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13 Actionable Steps to Monetize Your Website

13 Actionable Steps to Monetize Your Website

Creating a website allowed you to successfully break into the online scene. Now you’re investing time and a lot of love into keeping your website real and fresh for your audience.

Fortunately, there are ways to earn money from your site, which so many have grown to adore, with a bit of hard work and ingenuity. This guide will show you how to monetize a website using 13 proven methods that can drive revenue and positively transform your online presence.

How to monetize a website

01. Sell merchandise

The internet retail sector is thriving. An estimated 4 out of 5 Americans shop online and in Europe, these numbers are even higher, according to a recent industry report. In turn, many who are looking to create their own monetary opportunities are launching eCommerce websites.

In order to successfully open your own online store, you’ll need to first create a product, either in digital or physical form. If you already have a website for a business or hobby, you can consider a type of product that complements the theme of your website. For instance, Colorful Petals, a personal site by a Japanese fresh paper florist, houses an online store where loyal fans can purchase their own peony paper DIY kits.

Afterward, simply add a store to your site. You can operate it from anywhere, handle all your transactions – payments, refunds and payouts – in one place, and then fulfill and manage every order. In this rapidly expanding industry, you’ll also want to stay on top of the latest eCommerce trends, like personalization and offering a seamless checkout experience, to ensure you stand out from the crowd.

02. Build a membership area

You can increase user engagement while earning a profit by creating a membership area for your site. Like a paywall, its goal is to turn readers into customers by getting them to purchase special access to parts of your site. If people are interested in you, they are willing to pay a small fee for more.

Your offerings can range from gated premium content, online services, downloadable material to a “VIP lounge” for members only.

Before you start building a membership area, think about what type of content you’ll offer and how to deliver it. There are several membership models to choose from, including a drip feed one that slowly trickles down content to registered users, an all-in membership which gives access all at once, and a fixed term membership that can be activated for a week, month or year. Once you add a membership section to your site, it’s time to create buzz around it. Give your followers a sneak peek of what to expect with a free one-time pass or offer special discounts to try it out.

03. Become an affiliate marketer

Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways to get started on your website monetization. It is the process where one party agrees to market the goods of a business and earn a commission with each sale they bring in. It also takes time and a bit of strategy to do it right.

Companies are able to track an affiliate’s performance and potential earnings based on purchases via an affiliate link which they provide. For example, a fashion blogger can make extra cash if a reader buys a shirt through their affiliate link. You can earn money per sale, per lead and per click. If you decide to experiment with affiliate marketing to make money online, you’ll want to keep a few important things in mind to ensure your success and take the best approach for your readers:

  • Select a brand you trust. An endorsement must reflect your honest opinion. Otherwise, your promotion of a product or service can be misleading. And when you make a real connection with the product, people will notice and respond. Just like any good partnership, you’ll want to find your ideal match when looking for an affiliate program. Some popular choices include Amazon Associates, ShareASale and the Wix Affiliate Program. Research prospective companies before closing a deal to market them.
  • Recommend services or products your audience will benefit from. Your audience returns to your site because it offers them value in the form of informative content, beneficial links and recommendations. Every time you add something to your website, think about how it can further enrich your readers’ lives.
  • Be transparent. You should disclose your affiliate links and be completely open with your readers. They are smart and able to make informed decisions when it comes to personal spending. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission requires affiliates to disclose their relationships with brands they are paid to promote. That’s why you’ll want to check out the FTC endorsement guidelines before you get started. For those operating outside of the U.S., be sure to read about your country’s laws on affiliate marketing.

04. Offer consulting services

Here’s a thought. Why not capitalize on your expertise via consulting? Your website is an ideal platform to start offering your services and receiving payment in return. To begin, you’ll need an online scheduling software where potential clients can book a service or make a consultation appointment directly through your website. With this advanced tool, you will also be able to accept payments, host session sessions online with Zoom, offer memberships or packages and manage all your clients.

Furthermore, consulting allows you to establish your speciality and helps you develop new techniques through working with different clients. By doing so, you’ll also be able to sharpen your analytical and communication skills.

05. Design an online course

Another way to generate income as an expert is by creating a paid online course. With virtual classes on the rise, you won’t have problems finding students.

Focus on a specialized area that appeals to you and your audience. It should be something that you are knowledgeable about and are also driven by. Then, you’ll need to write out a plan. Ask yourself this, “Is what I want to teach relevant to others?” This can help narrow your ideas and expectations to match what you set to accomplish in your online course.

Then, you can begin making the content that goes with it. That includes filming or audio recording your sessions, editing them and uploading material for those enrolled.

An online exercise course to monetize your website

06. Start a paid newsletter

Launching a paid newsletter is a fun way to share your creativity to a dedicated following as you monetize your website. Readers pay a subscription fee to access exclusive content via email. If you have a website on Wix, you can manage exclusive content to paying members by offering pricing plans.

When it comes to choosing a pricing model, go with one that you feel comfortable with. In its early stages, you might want to experiment with lower prices for your first paying subscribers. You can also offer a limited number of subscriptions at a fixed price. Once they sell out, you’ll know you’ve generated an interest and can take the next step to ramp up your price.

In terms of planning content, you’ll want to focus each newsletter on a specific topic around you and your audience’s interests. Then, set a delivery date so that your subscribers will know when to expect it. For yourself, create a schedule for publishing content that you can stick to. Additionally, newsletters are also scalable, so as your subscription number grows you can begin to cover more content.

07. Try dropshipping

While the idea of selling merchandise is an attractive way to monetize a website, you might not have the physical space nor the capability to oversee orders. An alternative to that scenario is dropshipping, which is an order fulfillment method that lets you sell products without having to manage your own inventory and connects you with third-party retailers to pass on the sales order.

Dropshipping also provides flexibility in your product offering, making it easy to adjust or change your merchandise since you’re not limited to what’s left in storage or what you can manufacture. It also takes little investment to start and no commitment to order minimums. You can experiment with products – test out what works or doesn’t – without risk.

08. Advertise on your website

This section needs no introduction. The reality is that ads are everywhere and it’s usually the first choice that comes to mind when thinking about how to monetize a website.

But if you plan on selling ad space on your website, you’ll want to make sure you pick ones that can perform well with your audience. In order for ads to make your site profitable, they need to resonate with your site visitors and encourage them to click. This is because you will be paid by advertisers depending on the number of clicks the ad gets, known as pay-per-click.

That said, there are many different kinds of ads to consider for your website. Here are just a few to choose from:

  • Static ads are images that contain permanent content. They only need to be assembled once and require no maintenance, for example a banner.
  • Animated ads are created as Gifs, HTML 5 banners or short videos and typically run between 5-10 seconds. They can be effective in getting the message across faster than the other types of ads.
  • Native ads resemble the content around it and are optimized to match the platform upon which they appear. They usually take the form of articles, videos and infographics.

You can also use Google AdSense which pairs ads to your website according to your content and visitors. While it’s free to participate, there’s a disadvantage to taking this route since you cannot pick which ads to show on your site.

09. Do sponsored reviews

You can write a sponsored review that blends on your page. Unlike working with ad firms, you won’t need to wait to get paid per click. Instead, reach out to potential advertisers who might want to buy a sponsored review from you.

You’ll want to try out the product on offer and see if it meets your standards before making any association with it. Remember that you should only endorse products or brands that you trust. In fact, stay away from anything that’s sub-standard. If it meets your criteria for quality, then you can write an effective review for your audience. Then you can wholeheartedly feature the product on your esteemed website.

10. Write an ebook

Bring your expertise into the fold of long-form content. By writing an ebook you can further develop your ideas rather than with a single post that typically tackles one concept at a time. And with a book, you can present a lot of critical information in a way that people will be more willing to read.

Like the creation process of any good product, you’ll need to take time to put together an ebook. First, you’ll need to do research about your topic. Second, you’ll need to invest in additional resources, such as the design for the cover and potentially hire a professional editor. However, since there’s no middleman, like a publisher, between you and your buyers, you’ll get to sell directly and keep all the profits.

11. Create webinars

Position yourself as an authority figure in your field and share your knowledge in the form of a paid webinar, which is an online presentation held in real-time. It typically runs up to 45 minutes.

You’ll need to pick your topic and do some research. In order to make your webinar stand out from your competitors, make sure you provide attendees with an extra value that only you can offer. Then, you’ll want to investigate what similar webinars are charging for access to help you figure out your admissions fee.

Finally, set a date and time for your webinar and spread the word. You can say it in a banner on your website, send a message to your email list, create a landing page, write a blog post or hit social media.

Create a webinar to monetize your website

12. Accept donations

Your web visitors enjoy consuming every single area of your site, from its original content to the thoughtful visuals you continually add or update. That means you’ve been pouring in time, effort and resources to make it look good.

Consider asking your readers for donations to help cover expenses and further support your way to internet success. One of the easiest ways to accept monetary donations is via PayPal. You can write an open and honest message to your followers and feature it somewhere on your homepage, along with a button that invites them to contribute. Wix streamlines the process of setting up a PayPal Donate button in a few simple steps.

13. ‘Hire me’ page

In addition to monetization tools that can be integrated on your website, you can also create a “Hire me” page to bring you extra source of income. Simply put, this is a dedicated page where you’ll advertise your talents and skills for hire, from personal training to graphic design.

For your “Hire me” page, it’s always a good idea to present your past work, or portfolio, and highlight testimonials from past customers. Remember to add a call-to-action button so people know how to communicate with you. Some commonly used CTAs include, “contact me” or “learn more.” You can also place a contact form at the bottom of the page that sends clients directly to you.

9 Best WordPress News Sources for 2021

9 Best WordPress News Sources for 2021

If you use WordPress in any capacity, it’s a good idea to stay informed about the platform and it’s community. Three types of news in particular should be paid special attention to: official WordPress announcements and development updates, prominent third party development updates (specifically, those of the tools in your “WordPress Tool Kit”), and finally, broader WordPress Community conversations including users and thought leaders. If all of these news “types” are in your feed (or inbox) then you’ll be empowered to better understand and use WordPress as well as plan long term decisions based on current conversations and development.

In this post, we’ll run down the very best WordPress news sources to follow for 2021 and beyond. 

Let’s dive in!

The Best WordPress News Sources for 2021

The list below isn’t exhaustive, but is a great start to populate your favorite RSS reader. What’s more, these sources aren’t listed in any particular order, so feel free to run the rule over the ones that pique your interest. Without further ado, let’s get started!

1. WPTavern

The WPTavern home page.

No list of the best WordPress news sources would be complete without WPTavern. It’s been running for over a decade, and while it’s seen some personnel changes over the years, its core offering of up-to-date WordPress news is still strong.

The types of articles you’ll find on WPTavern are focused on what’s happening “under the hood” of WordPress. Given this, posts are generally developer-focused, and you can get a feel for the reader base from the comments section.

Speaking of which, most articles have a healthy discussion within the comments section. We’d argue this is a great way of getting to know how the “back end” community feels about certain topics:

The WPTavern comments section.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that WPTavern has been owned by Automattic – the developers of WordPress – since 2011. However, this hasn’t affected the quality of the output in our opinion, nor has it introduced any explicit bias in which stories are covered.

Visit WordPress Tavern

2. Post Status

The Post Status home page.

Next up, Post Status takes the focus of WPTavern and ramps it up a notch. It’s billed as a community for WordPress professionals, and as such, is the first place many budding theme and plugin creators go for their daily news fixes.

The site is run by Brian Krogsgard, and iThemes’ Cory Miller joined as a partner in 2020. Both are experienced WordPress professionals, backed up by an equally impressive team. Between them, Post Status offers a number of channels to receive the latest WordPress news. While the site was initially known as a straightforward news site, it’s now grown to include a newsletterand podcast (which we’d recommend subscribing to).

However, if you need more from Post Status, you could also purchase a membership. This offers well-researched industry insights, a private Slack channel, and much more. While there is value in its free offerings, Post Status’ subscription tier is likely a valuable investment for many WordPress developers.

Visit Post Status

3. Twitter

The Twitter website.

Among the primordial soup of Tweets, you can find some of the earliest-breaking WordPress news. Of course, you have to know where to look. The beauty of the platform is that there are plenty of ways to source quality industry updates.

For example, you could simply follow all of the news sources on this list, and wait for them to Tweet content. Alternatively, you could also follow the developers of WordPress products, and get firsthand insight into what’s happening with various companies. 

Of course, you’re also going to want to follow topics using hashtags and other trending search terms to find the news you want. Some popular options related to WordPress include:

  • #wordpress
  • #wp
  • #webdevelopment
  • #webdesign
  • #seo
  • #plugins

You might also look into hashtags related to specific plugins or themes you’re interested in. For instance, #divi features some updates and content related to our flagship theme and page builder.

To find the latest content using the hashtags you’re interested in, just type them into the search bar on the Explore page:

Overall, using Twitter to get your WordPress news is a double-edged sword. It can provide lots of valuable information, but you’ll need to have a strategy for sorting through its ocean of content.

4. Ma.tt

The Ma.tt website.

Including the site of Matt Mullenweg – the co-creator of WordPress – is, on one hand, a no-brainer when it comes to finding WordPress news. However, we’ll admit that Matt doesn’t only publish platform-centric posts. In the spirit of WordPress itself, Ma.tt is a blog, and topics are discussed somewhat at random.

For example, you’ll find posts about the acquisition of Tumblr there. However, you’ll also get a yearly “What’s in my bag?” post, discussions on live streaming equipment, and much more.

On the surface, Ma.tt isn’t going to be a place you’ll get early breaking WordPress news. However, when it comes to getting inside the mind of a leading entrepreneur, you can’t beat it. At the very least, reading the content here is going to help you understand why you read the stories you do, and why those decisions have ultimately been made.

Visit Ma.tt

5. Make WordPress

The Make WordPress website.

When it comes to WordPress news, you could consider Make WordPress an almost perfect blend between Ma.tt, Post Status, and direct developer updates. It’s not a bonafide news source per se, although when it comes to official WordPress updates, it’s the place to be.

For the uninitiated, the Make WordPress website is essentially a microsite for contributors to the platform. As such, you’ll find dedicated areas for ThemesPluginsMarketingCore code, and much more. The primary purpose of these different teams is to provide a central repository for updates and resources. However, given that the channels are public, it’s also a great way to get WordPress news on any aspect of the platform.

Our advice is to subscribe for updates through an RSS reader. It could be noisy at times, as some of the posts aren’t designed as reading material for end-users. However, for upcoming updates and changes to WordPress’ offerings – the Block Editor being a perfect example – it’s a goldmine of information.

Visit Make WordPress

6. Developer Blogs

The Elegant Themes blog.

We mentioned direct developer updates in the last entry, and following specific theme and plugin blogs will also net you plenty of WordPress news. While the blogs on product sites are often centered around content marketing, you’ll also find changelogs, updates, and other news-worthy tidbits.

There are a few tips we recommend for filtering out the noise here. First, see if your RSS reader can filter based on taxonomies. If so, check out the blog of your chosen WordPress product for any categories or tags that relate to news.

Also, we don’t recommend following all of the developers you can find. Some of the more important ones – such as Automattic, Yoast, and of course, Elegant Themes – will likely be all you need.

Second, see if the product developers run personal blogs. It could be that these sites don’t contain anything WordPress-related. However, in some instances, you’ll find greater insight into the decisions by the company as a whole, which ultimately gives you more information.

7. WP Content

The WP Content home page.

Next on our list is a modern throwback to the old ManageWP.org aggregator. That site sadly doesn’t exist anymore, although WP Content looks to take its place. So far, the fledgling site succeeds.

It’s a community-driven website that aggregates WordPress news and ranks it accordingly. Since the lists are user-driven, it means these articles are genuinely the most engaging for other WordPress users. As such, you can see at a glance what the WordPress community is currently taking notice of.

What’s more, there are dedicated comments sections for all posts, so users can discuss the relative merits of each inclusion. This is going to give you greater insight into how the WordPress community enjoys (or doesn’t enjoy) the information it receives.

Visit WP Content

8. Torque

The Torque website.

Our next entry is a site that’s been around for a similar timeframe as WPTavern. However, Torque is more of a classic content site. In other words, it offers how-to’s and tutorials, alongside hot takes and editorials on current WordPress events.

Therefore, we’d argue that while its content is valuable, Torque is going to be more of a secondary source of WordPress news. Given that it offers content that expands on the latest WordPress happenings, you’ll want to consider Torque articles alongside previous breaking news, rather than as a go-to source for the latest. However, Doc Pop’s News Drop and Torque’s Social Hour are great listens that stand on their own.

Also, it’s worth noting that Torque is part of the WP Engine group. This is, of course, similar to WPTavern and Automattic. In our experience, we’ve also seen no bias or control exercised by WP Engine. As such, it’s a fine source of WordPress news that you’ll want to add to your list.

Visit Torque

9. Wordfence

The Wordfence blog.

Finally, we have a WordPress plugin developer we’d like to single out. While the Wordfence blog doesn’t contain current WordPress news reporting, it does offer something just as interesting.

Wordfence is often a leading source when it comes to security issues surrounding WordPress products. You’ll often find very detailed breakdowns of recent vulnerability fixes in various WordPress themes and plugins. In addition, the Wordfence blog has also investigated Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and their actors, and much more.

When it comes to security – and more importantly the work the Threat Intelligence Team does to uncover WordPress vulnerabilities – this blog is worth its weight in platinum. We recommend subscribing for daily updates in order to help keep your sites safer.

Visit Wordfence

Conclusion

Rather than a need for gossip, keeping tabs on the latest WordPress news is vital to understanding how the community as a whole operates. What’s more, key updates and developments can only be found “straight from the horse’s mouth.” As such, subscribing to one or more news sources will help you keep a finger on the pulse of the WordPress community across a broad range of roles.

How to Reduce the Size of JPEG and Other Image Files

How to Reduce the Size of JPEG and Other Image Files

The images you use on your website are one of the most important elements. Not only do you want to have visually compelling imagery, but you also don’t want those images to be so large that they slow down the load time for your site. One of the main reasons a site will lag is because the images included in it have not been resized for optimal site performance.

In this article, we will explore manual methods for reducing image sizes in Photoshop including changing the file type, resizing, and compressing files using the Save for Web function. If those looking for something more automated, we’ll also look at some plugins and web-based options.

Changing The File Type

“File Size” for an image file refers to the number of pixels per inch. Generally, the more pixels per inch, the more information the file holds, thus, the bigger its size.

The two most common file types for images are JPG and PNG.

  • PNG – Portable Network Graphics  – This file type is mostly used for graphic files like logos, icons, illustrations, and text. When edited in a photo editing application like Photoshop, these files don’t lose much data when you manipulate or compress them. They are referred to as “lossless” for this reason. These files tend to be bigger in size for this reason.
  • JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group – This is the most common file type you’ll find for most images on the internet. This file type can manage millions of colors, can be highly compressed while preserving quality. These are referred to as “lossy” because the process of compressing them removes pixels from the image.

Either file type can work. Which one you choose really depends on your site, the number and type of photos you choose to use.

Here is a sample photo. Its original format was as a JPG file.

I used the File>Save As command in Photoshop and chose the PNG format and completed the save function.

When I changed the file type, the size of the file went from 646 MB to 1.3 KB. As noted above, PNG files are typically larger, so for this type of picture with a lot of color and detail, you may be better off staying with the JPEG version to ensure faster load times. If you know your image needs to be able to scale larger without losing resolution, go with the PNG version.

Note that there are many other file formats available. I’ve focused on JPEG and PNG because they are the most popular.

Manual Resizing in Photoshop

In Photoshop, you can use the Image>Image Size function to manually resize your image. The tool looks like this:

reducing file size in photoshop

You can see the current Image Size and pixel Dimensions are noted at the top of the tool. Any adjustments you make here will change the size.

Fit To is a drop-down list that has preset sizes and pixel settings.

resizing image files in photoshop

If I choose the first option in that list to adjust the dimensions and pixels per in (ppi) I can see how the file size will change.

resizing image files in photoshop

You can experiment with these settings to determine whether a standard size from the drop-down will work, or if you need to manually change the width, height, or resolution options to get the size you need.

Save for Web Function

Save for Web is different from Save As in that the web option removes metadata (details about the type and origin of the image) from the file before saving. This function is specifically meant for images that will display on the internet, so it can be a very fast way to resize while maintaining quality.

Find the Save for Web option by navigating to File>Export> Save for Web:

resizing images in photoshop

When the Save for Web window opens, you’ll notice another benefit of this function. If you select the 2-up tab at the top, you can see a comparison of the original image side-by-side with the changed image.

resizing images in photoshop

From here, use the presets in the upper-right corner to choose the JPG format and adjust the quality as you wish. After you make changes, you can see whether or not your new file is up to your quality standards via the image preview, and you can validate the change in file size by looking at the data under each image:

Note that you can also change the size by using the width and height fields in the lower right corner. Because this article is specifically looking at resizing, we aren’t covering the other options shown in the Save for Web screen, but you can read here for more detailed information.

WordPress Image Optimization Tools

Photoshop is a great option if you like to turn the dials yourself to reduce image file size yourself. If you are looking for something more automated to help with resizing your images, there are a good number of WordPress plugin options that can help. Here’s a list of a few popular options and a brief description of their benefits:

Imagify – Optimize all your images in one go, resize with ease and restore photos to their original versions when needed. It’s affordable too. This plugin is free to download and includes 20 MB of file space. Other options are $5 per month for 500MB and $10 per month for unlimited space.

ShortPixel – No file size limit and one API key for multiple sites allow for great utilization for this plugin. They also offer one-time and monthly plans for budget flexibility.

Optimole – For the data-oriented, Optimole offers a dashboard where you can review optimization stats. Their free plan allows for 5,000 visitors per month and unlimited bandwidth.

For a more complete comparison of these options and a handful of others, see this article.

Web Resources for Image Optimization

If you’re in a pinch for time and/or money, there are plenty of free online image optimization tools.

Compressjpg allows you to upload multiple files and resize them all at once. It also has a feature that will convert iPhone HEIC format photos to JPEG. Other similar sites are Tinypng well as Image Compressor.

Canva Pro is another popular site that not only resizes but also allows you to design and animate images, as well as format them for web or social media use. Its layout is intuitive and easy to use.

Wrapping Up

Don’t underestimate the importance of optimizing your images. Slow sites not only turn off viewers, they don’t get traction on Google search either.  Fast-loading, sharp images can provide that little extra something that sets your site apart from the rest. An optimized site will keep visitors coming back for more.

11 Free WooCommerce Plugins Worth Checking Out

11 Free WooCommerce Plugins Worth Checking Out

WooCommerce is by far the biggest player in the WordPress ecommerce space. It has its own robust economy of premium add-ons both by its creators and an impressive array of third party developers. So much so that it can be easy to catch yourself thinking that every add-on worth having is premium. But like WooCommerce itself (and WordPress of course) quality/usefulness and a $0 price tag are not mutually exclusive. There are plenty of free WooCommerce plugins out there that can enhance your store without requiring you to spend a dime. In this post we’ve rounded up eleven we feel are worth checking out.

1. WooCommerce Multilingual

WooCommerce Plugins Free

Off the bat, you should know that expanding the languages your store is available in can increase sales and conversions. The WPML project is fantastic for that, and this plugin will let you make sure that your site reaches absolutely as many people as possible. I think the best part of this plugin is that it not only shows the pages on your site in a new language, but also allows emails that you sent to your customers to be translated, too. That’s good stuff.

More Information

2. YITH WooCommerce Wishlist

WooCommerce Plugins Free

You want people to come back to your site. While one-off sales are okay, the real money is with repeat customers. And what better way to get repeat customers than to give them a chance to browse your store and throw whatever they want to remember onto a wishlist? It works for Amazon, so it will work for you, too. Just install the YITH WooCommerce Wishlist plugin and before you know it, conversions and return visitors will be soaring. Plus, the image they use to promote the plugin uses an elegant black dress. I say their word choice is an omen.

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3. WooRewards

WooCommerce Plugins Free

If you’re like most shoppers, free stuff gets you to buy more than you’d normally buy. Just the prospect of it being free is too tantalizing to miss. Even more than that, the best way to give something for free is to make sure they keep coming back to your store over and over again. That’s why rewards programs are so popular. With the WooRewards plugin, you can host your own rewards program for free. Just like the wishlist above, if you can get people to come back for any reason, they will most likely buy more stuff. And with something free dangling like a carrot on a stick in front of them, too, it’s a one-two punch that’ll knock ’em out every time.

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4. WooCommerce Direct Checkout

WooCommerce Plugins Free

Remember how one of the most annoying parts of ecommerce is the abandoned cart? Well, that’s not an issue with WooCommerce Direct Checkout. Just install this baby on your site, and you won’t have any abandoned carts anymore. Zero. Zilch. Because you won’t have a cart at all. You can direct your customers directly to checkout with this plugin so that their impulse to buy is streamlined through the process perfectly. It’s totally free to use, but if you want a more robust experience, the developers have a pro upgrade you can opt for.

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5. WooCommerce Menu Cart

WooCommerce Plugins Free

Just like it says, this plugin puts a cart icon in the menu of your WordPress site. Some themes don’t play well with WooCommerce, but that shouldn’t be a problem with this one installed. Just activate it, and you have a customizable spot in your menu bar that lets your customers keep track of everything they’ve set aside to buy. And if you don’t want it just in the menu bar, you can use a shortcode to render the cart wherever you want — widgets, footers, blogs, anywhere.

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6. WooCommerce Currency Switcher

WooCommerce Plugins Free

If there is one lesson we can learn from the current state of the film industry, it’s that there’s a lot of money to be made outside of the United States. So make sure that your customers know what they’re really paying by using this plugin. When installed, this plugin lets your users see exchange rates for the price you’ve set and their desired currency. No more guessing how many Euros equal how many US Dollars, or how many Ruples equal how many GBP. The free version only supports 2 currencies, but that may be enough if you have a dominant country in addition to your native one.

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7. WooCommerce PDF Invoices & Packing Slips

WooCommerce Plugins Free

Running an ecommerce store is fun and games…until it’s not. The worst part about an online business (really, any business) is keeping up with all your paperwork. Thankfully, there is a slew of software out there to make it better for you, and this is one of the top options. With this free WooCommerce plugin, you can generate PDF invoices and packing slips (see why it’s named that now?) quickly and easily so your business keeps moving foward and doesn’t have to slow down while you push around a lot of paper.

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8. Amazon Pay

WooCommerce Plugins Free

PayPal and Stripe may be your go-to payment methods for WooCommerce, but you should absolutely think about Amazon Pay, too. Since roughly everyone in the world shops on Amazon, using this free, official extension will make your store run a bit more smoothly. It lets your users integrate with a payment processor that they are already comfortable with and trust, and you get the same benefits because you’re dealing with a gateway that’s based on one of the biggest infrastructures in the world. The only downside as I see to this (and this is a minor quibble) is that users can’t use rewards points or gift cards for purchases via Amazon Pay. As a consumer, that stinks, but as a vendor, it should be no different than taking PayPal or Stripe.

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9. Woo Zoom

WooCommerce Plugins Free

I don’t know what it is about image magnification, but there’s just something that screams a site is professional if you let users zoom in on your products. Installing this plugin makes it a breeze, and your shop will look a ton more professional immediately. You can upgrade to a pro version if you want more customization, but you probably won’t need to.

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10. WooCommerce Gift Cards

WooCommerce Plugins Free

Everyone loves gift cards. Whether they are getting free money to a favorite shop (yours, obviously) or picking out an easy present on the go that can be given immediately, people adore gift cards. If you have this plugin installed, your customers will have that option, and even if they don’t find the perfect gift for that special someone, that special someone can pick it out for themselves. The downside to the free version of this plugin is that while the gift cards are available to purchase on your site, you have to manually send the codes to the recipient. For smaller shops, that may be a good thing, as you have a bit more granular control, but for later sites, that just isn’t possible to keep up with. Other than that, it’s easy to use and set up, so you should definitely take a look.

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11. Coupon Shortcodes + Coupon Countdown

WooCommerce Plugins Free

To round it all out, let’s give your customers a reward for being so darn amazing. With the Coupon Shortcodes plugin, you can designate anywhere on your site as a location for your customers to get a code and apply it at checkout. While that’s awesome, it’s integration with Coupon Countdown is what really makes it cool — you can do a limited time offer for only specific parts of your site (maybe 404 pages or a sales page).

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Finishing Up with Free WooCommerce Plugins

No matter what kind of store you run, there’s a handful of these free WooCommerce plugins that should probably be installed on your site. Sure, not everything will work for everyone, but even the ones with limited functionality can work as a demo to see if it’s the right fit for your store. Given that all these are free, installing some of them can only gain you sales, right? Happy selling!

Facebook Banner Dimensions and Cover Photo Best Practices

Facebook Banner Dimensions and Cover Photo Best Practices

Are you having trouble with those pesky Facebook banner dimensions? Is your banner or cover photo just not looking right? We’ve got you covered.

Your Facebook cover photo says a lot about your brand. For a business to thrive online and have a social presence, it needs a good looking Facebook Page. No matter if it’s a neighborhood lunch spot or an international conglomerate. Your Facebook page needs to look inviting and recognizable when a client visits and the first thing they see is the cover photo or banner at the top. Getting the banner to look perfect takes a little bit of work and the right kind of attitude.

If you have ever created your own Facebook banner or cover photo you will have noticed that it doesn’t look the same on desktop and mobile. The sides get cut off on mobile, taking important visuals or words along with it. In this article, we will look at the best practices for getting the perfect Facebook cover photo every single time. Additionally, we will look at mistakes to avoid and things to never forget when designing your Facebook banner.

Facebook Banner Dimensions for a Perfect Fit

Facebook Banner Dimensions

The most important thing to remember when creating a Facebook banner or cover photo is the way the size changes from mobile to desktop. In the image below you can see different sections around the main space called the “SAFE AREA.” It’s in this area where all important information should be placed, that way it shows up on both desktop and mobile.

The official size for a Facebook banner or cover photo is 820px by 360px. If you have created one before, you might have noticed that sometimes, Facebook makes your perfect image look blurry. That’s why we like to use a larger graphic with the same aspect ratio. The aspect ratio of an 820px by 360px graphic is 2.28, so to be sure that it looks perfect when you upload, you can create it at 1230px by 540px.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

It’s easy to make silly mistakes when creating a Facebook banner. Unfortunately, these seemingly tiny mistakes can really make a difference when it comes to how people react to your Facebook cover photo. Let’s look at some of the most common mistakes you should avoid when making a Facebook banner or cover photo for your business.

Too Much Text

The old rule of “no more than 20% text” isn’t an enforced rule on Facebook cover photos anymore. Nevertheless, you should still try and keep the text to a minimum. Be mindful of the number of words you use, but mostly how much space they fill up in the Safe Area. Use only the words which are completely necessary to send a message.

Too Much Clutter

Just how you can mistakenly fill up space with too much text, it can also happen with a combination of text and visuals. Restrain from making your Facebook cover photo way too cluttered. There is no need to put tons of things in your Facebook Banner, it just has to look good. If you are promoting a specific sale or offer, only add the most important information and let the CTA button do the rest of the work.

screenshot of colorhunt website

Unappealing Color Combination

Ugly color combinations are instant visual repellents. Try not to use random colors in the graphics for your Facebook cover photo. Your best bet is to either use your brand colors or to find some appealing color palettes on Colorhunt. Simply copy and paste the hex codes from the color palette you chose to your graphics editors. If you are using a photograph, sample some colors from the image to colorize text. For visual graphic styled Facebook banners, stick to no more than three or four colors at a time.

Too Little Too Late

Another terrible mistake is to change your holiday banner at the wrong time. A good rule of thumb is to change your holiday-themed Facebook cover photo a week two before the actual holiday. If you sell products online, then you have to be especially aware of upcoming holidays so that you can promote your sales with enough time.

Best Practices For Your Brand

Now that we’ve seen the most common mistakes which you should avoid at all costs, it’s time to look at what you should always be doing. As long as you follow certain parameters, your Facebook cover photo will work for you and your brand.

Stay on Brand with Colors, Fonts, and Message

As a brand, it’s your responsibility to stay consistent from the web to social media and beyond. Your brand style guide should be the first point of reference when creating a new Facebook banner or cover photo. Use your branded colors and branded fonts. Maintain the message and the feel of your brand at all costs. Take a cue from the Nike Facebook Page, they visualize their brand with their trademark slogan; Just Do It.

Nike Facebook Cover Photo

Use a Focal Point to Bring Attention to The CTA Page Button

Before we look at adding a focal point for the Page button, let’s make sure you know what it is. Underneath the banner is your trusty CTA Page button. You can change it according to what you want it to do, from ‘shop now’ to ‘learn more’ and a bunch of other options. If you haven’t customized this button yet, it will say  ‘Add Page Button.’ Click on it to add whichever option suits your company best.

To customize an existing CTA Page button, hover over it and a little edit pencil will show up. Click on the pencil and choose ‘edit button.’

Screenshot of Facebook Page Button preferences

Now that you know the power of this little button, it’s time to call some attention to it. Add a little something on the bottom right corner which will grab the viewer’s attention. The folks at Superfly added a black rectangle with their website URL right above the buttons. They don’t expect you to copy that URL and paste into your browser! You just have to click the Shop Now button. You can achieve a focal point to the button in different ways, with photography, graphics, and even arrows!

BeSuperfly Facebook Cover Photo

Use High-Quality Images Which You Have Rights to

Always use photography which you have the rights to use. Not only does it follow Facebook’s guidelines, but it’s also common sense. Please don’t use imagery which you found online and simply pasted into your banner, this can get you in trouble! Use stock photography which you have paid for or free stock images from sites like Unsplash. Better yet, use your own photographs of your own products! The Pepsi Facebook banner below is a great example.

Pepsi Facebook Cover Photo

Try Using a Video Instead of a Photo or Graphic

Why not try a video instead of an image? The process to upload a video to your banner is the same as adding an image, just follow the same size guidelines. Make sure all important movement in the video is inside the ‘Safe Area’ and it’s ready to go.

Gif of Colgate Facebook Banner

Add a Description with Links and Pin a Relevant Image to The Top of Your Page

Last but not least, when you upload a new Facebook cover photo or banner, always add a description with relevant links. These will not be obvious at first glance, but when someone clicks on the image they will be able to see all the information you added. For example, the current banner for Starbucks is about the Born This Way Foundation and once you click on the banner, you see all the links and tags related to it.

Likewise, Starbucks also has a pinned image to the top of their page which gives a lot more information about the foundation in an animated GIF. What this technique does, is create a full-scale effect for your Facebook Page. When someone lands on it, they can see your three important visuals; the logo, the cover photo, and the pinned image. If everything is optimized, along with the page button, they have plenty of choices to interact.

Starbucks Born this Way Foundation
screenshot of Starbucks Facebook Page

Conclusion

Having an optimized Facebook page these days is not that hard. Use the Facebook banner dimensions template above to help you create the perfect cover photo. Avoid common mistakes and follow the best practices to create a Facebook banner, and you will have a great looking cover photo in no time! Remember to customize your page button and don’t forget to upload your graphic with a relevant description.

6 Ways to Prevent Computer Eye Strain

6 Ways to Prevent Computer Eye Strain

There’s a high chance that if you’re reading this, you work on a computer for most, if not all of the day. Even if you don’t, there’s still a high chance you’re looking at a screen of some kind for the majority of the day. And that makes you tired. More specifically, it makes your eyes tired. Which them stresses the rest of your body. It’s likely a cycle we all know a little too well. We have steps, however, that can alleviate and even prevent this kind of eye strain so that your job and habits don’t have to negatively impact your overall well-being quite so much.

1. Blink More

Okay, so the actual solution is a little more complicated than that, but in the end, blinking more often can really help prevent eye strain. Even those minute flashes where you’re eyes are covered give your brain a chance to rest. And that time adds up over the day. It’s literally why when you’re strained and stressed that you can simply close your eyes and feel an almost immediate sense of relief. (You can actually tell your boss “I’m just resting my eyes, not sleeping at work” and not be lying!)

Additionally, blinking keeps your eyes lubricated. Not blinking means that your eyes will dry out more often. If that’s something that you’ve noticed bothering you, get some eye drops to keep at your desk to moisturize them often. While that is just treating a symptom of the eye strain rather than rooting out a cause, relief is relief.

Unless you’re sure that you can consciously make yourself blink more often than you normally would (spoiler: you can’t), you need to make a few changes in your workstation and habits. While change can be hard, making these changes won’t be. They’re both simple and easy. Many of the other tips will cause you to blink more often as a by-product, eliminating multiple stressors at once.

2. Change Your Font Color, Size, and Family

If you’re a content creator or web developer, you probably know that what font you choose makes a drastic impact on how much eye strain you endure. Many font families are not ideal for constant and repeated use. What looks great in a screenshot or is fine for a 3-minute-read article might not work for an 8 hour shift of programming or writing. Choosing a font other than Arial or Helvetica (blasphemy, we know) might make more of a difference than you know. The kerning, spacing, and even shape of various fonts can increase readability and make it so that you don’t have to work as hard to decipher the characters.

Fonts such as Fira Code, Consolas, and Monoid are designed specifically for long-term usage, legibility, and prevention of eye strain.

On top of that, color and size (both independently and in concert) can be one of the largest factors of preventing eye strain. If you have a high-resolution monitor, there’s a good chance that your default font size is pretty small. On top of that, a lot of what you’re reading online and in other places might be low-contrast (light text on a light background). When this is the case, our eyes have to work overtime.

So to fix that, you don’t have to lower the resolution of your screen. No one wants you to give up your screen real estate. Instead, increase the default font sizes in your OS, your code editor, and adjust different web pages in your browser to accommodate larger text. (Usually CTRL/CMD and +/- will do the trick.)

3. Turn Your Brightness Down

This one’s tough for some people, us included. Whether it’s a phone screen, laptop, or the circle of computer monitors you have around you, the brightness is probably way too high. While doing so absolutely makes the colors pop and the whole experience generally much more aesthetically pleasing.

But it also strains your eyes at an accelerated rate. You will need to find the balance of brightness that works for you. If the monitors are like lamps in a darkened room, you might have a problem. But if you’re straining to see and the OS appears dim and dull, you’ve gone to far the wrong way. Once you find the right brightness, though, your eyes will be much better off.

Also, if your office or workspace has fluorescent lighting that reflects off of your monitor, you can get screens and filters that you can affix to it so that you can eliminate external brightness and glare, too.

4. Dark and Reader Modes

You also have access to Dark Mode in a lot of apps to make reading easier, and adjusts the brightness on a software level. MacOS and iOS even have them built in. This gives you a darker, less-bright screen with a decent contrast ratio of lighter text on darker backgrounds. It’s easier on the eyes in both daytime and in darker environments. We highly suggest working this way. Dark mode has saved everyone at Elegant Themes a lot of money on headache medicine over the years.

You can also try programs like Dark Reader to make any website or app appear in dark mode, whether they support it natively or not. Also, most browsers (mobile and desktop) have a “reader” mode where the text size, font, and color palette are adjustable with other non-essential elements not rendered. Take advantage of these tools. Your eyes will thank you.

5. Consider Your Posture

Where you are in relation to your screen plays a pretty big role in eye strain, too. Not to mention muscle strain and shoulder/neck aches. You want to be looking at your monitor front-on at eye level. Or, well, slightly below. You shouldn’t have to look up or down to see it. Your neck should be neutral. Keep this in mind when working on a laptop because you’re going to have your head titled down a lot of the time. Not only is this bad for your posture, most screens have a slightly different look from various angles. Colors shift a little, glare hits it differently, and so on.

You will also want to make sure you’re the right distance away from your monitor. You ideally want to be between 20 and 27 inches away from your screen. It differs from person to person because of monitor size and setup. Generally, though, you want to be able to just reach out and touch the screen with the tip of your finger from your neutral sitting position. If you keep it at this distance, you should be able to take the entire screen into view and not have to search all around for points of interest, saving your eyes motion and wear.

Sitting too close to the screen won’t make you go blind, unlike what our parents told us when we were kids, but it can make your eyes work overtime. And that leads to easily preventable eyestrain.

6. Use Everything Anti-Blue

While the jury (read: science) is out on just what effect blue light has on your health and eyes and sleep, the evidence does point toward limiting your exposure to it as being good for your eyes. Most phones these days have a “night mode” which effectively adjusts the color temperature of the screen after certain hours. You can generally adjust them for any hours or intensity that works for you. It may seem a little odd warming up your screen’s overall tone, but you get used to it quickly, and it does make long hours of looking at the screen easier and less taxing.

Additionally, there are blue-light filters that you can hook to your monitor like the anti-glare ones we mentioned above. You can buy special “computer glasses” that supposedly filter out the light, too, which are fine if you wear contacts or don’t need glasses. For those who need prescription lenses, however, you can ask your eye center about getting the lenses covered in an anti-blue light coating that does the same thing. And bonus, sometimes that coating even makes your eyes flash purple to some people. (No kidding. It’s very surreal for them.)

Wrapping Up

Eye strain might not sound like a big deal, but anyone who deals with it can tell you just how intrusive it can be. If you have never experienced it from spending too much time in front of a screen, consider yourself lucky. But be proactive about making sure that you don’t. And if you’re a constant sufferer like many of us, it only takes a little effort and a few tweaks to make some high-quality adjustments that will make a big difference in your overall wellbeing.