I’ll make no bones about it: I’m a WordPress fan. It’s far and above the best blogging software out there, and has an overwhelming number of business plugins and themes. Download WordPress here, and get started with your own installation. You’ll be up and running in just a few minutes and will be able to load from thousands of free themes and plugins to get started. WordPress is open source, and is available at no cost!
Hands down, the best hosting solution I have found is at Bluehost. I have worked on servers at GoDaddy, Verio, LunaPages and a handful of others and I still keep coming back to Bluehost for their outstanding Control Panel features, ease of use, huge bandwidth and service features. Their tech support is outstanding and I love their online chat for answering quick questions. And the price is right; they are among the least expensive on the Web, but offer more than anyone else by a long shot. Perhaps best; you can generate a WordPress blog on your Bluehost server in about three clicks. Easy. Start a Bluehost account here.
Here is a list of my favorite business blogging plugins, starting with three that we made ourselves at Square Compass.
Business Directory for WordPress
Business Directory for WordPress is an easy way to host a free yellow-pages-like directory page for your readers, affiliates, advertisers, community or club members. Invite them to submit a simple advertisement listing for themselves on your blog and build your SEO with awesome links to your community of affiliates, vendors, or members.
FAQ Builder for WordPress
FAQ Builder for WordPress allows you to easily add and manage a Frequently Asked Questions in your WordPress blog. This is a great way to interact with your customers, and perfect for businesses who have a lot of questions that get asked often. The plugin allows your readers to submit their own questions, and to browse or search the answers you have posted. A handy admin tool allows you to answer and approve questions before they go live on your site. Check it out.
Quick Contact for WordPress
Quick Contact for WordPress is exactly that: a no-frills simple way to add a contact form to your WordPress blog. Simply load it into your plugins folder, insert the shortcode on your Contact Us page, and whammo!; you have a contact us form. This one is intended to be quick, but does include a few fancy features such as a built-in captcha and required fields.
AddToAny Share Button
In today’s online market, with it’s emphasis in social networking, no business blog should be without the AddToAny sharing plugin for WordPress. It’s easy to install and allows you to configure whether to put a share button on your Pages. Perhaps the coolest thing about this button is that it automatically searches for the reader’s most frequented social sites and places those buttons near the top, making it as convenient as possible for your readers to share to their favorite networks.
Ultimate Google Analytics
If you aren’t using Google Analytics, you are missing a whole new world of awesomeness. Free. The Ultimate GA plugin for your WordPress site will make it easy to add Google Analytics to your site and to begin tracking all aspects of your popularity, goals and objectives. This plugin really makes it easy to add analytics to your site and takes advantage of Google’s incredible utilities.
WP Touch Mobile View
More and more people are reading blogs from their mobile devices these days. WP Touch is an incredible utility that gives your readers a specially-formatted view of your site, so reading on the go is easy and clear. There is a toggle at the bottom of every page that allows your readers to see your whole site as normal, but you’ll find yourself reading your posts in the mobile view; it’s terrific!
All In One SEO Pack
SEO is a complex strategy that takes some serious effort. The All In One SEO Pack takes some of the mystery out of the process and allows even mortals to manage the under-the-hood SEO items on a WordPress blog. This is one of the most downloaded plugins for WordPress, and for good reason; in just a few minutes you can have your site in good shape for search engine optimization.
Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting Plugin for WordPress
If you are a podcaster, and you are linking your podcast from your blog, then the Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting Plugin for WordPress is absolutely essential. With a new version out recently, this is simply the best podcasting plugin available, making it easy-as-pie to send your podcast feed to iTunes, and to configure all the gritty details about your feed, files, and personality. A podcaster’s must-have. Hands down.
WordPress Audio Player
If you are not a podcaster on iTunes, but want to add an occasional audio file to your blog, then WordPress Audio Player is for you. This highly configurable player is a good-looking and easy to deal with. I use it for posting interview and sound bytes that are not intended for my iTunes podcast.
Viper’s Video Quicktags
I use Viper’s Video Quicktags to easily add QuickTime or YouTube videos to my posts. This is a pretty easy way to add video to your posts and requires little if any configuration; you can use it right out of the box, and it really does make it easy to add video to your posts.