A Guide to Refunds for Digital Products [Guide]

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Refunds are an inevitable part of every business.  But as a WordPress professionals we deal in digital products and services and not physical goods, which complicates things.

Should you offer refunds for your digital WordPress products?  What are the most common reasons refunds are requested?  How are refunds for digital products different?  How can you give customers the best experience with refunds?  Learn the answer to those questions and more.

Refunds are a reality for every business; small, large, and in-between. But what happens when your business sells digital products that can’t be returned? This week in The Weekly EDDit we explore the unique nature of refunds for digital products.

Read the full article: The reality of refunds for digital products

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How to Build Relationships with WordPress Plugin Buyers [Interview]

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As the WordPress plugin industry gets more competitive it can be challenging to understand what the right path might be to market and sell your WordPress plugin.

Do you sell it via your website with a tool like Freemius?  Do you sell it via a marketplace like Envato?  Do you offer a freemium version through the WordPress repository?  In this interview Vitalii shares his path to success using Freemius.

Vitalii Kiiko, co-founder of Moomoo Web Studio, shares his success story on how Freemius helped improve his relationship with buyers.

Read the full article: MooMoo Agency Builds Powerful Relationships with WordPress Plugin Buyers Through Simple Business Moves

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How to Launch a WordPress Maintenance Service for Recurring Revenue

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Offering WordPress maintenance services as part of your web agency or freelance business is one of the best ways to add recurring revenue to your WordPress business.  But doing the work manually won’t get you the margins you need–you need the right tools.

ManageWP was the first WordPress toolkit for managing multiple sites and remains #1.  It includes tools for plugin/theme updates, backups, security, client reports and more across multiple sites.  Learn how to use the ManageWP site management tools to launch a WordPress maintenance service.

Launching a WordPress maintenance service is a great way to add a reliable revenue stream to your freelance business. And ManageWP can be there every step of the way. One user shows us how he accomplished it so you can, too.

Read the full article: How I used ManageWP to launch a WordPress maintenance service – ManageWP

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A Beginner’s Guide on How to Make Money Blogging [Guide]

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One of the most popular ways to make money with WordPress is via blogging, especially if you’re better at writing blog posts than writing code.  But how should you monetize?  Affiliate marketing?  Ads?

This article is an in-depth analysis the many ways to monetize your WordPress blog to start making money, how to pick a profitable niche and more.

Want to start a blog and make money? Are you trying to find new ways to make money from your existing blog. This guide will get you up to speed.

Read the full article: How to Make Money Blogging in 2018 – The Ultimate Beginners Guide

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How to Sell a WordPress Plugin Business

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Have you ever thought about selling your WordPress plugin business?  It can seem overwhelming, but learning from those who have done it before can make the process a lot easier.

Phil Derksen shares his experiences selling WordPress business and talks about what he learned in his most recent acquisition.

Phil Derksen has plenty of experience selling a WordPress product business. Here, he shares what the process looked like with his most recent acquisition.

Read the full article: All about selling your WordPress plugin business

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Live Stream Coding: Market Your Product & Write Code Simultaneously

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If you’ve heard of Twitch you probably know that live streaming, particularly with video games, has become incredibly popular.  But what about live streaming coding sessions instead of video games?

It turns out that live streaming coding sessions can be an effective marketing technique for WordPress plugin and theme developers.  It also has the side effect of making you more product since you know people are watching you.  If that sounds good to you, then check out the post below.

There are many digital products out there. To sell, you’ll need to market yours. Patrick Rauland shares how he codes & promotes his products simultaneously.

Read the full article: How To Code AND Promote Your WordPress Products At The Same Time

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How to Launch a Successful Affiliate Program for WordPress Themes & Plugins [Guide]

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Affiliate marketing is effective because it allows you to leverage your biggest fans to help advertise your WordPress plugins or themes.  It also allows you to leverage professional marketers (those who do affiliate marketing for a living) to help advertise your products.

Using affiliate marketing for WordPress products can have amazing results (thousands of new customers) or be a big revenue loser (fraudulent affiliates collecting commissions), so it’s important to execute your affiliate program right.  This is one of the most comprehensive guides we’ve found on affiliate marketing for WordPress plugins and themes.

When your plugin or theme business reaches a certain maturity, inevitably, you start to explore additional revenue streams. One trendy channel is affiliation. Setting up an Affiliate Program can be a powerful, long-term investment that will make you money, power up your SEO, and improve your brand awareness. Alternatively, if planned or executed incorrectly – become a huge waste of time and money, so it’s important to do it right.

This is the most comprehensive guide for commercial WordPress product business owners. It’ll help you make the right decisions about your Affiliate Program.

Read the full article: The Ultimate Guide for Creating An Affiliate Program For WordPress Plugins And Themes

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How Automatic License Renewals for Premium WordPress Plugins & Themes Increases Revenue (20 months of data)

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Using automatic renewals for premium WordPress plugins is one of the best ways to increase revenue and create a more consistent revenue stream.  It’s also a better experience for customers who don’t have to remember to manually renew their licenses every year.

Despite how beneficial automatic license renewals are for premium WordPress plugins, it’s surprising how many plugins still don’t do it.  If you’re a premium WordPress plugin (or theme) developer and you’re considering automatic license renewals this post from Pippin is for you.  It’s a deep dive into the results they’ve seen after turning on automatic plugin renewals.

About twenty months ago, while sitting on a couch in Auckland, New Zealand, my team and I flipped the switch to enable automatic renewals for AffiliateWP. Two months later we did the same thing for Easy Digital Downloads and Restrict Content Pro.

This was a move that we had been working towards for nearly a year and it’s one that we believed would fundamentally change the position of the company over the next one to two years. Now that it has been twenty months, maybe we can answer the question: were we right? Did it make a significant impact for us or was it all futile hopes?

Read the full article: Automatic license renewals: twenty months later

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Increasing Prices 50% – 250% in a WordPress Plugin Business: Reasons & Reflections

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Simultaneously one of the best and worse things about the WordPress community is that over 90% of plugins are free.  Of those that are paid, the vast majority of them are very low priced (and often underpriced).

This is great because it makes it easy for WordPress users to get started with a very small investment (and often for free).  However, this does have a downside: it limits the investment in the WordPress community and makes plugins harder to support.

Plugin authors have to strike a balance between building a sustainable business and picking a price customers are willing to pay.  This is hard because as developers we tend to undervalue our own products and services.

Read about how Pippin and his team dramatically increased prices on their Easy Digital Downloads products.  The reactions were mixed, but it was ultimately the right decision for the business and there are some key lessons you can learn from this reflective peice.

On December 14, 2016, my team and I pushed a significant change to our Easy Digital Downloads products: we increased the price on all extensions by 50-250%. Yes, you read that right: up to a 250% price increase on certain plugins.

This change was done for a number of reasons, which I will get into shortly, and has resulted in a very interesting last three months. Since I have always been very open with my company’s financials, I would like to now share some reflections on the change that we made and to also share some of the aftermath of the change.

Read the full article: Reflection on a price increase

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Income Reports from Entrepreneurs on Fire: Lessons to Build Your Business

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Since 2012 Entrepreneurs on Fire (EoF) has become a source for learning to make money online for millions of people.  It makes money by selling courses, products and through affiliate referrals.

Entrepreneurs on Fire posts monthly earnings reports that breakdown expenses and income by source.  These monthly reports since the beginning show how the business became successful.  Though we don’t recommend trying to copy their model, understanding how they because successful could be invaluable in your path to success.

Welcome to Entrepreneurs On Fire monthly income reports! We pull back the curtain and reveal the earnings and expenses of all things Entrepreneurs On Fire related. The goal of these reports is for fellow Entrepreneurs to emulate our successes and avoid our failures, and as you will see, there are plenty of both.

Read the full article: Our Monthly Income Reports – Entrepreneurs on Fire

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Income Reports from Smart Passive Income: Learn to Build Your Business

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Over the last 10 years Smart Passive Income (SPI) by Pat Flynn has established itself as one of the best sources for learning to make money online.  It generates revenue through multiple sources including products, services and affiliate marketing.

They post monthly earnings reports going back to 2008 with a breakdown of income and expenses.  They also go in-depth on what happened that month with a reflection of what worked and what didn’t.  These posts are insightful to understand the trajectory of the SPI business and apply those learnings to your business.

I didn’t get to where I am overnight. It’s been a long road filled with lots of hustle and my fair share of mistakes. And yet, through persistence and passion, I’ve managed to build something amazing—something I never thought possible when I first launched SPI.

You can do that too. It’ll take hard work. And it won’t happen overnight. So, don’t look at my income numbers and think, “I could never do that.” That’s not the point of my income reports. The point is to share that amazing success and growth is possible, if—and only if—you put in the time and effort to build it using strategies and tactics that actually work.

Let’s explore what works, and what doesn’t, in my recent income reports. Enjoy!

Read the full article:: Income Reports Archive – The Smart Passive Income Blog

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How Your WordPress Plugin or Theme Business can Leverage Black Friday & Cyber Monday to Increase Sales

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday are among the biggest shopping days for traditional stores, but they’re also huge for WordPress product businesses.  Learn more about how WordPress businesses performed over Black Friday and Cyber Monday to understand how your own  WordPress business marketing efforts can take advantage of the same sales boost.

This marketing research discusses the importance of Black Friday & Cyber Monday, specifically for WordPress plugins & theme sellers. My goal is to bring forth data to show why not doing anything to increase sales during BFCM means leaving a LOT of money on the table, plain & simple.

Read the full article: Black Friday & Cyber Monday Generated Huge Revenue Spikes for WordPress Products. Here’s Why & How:

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Why Passive Income Websites are a Waste of Time (& How WordPress Can Earn You More Money)

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Passive income has become popular in the last few years, but how realistic is it?  Not very, it turns out–making money takes work.  But you’re in luck because WordPress offers dozens of ways to start making money online with everything from selling products to using ads and affiliate links.

“You can watch the money roll in without lifting a finger.” “Kick back on the beach as your profits soar.” “Wouldn’t you like to make a living while on vacation?”

You’ve likely heard all of these pitches before. If you’re involved in the online business world at all, odds are good you have. Let’s talk realistically about how to do it.

Read the full article: Why Passive Income Websites are a Waste of Time (and How WordPress Can Earn You More Money)

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WordPress Plugin Business: Freemium vs. Premium Business Models

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Should WordPress plugin developers use a premium or freemium business model?  Both methods can work, but there are some key considerations.  Learn how to decide which sales path to take with your WordPress plugin business and how to launch successfully with either method.

If you’re new to WordPress plugin development You might be asking yourself whether you should release a limited, free version of your plugin with an option to upgrade, or maybe just charge money for any access to your product. The answer is a familiar one: It depends. Decisions, Decisions…

Read the full article: Offering Premium vs. Freemium WordPress Plugins: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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How to Boost Your Number of Plugin Installs in the WordPress Plugin Repository with GIFs

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There are over 50,000 plugins in the WordPress plugin repository.  This level of competition makes it hard to stand out from the crowd, so how do your get your plugins noticed and increase conversions?  It turns out that GIFs can help boost your marketing efforts to get your plugin noticed in the WordPress plugin repository and boost your installs.

Plugin marketing pages are the most valuable resource for getting your plugin into the hands of your users. Regardless of which type of business model you follow, the quality of your marketing page is the difference between success and failure.

To build a winning marketing page that will drive installs, writing good copy is not enough. You need to take this further and optimize your marketing page with elements that leave an impression and drive conversions. Learn how to enrich your WordPress plugin marketing page with GIF animations boost your installs.

Read the full article: How GIFs Increase Your WordPress Plugin’s Conversion Rate

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Make More Money by Automating Your WordPress Business

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As a WordPress professional managing client sites and building websites for clients, your time is money.  The more time you can save, the more projects you can complete and the more clients you can take on.  So, if you can save time automating WordPress tasks, then you can increase revenue from your WordPress business and grow your margins.

You can automate everything from security and backups to WordPress website optimization and spam protection.  Read this article to learn more about the opportunities to automate your WordPress business and the tools to help you do it.

Automation can be a scary word for some, especially when a business relies on being able to make a personal connection with clients or customers.

When it comes to working in WordPress, however, we understand that automation is a good thing (up to a certain point anyway). While we obviously don’t want a bot writing a bunch of gobbledygook for our blogs, we do want to streamline our workflows when it makes sense to do so.

Read the full article: How to Take Full Advantage of WordPress Automation

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How to Sell Corporate & Team Memberships on Your WordPress Site

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How to Make More Money with WordPress

Selling corporate memberships or team memberships is a great way to attract higher value customers and a convenient way to sell in bulk.  If you’re doing it with a WordPress site it just got a lot easier.  WooCommerce recently released a new add-on called Teams for WooCommerce Memberships that quickly and easily allows you to sell memberships to companies, teams, groups or any other organization.

If you’re trying to sell corporate memberships and felt like WooCommerce couldn’t do it, the good news is that now it can! Check out this demonstration.

Read the full article: Trying to sell corporate memberships?

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Should WordPress Freelancers Show Rates & Pricing on Their Website?

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Should WordPress freelancers show their rates on their website? There are pros and cons to doing so–it depends on your target customers and the services you offer.  Check out this pricing page article to understand whether publicly showing your rates is right for your WordPress freelancing business.

The decision of whether or not to use pricing pages on your freelance website is entirely personal. Here’s how to decide if you should publically share pricing.

Read the full article: Pricing Pages: Should You Add to Your Freelance Website?

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9 Ways to Make Money with Your WordPress Website [List]

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We all love WordPress, but not all of use are successful in making money with it.  While dozens of articles promise to help you make money online, few actually deliver.  Well, let’s change that.

Here are 9 ways to start monetizing (or better monetize) your WordPress site.  This article includes proven methods and recommended WordPress plugins to help you start making more money online with WordPress.

Creating and owning a website has never been easier. Thanks to WordPress and other free content management systems like Joomla and Drupal, anyone can start their own site in mere minutes.

However, just having a website is usually not the end goal. Most website owners want to earn money with it in one form or another.  That’s not an impossible dream. Plenty of people make a living with WordPress websites.

Yet, while the goal clear, the means often aren’t. How do you monetize a WordPress site? How can you create a full-time income from a web entity?  There are many ways to monetize a WordPress site: Advertisement, e-commerce, sponsored posts, membership sites and more.  Learn about them all here.

Read the full article: 9 Legit Ways to Monetize Your WordPress Site (Plus Plugins!)

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How to Run a Successful WordPress Plugin & Theme Business [Guide]

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Do you run a WordPress plugin or theme business, or are you interested in starting one?  If so, check out this article from MotoPress cofounder Alexander Mat.  Alexander covers how to thrive in a saturated WordPress plugin/theme market, whether or not to use a marketplace, pricing and more.

Co-founder of MotoPress, Alexander Mat, shares his company’s biggest challenges in today’s saturated and Guten-stirred WordPress products’ market. MotoPress has been a successful WordPress business creating sustainable plugins & themes for small & midsize businesses, so it is interesting to get Alex’s take.

Read the full article: “Our Biggest Challenges in Running A WordPress Plugin & Theme Business in 2018” by MotoPress

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How to Make Money Selling Plugins on CodeCanyon [Guide]

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Are you interested in selling premium WordPress plugins?  CodeCanyon is the biggest premium WordPress plugin marketplace.  CodeCanyon is another property of Envato, home of ThemeForest–the world’s largest WordPress theme marketplace.

Selling premium WordPress plugins is one of the best ways to make money with WordPress.  This article analyses how profitable it is to sell premium WordPress plugins on CodeCanyon and whether it’s better to sell through a marketplace or on your own.  If you have a WordPress plugin and are considering selling on CodeCanton, then read this guide!

Selling your premium WordPress plugins on CodeCanyon? Is this marketplace the best option in terms of revenue? We dug deep in their numbers to find out.

CodeCanyon is the leading marketplace for selling premium WordPress plugins owned by a digital marketplaces conglomerate – Envato.

The marketplace grossed over $70,000,000 since 2009, processed 2.3 million sales of WordPress plugins, and has a growing community of 7.8 million members.

Is it right for you?  Let’s find out.

Key Takeaways

What are the top things to know when deciding to sell on CodeCanyon?

Of all 19,006 scripts and plugins on CodeCanyon, 4,861 (or 26%) are premium WordPress plugins, and during the year 1,096 new premium WordPress plugins were listed for sale on CodeCanyon.

The leading 20 WordPress plugins on CodeCanyon account for 17% ($4,943,141) of the total yearly sales on CodeCanyon.

If you decide to sell a premium WordPress plugin on CodeCanyon you should expect to sell 2-4 license sells per month in your first year.

51% (2,462) of the WordPress plugins on CodeCanyon were added in the 2 years (at the time this article was written).

Read the full article: CodeCanyon By The Numbers – WordPress Plugins Analysis

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How to Make Money Selling Themes on ThemeForest

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Interested in selling WordPress themes?  ThemeForest is the biggest WordPress theme marketplace around.  ThemeForest is another property of Envato, home of CodeCanyon–the world’s largest Premium WordPress plugin marketplace.

Check out this analysis to learn whether selling themes is still a viable way to make money with WordPress, the best way to get started doing it and whether you should sell on ThemeForest.

Is the themes gold rush over? Can you still build a sustainable business on ThemeForest? Is there a better way to sell WordPress themes now?

Envato’s ThemeForest and CodeCanyon are de-facto the leading marketplaces for WordPress plugins and themes. With a growing community of over 7 million subscribers, both marketplaces sound like a lucrative place to start selling your digital products.

Are they right for your WordPress business?

Read the full article: ThemeForest By The Numbers – WordPress Themes Analysis

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25 Proven Ways to Make Money with a WordPress Blog [List]

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Have a WordPress blog and love blogging?  What if you could make money from it?  Here are 25 proven ways to start making money online with your WordPress blog.

This in-depth guide covers everything from ads, to memberships and selling services.  This article has everything you need to start making money (or making more money) from WordPress..

Are you looking for the top ways to make money online that are NOT scams? WordPress is the largest publishing platform on the planet, and it powers over 30% of all websites.

You can use WordPress and blogging to earn money online by doing what you love. In this article, we will share the 25 best ways to make money online blogging with WordPress.

These aren’t “get rich quick schemes.” If you’re willing to put in the effort, here are 25 legitimate ways to make money online blogging with WordPress.

Read the full article: 25 Legit Ways to Make Money Online Blogging with WordPress

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9 Ways to Make Living With WordPress [List]

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Love WordPress?  What if you could leverage that passion to make a living?  This article goes beyond side gigs to make a little extra money–it covers full-blown careers using WordPress.

Some people say it’s only work if you’re rather do something else.  Well, if you had a WordPress career you loved maybe you’ll never work another day in your life.  If you’re even remotely interested in working with WordPress to earn a living then check this post out- because you deserve a career you love.

In all of the Interwebs, WordPress plays a key role. It can lay claim to 60+ million websites, 65 percent of the CMS-powered websites market share and a vast community of enthusiast developers, designers, and advocates.

Because of this, it should be your choice to start an online business, whether it’d be about selling products or providing custom services. So, how can you earn money with WordPress?

Read the full article: How to make a living with WordPress

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The Ultimate List of 30 Killer Ways to Make Money with WordPress [List]

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Millions of people earn a living with WordPress.  If you’re only doing WordPress as a hobby or already work with it but want to start earning more, then this is the guide for you.

I’ve read thousands of articles on making more money with WordPress and this is one of the most comprehensive with 30 different opportunities.  This guide is wide in breadth, but doesn’t go into depth on how to make money with WordPress using each option.

However, that’s not the goal–the goal is to help you understand the opportunities that exist.  If you find one you’re interested in, then start exploring WordPress opportunity to learn more.

Ready to strike out and start your own business? If you have experience working with the world’s most popular content management system, you may want to consider exploring new ways you can make money with WordPress.

This may come as a surprise, but expert developers and designers aren’t the only ones able to make money with this platform. In fact, it’s inherently ripe with opportunity for:
– Writers
– Marketers
– Consultants
– Instructors
– Salespeople
– And more…

Read on to learn how!

Read the full article: Make Money with WordPress: The Ultimate List of WordPress Business Ideas

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8 More Ways to Start Earning Money with WordPress [List]

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WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and has millions of users.  Along with this popularity comes many opportunities to make money with WordPress and this article shares 8 of them.

Whether your skill is writing code, writing words or pulling it all together, you’ll find an idea to match your skill set.  Check out the article for 8 more ways to start earning more money with WordPress.

Nowadays many people have found ways to make tons of money with WordPress. There are many different ways by which you can also earn a living online with it.

Have you ever thought of making money using WordPress? If yes, this detailed post is a treat for you where I will be discussing 8 proven ways to make money with WordPress.

Read the full article: 8 Proven Ways to Make Money with WordPress – WPExplorer

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How to Sell with WordPress

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WordPress offers a whole host of business opportunities, from coding to design and far more. But one of the challenges faced by any of these is selling. Both of products, and of yourself as a service provider.

This kind of selling is essential if you want to keep your business thriving and growing, but it certainly isn’t easy sometimes. The article below will go over some of the biggest hurdles you’re likely to face, and how you can overcome these challenges.

Having spent a good portion of the last few years of my business around entrepreneurs who are heavy into marketing I’ve become painfully aware that for some reason there seems to be an aversion to ‘selling’ when it comes to WordPress.

I don’t mean selling in terms of using WordPress for e-commerce or as a platform to sell from. I’m referring to people who have products or services around WordPress and don’t want to promote what they do.  Let’s discuss the challenges of selling with WordPress.

Read the full article: The Challenges of Pricing and Selling with WordPress

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How Make a WordPress Plugin from Start to Finish [Guide]

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If you have any interest in plugins, or even in either WordPress or coding in general, it’s likely that you’ve considered creating a WordPress plugin. However, it can be a lengthy and difficult process sometimes. So how do you go about it?

The guide below will walk you through from start to finish, giving you the basic guidelines to follow all to way from planning to release.

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you’ve probably seen some of our tutorials on developing plugins using different technologies like React and Vue. But when not writing examples for blog posts, we rarely if at all dive into creating a new plugin – there’s a lot more that goes into it before we write a single line of code.

In this week’s post, we’ll be taking a look at everything we do to create a new product or WordPress plugin. We don’t adhere strictly to any specific software development process, but the method we’re using currently seems to work well.

Read the full article: How We Create WordPress Plugins: From Idea to Release

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Why SaaS is the Future of Monetization for WordPress Plugin WordPress Developers

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There are many different payment models for WordPress plugins used on the market. Of these, perhaps the best is to adopt a ‘software as a service’ type business model, offering support and updates to the plugin for recurring payment.

That’s what the author of this article believes. Below he’ll present why SaaS is the future of WordPress plugins, and why monthly recurring payments are the best plan for most plugins.

Looking at the WordPress plugins market today, the most widely used monetization model is “support + unlimited premium updates”, for a period of a year. And if you want to keep getting updates and support, you’ll have to purchase a license for another year.

In fact, everyone is actually selling recurring-payments licenses but without the automated renewals. Developers don’t admit it, or probably do not acknowledge that, but that’s exactly what it is!

I’ve talked to dozens of fellow WordPress plugin developers about this topic, and once I tell them the “truth”, they suddenly start to feel a bit “silly” and question themselves why they don’t auto-renew, turning their products into WordPress SaaS like plugins.

We all hear how SaaS is a wonderful business model–so why don’t we try to leverage the SaaS’ model for our plugins? Well, most plugins are not exactly “Software as a Service”, but we sell software and provide support as a service with the license — which sounds close enough to me.

Read the full article: Why WordPress Plugin Developers Have to Start Thinking SaaS

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Guide to Using WordPress as a Platform with Multisite [Guide]

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TL;DR: This guide is about how to setup WordPress as an automated platform to efficiently create and manage websites to make more money through new revenue channels, higher margins on existing services, recurring revenue streams, serving more clients in less time, productizing services and more.

This guide is foundational and covers general setup of the WordPress multisite network. Niche specific applications and customizations will be covered in other guides.

All guide updates will get added to this page. Summaries of the updates will get added as blog posts.

Have questions, comments or feedback? Let us know in the comment section below.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
    1. What is a website platform?
    2. How does it work?
    3. Why is it useful?
    4. Resources on productizing services
    5. Who can benefit?
    6. How to make the most of it
  2. Getting Started
    1. Domain Name & DNS
    2. Hosting
      1. Managed WordPress Hosting
      2. Cloud, VPS & Dedicated Hosting
      3. Budget Hosting
  3. Setup
    1. Installing WordPress
    2. Enable Multisite
    3. Updating wp-config.php
    4. Multisite Network Configuration
  4. Security
    1. Securing Your Network
    2. TLS/SSL Certificates
  5. Site Creation
    1. Creating Sites & Users
    2. Site Templates
  6. Themes and Site Building
  7. Functionality Plugins
    1. SEO
    2. Forms
    3. Social Media
    4. Site Optimization
    5. Spam Management
    6. Image Optimization


TL;DR: Leverage and synergy are how we efficiently create and manage sites, maintain healthy profit margins and build a reputation to attract a steady stream of leads from our target audience. We’re specialists.

What is a website platform?

In this context we mean a “website platform” as a foundation to quickly create new websites in a way that’s efficient to maintain.

How does it work?

Our WordPress website platform relies on WordPress multisite, which gives us a single filesystem to maintain and host a virtually unlimited number of websites.

WordPress multisite works by sharing a single filesystem (plugins and themes) across all websites and a core set of database tables, while each site has dedicated post, post meta, etc. tables for content.

Where some use tools like ManageWP, InfiniteWP, etc. to maintain multiple WordPress sites across multiple hosts this allows us to do it on a single install to minimize operational costs and maintenance burden (only one set of plugins and themes to update).

Learn more about how WordPress multisite works in this blog post: The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Multisite.

Why is it useful?

The efficient creation and maintenance of these websites give you leverage to open up new revenue opportunities, earn higher margins on existing services, serve a wider potential client base and gain the ability to productize a service.

Example: Effectively serve the dreaded $500 client using your website platform to 1) create a great looking website in minutes, 2) do [or outsource] light customization + add content,  then charge ~$50/mo. for Hosting and maintenance with a 1-year minimum.

Additional resources on productizing services:

Who can benefit?

  • Freelancers & Agencies: Profitably serve a wider segment of clients, open a new recurring revenue stream, productize a service.
  • Service Companies: If you offer services to a particular market (e.g. CRM software for accountants) easily add a website offering for that same market (e.g. a hosted website platform for accountants) and tightly integrate your existing services.

This isn’t for everyone. As websites increase in complexity they’re less likely to have functionality in common, but most websites (75%+) have most functionality (75%+) in common.

If most of your clients have vastly different website needs/functionality then either 1) this guide isn’t for you or 2) you need to narrow your client type to get more synergy (read: leverage) out of your work.

How to make the most of it

Leverage and synergy are the key ideas.  To succeed you have to be a hedgehog (specialist), not a fox (generalist).  Do this by targeting a particular kind of client, in a narrow budget range, who needs a specific kind of website.  It may take time to discover your specialty, but start by looking at your past clients for consistency.

Even after finding your specialty client type it could take a couple years to build up enough clients in your specialty and finish handing off old clients.  And then there’s always that one early client that you’ll never hand off because [insert reason here].  “That little guy? I wouldn’t worry about that little guy…

Refer less fitting leads to others, earning a reputation in your specialty with all the leads you can handle because nobody serves that type of client better or more profitably than you.

Getting Started

Now let’s talk about how to do it.  At some point when I get more time I’ll add a case study working through each step of this process.  Until then, this guide will have to do.

Domain Name & DNS

TL;DR: The .com TLD is preferred in most cases, but any will do. Buy from any reputable domain registrar. Using a www prefix for your domain name is preferred due to the flexibility it provides with DNS for you and your customers.

If you’re advanced enough to follow this guide then you probably already have your favorite registrar and understand domains.  But in case you don’t, let’s go over the basics.

Domain Registrars

  • GoDaddy
  • Name.com
  • Namecheap

www vs non-www, etc.

Whether you choose www or non-www is a matter of preference.  I typically go with non-www but www can provide more flexibility depending on your configuration.


It’s a good idea to setup dns.domainname.com instead of using an IP address for your customers to point their domains to.  This give you more flexibility if you ever need to change your IP address.  This way, if you customers point their domains to dns.domainname.com you can just update the IP address on your end and all customers don’t have to update their own DNS records.


TL;DR: Use Managed WordPress hosting unless you have a good reason not too–it’s worth outsourcing this stuff no matter how advanced you are.  WP Engine is a solid option and flexible enough for the most advanced users.  Start with the $99/mo. Professional plan.

What kind of Hosting you need is a matter of preference and expertise.  Opt for Managed WordPress hosting if you’re a novice or don’t want to manage your server.  If you want more control, opt for something more advanced like a Cloud/VPS/Dedicated server.

Your price range is the biggest factor here.  Some hosts are awful, but if you know what you’re doing most of the top hosts are comparable.

Managed WordPress hosting options

WP Engine: This isn’t necessarily the best choice, but I started using multisite (plan starts at $99/mo.) with them in 2011.  There have been issues, but they haven’t been significant enough to move.  Though not easy, I’ve been able to do things like use an EV SSL on the main site of a subdomain multisite install with a wildcard SSL on the rest.  These are typically hard to do on a managed host, but I can confirm the staff can help you here.

Flywheel: I’ve used Flywheel, though not extensively with multisite.  However, their multisite plan is less than 1/3 the cost of WP Engine’s, so if cost is a factor it may be worth looking into.

GoDaddy: GoDaddy is hard to beat in terms of value for Managed WordPress hosting.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t support multisite yet, so it’s not an option.

Other Managed WordPress solutions: There are other Managed WordPress hosting solutions like Pagely, Kinsta, etc. but I haven’t used them extensively with multisite.  They may be great, so if you’re already using one of them and it works well, then stick with it.

Cloud/VPS/Dedicated server hosting options

If you’re using one of these, then you probably already have your favorite and don’t need recommendations.

Personally, I’ve looked at Google Cloud, but had issues with domain mapping.  This was early on, so the issues are likely resolved now.  For our purposes AWS and Google Cloud are attractive, but on the complex side.  Digital Ocean is another popular option.

Budget hosting options

If cost is a factor there are plenty of shared budget hosting options at GoDaddy, SiteGround, Bluehost, etc.  These are fine for getting started or testing, but large multisite networks are hungry.  If you’re charging a reasonable price to host and maintain client sites (at least $50/mo.) then a higher quality hosting solution is well worth the cost.


Install WordPress

If you’re not using a Managed WordPress service (comes with WordPress pre-installed) you’ll need to install WordPress yourself. Most hosting products offer WordPress via a one-click installer.

If you’re given an option during the setup/install process for install type (some Managed WordPress hosts and one-click installers offer this choice), choose a WordPress multisite subdomain install.  Don’t worry if you’re not sure what that is, we’ll cover it later.

In the unlikely case you need to install WordPress manually…

Enable WordPress Multisite

The foundation for our automated website platform is WordPress multisite.  Learn more about how our platform benefits from multisite in the How does it work? section above and learn more about WordPress multisite in general here.

To setup your WordPress multisite network see these guides:

If your website host already setup WordPress multisite then you’re all set–just make sure it’s a subdomain install.  Multisite allows both subdomain (subdomain.yourwebsite.com) and subdirectory (yourwebsite.com/subdirectory) install types.  We want a subdomain install.  Learn how to switch multisite install types here.

Updating WP Config

One of the most important files in your WordPress installation is your wp-config.php file.  For general information on wp-config see Editing wp-cofig.php here.

The current state of your wp-config.php file largely depends on your host.  For example, Managed WordPress services sometimes heavily modify your wp-config.php file while setting up your installation.

You may need a few extra settings to get your multisite network working properly–it depends on your setup.  Here are some of the settings I often use:

// Extra WP Multisite
define( 'NOBLOGREDIRECT', 'https://example.com/404/' );
define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );
define( 'MULTISITE', true );
define( 'SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL', true );
$base = '/';
define( 'DOMAIN_CURRENT_SITE', 'example.com' );
define( 'PATH_CURRENT_SITE', '/' );
define( 'SITE_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1 );
define( 'BLOG_ID_CURRENT_SITE', 1 );
define( 'SUNRISE', 'on' );

We’ll talk about more of these settings later.

Configure Your Multisite Network

On your network in the Network Admin area ( https://example.com/wp-admin/network/ ) you’ll find the network settings under Settings > Network Settings.

Many of these settings are preference, but here are some suggestions:

  • Network Title: The name of your network.
  • Network Admin Email: The email address that receives notifications.  Also the default “From” email for registration/support emails.
  • Allow New Registrations: This depends on  your preference.  Allow both sites and users to be registered on an open free or paid network where new users can sign up.  Disallow them if it’s a private network where you set all sites.
  • Registration Notification: I typically leave this on for a pulse on the network.  Turn them off if you don’t want notifications or have a high volume of new signups.
  • Add New Users: This allows individual site admins to add new users.  Most users don’t need this capability, but it depends on your business model.
  • Banned Names: Add any restricted site names here, e.g. www, web, root, admin, main, invite, administrator, files, your name, your company name, etc.
  • Limited Email Registrations: Used to only allow registration with certain email domains, e.g. yourcompany.com.
  • Banned Email Domains: Used to prevent registration with certain email domains, e.g. yahoo.com.
  • Welcome Email: The email sent to new site owners.

Here’s an example, feel free to use it:

Hi, thanks for trying YOUR COMPANY NAME, we’re really happy to have you!

Here’s your website info:
– View your website here: BLOG_URL
– Login to your website here: https://example.com/admin
– Username: USERNAME
– Password: PASSWORD
You can reset your password on the login page.

Enjoy your X-day trial period. Check out this quick guide to get started: https://example.com/start

After activating a paid subscription we can help with setup at no cost. For example we can transfer content from another website, add a logo, custom color scheme and more.

If you have any questions or need any help just reply to this email or contact us at help@example.com.

Thanks for trusting us with your website.

Note: BLOG_URL, USERNAME, PASSWORD are automatically converted into the relevant user info.

  • Welcome User Email: The email sent to new users (only if a site wasn’t created).

Here’s an example, feel free to use it:

Hi, we just finished setting up your new user account!

Username: USERNAME
Password: PASSWORD

Login here: https://example.com/admin

You can reset your password on the login page at any time.

If you need any help, just email us at help@example.com

Note: BLOG_URL, USERNAME, PASSWORD are automatically converted into the relevant user info.

  • First Post, Page, Comment, etc. are self-explanatory  These typically aren’t used because they’re included in the template sites.
  • Upload Settings are self-explanatory.  Here’s a default list of allowed file types if you need suggestions: jpg jpeg png gif mp3 mov avi wmv midi mid pdf
  • Default Language: The default language for the network.  Users can switch to their own language on a  site by site basis.
  • Enable Administration Menus: Allow access to admin menus, typically just Plugins is shown here.


Securing Your Network

WordPress security is particularly important here because if your Network Administrator account is hacked they’ll also have access to every site on your network.

WordPress security is a popular topic, so popular that we don’t need to cover it all here.  If you’re new to WordPress, check out Hardening WordPress in the Codex.  Here are some highlights:

If you’re on a Managed WordPress host much of this hardening is done for you, so check with your host before making any advanced changes.

Other ways to protect your site include using 3rd party plugins to prevent brute force attacks like Jetpack’s Brute Protect module.  This is especially useful if you’re already using Jetpack’s other features.

TLS/SSL Certificates

TLS/SSL certificates help secure your website and are highly recommended.  Though most people still call them SSL certificates, SSL is the predecessor of TLS.  We’ll call them SSL certificates here for simplicity.

There are multiple kinds of SSL certificates.  Aside from standard SSL certificates there are Wildcard and EV (Extended Validation) certificates, which we’ll discuss below.

Wildcard SSL

Wildcard SSL certificates protect all subdomains on a network, e.g. .domain.com, where the asterisk () represents any subdomain from www.domain.com to 123.domain.com.

On a WordPress multisite network this typically means the primary site (domain.com or www.domain.com), subsites (e.g. help.domain.com) and admin/login pages for all sites (assuming you use the original, non-mapped domain for the admin pages).

If a custom domain is mapped to a customer site the Wildcard SSL certificate won’t cover the front-end because it is on a different domain.

Wildcard SSL prices typically range from $200-$300/year.  I’ve used RapidSSL Wildcard SSL certificates in the past, but I’m currently using GoDaddy.  Go with whatever works for you.

Extended Validation (EV) SSL

EV certificates require additional business validation and give you the green bar on your website:


This has no other affect than adding additional trust for your users. How effective is this? It’s debatable, there are various opinions on the issue.

I use EV certs on one of my networks. How much of a difference does it make? I don’t know, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

EV SSL certificates run between $100-$200/year.  I use GoDaddy for my EV SSL certificate as well.  The validation process is more in-depth than you might expect, so I recommend looking into it before buying an EV certificate.

This is the guide that I never finished…

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How to Pick a Domain Name for a Business Website [Guide]

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About this guide: This guide is for picking domain names for you own business website, a client’s website or for any project that needs a domain name.

The domain name for a website is just as important as the name of the business.  After all, a website is the face of the business online.

But there are a lot of things to consider and it can feel overwhelming, so here are some tips to make it easier. We’ll cover the following topics:

  • Domain name considerations
  • Auto-renewal
  • Paying too much
  • Domain privacy
  • Buying domain names

Domain name considerations

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on a domain name. We’ll talk about:

  • Available
  • Specific
  • Relevant
  • Memorable
  • Short
  • Domain extensions (.com, .org, .net)
  • Numbers & dashes

Some are more important than others, but take them all into consideration. Now let’s talk about each one.


At the end of the day availability is the most important because if the domain name you want isn’t available, then it doesn’t matter how good it is.  The best way to increase the chances of the domain name you want being available is to get specific.


In this example, let’s say that the website is for a plumber in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego and the name of the company is Don’s Plumbing.  Let’s work our way from general to specific to try to find a good domain name.

  • Plumbing.com or Plumber.com: Not a chance, way to general.
  • CaliforniaPlumber.com: Still too general, but getting there.
  • SanDiegoPlumber.com: Better, but San Diego is a large city and county, so it’s likely taken thus still too general.
  • RanchoBernardoPlumber.com: San Diego has of a lot of neighborhoods and I live in one called Rancho Bernardo.  If the website is for a plumber that primarily served this neighborhood, this domain name might be a good fit.  It really depends on the area, but it’d also get a boost when prospective customers searched for “plumber rancho bernardo”  since those words (called keywords) are in the domain name.

So, the more specific we get with our domain name, the higher the chances that it is available.


We want a relevant domain name.  For example, if we’re a plumber, we should try to mention plumbing or plumber somewhere in the domain name to let customers (and search engines) know what we do.  This also ties in with being specific because the more specific we are, the more relevant we are as well.

The only exception to this is typically reserved for large companies with irrelevant names, but massive, well-known brands (i.e. Google, Nike, etc.).  As small businesses, we typically don’t fall into this category.


It’s important to be memorable, especially when trying to build a local brand.  Besides, if the website address isn’t memorable it makes it harder for customers to recommend the business by word of mouth.

Small businesses get much of their business through word of mouth, so we should make it as easy as possible for our customers to recommend it to others.  A memorable domain name makes it easy to talk about.

So what does a memorable domain name look like?

Less memorable

  • DonaldsPlumbingServicesLLC.com: The longer it is, the harder it is to remember.
  • DonsPlumbing78312.com: Numbers, especially when they’re random, make it hard to remember.  The only exception might be if it’s the area code you serve and it makes sense to use it.
  • Dons-Plumbing-ServicesLLC: Now, where were those dashes again?  And how many were there?

More Memorable

  • DonsPlumbing.com: Uses the name of the company.
  • RanchoBernardoPlumbing.com: Uses the service and the area served.
  • 858Plumbing.com: Uses the area code of the area served and names the services offered.


When it comes to domain names, typically the shorter the better.  Not only are they easier to remember, but they look better.

That said, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, it’s just something to consider.  For example, DonsPlumbing.com is better than DonsPlumbingServices.com, but DPlmbg.com isn’t better than DonsPlumbing.com.

When choosing between two domain names of similar quality, go for the shorter one.  But don’t let trying to make a domain name as short as possible overrule the other factors mentioned above.

Which domain extension should I use?  .com, .net, .org, .biz, etc?

The .com domain is the best choice for a domain name because it is the most common.  If you buy a .com, also try to scoop up the .net and .org versions if they’re available (they’re only $10/year) and redirect them to the website on the .com.

If you can’t find an available .com, then .net and .org are runners-up.  They’re acceptable, but if I was using a .org or .net I’d worry about customers typing in .com by accident.  It’s not a massive concern or a deal breaker, but just something to consider.

I’d stay way from all the other extensions (such as .biz, .pro, .me, .info ).  This is largely personal preference, but to me they seem cheap.  It’s also likely that most of your customers aren’t familiar with them.  As time passes they may become more acceptable.

Numbers & dashes (hyphens) in the domain name

If possible, avoid using numbers and dashes in the domain name.  They’re not inherently bad, but they’re often used incorrectly, or in a way that decreases domain name quality.  This often results in making a website less memorable and look less reputable.

So as a general rule I recommend staying away from dashes and numbers if possible.  One popular exception is using the area code of the are you serve in the domain name as demonstrated in the Memorable section above.


Enable auto renewal on your domain name.  You’d be surprised how many businesses lose their domain name because they forget to renew it.

Don’t pay too much

Domain names cost around $10-20, with the typical range between $12 and $15.  As of this writing, the company we use GoDaddy.com, charges around $12 per year.

Less common domain extensions like .tv, .info, .to, etc. often have different prices that are higher than the more common domain extensions. For example, some of these can cost over $99/year depending on the extension. If you’re considering one of these other extensions take the additional cost into consideration, especially if the initial purchase price is different from the renewal price.

A couple of dollars difference isn’t a big deal, but it’s a peeve of mine to see certain companies charge 400% of the cost for domain names.  This is typical with the free website builders who lure customers in with free websites, then make up the lost revenue by significantly marking up other products that customers need after they’re locked in.  To me it seems dishonest and it really bugs me, but it’s the business model they use.

Domain privacy

When you register a domain name, the information you use (name, phone number, email, address) is publicly listed as the owner of that domain.  Most domain registrars (the companies that sell domains) offer domain privacy, which blocks this information from being publicly displayed.

If you’re big on privacy, you can pay to have this information hidden, but it depends on your situation on whether it’s worth it.  Typically, as a business owner your company and contact information is already listed publicly on your website and elsewhere, so it may not matter.

Buying ‘for sale’ domains

You may find that your ‘perfect’ domain is available, but for sale in the secondary market.  This is the case when the domain is available for any price above the registration fee.  Some domains for sale don’t even show a price, but ask you to ‘make an offer,’ which is even more annoying.

99% of the time you should ignore domain names for sale and just find one that’s available.  Unless you’re a large company and interested in building a brand, it’s not worth the time and money it’ll take to close the deal.  The only exception might be if the domain is truly a perfect fit for your business and it’s at a reasonable price based on your budget.  $3,000 is typically as high as I’ll go when buying a domain for a business.  If the business is tiny or it’s for a small project I may not go higher than $250–go with your gut.


Picking a domain name is hard because it seems like all the ‘good’ domain names are taken.  But since every business is unique, there plenty of relevant, specific domain names available that are a great match for your business.

All of the factors we’ve discussed should be considered when choosing your domain name.  Based on your situation you may disregard some to focus on others, and that’s fine.  These factors will help you make the best choice from the available options.

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When is it Time to Revamp a Small Business Website? Here are 9 Ways to Know [List]

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The most important thing about this question is knowing when to ask it.  Most small businesses are masters of their craft, not website experts.  That’s why 95% of small businesses have outdated websites.  That’s also a big opportunity for WordPress professionals to help out.

Small businesses either don’t think about their website much or don’t realize that it’s outdated.  Whether you’re a small business owner or a WordPress expert helping a business owner, here are some questions to ask to know whether it’s time for a website redesign.

1. Does it work on mobile devices?

Over 1/3 of website traffic is from mobile devices, so your website should work and be easy to use on mobile devices like smartphones and tables.

If your business website doesn’t work on mobile devices your prospective customers will find one that does.  Are you sending potential customers away?

If you’re still using a dedicated (adaptive) mobile website, you should consider upgrading to responsive design.  Not only is a separate dedicated mobile website more expensive to keep up, but it can hurt SEO if it isn’t setup right and authority is split between multiple websites.  Responsive design is a new technology that makes your website work flawlessly on all devices by automatically adjusting to each device.

2. Is the website secure?

30,000 websites are hacked every day.  Is your website secure?  If your website software is outdated, you’re at risk.  In fact, out of date website software is the #1 reason websites get hacked.  Your business is your livelihood, so make sure you get a security guarantee of some sort.

Although there’s no practical way to make a website hacker proof, a security guarantee will make sure that if your website is ever hacked or infected you’re not left with the bill.

Essentially, a security guarantee is an insurance policy that says your website company will have your back if anything happens.  Make sure you’re protected by one.

What is your website host doing to make sure the security of your website?  If you don’t know, it might make sense to have a security audit done because your business is worth it.  You may want to move your website to a more secure host before revamping it.

3. Does the website look outdated?

This is a subjective question, but most people spend enough time online to know if a website feels outdated or not.  This is important because your website is the face of your business online. If it’s outdated, it reflects poorly on your business.

Additionally, studies have shown that customers have more trust and are willing to spend more with businesses with better designed websites.  This makes sense because visiting a poorly designed website online is like visiting a dirty, rundown store in the real world.  Your website represents your business online just like a store or office represents your business in the real world.

If it’s been a few years since your website has been updated, it’s probably ready for a refresh.  Newer technologies like responsive design and HTML5 change the way websites are built.

4. Is the website easy to update yourself?

You should be able to update your website yourself.  You should be able to update things like your About and Contact pages, business information, contact and quote request forms, and more.  You need to be able to do these things without wasting money hiring somebody to do it for you.

Most modern website builders like WordPress, GoCentral, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, etc. have tools that make updating your website easy.  If you choose to build your website a different way, just make sure you have a content management system (CMS) to make it easier to update and maintain yourself on a budget.

5. Does the website let customers communicate with you?

Your website should have a flexible form builder that lets you create anything from simple contact forms to advanced quote request forms and surveys.  You should have the power to do these things when your business needs them without paying extra.  You should be able to create forms for any purpose, such as:

  • Customer service
  • Work requests
  • Online orders
  • Reports
  • Contests
  • Online estimates
  • Contact Us page
  • Reservations
  • Bug reports
  • Surveys
  • Online payments
  • Memberships
  • Questionnaires
  • Appointments
  • Newsletters

6. Is the website fast?

If your website is slow, you’ll need to figure out if it’s due to slow website hosting or if it’s just a poorly coded website (most likely).  If build on WordPress, your website should use things like caching, combination and minification of scripts and stylesheets, content delivery networks (CDN), etc.

Most Managed WordPress hosts like GoDaddy or WP Engine automatically make these optimizations.  When you’re wondering what the difference is between high quality hosting and budget hosting, this is the difference.

Use tools like tools.pingdom.com and webpagetest.org to test your website speed.  Run your website through a couple of times to get a solid baseline.  Try to get your website load time under 1 second.  Every extra second your website takes to load means more lost sales.

7. Is the website doing its job?

What’s your website for?  Is it to bring in leads, increase sales, provide information, or a combination?  How well is it doing those things?  Increasing conversions to meet business goals should be a part of your website revamp.

Just remember that a website doesn’t just do these things automatically.  Even with the best technical SEO on your website, there has to be something to optimize.  You have to put in the effort to spread the word, write content to attract search engine traffic, and do things that make your website worth visiting.

Remember, there are around 1 billion websites on the internet, why should customers visit yours?

8. Is the website increasing sales?

How effective is your website’s SEO?  For example:

  • Does it use all the right HTML tags and other markup?
  • Does it make sure your new content gets submitted to search engines?
  • Does it make it easy for search engines to find and index your content?
  • Does it use regular and media sitemaps like video sitemaps?
  • Does it automatically add video thumbnails to search results to get you more search engine traffic?
  • Does it take advantage of local SEO markup to help local customers find your business?

Not only should your website do these things, but it should do these things automatically so you never have to worry about them and you can focus on your business.

9. Does the website make the business better?

Over the last 5 years software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud applications (apps) have become increasingly popular with small businesses.  They do everything from email marketing and invoicing, to CRM and appointment scheduling.  These apps bring enterprise power to small businesses at a fraction of the cost.

Your website should allow you to integrate with these applications to automate administrative tasks and streamline your business.  For example, form submissions could create new invoices, add contacts to your CRM, create help tickets, make appointments, etc. all automatically.  Your website should do more than just look good, it should make your business better.  That’s the great thing about a powerful, flexible CMS like WordPress: it does all of these things, many of them for free!

Does your website need a revamp?  Is your website doing everything it could be to help you build a business as great as your ambitions?  If not, you should think about revamping your website and take your business to the next level.

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Business Websites [Guide]

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About this guide: This a beginner’s overview of SEO for your website or a client’s website.  For more advanced SEO training check our Yoast’s blog posts and courses.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is what increases your chances of being found when customers search for a product or service like yours with Google, Bing, and other search engines.  If a customer is using a search engine to find what they need and you don’t show up, you don’t exist.

Why SEO matters

There are many ways to get the word out about your business: phonebook ads, flyers, radio commercials, paid online ads, and more.  But all of those things cost money.

On the other hand, if customers find your business while using a search engine it’s like free website traffic (also called organic traffic).  Though you may spend some time optimizing your website, you’re not paying for each new lead like with pay-per click (PPC) advertising.

SEO is important because it is the most cost-effective way to bring in new customers that your business.  So why don’t more people do it?  SEO takes time and patience to do right.  Most people just want fast results and aren’t willing to invest the time, but it never happens over night.

Types of SEO

SEO is typically divided into two main groups:

  • On page SEO: Everything on the page.  This includes everything the words in the content you use to all the technical stuff (i.e. tho code) like the HTML tags that tell the search engines about your content.  This is all within your control.
  • Off page SEO: Everything off the page.  This is primarily made of links to your website from other websites.  This is not in your control, but you have some ability to influence it.

On page SEO

On page SEO is the most important aspect of SEO because it is completely within your control.  This include making sure your website uses all the right HTML tags and structured data to correctly markup your content, which is colloquially referred to as technical SEO due to the code related nature of it.

Essentially, this markup tells search engines what your website is about, what the important things are, and how to interpret all of it.  The more you help search engines understand what your website is about, the more qualified leads you’ll get from search engines (also called organic traffic).

In addition to technical SEO mentioned above, the rest is content focused and consists of the words you use on your website.  For example, if you use words like accounting, taxes, marginal tax rate, exemption, invoice, IRS, audit, etc., search engines will assume you’re an accountant and your website is about accounting.  When users enter search terms (also called keywords) into search engines like these, they’ll be more likely to find pages on your website related to these keywords.

This concept is particularly important for local businesses.   If you’re a plumber, customers won’t find you by typing ‘plumber’ into Google.  But if you’re a plumber in Turlock, CA and customers type in ‘turlock plumber’ there’s a much better chance they’ll find you.  This is called as local SEO.  Yoast has a Local SEO plugin that does this well.  It’s a premium add on for their free WordPress SEO plugin, which I highly recommend.

This is why on page SEO is so important.  If you use the right HTML tags and structured data to  markup your content, Google will know what you do and where you are.  So, when customers in your area are searching they’ll find your business.

If you’re using the right advanced structured data, Google can even show your phone number and where your business is located to potential customers.  Awesome right?  That’s why on page SEO is so important.

Getting on page SEO correct sounds hard, but using the right content management system (CMS) like WordPress makes it a lot easier.

Two common types of structured data used for SEO are local markup and video thumbnails. Below are two examples of structured data at work in Google search results.

Local SEO at work in Google search results:

Local SEO

Video SEO at work in Google search results:

Video SEO

You can spend hours and hundreds of dollars writing the best website content, but it won’t matter much if your on page SEO as lacking.  So invest the time and make sure your website has what it needs to get your business found.

Off page SEO

Off page SEO is primarily made up of links to your website from other websites.  I hesitate to mention off page SEO because most people do it wrong.  Heck, most SEO “experts” even do it wrong.

Most SEO experts assume that more links are better, no matter where they come from.  More links can actually hurt your website if they’re from low quality sources.

Most link building services build links this way and it hurts businesses.  Can you imagine paying for a service that hurts your business?  You’d be surprised how many business get penalized by Google for poor link building practices.

The best SEO experts do excellent work, but they’re also very expensive.  The worst ones are often cheap and focus too much on getting more links instead of earning more links.

You earn links by creating valuable content that others want to link to.  The best links come from reputable sources that are relevant to your business.  For example, if you’re a plumber, a link from a plumber’s association is better than a link from a website about sports.  The link from the sports site isn’t inherently bad for your site (unless it’s a low quality website), it’s just not as good.


That was a brief overview of SEO for business websites.  SEO can be a very complicated topic, but just stick to the basics and you’ll do better than most.  In fact, SEO is actually easier than it seems because most businesses (especially small businesses) do it poorly.

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Why 50% of Small Businesses Still Don’t Have Websites (& How to Leverage This Opportunity)

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How to Make More Money with WordPress

Half of small businesses still don’t have websites.  Why?

41% of these businesses without websites say their business “does not need a website.”  This is a dismissal, not a reason.

Digging deeper

As you can probably guess, most small business owners without websites are not tech savvy.  They dismiss the need for a website because:

  • They don’t understand it and how it could help their business
  • It seems too expensive, complicated, time-consuming, etc.
  • They’re “doing just fine without it” or they’ve “never needed one before”

Consider how much the internet has changed in the last 10 to 15 years: smartphones, tablets, Google, Facebook, Twitter, the slow death of newspapers, Amazon, etc.  It’s a different world.

76% of small business owners are over 45.  As we get older and busier, we fall out of touch with technology as we settle into our ways.

These changes are easy to miss if you’re busy running a business and most of your customers are repeat customers or referrals, but this is a deadly deception.

Just because things seem ok now doesn’t mean everything is fine.  That’s like jumping off a building and halfway down saying, “So far, so good!”

This is how businesses die: they don’t see the need to change until it’s too late.

The real problem

The “don’t need it” argument boils down to two things:

  • Lack of education: Not understanding 1) how a website helps a business, 2) how a website helps customers, or 3) the long-term negative impact of not having a website.
  • Not easy/affordable enough: Getting and maintaining a website (still) isn’t fast, easy, or affordable enough for most small businesses to feel comfortable.

As professionals in the web development community, this is a failing on our part.  So, how can we fix it?

Need vs. want (enough)

Almost half of small businesses without websites say they don’t need a website, but they really mean they don’t want it enough.  There’s a threshold where the want for something surpasses the pain (cost/complexity/time) of getting it.

I’d wager that 99.9% of small businesses claiming they don’t need a website would change their mind if they could snap their fingers and have a fully built, maintenance free, zero cost, zero effort website.

No such thing exists (yet), but that’s not the point.  The point is that if it were easy/cheap enough, they’d want one.  Now it’s just a matter of helping them want it enough to cross that threshold.

That’s where education, ease and affordability come in:  Education raises their willingness to get a website.  Making it cheaper and easier lowers the threshold.

WordPress and WordPress professionals are the answer to make it cheaper and easier.  As a WordPress professional it’s our duty (and our opportunity) to bring more businesses online for the first time and help them thrive.

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