. It’s Twitter feature, in particular, allows for follow/unfollow, muting, blocking of spam accounts, retweets, etc.

And here’s a bonus….

Design Wizard (affiliate link)

Everything else in this article is regarding services, plugins and tools that we use. Because I have this fear of visual tools – reinforced by my attempts at using Canva and Piktochart, I haven’t tried Design Wizard. I have neither the time nor the aptitude to give it a go, however irrational that might seem. I’d literally rather jump out of a plane (as I did on my last birthday) than try a new visual tool.

Andy Capaloff skydiving

I’m posting this for three reasons though:

  • A panel including Grant Cardone and Mari Smith chose Design Wizard in their top 20 social media marketing tools to use in 2018)
  • It’s integrated with Buffer, Hubspot and Marketo.
  • And because they have kindly offered our readers 50% off if they sign up through the above (affiliate) link, then type (or be lazy and copy/paste) the code dw3months at checkout

It’s a Wrap

Of course, we use many other tools and plugins. But those listed above are the daily or near-daily use, indispensable ones.

So here are my questions for you:

  • What tools do you use?
  • Perhaps more to the point, what tools couldn’t you live without?
  • Which competitors of the above intrigue you?

Please leave your comments, below.

And if you have more to say than should be left in a comment, but want to say it anyway, please click here and ask to write for us. But before you do, read this article.

 

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Featured image: Copyright: ‘https://www.123rf.com/profile_bloomua‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Andy Capaloff

Andy Capaloff is the COO of Curatti. Prior to moving into the world of Content Marketing, Social Media Management and the day-to-day running of a Digital Marketing company, Andy spent over 3 decades in various aspects of IT. It is here that he honed his writing and technical skills, and his ability to ask uncommon questions.