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As your website grows, and the number of visitors you receive increases, making improvements on your live site isn’t sensible. Instead, you should consider creating a test site, where you can work on your site without the changes being affecting your user experience.
In this article, we look at what exactly a test site is. We then consider the different ways you can create a test site, and the benefits of these options. Once you have finished reading, you will be well equipped to set up your own WordPress website’s test site.
Why You Should Use a test Site
A test site is simply a copy of your WordPress website that isn’t available to the general public. Once created you can work directly on your test site, make improvements, trial plugins, and generally tinker, without it affecting any aspect of your live WordPress website.
If you don’t use a test site, then every time you want to make changes to your website you run the risk of greatly impacting your user’s experience. If your website visitors encounter frequent changes and interruptions, slow load times or even an unavailable or broken site, then this can damage the reputation of your business. And ultimately lose you leads, customers, and revenue.
Using a test site, or staging environment as it is often referred to, enables you to make changes to your website without time pressure. You can decide what tools and features work best on your site, without worrying that whilst you are working you are hindering the usability of your site. This will result in you being able to produce the best version of your website, which you can then ship to your live site when it is ready.
So now we know why you should use a test site. But how do you set one up?
How to Create a Test Site
There are a number of ways to create a staging area for your WordPress website. Let’s take a look at them…
Staging Provided by Your Web Host
A number of hosting providers offer a staging area as part of their hosting service. WPEngine offers managed staging with all their plans, enabling you to create a copy of your site in their staging area. Here you can test any code, design, or more, and then push changes across to your live site when you are ready.
If WPEngine prices are a little high for your liking, SiteGround’s premium plan ‘GoGeek’ also offers a ‘one-click’ staging environment. Here you can create a copy of your site in a staging area with just one click. Improvements to your live site can be sent with again just ‘one-click’, and SiteGround automatically backups up your site first, in case you want to reverse the changes.
These aren’t the only web hosting providers that offer staging options with their hosting services. Always check out what features are offered, and if staging is included, before choosing a web host and plan for your WordPress website.
Use a Staging Solution
If your web host doesn’t offer a staging feature, then using a hosting solution may be a good option for you. WP Stagecoach is a quick and easy way to create a test site. Working with any host, WP Stagecoach provides a staging environment where you can access and work on your test site. Then push your updates live with just ‘one-click’.
WP Stagecoach also uses a ‘database merge’ feature. This is not an ‘overwrite’ feature, ensuring that your data is never lost. Prices start from $10 a month, and a free trial is also offered, enabling you to be sure this is the solution for you before committing financially.
Using a staging environment provided by your web host or by a staging service, is by far the easiest way to create a test site. However, it will also cost you. Let’s next look at a few free way to create a staging area for your WordPress website.
Manually Set Up a Local Installation
Manually installing WordPress on your desktop, is an approach used by many. Although this may not be the best option for those with limited WordPress experience, once set up, this is a free and easy way to access and work on your test site. To install WordPress directly on your computer check out the WordPress Codex step by step instructions.
Manually Set Up a Subdomain on Your Web Host
Setting up a subdomain with your web hosting service is another straightforward and free option for creating a test site. Your test site will use a similar URL. For example, my personal test site for http://jonesblogs.com is wp.jonesblogs.com. Manually duplicating your site to your subdomain is relatively easy, and most hosting providers provide clear instructions on how to do so.
Use a WordPress Staging Plugin
There are a number of WordPress staging plugins that will enable you to clone and move a site from one location to another. Duplicator is a free WordPress plugin that will copy and move your site to any location you wish. You can move your site between domains on the same server, or between hosts, all with zero downtime. However, using this plugin does require some technical skills, so if you are looking for an easier way to create a test site then WP Staging might be a better option.
WP Staging is another free WordPress plugin that allows you to create a staging area for your website within a few minutes. Extremely straightforward to set up, simply migrate your website in just one-click, and then start working on your test site. WP Staging is great for those who don’t need all the extensive features of Duplicator, but still want to create a test site where they can tinker away in peace.
Final Thoughts on Setting Up a Test Site
As you can see, there are a number of ways to create a staging area – something to suit everyone’s needs. The importance of not working on your live site, and taking the time to create a test site, where you can trial changes and upgrades, cannot be underestimated. So now you know what to do, it’s time to get your test site set up.
Which method will you select to create your test site? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…
Gravatars are everywhere. So if you don’t know what a gravatar is, or you aren’t using one, then this article is a must-read. Gravatars not only help others in your community recognise you, if you run a website or blog then a gravatar can help send traffic to your site. Gravatars are also quick and easy to set up, so there is no excuse for not creating one.
In this article, we will consider what exactly a gravatar is and why you should have one. We will then look at how to sign up and create a gravatar, including what type of image you should use and which crucial information your gravatar profile should contain. We will also cover the benefits of managing gravatars for those who own a WordPress website, and discuss how to change the default gravatar to help your site stand out from the crowd.
What is a Gravatar?
If you have ever read or commented in a discussion under a blog post, or in a community forum on a website, you may well have noticed pictures next to other users names. These images, which can be photographs or graphics, are avatars. WordPress uses a particular type of avatar, called a gravatar, which stands for Globally Recognized Gravatar.
Originally, to display an avatar, users would have to register with a site and add their image to their profile. However, people started to become less interested in continuously registering with sites, whilst at the same time the importance avatars was realised. This led to the creation of the ‘Gravatar’ service.
‘Gravatar’ a free service owned by Automattic. It allows you to create your own gravatar, which is linked to your website address. Once you have set up a gravatar account and uploaded your picture, the image, and profile information, an avatar will display everytime you leave a comment or join a discussion.
Why Should You Have a Gravatar?
There are a number of reasons for you to create your own gravatar. Firstly, it is a great way to become part of an online community and network with those in your industry. On the whole, the majority of people react, recall, and importantly connect with images much more easily than text. Displaying an image of yourself, or even a graphic that people associate with you, will give you an identity to your peers and help you to become recognized.
If you are someone who likes to comment frequently on blogs, then other readers will quickly get to know your gravatar, and you will become a well-known part of the blogging community. The more you are recognised, the more likely people are to read and respond to your comments, as they will come to see you as an expert in your field.
And this takes us on to the second key reason for having a gravatar. If you run a website or a blog, then using a gravatar is a useful way to build your brand. By being repeatedly seen on other blogs, your target audience will eventually check out your site. They may also contact you to get an opinion on a specific matter, or use your services, as you be seen as a familiar, reliable, and trustworthy source of knowledge within your niche. Once traffic has arrived at your site, people are more likely to return, part with an email, buy a product, or convert against any other goals your site may have.
So now we know what a gravatar is and understand the importance of using one. Let’s next find out how to set a gravatar up…
Once you have created and activated your account, you can log into ‘Gravatar’ and set your gravatar up. Under the ‘My Gravatars’ tab, click on ‘Add New Image’. Then upload an appropriate image that you would like to use for your gravatar.
Think carefully about the image you use, and make sure it not just represents you but is also suitable for your niche. If your goal for your gravatar is to drive traffic to your website, consider using your site’s logo or favicon as your image.
Select the ‘My Profile’ tab from the top menu bar. Here you should add your information, including the name you want displayed publicly, your contact information and web address. Again, think carefully before writing your ‘About Me’ text, and if you want to send traffic to your website include your website’s URL here too.
You can also add your social media channels so those who check out your gravatar can follow you. To do so, click on ‘Verify Services’, to verify which social profiles are yours. Other extras you can add include further photos and cryptocurrency addresses.
Once you have finished, click on ‘Save Profile’. Then ‘View Profile’ to check out how your gravatar will appear to others. Now everytime you comment on a community forum or post in a discussion, your gravatar will appear.
Gravatars On Your WordPress Website
If you run a WordPress website, there are a number of benefits to having gravatars displayed on your site. Avatars help create a community around your site, helping your audience recognize and interact with each other. This will encourage your visitors to regularly return to your site to converse with their collective.
Gravatars also help website owners, enabling you to quickly identify your key audience. Look at what your regular avatars are interested in, what they comment on and the shape their discussions take. You can then tailor your content creation appropriately, and cater directly to your target audience’s needs.
Managing Gravatars on Your Website
WordPress websites have built-in support for gravatars, so visitor’s avatars are automatically shown when visitors leave comments on a site. However, if you want to manage how gravatars appear on your WordPress website, this can be done from within your WordPress dashboard. Let’s find out how…
Enabling and Disabling Avatars
Click on ‘Settings > Discussion from your WordPress menu, then scroll down to ‘Avatars’.
Here you can enable or disable avatars on your site (by default avatars will be enabled). You can also choose what rating of gravatar you want on your website, ensuring that no inappropriate avatars are displayed.
Turning on Gravatar Hovercards
Another option under ‘Avatars’ is to enable gravatar hovercards. These hovercards show gravatar profile information when people hover their mouse over any avatar. By turning on gravatar hovercards your community will be able to learn more about each other and easily connect.
Changing the Default Gravatar
Anyone who comments on your site, who hasn’t already set up their own custom gravatar, will be given the default ‘Mystery Person’ avatar (a white and grey outline of head and shoulders). If you want, you can give your site its own default avatar. This will help add a little fun to your site’s comment sections, can provide users who are ‘without’ with their own gravatars, and help give your website an edge over its competition.
To change the default gravatar, scroll down to ‘Default Avatar’ in the ‘Avatar’ section. Here you can choose from a blank or generic logo, or a generated one. The generated logos will be automatically created based on a users name and email address. These will provide each individual with their own custom avatar, which will remain the same every time they make a comment. Once you have selected an avatar type, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click ‘Save Changes’.
Final Thoughts on Gravatars
The benefits of using gravatars are plentiful. And, as you can see, gravatars are very quick and easy to set up and manage (both for individual purposes and on your WordPress website). So if you haven’t yet created your own gravatar, or customised your gravatar settings on your website to suit your audience, now is the time to do so.
Do you have any questions about creating a gravatar? If so feel free to ask them in the comments below…
There is no quick fix to increase conversion rates for your eCommerce store. Implementing and seeing through a number of strategies and tools, and then monitoring the results of these changes is crucial if you want to see a real growth in sales. However, knowing what adjustments you should make for your particular eCommerce store can be difficult.
In this article, we look at a number of improvements you can make to your website and to your marketing strategy. These include creating a smooth buying channel, using abandoned shopping cart software, remarketing on Facebook and Google, and focusing on turning one off buyers into lifelong customers.
High-quality images are essential if you want your products to sell. Images are all your customers have to go on, so make sure they are large and eye-catching, showing your product at its best. Take pictures from different angles, show the product in use, and if you are selling the item in different colors or patterns, add product pictures for each version.
Provide Product Videos
Displaying videos of your products can be the difference between a sale and a lost customer. Demonstrate the product being worn or in action. Again, show it from a variety of angles, and talk through its unique selling points whilst demonstrating its impressive qualities.
Write Detailed Product Descriptions
Take your time when writing the description for each product. Top quality sales copy will help convince your audience to buy the merchandise. However, often including the correct details that your potential customers need to know will be the ‘tipping-point’ that ensures the sale.
Depending on your product, add sizes, measurements, dimensions, specific features, and anything else that will help your audience make the decision to complete the purchase. A full description also ensures that the product is a best fit with what your buyers want, minimizing the likeliness of returns.
Create a Smooth Buying Channel
A smooth user experience is crucial if you want to increase conversion rates for your eCommerce store. A successful eCommerce store needs to clearly tell its audience what to do and where to go next. Any confusion will create uncertainty in customer’s minds over whether to buy, and could lead to visitors leaving your site before making a purchase.
Always make sure there are clear ‘Add to Cart’ and ‘Checkout’ buttons on each product page. These buttons should be big and bold and immediately grab people’s attention. People shouldn’t have to look for a buy button, they should be obviously visible at all times, so if people want to make a purchase they know immediately where to click.
Use a tracking tool like Crazy Egg to gain an understanding of how your audience is navigating your website. Crazy Egg uses heat and scroll mapping to give you a thorough insight into the journey your potential customers take on your site, enabling you to streamline your buying process.
Offer Free Shipping
Expensive shipping can easily lose you a sale, whereas free shipping can be the sweetener potential customers need to part with their money. So, if you can afford to, try and offer free shipping on all purchases from your eCommerce store. If this isn’t a viable option, consider adding free shipping to a particular product range, or providing it to a specific group of people, like first time buyers, or returning customers.
Use Abandoned Shopping Cart Software
Abandoned shopping carts can end up costing you dearly if you don’t follow up on these lost sales. There may be numerous reasons why your visitors aren’t completing a transaction, from running out of time, to not being sure if they really need the product.
Using abandoned cart software to reconnect with individuals can help remind people to revisit your store and buy the product they originally placed in their shopping cart. Conversio, previously known as Receiptful, is an all-in-one marketing tool for eCommerce stores. As part of their premium plans, they provide an abandoned cart recovery service, which enables you to set up email campaigns to reconnect with your site’s visitors.
Encourage Buyers to Leave Reviews
Reading product reviews from other customers is an important part of the buying process for many. Therefore, it is important that you build up a number of reviews for each product you are selling. After each purchase, email buyers to ask them to leave a review, sharing their experience of the product. Again, this is a service that Conversio provides. Offering an incentive, like a discount off a future purchase, could be an effective way to quickly build up reviews.
Display Popups Offering Discount Coupons
Offering a discount to people who visit your website can often be the incentive your customers need to make a purchase. Try displaying a 20% or 30% off discount code that can be used within the next hour to 24 hours. By adding a time limit, it will push visitors to make an impulse buy.
You can also use a lead generation tool, like Optinmonster, to not only promote your discount but to collect leads. Sharing a discount code in exchange for an email will make your customers feel like they have got a good deal, and you can collect emails as well as potentially increasing sales.
Remarketing on Google and Facebook
Remarketing is another clever way to connect with those who have viewed products on your site but left before making a purchase. Create ad campaigns with Google and Facebook, and then allow them to target those who have already shown an interest in your online store.
Advertising always comes with a risk, as there is no guarantee you will get a return for your money. However, using remarketing to display ads to people who are your key customer base is always a good option for eCommerce stores looking to increase conversion rates.
Add Call to Action Buttons to Your Social Media Channels
Having a strong presence on social media is a must for eCommerce stores. Social media enables you to reach and keep in contact with potential customers. And importantly, promote your products to your following. However, it can often be difficult to drive this social following to your WordPress website.
Adding ‘call to action’ buttons on your social media profiles can help increase traffic to your eCommerce store. By displaying a ‘Shop Now’ button, your social followers will be able to quickly open your site and purchase the products they have just admired on social media.
Each social media channel has different options for adding ‘call to action’ buttons to a profile. Facebook will allow you to add a ‘Shop Now’ button to your Facebook page for free. However, you will need to pay for the same privilege on Instagram. And with Buyable Pins, your Pinterest followers can purchase your products without even leaving Pinterest.
Focus on Creating Lifelong Customers
Turning one-time buyers into lifelong customers is the dream for eCommerce stores. Once someone has purchased one of your products, use an automated mailing service like MailChimp to keep in contact. MailChimp can integrate with your eCommerce store, sending targeted email campaigns, helpful product follow-ups, and loyalty rewards, all based on how each individual customer behaved on your site. By enticing people back to your site to make further purchases, you are building up a relationship with them, and making your site their ‘go-to’ online store.
Final Thoughts on How To Increase Conversion Rates for Your eCommerce Store
As you can see, there is much you can do to help increase conversion rates for your eCommerce store. Always use Google Analytics to monitor your site’s conversions and help you understand where your customers are coming from. To learn more about tracking your WordPress website’s analytics, read our article ‘How to Understand Your Website Audience with These Important Metrics’.
Which strategies and tools will you implement to help you increase conversion rates for your eCommerce store? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…
If you have recently started a new business, focusing on SEO is paramount. Improving your website’s SEO will help your business rank well in the search engines, reach new customers and drive traffic to your site. But SEO is complex and involves implementing a variety of tools and strategies. So where should you start?
In this article, we share a range of SEO top tips for businesses. We look at what you should already be doing and discuss a number of checks you can run to see how well optimized your site actually is. We will then consider what you can do going forward to help your business become more visible online. Let’s get started…
Basic SEO Practice
There are a number of basic SEO strategies that all websites should incorporate that we have written about previously. Here are a few tips that even as a new business you should already have implemented…
Install Yoast Seo
There are a number of WordPress SEO plugins, but Yoast is by far the most advanced. This free plugin will help optimize your content, tell you what you need to improve, help you add metadata, create a sitemap for your website, and much more.
So now we know what you should already be doing on your website, let’s look next at some SEO top tips to give your new business a boost…
Check Your Website’s SEO Score
It is important to know how well optimized your website is. SEO SiteCheckUp offers a free and in-depth tool enabling you to analyze what still needs improving on your WordPress website. The results are broken down into the categories of General SEO, Speed, Server and Security, Mobile Usability, and Advanced SEO, giving you actionable tasks to help you make the necessary changes needed.
Write a Blog
Whatever your business, adding a blog to your website is a must. Posting interesting and relevant articles regularly to your blog will appeal to your audience and encourage them to return. It will also encourage a steady stream of new visitors, drawn to your site to read specific posts. The regular updating of your site, and the increase in traffic, will help to improve your site’s rankings in the search engines.
Create a Content Strategy
Creating a content strategy for your business is vital, so each article you publish has a purpose. And do your keyword research, so every article you write includes terms that your audience is already searching for in Google.
Writing an assortment of evergreen articles is important as this is content that is ‘ageless’ and will still be searched for and useful for years to come. Always make sure your content is original and top quality, so your visitors will stay and read an article and not just bounce within seconds of arriving on your site.
Also consider writing a number of ‘how to’ articles that help people solve problems. This type of post generates high levels of traffic, and the more traffic your site receives the higher your pages will climb in the search engines.
Keep Visitors On Your Site
Positive metrics like low bounce rates, time spent on site, and pages viewed all help with SEO. Once visitors have arrived on your site to read an article you want them to stay, so make the navigation of your site easy. An effective way to do this to use a popular posts plugin.
Bibblio is an impressive SaaS product that has recently launched a WordPress plugin. This solution will enable you to add stylish popular posts sections to your blog. By displaying relevant content to that already being viewed, your visitors are more likely to click through to continue their reading, increasing page views and time spent on your site.
Encourage Visitors to Return to your Site
Adding an engaging comments section is an effective way to create a community of regular visitors. Google wants to see your site is interesting to your audience and being used, so having returning visitors will impact on your SEO.
Use Disqus, a third party solution that will add a dynamic and interactive comments section underneath each of your blog posts. Let readers add images and videos to discussions, vote, recommend, create their own threads and much more. Becoming engaged in interesting threads will encourage visitors repeatedly visit your site, helping to improve your SEO data.
Backlinks are important, but not easy to achieve. Backlinks are links to your site from other websites. These links help the search engines find your site and index your content. To get started creating backlinks, begin by commenting on blog discussions and forums. The more ‘high profile’ the sites the better, so concentrate on linking to large popular websites that are big names in their niche.
Guest blogging is another great way to receive backlinks. Contact site’s that are relevant to yours and ask if you can publish an article on their site. Although you don’t get paid for this, you will be able to add your bio underneath with a link back to your site. Guest posting will also enable you to reach a new potential audience, helping to drive traffic to your site.
Get Busy on Social Media
There is no direct evidence that the sharing of content on social media is taken into account by the search engine algorithms. However, the larger your social media following and the more your content is shared on the social platforms, the more traffic your website will receive. Not only are high levels of traffic good for your business, Google also monitors traffic levels and will reward your site accordingly.
Local SEO is a big deal and if your business wants to rank in local searches there is much you can do. Yoast has developed two premium WordPress plugins, Local SEO and Local SEO for WooCommerce. Both these plugins will enable your site and business to get better search results in local searches, as well as enhance your contact pages with Google Maps. opening times, store locators, and more.
It is also important to join up with Google My Business. By creating your own free listing with Google My Business, your business will appear on Google Search and Google Maps. This will help customers quickly and easily find your website and get in contact.
Final Thoughts on SEO Top Tips for New Businesses
As you can see, there are many SEO top tips that you can implement. By dedicating time and effort to SEO, and incorporating the tools and strategies mentioned in this article, you should soon see positive results. And as your site rises in the search engines, the increase in traffic to your website will help your business grow. Good Luck!
Which SEO top tips are you going to introduce? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…
Keeping in contact with your audience once they have left your site, and ensuring they return, is a difficult job. Push notifications can be an effective solution to this problem, promoting new content to your target audience and encouraging them back to your WordPress website.
In this article, we look at exactly what push notifications are. We consider the many benefits they can bring to your website and business. And we then discuss a couple of feature-rich WordPress plugins that will enable you to add the push notification function to your website.
What Are Push Notifications?
Push notifications are a fairly recent new trend that you have probably been exposed to but not thought much about. Think back over the last few times you arrived at a new website. You will probably have been asked on at least one occasion to allow that site to ‘send you notifications’. This message usually appears as a small pop-up at the top of the screen.
If a visitor accepts your invitation of ‘sending notifications’, then once leaving your site they will be sent notifications to their desktop or mobile devices. When one of these notifications is then clicked on by a receiver, they will be immediately taken to your website, and to the content that was displayed in the message.
Push notifications are quite a neat way of keeping in contact with your audience. They can be used to promote new content, as well as interesting events that are happening on your site. Push notifications have in fact been around for a long time in the mobile world. However, the technology now exists to send notifications from WordPress websites. And to make it that much easier, there are a number of WordPress plugins that can set push notifications up for you.
Before we look in more depth at the push notification plugins that are currently available, let’s first consider some of the benefits of using push notifications. And importantly, how they can be used to help your website achieve its goals…
The Benefits of Using Push Notifications on Your WordPress Website
There are a number of reasons to use push notifications. Here are some of the most important…
Stay Connected with Your Target Audience
Push notifications can only be sent if the reciever has opted-in in the first place. Therefore, we can quite confidently say that those who decide to receive push notifications will do so because they have an interest in your website and niche and want to hear more from you in the future. It is this target audience who, with the encouragement of your push notifications, will return to your website, engage with your content, and ultimately buy a product or service.
Improve Your Website’s SEO
With so many websites competing for your audience’s attention, even if your visitors are impressed with your content, there is no way of guaranteeing they will remember to revisit your website. By reminding your audience of your website with a range of notifications, you will increase the amount of traffic visiting your site. This, in turn, will have a positive effect on your site’s SEO. Thus helping your pages and posts climb the search engine rankings.
Convert Against Your Goals
It is important to plan out a careful push notification content strategy. This will help you to increase the conversion rates against your website’s goals.
For example, if your goal is to create a community of regular readers for your blog, then you should use push notifications to promote new blog posts, as well as your most popular and commented on articles. This will encourage your users to return to your site on a regular basis, and interact with your content.
However, if you are running an eCommerce store, then use your push notifications to market your newest or best-selling products. You could also share any top reviews, and advertise sales or discounts. By tailoring your push notifications content in this way, you can quickly increase your site’s results.
So, now we know what push notifications are and why we should be using them. Let’s next have a look at a few push notification WordPress plugins that you can use on your site.
OneSignal is a popular free WordPress solution, that currently sends over one billion push notifications a day. This plugin has numerous advanced features so you can set up and customize your push notifications to your exact specifications.
One Signal lets you target visitors with notifications based on the number of times they have visited your blog. Or, if you’d rather, you can create your own attributes to target. You can set notifications to be sent automatically after a new blog post is published, or if a user hasn’t visited your site for a couple of days. And you can also modify the opt-in popup, deciding when and how to ask your visitors to accept notifications. Other top features include tracking notification analytics and split testing. This makes OneSignal is a great all-round solution if you are looking to add push notification functionality to your WordPress website.
Extremely quick and easy to set up, PushCrew offers a range of impressive features. These ensure that your push notifications engage with your receivers and encourage them back to your site. PushCrew allows you to segment your audience so you can send personalized notifications and schedule notifications for when users are most active. You can also add custom images, emojis, calls to action, and much more.
PushCrew provides push notification metrics as well as extensive support via email and Skype. So if you are looking for a fresh and modern take on push notifications, that will cater to both the needs of your audience and yourself, PushCrew is the tool for you.
As you can see, push notification functionality can be a useful addition to your WordPress website. Push notifications can help drive traffic to your website and help create a community of loyal followers. Notifications can also be used to promote services, products, and premium content.
Using one of the high-quality plugins mentioned above will ensure you have access to the necessary features to target and personalize your push notifications. This will ensure your notifications connect with your audience, prompting them to act in accordance with your site’s goals.
Which push notification WordPress plugin appeals to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…
There are a number of different ways to create an online community site. You can build forums, provide a community blog, or set up a social network. Whichever style you decide on, the main goal will always be to create a platform where your community can easily connect with each other, and discuss and share different topics, issues, and opinions.
In this article, we will look at the different features an online community website can contain. However, the features you select for your project will very much depend on the type of site you are looking to set up. We will also discuss how to promote and monetize your WordPress website, establish regular followers and grow a strong community.
Forums can be a good way for community members to ask questions, share problems, and discuss and help each other with issues that are raised. bbPress is a popular free WordPress plugin developed by Automattic that enables you to easily add forums to your online community website. You can also add advanced functionality to your forum site with some of the many bbPress extensions.
When creating a forum website it is important that it is well organized. Take your time creating appropriate parent categories, so community users can easily find the forums they need or know where to create a new forum. Forums also need to be monitored and moderated, ensuring your website provides a safe and supportive environment.
Create a Community Blog
A community blog that shares news and events can be a dynamic feature of your online community website. Using a comments tool like Disqus can encourage your audience to interact and engage in discussions about particular articles.
Allowing your visitors to submit their own articles to the blog, gives your audience ownership over their community website. The free WordPress plugin, User Submitted Posts, allows visitors to submit posts from the front end of your website. A blog filled with user-generated content is more likely to be relevant and interesting to your audience. It is also a great way to keep your blog updated, without you having to write all the content.
If you are going to create a community blog, make sure you post a blog guideline, so content creators know what is acceptable and expected. Posts will also have to be closely monitored, as if there are too many promotional pieces then you will quickly lose your readers.
Turning Your WordPress Website into a Social Network
If you want to turn your website into the equivalent of a social network, then the free WordPress plugin BuddyPress is a great option. This powerful community plugin will enable you to add a wide variety of social features, including user profiles, activity and news feeds, groups, messaging, notifications and much more.
BuddyPress is a useful plugin as it gives you control over which features you want to activate on your site. This allows you to create an online community website with the social networking functionality that suits your niche and audience.
Extra Features for Your Online Community Website
So far we have discussed the three main features that an online community website may include. But what other aspects could you incorporate into your site to make it successful…
Add a Directory Page
Adding a directory page to your site using the free WordPress plugin GeoDirectory can benefit your whole community. Allowing local businesses to promote their shops or restaurants, or letting companies in your niche advertise their online stores or services, will provide useful information to your readers. You can also consider monetizing each listing once your site generates high levels of traffic.
Alongside your online community, consider creating a multi-vendor marketplace. Here people from your community can market and sell their products to your audience. You can then generate a revenue, taking a fee from each product sold on your site. And provide a useful platform for vendors and buyers in your niche. To add a multi-vendor marketplace to your site, use the free WordPress plugin WooCommerce and the premium extension Product Vendors.
Offer Premium Membership Tiers
Creating premium membership tiers can be another effective money maker. The WordPress plugin MemberPress will enable you to quickly turn your online community website into a membership site. Provide subscribers access to premium content, including courses, videos, eBooks, or extra support forums.
How to Grow Your Community
Growing a community of followers who regularly visit and engage with your site is a key if you want your project to be successful. Both lead generation and social media are important areas to concentrate your efforts.
Capturing email addresses of visitors enables you to keep in contact with your audience after they have left your site. You can then keep them up to date with what is happening on your site, showcase new blog posts, forums and discussions, and encourage people back to your online community.
To improve your lead generation, invest in a lead generation tool like Ninja Popups. This will help you add stylish and attention-grabbing opt-in forms to your website, promoting your mailing list and increasing the number of sign ups
Create a Facebook Page
Facebook is all about community. Creating a Facebook page, or a group, can complement your website and help you keep in contact with your community. Use Facebook Page Plugin to add your Facebook page to any page, post, or widget area of your online community website. This will help promote your Facebook page to your website visitors, and increase your Facebook follows.
Final Thoughts on Building an Online Community Website
As you can see, an online community website can include a number of features. Depending on the needs of your niche and audience, you may select one or many of the above-mentioned tools. The possibilities of what ‘can be’ makes creating an online community website an exciting project… so it’s time to get started!
Which features and tools will you use when creating your online community website? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…
There are a number of reasons why you should consider creating an eBook, all that will benefit your website, business and bank account. eBooks can take many different forms, from an instructional manual, to a full novel. Most of us who blog will have a range of material based on a particular niche that, with a bit of a tweak, would make an interesting eBook read.
In this article, we will consider the benefits of creating an eBook how to select the right content. We will then look at how to choose the appropriate format for your project, and discuss a range of tools to help you with eBook downloads and sales.
Why You Should Create an eBook
Creating an eBook from existing blog content is extremely straightforward. Once completed, an eBook can be used to improve your visitor’s experience on your WordPress website, generate leads, and make money.
An eBook as a Lead Magnet
A well-written eBook can be used as a free give away or a lead magnet on your site. This will help add value to your visitor’s experience, as well as help you collect leads. You can also promote your products and services through your eBook, and portray yourself as an expert in your field, helping to create regular followers who trust your advice.
The other option is to sell your eBooks. This can be either on your site or through an online eCommerce platform like Amazon or Gumroad. There be tremendous monetary value in selling eBooks. However, if you do opt to sell via a large vendor like Amazon, this can also provide a great opportunity to reach a wider audience, and ultimately drive new traffic to your site. Not to mention that having a published book, even self-published, can dramatically increase your blog’s reputability.
Selecting the Content
The first step in creating an eBook is to decide on the angle of the eBook, what content you are going to include, and which articles from your blog won’t make the cut. Read through your blog posts and other content on your WordPress website to see what is suitable eBook material.
You want to try and collect a group of relevant articles that can be edited and packaged together. Depending on your niche and what your eBook is focusing on, you may need to add text to create more of a story around your content, or just publish it ‘as is’ with an intro and summary.
Writing an eBook can be time-consuming, even if you are just collecting and editing. If you haven’t got time for such tasks, this can easily be outsourced to a content writer.
Equally, you can use a tool like Anthologize. This free plugin allows you to easily select articles from your site, which are then transformed into a single volume eBook. Formats available include PDF, ePUB, and TEI, providing you with plenty of distribution options.
Converting Content into an eBook
There are a number of ways to turn your WordPress content into an eBook. Once you are happy with your content selection you will need to choose which format to use. The option you select will probably be dependent on whether you are going to sell your eBook, use it as a free giveaway, or a lead magnet. Let’s have a look at the options…
Creating PDFs and ePubs
If you want to use your eBook as a giveaway freebie, or a lead magnet, then consider using a PDF or ePub format. As already mentioned, the free tool Anthologize will enable you to convert your content into either a PDF or ePub. These can then be easily accessed on-site, or just quickly downloaded.
You may be providing a free eBook as a lead magnet, in exchange for an email address. If this is the case, use an email autoresponder service like MailChimp, to send out a welcome email including a link to your eBook. Then use WordPress Download Manager, a free plugin, to manage and track the downloads of your eBook. This will give you an insight into how many downloads your eBook is receiving.
Selling an eBook on Your WordPress Website
If you are looking to sell your ebook then you will need to convert your content into an ePub, not a PDF. An ePub is an eBook file format. This means ePubs can be opened on e-readers, a functionality your readers will expect from a premium eBook.
Selling an eBook on your WordPress website can be a profitable venture. Easy Digital Downloads is a popular freemium plugin that will enable you to sell your eBook directly from your site. Turn your website into an eCommerce store for as many eBooks as you create, taking on-site payments and allowing your audience to automatically download their purchases.
Selling on Amazon
If you don’t want to limit sales to your immediate audience on your website, then you should consider using Amazon to promote your eBook. By selling your eBook through this eCommerce giant, you have the possibility of being able to reach millions of readers, resulting in higher levels of traffic visiting your website.
Amazon’s ‘Kindle Direct Publishing’ service will allow you to self-publish your eBook for free. Follow their step-by-step setup procedure, involving signing up with Amazon, uploading your content, and selecting a price for your book. Amazon will then publish your eBook, and take care of the sales and downloads. A royalty fee of up to 70% will be earnt for each eBook sold.
Once you have published your eBook, Amazon also provides the option of turning your eBook into a paperback. Simply choose the option, ‘+ Create Paperback’ next to the book on your ‘Bookshelf’. Your audience will then be given the choice of purchasing your content in eBook format, or receiving it as a paperback. Amazon will print your book on demand and take care of the posting, again paying you a royalty for each sale.
Final Thoughts on Turning WordPress Content into an eBook
As you can see, the process of turning WordPress content into an eBook is quite straightforward. If you have a large number of published blog posts, then converting these articles into an eBook is a natural next step. Once created, you can use an eBook as a freebie to add value your visitor’s experience, generate leads or create a new revenue stream. Good Luck!
What type of eBook will you create? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…
A podcasting website gives your podcasts a central place where they can be accessed by your followers, downloaded, listened to, discussed, and promoted. But creating a successful podcasting website isn’t a walk in the park. So how do you get started?
Here we discuss the importance of using a media hosting service and a WordPress podcasting plugin. We look at the type of equipment and software you will need to purchase, and the pages and features your podcasting website should include. Once you have finished reading this article, you will have a good understanding of what setting up a podcasting website entails.
Use a Media Hosting Service
It is not advisable to host your podcasts on your website server, as your podcasts will consist of large media files which will greatly affect the speed of your website, and possibly your web hosting bill. So instead you will need to sign up with a media hosting provider.
Blubrry offers a podcast hosting service starting from as little as $12 a month. It will integrate seamlessly with WordPress, as well as a multitude of podcast applications including iTunes, Google Play, Android and more.
Install a Podcast Plugin
Next, you will need to install a podcast plugin to display the podcasts on your website, and allow your audience to listen directly from your site. Pat Flynn, a podcasting guru, created his own premium WordPress podcast plugin, Smart Podcast Player, that is now widely popular amongst the podcasting community.
With Smart Podcast Player, your visitors can quickly see what podcasts are available on your site to listen to. They can read what each podcast is about, download tracks straight from the player, share your podcasts on social media, and much more. You can also capture listeners email addresses through a call to action button positioned on each podcast player.
Buy High-Quality Equipment
The sound quality of your podcasts is one of the most crucial aspects of podcasting. Take your time to read reviews on microphones to ensure you purchase a top performance product for a good price.
The audio recording software you use is also important, so you can easily edit out any coughs or pauses, and add in jungles, adverts, and much more. Adobe Audition CC provides a professional audio workstation straight from your Mac or PC. This premium toolset will enable you to record, mix and create each podcast episode with ease. It also comes with thousands of music loop files, so you can select appropriate music for your podcasts.
Create Valuable Content for Each Podcast
Your listeners want to hear content that is interesting and valuable. Therefore think carefully about the content of each podcast, and plan out what topics you are going to cover and what you will say.
When recording a podcast, everyone will have their own way that works for them. But for most, you will need to first rehearse each episode. Also practice using a natural, easy-going voice, and make sure you sound friendly and fun so your listeners can relate to you.
Having a second person on the podcast with you, either as a guest host or someone to interview, helps add an extra dimension to your podcasts. New and relevant guests will provide a refreshing twist on each episode whilst ensuring your followers don’t lose interest in listening to you.
Get Your Podcasts Transcribed
It is important to provide the transcripts for your podcast on your site, displayed alongside each podcast. Transcripts will help rank your site in the search engines, as these can be indexed by Google, whereas podcast audio can’t. Transcripts will also make your content accessible to all those who have to, or would rather, read than listen. Transcribing a podcast takes time, so it is best to outsource this job.
Create a Web Page for Each Podcast
Each podcast recorded should be given its own page on your website. This page can explain what the podcast is about and why people should listen to it. Also, provide the podcast’s transcription, and the option of either downloading the podcast or listening to it on that page.
To encourage an interactive community, add a comments section at the bottom of each page. Disqus is a popular solution that will enable you to add stylish comments sections to your WordPress website. Here your audience can interact, ask questions, and discuss the topics mentioned in the episode.
Add a Resources Page
To monetize your WordPress podcasting website you should create a resources page, where you add links to any resources you mention in your podcasts. When you discuss a resource on your show, you can share the URL for your resource page so listeners know where to find what they need. Turn these resources into affiliate links to make money from any products that are sold from your recommendations.
Display a Contact Page
Your listeners may have a number of questions after they have listened to one of your podcasts. Add a Ninja Forms contact form to your contact page so people can easily message you. Questions can then be answered in future podcasts, or form the basis for whole episodes.
Although the podcast plugin, Smart Podcast Player, provides the option of sharing podcasts on social media, it is also a good idea to add social follow buttons to your contact page. Social Media Follow Buttons Bar is a free WordPress plugin that will enable you to add follow buttons anywhere on your site. As well as your contact page, consider adding them to other posts and pages on your podcasting website, or to your sidebars or footer areas.
Build Your Email List
A mailing list is essential for a successful podcasting website. It will enable you to keep in contact with your listeners, promote new episodes to them, and encourage them back to your site.
Although Smart Podcast Player adds a ‘Join Email List’ button to each podcast episode, you should also consider using a lead generation pop-up. OptinMonster is a premium solution that will allow you to add customizable and targeted pop-ups to your podcasting website, increasing the likeliness of collecting emails.
Promote Your Latest Podcast
Every time you record a new podcast you need to make sure you promote it. As well as adding each new episode to iTunes (discussed in a minute), you should post shout-outs for each new release on social media, and send out emails to your mailing list with links to the podcast’s page.
Importantly, you should feature your most recent podcast on your homepage. Soliloquy is an advanced premium slider that will enable you to market a range of featured podcasts in a stylish display. Use a large homepage slider to showcase your latest podcast, as well as slides for your most popular podcasts.
Submit Your Podcasts to iTunes
To give your podcasts exposure to millions of potential listeners you should submit them to iTunes. This platform will help your podcasts to reach a wider audience, grow a following, and drive traffic to your website.
When submitting podcasts, remember that iTunes is a search engine. So use keywords in the title, subtitle, and description. Also add a call to actions at the end of each episode, asking your listeners to review you on iTunes. These actions will help your podcasts rank on iTunes, and appear in searches.
Final Thoughts on Setting Up a Podcasting Website
By following these actionable tasks, you should be able to quickly set up your podcasting website and get started. Although there is a lot of work involved, the rewards of a successful website can make it all worthwhile. Now it’s time to get started!
Are you ready to start your podcasting website? Please share your thoughts about podcasting in the comments below…
WordPress.com and WordPress.org are very different solutions and shouldn’t be (but often are) confused. In this WordPress.com v WordPress.org guide, we look at what the two platforms are offering and discuss how they compare. By the time you finish reading, you should have a clearer picture of which WordPress system is best for your project.
WordPress.com v WordPress.org
WordPress.com is a blogging platform that is owned by Automattic. It is a free hosted service, although there are numerous features and themes that are offered as premium extras. The free WordPress.com option is a perfect choice if you are looking to create a simple blog. It has a ‘no drama’ set up, and will enable you to quickly throw together a new site. It provides all necessary features that your site may need, and has next to no learning curve.
The downside to this free solution is that the tools and customization options available are limited to what WordPress.com allows. If you want to create a website including more features than just a blog, you will need to upgrade to one of the WordPress.com premium plans. Or you could use WordPress.org.
WordPress.org is the true WordPress experience. It is the homepage for the WordPress software for self hosted websites. If you choose to use this open source software you will have full control and ownership of your website. Free to use, this platform comes with a free repository of themes and plugins to help boost your website’s functionality. Premium themes and plugins to add advanced features to your site can also be purchased.
WordPress.org may take you longer to accustom yourself with, and setup will involve several steps. This includes the buying of a domain, hosting, and the installation of WordPress, as well as the selection of an appropriate theme and plugins. However, where WordPress.org really excels is the total control it gives you over your website, enabling you to customize your site to your exact specifications.
Let’s now have a look in more detail at what both WordPress.com and WordPress.org are offering, and how they compare….
The first obvious difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is the hosting. WordPress.com hosts your website on their servers for free, whereas if you use Wordpress.org you will have to find a premium hosting provider.
However, it is worth bearing in mind that if you use the free version of WordPress.com then you will have adverts displayed on your site (Wordpress.com’s way of covering your hosting costs). To get rid of the ads you will need to upgrade to one of their premium plans, all which work out as more expensive than basic hosting for a WordPress.org site.
With WordPress.org you will need to purchase your own domain name for each site you create. But with WordPress.com you can choose and use a subdomain name for free.
However, there is a catch. The free subdomain name will end with ‘.wordpress.com’. If you want a stand-alone domain name you will need to upgrade to a WordPress.com premium plan.
Security and Backups
WordPress.com takes care of all your hosting services and also includes the feature-rich plugin Jetpack as part of all its plans. Therefore, backups and security are not something you will need to worry about with WordPress.com.
With WordPress.org you are 100% responsible for your website’s security and backups. One option is to install the Jetpack plugin on your WordPress.org website, but you will need to pay out for one of their premium plans if you want a full security and backup solution.
There are numerous other third-party security and backup WordPress plugins you can choose from, including Wordfence and VaultPress that are both popular options. However, you will need to do your research so you select the right solutions for your site’s needs.
Types of Websites
WordPress.com (the free version) is the ideal platform for basic blogs and blogging projects. If you are traveling for six months and want to write a blog to share your experiences with family and friends, or showcase your photography work through an easy to set up website, then this is the solution for you. For more extensive websites, including eCommerce stores, directory sites, membership sites, or in fact any type of website or blog that you want to monetize, you will need to upgrade to a premium WordPress.com plan.
The beauty of WordPress.org is that it is totally flexible and can be used to create any type of website you desire. Themes and plugins can be installed, websites migrated, design elements added, code altered and customizations made, making WordPress.org the ideal solution for any project. Website’s using WordPress.org can also be quickly monetized, using a variety of means including adding affiliate links, adverts, automated payment systems, or turning the whole site into an online shop.
Ease of Setup and Use
WordPress.com is extremely easy to setup and use, which is one of its key benefits. If you are a total website beginner, with no knowledge of web design or WordPress, then WordPress.com will probably be the better platform for you.
WordPress.com is a complete system, with all the essential features you need at your fingertips. It has a self-explanatory dashboard, that can be easily navigated. It also incorporates an intuitive Editor, making writing articles and uploading media extremely straightforward. However, if you want to add extra features that aren’t included with WordPress.com, or customize the design of your site, this won’t be possible unless you upgrade to a premium plan.
WordPress.org involves a longer setup process and involves a basic understanding of how websites work (when I say basic I mean basic – and anything you don’t initially know can be easily learned).
To get started with WordPress.org, you will need to purchase a domain name and sign up with a hosting service. Your hosting service will then install WordPress for you, providing a blank canvas from which you can begin designing your website. As already noted, WordPress.org gives you complete control over your website, enabling you to build your website exactly as you want it.
If you use the free or basic premium plans, then you will still be restricted to WordPress.com’s limited themes and plugins. However, although you have less control over these specific tools that available to use, you will still have the necessary functionality, to a certain point. This makes WordPress.com an ideal blogging platform for those that don’t need the extensive features available on WordPress.org, or who don’t want to spend time searching for the appropriate plugins.
As mentioned earlier, WordPress.org has a large repository of free plugins and themes that you can install on your website. Premium themes and plugins are also available from a number of extremely reputable sources, including Elegant Themes, StudioPress, and the multi-vendor platform Themeforest. These themes and plugins will add extra functionality to your website, and help you create your ideal site. The drawback here is the extensive choice of WordPress.org tools, which can result in individuals spending hours of time researching which solutions best suit their projects.
WordPress.com comes with extensive documentation that is easy to follow and understand. An active community is on hand to help with any problems you may have or issues that arise. A thorough blog and WordPress.com’s ‘Blogging University’ also both publish regular articles that give you tips and advice to help you run a successful blog. And if you upgrade to a premium WordPress.com plan, you will receive both email and live chat support.
The WordPress.org community is made up of hundreds of thousands of developers, content creators, site owners and users across the globe. WordPress.org offers extensive supporting documentation, a wide assortment of support forums run by community members, and a useful blog keeping you up to date with recent WordPress news and developments. And WordPress.org WordCamps, as well as more low key local meetups, happen regularly in cities all around the world.
If you choose to purchase a premium product you will also receive further support from the theme provider, which could include anything from email, to live chat or one-to-one telephone help.
Final Thoughts the Differences Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
The WordPress solution you choose will very much depend on your experience and the needs of your project. If you are looking to quickly create a free blog, and you don’t need the impressive features and customization tools of WordPress.org, then WordPress.com is a great option for you. And remember, you always have the option of upgrading your site’s functionality at a later stage, or migrating your site to WordPress.org.
For me, WordPress.org is the obvious choice (not that I want to sway your decision making!) Although there is more to learn for beginners, the long-term benefits quickly outweigh these initial hurdles. WordPress.org ultimately enables you to create beautiful, professional, and functional sites, that will cater for the needs of any business and audience. And websites can then be constantly updated and upgraded, ensuring that as your business grows, so does your site.
Which platform will you choose for your new website? Please share your thoughts on WordPress.com and WordPress.org in the comments below…