Tag Archive | "WordPress"

Academy Pro: A WordPress Theme for Online Courses and Membership Sites

Introducing Academy Pro … the theme for online course creators, membership site owners, and educational content marketers. Academy Pro is the latest premium theme from StudioPress, designed specifically for people in the business of online content and community. Read on to discover all the features and benefits you get with this theme, and how it
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Authority Pro for WordPress: Demonstrate Your Expertise and Build Trust

Authority Pro is a fresh new design by our Lead Designer Rafal Tomal and the team at StudioPress. The big idea behind this specific design is to help you put the full extent of your expertise on display. Consistently demonstrating your likable expertise over time is what allows you to build meaningful and lasting trust
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How to Build a Better WordPress Website … One Week at a Time

"It can be scary to put your story out there on the web. It’s also empowering." – Jerod Morris

What is the key to building a better website?

Well, you first need an idea. And it needs to be useful.

Next, you need to start with the right stuff, the right raw materials. You clicked on the headline of this post, so perhaps you’re already using WordPress or strongly considering it. Good choice. Continue down that path.

After that, you have to be willing to hit Publish. Whether you’re starting your own food blog, marketing your copywriting business, or building an audience for your coaching services … you have to put your story out there on the web for all to see. That can be scary. It’s also empowering.

What comes next?

Find a path for continuous improvement

A few years ago, I wrote an article on Copyblogger titled How to Immediately Become a More Productive (and Better) Writer. A book I had just read called One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer inspired that post.

The book takes its cue from the Japanese concept of kaizen, which means continuous improvement — or, to be more specific, the process of achieving sustained success through small, steady steps.

This concept spoke to me then. It continues to speak to me now.

It’s so easy, especially in today’s environment of ubiquitous distraction, to get lost in big ideas and forget about the inevitable series of small steps it takes to achieve them.

I am easily prone to this. I’ve learned this about myself. I have to be intentional about pulling myself down out of the clouds so that I can actually plant my feet firmly on the ground and put one foot in front of the other … then the other … then the other.

Steps.

One at a time.

That is the only way to achieve continuous improvement — the only way to take a big, grand idea and bring it to fruition.

Now, with that as our foundation, let’s talk about your website …

The four pillars of a successful WordPress website

Building a powerful website that does everything a website should do — help you earn authority, build an audience, and drive business — is a big task.

There is a lot that goes into a successful WordPress website.

Some of the choices you have to make are big decisions, like where to host your site and what theme to use.

Other choices are smaller, more subtle, like what color to use for your call-to-action buttons and whether you should use “How to …” in two consecutive blog post headlines or change one for the sake of variety.

All of your decisions, big and small, can be categorized in one of the following four buckets:

  • Content
  • Design
  • Technology
  • Strategy

They are the four pillars of a successful WordPress website.

If your website lacks any one of these elements, it might be okay, but it’s probably not optimized to help you achieve your goals. You could also be wasting time, effort, and money.

Think about it this way:

If you have useful content, a good design, and a strong technology foundation, but no strategy … your website’s “success” might actually be misaligned with your business goals. You’re not maximizing your efforts.

And if your website lacks two of these elements, it might fail altogether.

Consider a website with useful content that adheres to a smart, cohesive strategy. That’s a good start. But if the design is ill-fitting, and if the technology is lacking (think: poor hosting and security warnings), then visitors are unlikely to stay long … if they ever reach your site at all.

The rub in this example, of course, is that you can’t really have a smart, cohesive strategy with design and technology lagging far behind. And given how intertwined content and design are, content with poor design won’t be nearly as useful as it could be.

Point being: they all fit together.

Now let’s marry together the two big ideas we’ve explored so far in this post …

How to apply kaizen to the four pillars of your website’s success

You can’t build a successful website with one inspired 48-hour work binge over a weekend.

You can’t even do it by taking an entire month, or even three or four, to focus on nothing but your website. Not if you want your success to sustain beyond those three or four months.

Sure, through evergreen content, autoresponders, and the power of digital products, you can (and should) do a lot to earn ongoing, recurring, some might say “passive” revenue … but you’ll also experience diminishing returns if you aren’t:

  • Marketing your ideas
  • Tweaking or reworking your design to keep it fresh
  • Updating WordPress and plugins to keep them secure
  • Staying vigilant about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

In other words, you can’t just set-and-forget your content, design, technology, and strategy.

You develop, build, and launch your website in incremental steps … and then you continue taking incremental steps to avoid stagnation and drive your site toward continuous improvement.

If that sounds like a lot of time and effort, good. Because it is.

But it’s worth it.

If you are intentional about avoiding the myopia that so many people approach online business with, then the time and effort, along with the money, that you invest into your website will not be an expense. It will be an investment. And the investment will pay off.

That said, it’s still smart to save yourself little bits of time and effort where you can. ”</p

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6 SEO Friendly Tips to Improve Site Speed on WordPress Blogs

"If a page takes more than a couple of seconds to load, users will instantly hit the back button and move on." – Loren Baker

In the world of SEO, user experience on websites has always been a factor, as has the time it takes for a site to load.

However, with the use of mobile devices surpassing desktop use (in most consumer-facing industries) and the wide adoption of broadband, people expect sites to load instantly.

Long gone are the days of waiting 10 seconds for a site to load.

If a page takes more than a couple of seconds to load, users will instantly hit the back button and move on to the next result.

Accordingly, Google officially started paying attention to site speed and declared its importance as a factor in rankings.

In order to keep up with Google’s site-ranking measures, WordPress blog users need to know exactly what they can do to improve their own site speed.

Remember when Google rolled out AMP (accelerated mobile pages)?

They now serve up publisher content in a simplified Google hosted experience that renders superfast. I like AMP from a user perspective because I know that AMP content will load incredibly fast on my mobile device, but as a publisher:

I’d rather speed up my blog and attract traffic directly to my site than have users stay on Google.

If you use StudioPress Sites or the Rainmaker Platform, your site will already load quickly. However, adding ad scripts, featured images, tracking codes, 301 redirects, etc. will slow down the loading of a site and increase demand on your server/hosting company.

Here are six simple tips I recommend since we used them to dramatically speed up the Search Engine Journal (SEJ) load time — it’s at 1.8 seconds!

1. Use a content delivery network

A content delivery network (CDN) is a group of servers that deliver web pages and other content according to the location of the user, the webpage origin, and its server.

It can handle heavy traffic and speeds up the delivery of content to different users.

For WordPress blogs looking to improve site speed, Cloudflare is a great tool to consider. Cloudflare offers a free content delivery network that speeds up the performance of your site and optimizes it for efficiency on any device.

It also offers security services that help protect websites from crawlers, bots, and other attackers.

2. Compress your images

Another effective way to reduce page-load time and increase site speed is by compressing your images. A CDN will help with this, but it doesn’t take care of 100 percent of the job.

There are several different plugins available that compress all the images on your website — and even compress new images as you upload them as well.

ShortPixel is a WordPress plugin that allows you to compress both new and old images on your blog. We use it on SEJ and various other sites, and absolutely love it.

It allows you to quickly compress images in batches for greater convenience, reduces the time it takes to do backups, and ensures all your processed files are kept safe and secure. The best part about it is that your image quality stays the same, regardless of the size of the image.

Other image-compression plugins also maintain the quality of your pictures and improve site speed.

3. Prevent ad scripts and pop-ups from slowing down the user experience

Many web pages today contain some form of third-party script that either runs ads for revenue or uses pop-ups to promote conversion. You want to build your audience and get more customers of course, but balance is key here.

Although it’s difficult to completely get rid of them to improve your site speed, you can tame their performance impact while keeping them on your website to provide their intended benefits.

The trick is to first identify the third-party scripts that run on your site, where they come from, and how they impact your blog.

You can use different real-time monitoring tools that track and identify which scripts delay your site-loading time and affect your site metrics.

One of my favorite tools to do this is Pingdom’s Website Speed Test, because it breaks down each file and script, and tells you which takes the most time to load.

The same rule applies for pop-up plugins that you add on to your site.

Knowing which ones work best to improve conversions and bring in email signups allows you to gauge which plugins to keep and which ones to uninstall.

One of the fastest pop-up plugins on the market is OptinMonster (a StudioPress partner). Its founder, Syed Balkhi, is a WordPress expert who stays on top of factors like site speed and overall user experience.

4. Install a caching plugin

Another effective way to reduce site-loading time is by installing caching plugins to your WordPress blog.

Caching plugins work by creating a static version of your WordPress blog and delivering it to your site users and visitors, which conveniently cuts your page-loading time in half.

Several cache plugins work best for WordPress, such as WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.

These plugins are easy to install and can be disabled anytime. They allow you to select certain pages on your blog (or all of them) to cache, and offer many other content compression settings that you can turn on or off.

WordPress supports many other plugins that allow you to optimize your blog to get rid of any latency in page-load time. It is important to test out these plugins to find the one that works best for you.

5. Disable plugins you don’t use

Tons of WordPress plugins can also make your site super slow, especially ones you don’t need.

It is important to review the plugins you have installed in the past and disable those that offer no significant value.

Many WordPress users install different plugins when they first create their blogs to enhance how they look, but realize over time that great-looking blogs don’t always attract traffic, especially if your page-loading time is slow.

Also, I would highly recommend making sure your plugins are updated. This may help improve page-load speed, but more importantly, it makes your site more secure.

6. Add one more layer of media optimization

One thing we realized at SEJ when speeding up the site was that even after optimizing images, ad scripts, and caching, there were still multiple forms of media that slowed down load time.

The internal fixes we implemented did not help with third-party media load times, such as embedded Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram content, or infographics from other sites.

One solution we found to assist with that is BJ Lazy Load. Essentially, this lazy-load plugin renders all written content first, then as the user scrolls down the page, images and other forms of media load. This way, the user doesn’t have to wait for tons of media to load before reading the main content.

What I really like about BJ Lazy Load is that in addition to images, it also lazy loads all embeds, iFrames, and YouTube videos. For a WordPress blog that uses a lot of embeds, it was ideal for us.

Bonus tip: ask your web host for help

If you run a WordPress blog or WordPress-powered site, then you should work with a hosting company that specializes in WordPress, such as WP Engine, Presslabs, or Rainmaker’s own Synthesis.

I’ve worked with all three, and one thing I can absolutely tell you is that if you contact them and ask how your site can be sped up, they will help you because the faster your site is, the less the load is on their servers.

As more and more people turn to mobile devices to access the internet, it is essential to optimize your blogs for mobile use and find ways to minimize page-loading time.

Remember, bounce rates increase when your page-load time is slow, which impacts whether or not your content gets read or skipped for other sites that load pages faster.

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How to Get 30% Off Our Most Popular Premium WordPress Themes

How to Get 30% Off Our Most Popular Premium WordPress Themes

Only a few days left before this offer expires …

On Tuesday, I alerted you to the massive StudioPress blowout sale going on this week.

Basically, it’s our big annual Black Monday discount delivered three months in advance.

The details couldn’t be simpler: Until the offer expires on Tuesday, August 30 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, you get 30 percent off everything we sell at StudioPress.

Everything.

Want any individual theme? Click this link, and browse all 39 StudioPress themes and all 15 third-party themes — you get 30 percent off as many individual themes as you want.

Want all of our themes? Click this link, and then find the blue box:

Click here to get 30% off the Pro Plus All-Theme Package

Click it, and you’ll be able to get 30 percent off our Pro Plus All-Theme Package — plus you lock in your Pro Plus account without the usual recurring annual payment of $ 99.99.

It’s just a one-time payment … and at a big, big discount.

Decisions, decisions …

So … which theme should you choose?

You don’t need me to spend any more time stressing the value of the discount. Forty-five percent off anything is pretty darn good.

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to offer a few suggestions for which themes you might want to consider trying on your site.

I’ll reveal the three most popular StudioPress themes of 2016. So many customers can’t be wrong, right?

And I’ll also reveal my own personal favorite, which has received rave reviews ever since I put it on my own website.

The 3 Most Popular StudioPress Themes of 2016

We’ll begin the countdown at number three …

3. Digital Pro

This is one of the newest StudioPress themes, and it’s wasted no time carving out a niche of popularity.

Why? Because if you’re building a business around digital goods, you need a theme that will support your efforts and won’t get in the way when you’re marketing your digital products.

Digital Pro builds trust with a friendly, open feel and clean, easy-to-read typography.

Here’s how it looks:

Click here to get 30% off Digital Pro

To get Digital Pro:

We might mention Digital Pro again later. Stay tuned.

For now, let’s move on to the second-most popular theme of 2016 …

2. Altitude Pro

Altitude Pro is another relatively new theme, which I’ve used on one of my personal sites.

It’s a visually stunning theme — but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it’s style over substance. The parallax effects will grab your eye, but it’s the features and flexibility that will move your mind.

Altitude Pro is a theme with a purpose, and that purpose is to take you and your online business higher.

Click here to get 30% off Altitude Pro

To get Altitude Pro:

And the #1 best-selling theme so far in 2016 is … well, it’s the #1 best-selling of all time at StudioPress.

Still the undisputed champion of the StudioPress world, it’s …

1. Foodie Pro

Foodie Pro is one of the 15 third-party themes currently available at StudioPress — and yes, as mentioned above, third-party themes are eligible for the 30 percent discount.

Customers fell in love with Foodie Pro from the day she was released, and the love affair has not subsided.

Foodie Pro is sleek and svelte with her minimalist approach and clean design, but she sure packs a punch when it comes to features. She is the most flexible Genesis theme to date — with a minimalist style and plenty of color and typography options.

Click here to get 30% off Foodie Pro

To get Foodie Pro:

And finally, a quick nod to my personal favorite theme …

My Personal Favorite StudioPress Theme

What do you know? My personal favorite is a theme from our top three. I didn’t intend on that happening when I had the idea for this post … but hey, when a theme is good, it’s good.

I tend to be a tinkerer with my personal sites. I’ve tried out almost every StudioPress theme at one time or another.

For my Assembly Call website, I’ve never been happier with the look, feel, and function of the design as I am right now.

And the theme I’m using is Digital Pro.

Compare the demo image of Digital Pro with how my site looks:

Click here to get 30% off Digital Pro

Image of AssemblyCall.com, which uses Digital Pro

I love the hero image area, which I easily customized with my own image to fit my own brand.

I also love the setup of the widgets on the homepage. (Click here to check out how I have mine set up.)

And the individual category pages are striking in their simplicity.

I could go on and on.

Suffice it to say, I’m enamored with Digital Pro. Can you tell? :-)

Definitely give it a look as you are deciding which themes you’re going to get for 30 percent off.

Have fun browsing and deciding!

It’s always fun looking through new themes and envisioning what your site will look and feel like with them installed.

It’s even better when you can get your favorites for close to half off. :-)

Take some time today or this weekend and see which StudioPress theme will help you usher in the next evolution of your site.

Remember: Make sure you click this coupon link so you get your 30 percent off discount.

And don’t wait too long, because the big discount expires this upcoming Tuesday, August 30, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

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[Blowout Sale] Get 30% Off ALL Premium WordPress Themes

[Blowout Sale] Get 30% Off ALL Premium WordPress Themes

Plus a special offer for the Pro Plus All-Theme Package …

Black Monday … in August?

Pretty much. :-)

You may recall that every year around late October or November we offer a big discount or valuable bundle.

Well, we recently ironed out our promotional schedule for the rest of 2016 … and this year’s Black Monday sale is not going to include StudioPress.

This is no slight to StudioPress. We just wanted to switch it up.

Offering you our best discount now, instead of waiting, gives you a head start on getting the best price for any new themes that you may want to acquire.

This way, you can update your design for 2017 sooner, instead of trying to do it during the oft-hectic, holiday-filled final two months of the year.

Here are the details.

They are fairly simple.

You get 30 percent off … everything

That means all themes, and as many as you want, are 30 percent off.

This includes our newest releases:

  • Wellness Pro
  • Smart Passive Income (our joint theme production with Pat Flynn)
  • Digital Pro
  • Atmosphere Pro
  • Plus 35 more

This also includes all third-party themes, including:

  • Showcase Pro
  • Foodie Pro
  • Maker Pro
  • Kickstart Pro
  • Plus 11 more

StudioPress themes are already a great value. You get the built-in security and stability of the original premium WordPress theme framework, plus you save thousands over what a custom design is likely to run you.

At 30 percent off, the value is even better.

To start shopping for individual themes now, simply click this special coupon link:

http://my.studiopress.com/coupon/blowout-discount/

IMPORTANT: You have to click that link to receive the discount.

You will see the discount applied on the individual theme pages and at checkout.

And yes … the 30 percent discount works for Pro Plus too

If there are several themes you like, you should consider the Pro Plus All-Theme Package.

Your 30 percent discount gets applied to it too.

And it gets better.

If you want the Pro Plus Package, which gives you unlimited access to every current and future StudioPress theme (including third-party themes), we’re even going to waive the recurring annual payment of $ 99.95.

So instead of paying $ 499.95 today plus $ 99.95 every year thereafter for your Pro Plus Package, you get it all for just one discounted payment today of $ 349.97.

You maintain your Pro Plus access for as long as you keep your StudioPress account. You never pay again.

To learn more about Pro Plus, and how you’ll save more than $ 1,200, use your special coupon link:

http://my.studiopress.com/coupon/blowout-discount/

After you click, look for the bright blue box that says “Get All Themes” … that will take you to the Pro Plus page where you will see your discount applied.

Locate link to get big discount on Pro Plus All-Theme Package

Now for the catch ”</p

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7 Keys to Creating a Successful WordPress Plugin

wordpress plugin keys to success

If you want to build a software business, there are a lot of advantages to the world of WordPress plugins.

To begin with, you have a built-in audience of committed users. That audience is massive — around a quarter of the planet’s websites use WordPress. And that number is growing every day.

But we all know that “Build it and they will come” is a myth — for software or any other business.

There are tens of thousands of plugins with just a few downloads, and a few successful standouts.

Here’s how to put your awesome plugin in the second category.

#1: Start with the user experience

User experience should drive your code, not vice versa

Successful plugins are built on a foundation of excellent user experience.

WordPress expert and evangelist Chris Lema sees an awful lot of popular plugins.

He had this to say in his article on The one thing many WordPress plugin developers seem to forget:

“… Most developers seemed to think about the user experience only after most of the development of their plugins was complete.” – Chris Lema

His recommendations include:

  • Getting users involved early on — don’t try to design your plugin in a vacuum
  • Measuring the number of clicks to complete each main task — keep tasks as simple as possible
  • Designing the screens and experience before you write your code — experience should drive your code, not vice versa

Sometimes technical folks are tempted to start with the functionality first, then “figure out the user experience part” later. That’s a recipe for expensive mistakes and a less-than-awesome plugin.

#2: Design matters

Successful plugins leverage great design.

Starting with the user experience will get you a good way down this road, but if you aren’t a strongly visual person yourself, make sure you get one involved.

Even if your plugin works perfectly, it only makes it harder to get traction if it’s ugly and visually disorganized or cluttered.

It’s not about eye candy for its own sake — it’s about careful design thinking that reinforces your plugin’s functionality and makes it a pleasure to use.

#3: Serve a real need (or want)

Successful plugins address a real-world user problem or desire.

If you’re not building something WordPress publishers actually want, you’re going to have a tough time.

You may have a highly technical improvement that you’re sure all WordPress publishers should add to their sites. But if it’s solving a problem they don’t care about, you’ll never get any traction.

Get to know lots of WordPress users and you’ll quickly learn what they want from their sites. Great plugins usually make WordPress simpler or more powerful.

Some examples include:

  • More easily customizing the look of the site
  • Improving the site’s SEO
  • Enhancing the audience experience with community-building elements
  • Reducing spam
  • Adding a complex and desirable feature, like a membership site

If your plugin is on the technical side, remember to translate the benefits for non-techie users.

A plugin that “improves origin caching” is great, but make sure you also translate that to: “Makes your site load a lot faster.”

#4: Have skills (or know where to get them)

Successful plugins have rock-solid code.

If you’re new to programming, working on plugins can be a fun and interesting way to get better.

But if you want to create a truly great plugin, you need to pay your dues and become an excellent coder. (And no, this does not happen overnight.)

If that isn’t you yet, you can shortcut this by partnering with an excellent coder. You might supply the vision, the marketing mind, and the business knowledge, and they bring their sweet dev skills.

Solid developers don’t just write great code, they also work within a defined process to make sure they’re releasing a quality product.

“Beyond your standard programming best practices, I think the best thing to do is to test, test, and test. Keep up your code. Have development environments with commonly found themes and plugins. Test against different configurations. If it’s a commonly used theme (like Genesis), make sure it functions as expected and if not, see what needs to be done before releasing it.” – Andrew Norcross, founder of Reaktiv Studios

#5: Carve out your position

Successful plugins stake out clear positioning in the WordPress marketplace.

Just like any other software product or service, your plugin needs to occupy a well-defined position in the market.

You need to be able to communicate in an instant:

  • What your plugin does
  • Who it’s for
  • What specific and remarkable benefit it brings to sites

Keep the simplicity factor above in mind, if your plugin is intended to reach a broader audience than the most tech-savvy users.

#6: Consider working within an ecosystem

Successful plugins are part of a greater ecosystem.

Every WordPress plugin, of course, benefits from the overarching ecosystem of users and developers.

But in an era of so many plugins, many developers niche that down further, coding for a particular framework such as Genesis.

For example, one of Andrew Norcross’s most popular plugins is Genesis Design Palette Pro — that lets users change the look of their Genesis sites with just a click or two, without any coding.

You might think that working within a niche ecosystem would result in fewer users, but often the opposite is the case. You’ll stand out more easily, because you’re crafting more specific solutions to your users’ desires.

#7: Recognize the community

Successful plugin developers respect the WordPress community.

Along with the many benefits of the WordPress ecosystem, there are also community responsibilities.

Here’s how Andrew Norcross put it when I asked him about the importance of nurturing the relationship with the community:

“I firmly believe it means the difference between success and failure, overall. While you can easily make a living cranking out WP code in themes or plugins for clients or agencies, there’s a definite ceiling (in my opinion) with how far you can progress without being at least somewhat active in the community. More importantly, however, having a bad reputation can be a career killer. Many people put personal recommendations above all the marketing they see, and once someone develops a bad rep, it’s really hard to shake it. We’re beyond fortunate that at Reaktiv Studios, we have developed a solid reputation with our clients, in that many of our new leads are referrals from our previous clients.”

– Andrew Norcross, founder of Reaktiv Studios

Want some help with that?

cb-dca-wp

You may have seen Brian Clark mention last week that we have a brand-new course on how to create a successful WordPress-based product or business.

When we added this course to the schedule — even though we have a wealth of in-house WordPress knowledge — we knew we wanted Chris Lema to lead it for us. In addition to being a great teacher, Chris has worked with just about every significant WordPress company on the planet.

His detailed perspective on the WordPress premium market is even broader than ours, and his experience really shows.

Here’s what Chris covers in this brand-new course:

  • Understanding the Size of the WordPress Ecosystem
  • Determining Realistic Market Potential
  • Evaluating the Competition
  • Shaping Your Idea for the Win
  • Scoring Your Ideas for Validity
  • Understanding Estimated Cost and Potential Revenue
  • Building Your PR Channels
  • Finding and Hiring Developers
  • Buying a Product
  • Planning Your Launch

Snag the best price this week

Chris Lema’s course is just one of four in-depth courses in Digital Commerce Academy — with more courses to come, as well as case studies, group coaching calls, “cutting edge” sessions on new techniques, and more.

If you want to launch a digital business or grow the one you have, Digital Commerce Academy is the place to be.

You can get access two ways, both of which offer incredible value — but both of them are about to go away:

  1. Invest $ 395 for a year of full access to everything in Digital Commerce Academy. You remain at that pricing for additional years no matter how much the price rises and no matter how many new courses we add. Cancel any time and never be charged again.
  2. Register for our live Digital Commerce Summit happening October 13-14, 2016 in Denver, Colorado, and get your first year of Academy free. After the first free year, you’re grandfathered in at $ 395 for additional years no matter how much the price rises. Cancel any time and never be charged again.

On May 27, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, the Academy-only price goes up to $ 595, and the free year of Academy bundled with the Summit will be eliminated. As always, we have a hassle-free and no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk to you.

Want more details? Click here to get started.

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How to Create Profitable WordPress Themes, Plugins, and More

digital commerce academy - 10 days to save big

A business powered by digital products is ideal.

It’s still hard work (naturally), but you don’t have the particular headaches of dealing with clients or shipping physical goods.

If you’re considering building a digital business (or adding to your existing one), the premium WordPress market is definitely something you should consider. WordPress powers more than 25 percent of the websites in the world, and there’s a constant demand for themes, plugins, hosted solutions, and more.

The key to success is avoiding the common mistakes that entrepreneurs commit when entering the WordPress market.

We’ve got the guidance you need over at Digital Commerce Academy, and for the next 10 days you can get that guidance (plus a lot more) for an incredibly low investment.

We’re only seven months in over at Digital Commerce Academy, and yet the value inside is rapidly accelerating. In addition to the two core courses that Academy members already have access to (building an online training business and creating automated marketing funnels), we’re now adding two new courses:

  • One on entering the WordPress market (taught by Chris Lema)
  • Another on social advertising strategies (taught by Jerod Morris)

You’re going to want to join by May 27, 2016, though. More on that in a bit.

Create WordPress Products the Smarter Way

cb-dca-wp

Here at Rainmaker Digital, we’ve sold tens of millions of dollars in WordPress themes, design frameworks, plugins, and hosting. So we know a bit about it.

And yet, when it came time to teach this particular course, my first choice for the instructor was Chris Lema. In addition to being a great teacher, Chris has worked with just about every significant WordPress company on the planet.

That means his detailed perspective on the WordPress premium market is even broader than mine, so I know when to hand off to the better-qualified person. The ultimate winner of that decision is you.

Here’s what Chris covers in this brand-new course:

  • Understanding the Size of the WordPress Ecosystem
  • Determining Realistic Market Potential
  • Evaluating the Competition
  • Shaping Your Idea for the Win
  • Scoring Your Ideas for Validity
  • Understanding Estimated Cost and Potential Revenue
  • Building Your PR Channels
  • Finding and Hiring Developers
  • Buying a Product
  • Planning Your Launch

Naturally, this training program alone is worth the small investment in DCA, but there’s a whole lot more. We’re releasing yet another great course this month, too.

Savvy Social Advertising Strategies

cb-dca-savvy

The great thing about selling a digital product is ROI advertising. That means for every $ 1 you spend, you earn back $ 3, $ 5, or even $ 10 in revenue. Which means you’re not really “spending” at all.

Beginning last year, Jerod Morris has been tasked with developing our first large-scale social advertising strategy. After learning all current “insider” practices in this fast-paced space, Jerod and our data analyst Loryn Thompson began rigorously testing.

This course spills the beans on everything we’ve learned that works. Topics include:

  • Paid Advertising Doesn’t Replace Content Marketing — It Supercharges It
  • The Toolbox You Need to Succeed with Social Advertising
  • The Fundamental Elements That Must Be in Place Before You Pay
  • The Overwhelmed Content Creator’s Guide to Conducting a Content Audit
  • How Much Money Do You Need to Get Started? (Less Than You Think)
  • A Brief, Timely Refresher on a Few Essential Copywriting Fundamentals
  • Specific Strategies for the Big Three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Where do you send that paid traffic? No worries, we’ve got you covered there in our automated marketing funnels course (see below).

Plus … Two High-Impact Existing Courses:

Don’t forget that we’ve been releasing high-impact training already over the last seven months. You’ll be perfectly positioned to explore alternative product categories and advanced marketing strategies.

Build Your Online Training Business the Smarter Way

cb-dca-training

The $ 23 billion-a-year online education industry will only get larger, which means it represents a huge opportunity for savvy digital entrepreneurs. In this course, I teach the business of online training with my most current strategies since I launched the groundbreaking Teaching Sells program years ago.

I’ve been creating online courses for 15 years, and teaching others how to do it for 9 (including some overpriced “gurus” who are now teaching what I taught them!). Here are the 6 modules (containing more than 40 lessons):

  • Key Concepts and the Roadmap
  • Designing Your Course to Succeed
  • 10 Business Models that Work
  • Testing Your Minimum Viable Product
  • Developing Killer Premium Content
  • Effective Launch Strategies and Marketing

How to Create Automated Marketing Funnels that Work

cb-dca-funnels

Effective marketing funnels are now essential for growing any kind of digital commerce business. If you would like to sell more to your existing customers, and have those customers stick around longer, then you also need to develop a better funnel strategy.

In 4 modules and more than 20 lessons, Tony Clark and Chris Garrett of Rainmaker Digital will lead you through a scalable, systematic funnel strategy that will attract, convert, and retain more customers for your business. This is essential training no matter your traffic source, and it’s critical if you’re using paid traffic.

Coaching, Case Studies, and Community

As you can see, we’re developing a staggering amount of educational value in the Academy, and that will continue over the life of your membership. What our members find, however, is that the live Q&A sessions and real-world case studies are what make the lessons instantly applicable.

And as an educational business community, you’ll learn from other members who may be a little further down the path. The “mastermind” aspect of DCA truly sets it apart from a static training program.

Here’s the Deal:

Currently, you can join Digital Commerce Academy in one of two ways, both of which offer incredible value (and are both about to go away):

  1. Invest $ 395 for a year of full access to everything in Digital Commerce Academy. You remain at that pricing for additional years no matter how much the price rises. Cancel any time and never be charged again.
  2. Register for Digital Commerce Summit happening October 13-14, 2016 in Denver, Colorado, and get your first year of Academy free. After the first free year, you’re locked in at $ 395 for additional years no matter how much the price rises. Cancel any time and never be charged again.

On May 27, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, the Academy-only price goes up to $ 595, and the free year of Academy bundled with the Summit will be eliminated. As always, we have a hassle-free and no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk to you.

Fair enough? Click here to get started.

Now, you may be wondering why our training is so affordable, compared to the thousands of dollars the “gurus” charge for a single course. It’s simple … the vast majority of our eight figures in annual revenue comes from software, not courses.

As always, our philosophy is if we provide you the training you need at an affordable price, then you’ll be able to effectively use our tools. You’re certainly under no obligation to, of course, and you won’t be pressured to buy — but you will get special deals that non-members won’t.

That said, we’ll undermine the perceived value of our training if we continue not charging enough. With the addition of these two courses and the content we’ll deliver over the next several months, we’re at that point with Digital Commerce Academy, so we must and will increase the prices.

Join us today before this great deal goes away.

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Grow Your Email List With The New Email Slider Plugin For WordPress

Number Of Backing Spots Available: 100 SOLD OUT – Thanks for your support! Update: We sold out of the 100 backer spots in under 24 hours again, but you can still purchase the Smart Slider plugin below and you will get Social Slider functions immediately, and the Email Slider type…

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What Is the True Cost of Building and Managing a WordPress Website?

wordpress website cost analysis

In any description of WordPress features, there’s one word you’re sure to see:

Free.

This is, of course, true. The files necessary to install WordPress on a server and run it are indeed free.

A casual content producer could even sign up at WordPress.com and run their entire website for free, never paying a dime if all they wanted were the most basic features.

But you are no casual content producer.

You use WordPress like we use WordPress: as a serious business tool to drive serious revenue.

You understand — like we do — that the true cost of running WordPress is far from “free.”

So, what is the true cost?

And how can you minimize the total cost of WordPress ownership while maximizing its potential to manage the online content that drives your business?

Let’s examine …

WordPress Total Cost of Ownership analysis

To use WordPress as a tool for building a business, online or off, it needs to be viewed not as “free blogging software,” but as a legitimate business acquisition.

A Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis is a time-tested model of cost assessment for important business acquisitions that has been used in the IT world since the early days of computers.

In IT, as with vehicles and other complex goods, total cost can vary greatly from purchase price.

There are obvious costs to consider (like purchase price and regular maintenance), but there are also other “real costs” that often get overlooked. And if a real cost can be reasonably expected to follow the decision to acquire or use something, it needs to be taken into account.

Just how many real costs can there be to consider? Potentially, a lot.

What are some of the hidden costs associated with WordPress management?

  • Domain registration
  • Hosting
  • Premium theme
  • Premium plugins
  • Developer fees
  • Security services
  • Storage and backups
  • Your time (and the opportunity cost associated with it)
  • Your peace of mind

The key is to understand and assess each of these real costs and how different WordPress management strategies impact them. This will allow you to make choices that will maximize the potential of WordPress for your business, while minimizing your costs along the way.

So, what are the different ways you can manage your WordPress-backed website?

  • WordPress.com
  • Self-Hosting
  • Managed WordPress Hosting
  • Premium Managed WordPress Hosting

Let’s analyze the real costs of each of the options above.

Hosting your site on WordPress.com

If you run your site on WordPress.com, you receive a basic level of shared hosting for free. However, to have your own domain (as opposed to yoursite.wordpress.com) it’ll cost you $ 13 (if you already own the domain) or $ 18 (if you purchase it through WordPress.com).

Additionally, if you choose to go with a premium theme, you’ll have to use one of the WordPress.com-only premium themes, which will run somewhere around $ 70 and cannot be transferred should you choose to self-host at a later date.

You can also go with one of WordPress.com’s step-up plans: Premium or Business, which both include a domain. Premium gives you extra space and some design customization options, while the Business plan offers 150+ premium themes plus unlimited storage.

With any of those three options, you won’t have to worry about any security costs because Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, will manage that for you.

In total, consider a simple TCO of roughly $ 90 for the first year if you go with the “Free” WordPress.com plan and a premium theme (plus a recurring annual charge for the domain), or $ 99 per year for Premium, $ 299 per year for Business.

Though WordPress.com is a great option for the casual content producer, you’ll be limited in configurations, themes, plugins, and other aspects of content management that could impact your ability to:

  • Connect with your audience
  • Build subscribers
  • Grow your social media following
  • Improve your SEO
  • Offer basic features like membership, communities, or online courses
  • Generate revenue from your site

Self-Hosting

If you want to host your site yourself, rather than on WordPress.com, you can go to a generic hosting provider and get very “affordable” shared hosting for as little as $ 4.86 per month (that’s the current price of basic hosting at HostGator).

Granted, your site will live on a massive shared server, so performance will suffer, but your site will be up and running.

Unlike WordPress.com, self-hosting your website gives you unlimited theme options. You can choose a free one from the WordPress themes repository, purchase a premium theme, or develop your own.

Most serious small business owners do not find free themes to their liking for numerous reasons, and most also do not have the know-how nor the capital to pay a developer for a custom theme.

This makes premium WordPress themes a great choice.

The Digital Pro theme from StudioPress, for example, runs $ 99.95. You can choose from scores of others at a similar price as well.

How about security?

There are plenty of free options out there for security plugins — but you install (and trust) these plugins at your own risk. (One that our Synthesis team recommends is the free Sucuri plugin.) And unless you pay to host your site on a virtual private server (VPS), your site will be on a shared server with scores of others. Each of these sites is a potential security risk to the server, and therefore, to you.

If you get hacked or the server goes down, there will be costs associated with downtime, the de-hacking process, and recovering lost files. If you are not well-versed in these processes, you’ll have to hire someone to help you.

You’ll also be responsible for storing your own backups. In the case of a catastrophic hacking or data loss event, these are essential to have. There is, of course, a cost associated with it though.

Just with fees for bare-minimum hosting and the price of a theme, the total cost is around $ 125 per year. If you add in the Basic package from Sucuri to keep your site safe, you’re adding $ 199.99 per year to the cost. Adding a basic backups package like VaultPress tacks on another $ 99 per year to the price.

So, the total cost of self-hosting a WordPress blog on the most basic of hosting plans (which means it will not be anywhere near high-performance) is easily $ 425 per year … with the potential for it to be a lot more.

And, this does not figure in intangible costs like time and peace of mind, or any extras that might actually help you create better content.

Regular Managed WordPress Hosting

The next step up from self-hosting is a managed hosting provider. This allows you to self-host, but with assistance and guidance from people who should be able to help you manage the stuff you know nothing about so that you can manage your business.

Rates can vary, but most small businesses can get a WordPress-optimized managed plan for somewhere around $ 29 per month. You will still be on a shared server, but at least it will be in a shared environment where they tend to understand WordPress security and support much better than a generic hosting provider that does it all.

If you want to be on a dedicated server, basic plans will usually not cover you, so you’ll have to choose a next-level plan that can run between $ 99 and $ 249 per month. (But be wary: even some more expensive plans can still be running on shared environments, so be sure to check.)

As for themes to design your site, you will still need to purchase one separately, so consider at least $ 99.95 for this expenditure.

Depending on which plan you need, consider the total cost to be somewhere between $ 447.95 and $ 3,087.95 per year. (And, again, that will probably be on a shared server.)

Premium Managed WordPress Hosting

With best-of-breed premium managed WordPress hosting, you get much more bang for your WordPress buck.

With a premium WordPress host, you get the flexibility of being able to install the functionality you need for your site (forums, membership, courses, etc.), along with security, storage, and support that are included and delivered at top-of-the-line levels — even in the most basic plans.

The security and storage alone can cost several hundreds of dollars per year purchased à la carte (as explained above), but it’s included in what you pay to a top-line premium WordPress host.

And don’t underestimate or take for granted the value of good support.

There is immense value in having the backing of experts who have specifically tailored their servers for the idiosyncrasies of hosting and securing a WordPress website, and who can demonstrate high-performance.

More so, there is value in having a team of people in your corner who not only know hosting but know content, promotion, and design as well.

A generic host — and even some managed hosts — may not be able to answer an intricate question about how adding a thousand 301 redirects will impact SEO. They might not be able to help out in diagnosing a problematic RSS feed or give recommendations on the best way to integrate a form for capturing email subscribers.

This is the level of support and service you should expect.

Back to the numbers …

Let’s use Synthesis as an example (since it’s the one we know best).

If you only have one site, and a Standard plan works for you, the total cost of your hosting in that first year is just $ 564 ($ 47 per month). If you need an Advanced plan, it could be $ 1,764 per year ($ 147 per month).

You’ll still want to get a premium theme, so add $ 99.95 to the cost and you get a range of $ 663.95–$ 1,863.95 per year, depending on which plan you need.

You’ll notice that range is narrower and more reasonable than the range in the last section ($ 447.95–$ 3,087.95), and remember that it includes all of the extra premium security, storage, and support that I mentioned.

It’s also important to note that you get a dedicated hosting environment, rather than a shared one. This is huge, and something you should make a prerequisite.

And what about other extras?

Synthesis, for example, comes with Scribe, which is a premium plugin for improving your website’s SEO. Scribe’s basic Professional plan cost $ 47 per month when it was sold on its own. Now, it’s built into Synthesis as a value-add to help you create more powerful content.

So, the opportunity cost of going with another provider should take into account the roughly $ 564 of value you get with Scribe.

The value of Premium Managed WordPress Hosting

What you see above is far from a complete analysis. This was intentional.

What I have tried to do here is simply give you a rough idea of the real costs involved with owning and running a WordPress site. What you should do next is figure out the costs as they relate to your situation, while factoring in the costs associated with your time.

Because a premium managed WordPress host, like Synthesis, will save you a lot of time and worry, especially when you need it most (like during a security breach or when something goes awry with your site).

For a service provider, associating this time with a cost is easy. For every hour they spend trying to fix, de-hack, or improve their site, the costs range from $ 75 (developer) to $ 400 (attorney) per hour.

If you are a business, the costs could be greater, even if less obviously quantitative, as your reputation could be damaged if your site were hacked with pornography links or your phones stop ringing due to the site not working.

Or you might be an independent media producer who’s looking to derive more revenue from your site, and the time you spend trying to fix your site takes you away from your family … which is, of course, priceless.

What’s it all worth to you?

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