WordPress.com vs WordPress.org What's the Difference?

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org: What’s The Difference?

There’s a lot of confusion out there surrounding WordPress, what exactly it is and the proper way to set up your website.

Many bloggers sign up with WordPress.com simply because that’s what they found first and they make it very simple to sign up (even for free).

Simply put: WordPress itself is a free open-source software that allows people to publish content and build websites. 

  • WordPress.com is a hosted platform that makes use of the WordPress software.
  • Self-hosted (or WordPress.org) refers to purchasing your own hosting and then installing the WordPress software.

What is WordPress.com

WordPress.com is similar to SquareSpace or even Wix. They take care of all the technical stuff and all you really have to do is build your website with the tools they provide.

As long as you have a WordPress.com account you can go in and create a new website. It’s that easy! But on the free version and even some of the premium plans you’re going to have a lot of limitations.

You’ll only be able to use certain themes and plugins and you won’t be able to monetize your website. You can’t add scripts for email marketing tools and you will have a limited amount of space to use.

They also place ads on your site if you’re using the free plan.

However, you can get more freedom by upgrading to one of the higher paid plans. For example, just to be able to monetize your site you will be paying WordPress.com $8/mo. At that price you might as well go with Siteground hosting.

WordPress.com plans and pricing
WordPress.com pricing as of April 2019

The ability to upload your own plugins and themes at WordPress.com will set you back a whopping $25 per month!

That’s nearly the same price as Kinsta’s managed hosting, which is one of the fastest and highest quality hosting companies.

For some bloggers or business owners who want to get started right away or just want to use a free platform, WordPress.com is a fine choice.

But if building an income from your website or having access to all the tools you need is important, you’re better off going with self-hosting from the start.

What is WordPress.org, or self-hosted?

WordPress.org refers to the open-source software that you download and then install on your hosting.

WordPress.org open-source blogging software

If you don’t know what web hosting is it’s the place that houses all your website files and technology.

There are many different ways to build a website once you obtain hosting but WordPress is the most popular.

While you do have to pay a monthly or annual fee for website hosting, the WordPress software is always free.

Finding the right web hosting company for your needs and price range can be a daunting task.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there that can entice you into going with a bad company.

You’re in luck though because I have tons of experience working with different web hosts over the years. Check out this detailed guide about choosing the best web host for your needs.

If you’re looking for the cheapest option available or need something where you can pay by the month, I recommend Namecheap shared hosting or EasyWP by Namecheap. You will need a Namecheap domain to use EasyWP though.

But my #1 recommendation for hosting is Siteground. The support is great, they’re easy to use and help you manage your WordPress install, and it’s pretty affordable when you first sign up.

While you can download WordPress directly from the .org site, it’s much easier to do so through your hosting.

Check out this tutorial on how to install WordPress in just a few minutes to get your site started. That guide uses Siteground and there’s a video tutorial using Namecheap, but the process is typically similar for most hosts.

For example, if you just Google “your host name install WordPress” you can find a guide from your host!

If you’re familiar with WordPress.com then you’ll notice that the interface is a lot different and you have full access to everything WordPress can do, like install themes and plugins and add any scripts and ads you want.

Can you move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?

Yes! Whether you already signed up for WordPress.com because you didn’t know or you already have an established site it’s never too late to move.

Most hosts will be able to migrate your content over for you but it’s very easy to export your posts and pages from your old WordPress.com site onto your new self-hosted website.

Your theme, widgets, and any plugins won’t be able to be copied but you can always just reinstall them. My guess is you’ll want to use a new theme since you’ll have access to way more options!

Do you still have questions about the different WordPress options? Let me know in the comments below!

Want to learn more about WordPress? Join the Free WordPress Course for Beginners!

10 Nifty Things You Can Do With Mailerlite

10 Nifty Things You Can Do With Mailerlite

You may already know that Mailerlite is my absolute favorite email marketing service for beginners or just those on a budget. It’s free for up to 1000 subscribers and way easier to use than some other tools.

Of course you can send freebies and create content upgrades with Mailerlite but keep reading to discover 10 other cool things you can do!

1. Create a welcome series

It’s super important to connect with your subscribers the moment they join your list. It’s recommended to send an entire series of welcome emails to nurture your new reader and introduce them to your content.

With Mailerlite’s automation features it’s super easy to do this!

Mailerlite has groups, which are similar to tags, so it’s easy to organize people by freebies, interest, or opt-ins. Using an automation I can have someone get a free download or go through a course, then get copied over to my welcome series group.

The freebie automation will take care of copying them to the new group and when that happens the welcome series automation will trigger. You can add as many emails or delays as you want.

I like to keep my welcome sequence group separate so that subscribers only get added after they’ve gotten their freebie or finished their email sequence.

Then at the end of the welcome sequence I move instead of copy the subscriber into my main mailing list group.

If you’re not sure what to include in your welcome sequence my friend Sarah, who specializes in copywriting for email, has an amazing free Welcome Sequence Blueprint which gives you outlines for each email.

2. Design a landing page

Mailerlite has a complete drag and drop landing page builder so you can create all kinds of standalone pages for your opt-ins.

This makes it super easy to create a custom page for your webinars, ebooks, free courses, and other opt-ins. They even have a great template gallery to get your started.

Mailerlite landing page templates

These will save you a lot of time but you can always start from scratch and create your very own landing page.

You’ll be able to design both the main landing page as well as the success page people see after they subscribe. You can add all sorts of different blocks like countdown timers, social sharing, videos and even custom code.

Tracking the analytics of your landing page is easy in Mailerlite. They tell you how many visitors you’ve had and how many people have signed up, plus the conversion rate.

By tracking the stats you’ll be able to see which landing pages are performing the best and duplicate them for new forms.

Mailerlite’s landing page builder is great for creating simple opt-in pages but I prefer creating my own landing pages through WordPress now.

3. Customize your unsubscribe page

Mailerlite custom unsubscribe page

You may not even know this but you can brand your unsubscribe page with Mailerlite.

Just click on your name in the top right corner and go to Unsubscribe Settings.

Next click the Edit button and you can easily add your logo, update the text, and set everything to your brand colors.

It will even give your subscribers a chance to let you know why they unsubscribed.

These statistics can let you know why people are leaving your email list and how you can improve.

4. Create link triggers

When I first joined Mailerlite you weren’t able to create link triggers, which are automations that start when someone clicks on a specific link.

When they announced it was a new feature I was so excited! With link triggers you can add people to new groups based on their interests or even what industry they’re in.

To create a link trigger you first need to have the link you plan on using as the trigger. Sometimes you might have a specific url but other times you may want to use something more general yet still be able to track it.

For example, I might have a page dedicated to “thank you for clicking this link” when I just want to add subscribers to buckets. I can use the Google Campaign URL Builder to create different variations of one url that can be tracked in Mailerlite.

This let’s you easily create different link triggers out of the same link or page.

Grow Your List Handbook

Free 14-page interactive workbook that teaches you the basics of email marketing

5. A/B test your headlines or email

When sending a campaign in Mailerlite you get the option to send different types of emails and one of those is A/B Split Campaign.

The A/B test let’s you choose from testing headlines, from names, and even email content. Both emails get sent to a small percentage of your list and the best performing email will be sent to the remainder of your list.

Doing these types of tests will show you what your audience responds best to and how to get the most opens and clicks.

It’s interesting to see what might work better. For example, using the reader’s name or even an emoji in the subject line can increase open rates greatly!

6. Be GDPR compliant

Back when the GDPR was a huge thing everyone was freaking out about how this would affect their email list and opt-ins.

Mailerlite made it simple and published a series of blog posts leading up to the GDPR date showing the new features that have been added to aide with privacy and those living in the EU.

It’s now easy to view what subscribers are in the EU and forget their data completely if needed.

The opt-in forms have a new section for privacy and GDPR related consents. You can add consent boxes and different marketing permission fields that are GDPR compliant.

This can let your subscribers consent to different things or even choose to join multiple groups, like your main mailing list.

I like that you can add custom check boxes and can alter any of the language of the privacy sections. You can also choose to hide anything you don’t need.

Recommended Reading: Roundup of GDPR Resources to Get You Compliant

7. Sell an email course

Ok, so you can’t do this with Mailerlite alone since you need something to process the payments but being able to sell an email course has mystified people for a long time.

I had a client reach out to me about setting up a paid email course with Mailerlite. It didn’t seem possible at first but I did a lot of research and finally discovered a perfect (and affordable) solution with SendOwl.

Inside SendOwl, you can create products or services, set prices, and process payments all in one. The secret sauce is that you can connect a product (or service) with a specific group inside Mailerlite.

So when someone buys your email course they’ll automatically get added to the appropriate group and the email sequence will trigger!

With SendOwl you can easily embed your purchase buttons anywhere. That means you can sell your email courses directly from your website or even embed them right into your Mailerlite landing pages.

8. Send your latest blog posts

If you’d like your subscribers to receive your latest emails right in their inbox you can do that in Mailerlite . Just create a new RSS Campaign.

You’ll have to insert the feed url of your website which is usually yourdomain.com/feed.

After that you’ll be able to select your settings such as how often your blog posts go out and what time and day. You can also choose to only send out new posts.

If you use the new email builder you’ll choose RSS & Feature from the top left dropdown and choose an RSS block to display your blog posts in the email.

You’ll be able to customize the blog post look and feel to match your branding, or if you already have a template then you’ll save even more time.

I also recommend creating a new, separate group for your blog posts and give subscribers the option to sign up for them. Some people may prefer not receiving notifications but want to stay on your list.

Grow Your List Handbook

Free 14-page interactive workbook that teaches you the basics of email marketing

9. Ask survey questions

If you use the “new” drag and drop editor instead of the classic to create your email campaign then you can actually send out surveys that your readers can fill out right in the email.

All you have to do is insert a survey block and tweak the questions and settings. There are a lot of different options and ways to get feedback.

Mailerlite email surveys

There’s a satisfaction score that shows cute little faces or you can switch it to stars or hearts if you’re asking your readers to rate something.

The survey block even has rules you apply to different questions. So if someone provides a specific answer to a question you can automatically add the subscriber to another group or update a custom field.

This is such a clever way to get feedback or information from your subscribers and then use that to group or tag them!

10. Design an email template

With the addition of the new drag and drop builder you can now create your own email template to reuse for your newsletters and emails.

Before that you had to just reuse a previous email that was sent and just replace the content. It wasn’t difficult but it wasn’t exactly a template.

To build your own templates, just click on your user icon in the top right and go down to My Templates.

They have a library of pre-designed templates that can help save your time but I find a lot of these are a bit too fancy for bloggers or small business owners.

Some of the templates like Letter, Webinar, and the feedback surveys can help save you time or give you a good foundation to build on for your own emails.

Either way the new drag and drop builder has so many different blocks to create highly custom emails!

You can embed Instagram and Facebook posts, galleries, digital signatures, products, countdowns and even custom code. You may not need all of these for your templates but the possibilities are endless.

One thing you do have to be sure to do however is add your mailing address to your email footer.

Unlike a lot of other email marketing tools that ensure your address is added automatically to every email,Mailerlite doesn’t so you have to put it in yourself. And yes, you must have a physical mailing address in your newsletters!


Did you discover something new you can do with Mailerlite? Let me know in the comments below what your favorite thing was!

And if you haven’t already you can sign up for free with Mailerlite right now!

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Web Host

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Web Host

This post was last edited on March 2019 and may change as my experience with different web hosts grows.

Finding the perfect website hosting for your needs can seem impossible. There are so many choices and recommendations, different price points and options!

Over the years I’ve worked with a lot of different hosting companies on behalf of my clients and it didn’t take me long to figure out the good from the bad. So I’m going to try and keep it simple and easy for you to choose the right one for you and your needs.

Want to know the best picks?
Most Affordable: Namecheap
Best Choice: Siteground
Highest Quality: Kinsta

Shared vs Managed

While there are more types of hosting than these two, shared and managed are going to be the most common.

Shared hosting is the most available type of hosting and likely what most bloggers and website owners will choose. “Shared hosting” just means that you are sharing a web server with other customers.

While this means cheaper costs for you, it also means you’ll be sharing resources with other customers who are on the same server as you.

This is why it’s important to choose a high quality web host. A bad hosting company will cram a ton of people on the same server to pinch pennies while their customers have a bad experience with downtime and slow speeds.

Majority of shared hosting companies include a set amount of disk space and bandwidth along with a certain number of FTP users, databases, addon domains, email accounts, backups, etc.

Managed hosting is a bit more fancy and generally used by high traffic websites that consume a lot of resources.

Managed hosting typically comes with extra features like staging sites and developer tools but often lacks some simpler things like email accounts.

These hosts are usually more hands on and provide better support, keep your website up to date, monitor security and take daily backups. Managed hosts also tend to “ban” certain plugins that interfere with their processes, such as caching and security plugins.

Some hosts, like Siteground, have the best of both worlds – the affordability of shared but the perks of managed.

It’s up to you to decide what route to take but I recommend shared hosting for new websites and managed hosting for larger, popular sites.

What You Need From Your Host

After you decide if you want to go with a shared or managed host, you’ll need to decide what needs your website has so you can look for them in hosting plans.

Since most hosts offer about the same tech specifications you’ll mainly be looking at disk space and bandwidth.

Disk space is like the hard drive on your computer. Your web host will allot you a certain amount of disk space for your website and files.

If your website is just starting out or you don’t plan to have a lot of images and content then you can probably go for the lower tier plans.

But if your website is going to be very image heavy (like a food or fashion blog) you’ll quickly burn through your disk space. You can either choose a host or plan with more disk space or choose to use somewhere else to store your images (like Amazon S3).

Bandwidth correlates to how much traffic your website is receiving. The less hits your site gets the less bandwidth it will use.

Again, if your site is new and you don’t have much traffic yet you’ll be fine with the starter plans. But if your website is already getting a lot of traffic, you’ll need to make sure the bandwidth your host provides will cover that.

The Worst of the Worst

Let’s just get into the bad hosts. These are the companies I do not recommend under any circumstance as you’ll likely be dealing with sub par support, slow loading times, and random downtime.

Ready? Any Endurance International Group (EIG) owned hosting company is a bad choice. This is a large company that owns a ton of different smaller web hosting companies.

So you might think you’re moving hosts when you’re really just changing the name. Some of the most popular EIG companies are BlueHost, HostGator, A Small Orange, and FatCow.

But the list is actually pretty huge. And all of these hosting companies suffer from the same issues that make people want to run for the hills after they’ve paid for years of service.

Not included on the list is one of the hosting companies I loathe the most – GoDaddy.

Every time I have the displeasure of working on a GoDaddy hosted website, I’m shocked by how difficult some things are. Their control panel is a mess and you can’t get in touch with their support unless you get on the phone (news flash – I hate phone calls).

And if you find yourself already with one of these companies then it’s never too late to migrate.

Most Affordable: Namecheap

Let’s start with the most affordable web host on this list – Namecheap.

Namecheap is most known for their domain names but began offering hosting in the past few years. They’ve been my domain company for as long as I can remember and I’ve never had a problem.

So I bit the bullet and moved my website to their hosting in 2018. Before that my website was on Siteground and while I was very pleased over there I needed to cut back on my expenses, and Siteground’s renewal isn’t exactly cheap. So with a special promotion at Namecheap I was able to get a year of the Stellar Plus plan for less than $30.

Some of the things I like about Namecheap‘s hosting:

  • they aren’t skimpy with disk space, bandwidth, or things like email and ftp accounts
  • the cPanel is easy to use and you get Softactulous for quick WP installs
  • it’s incredibly affordable and you can pay by the month
  • an SSL certificate is included for the first year

There are a few problems I’ve had though… I’ve noticed sometimes my website is very slow to load or gets hung up. I’ve also had a few occasions where it doesn’t load at all and gives me an error, but refreshing the site fixes it.

In my opinion, you get what you pay for so I accept that’s the quality I’ll get for using a cheaper host. I still think it’s better than going the Bluehost or GoDaddy route as you’ll consistently have issues there rather than seldom.

Because my website is small, well optimized, and doesn’t get a ton of traffic I can get by without a high powered web host. But if I ran a popular blog or had a lot of different plugins running I probably would see more performance issues.

Namecheap also offers a “managed” solution called EasyWP that’s also very affordable (starting at $3.88 if you pay monthly) but it isn’t as advanced as true managed hosts like WP Engine. And you can only use it with a Namecheap domain.

It’s essentially easy mode for WordPress and doesn’t include Cpanel but it does offer some decent specs for the price. You’ll likely be on a less crowded, SSD drive compared to their shared hosting plans.

If you’re seeking other affordable hosts you might check out A2 Hosting. They have comparable prices and features to Namecheap and tend to have good reviews – even my aunt uses them!

Namecheap affordable shared web hosting

Try Namecheap and save 50% on your first year!

Best Choice: Siteground

Siteground is my number one hosting recommendation to pretty much anyone who asks and I even wrote an entire blog post about why I love them.

I used Siteground hosting for two years before migrating over to Namecheap, and I only did so to save on expenses. During that time I was never unhappy with their service and my site was always online and fairly speedy.

Since migrating I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my website performance (which you already know if you’ve read about Namecheap above).

The best things about Siteground are:

  • Incredible support and response time, they always solve my issues
  • Fast loading times and site speed, plus extra caching tools
  • “Managed” approach to shared hosting with daily backups and auto-updates
  • Free SSL certificates for all your websites

Siteground web hosting is perfect for small to medium sized blogs and websites but they do have their limitations. I’ve seen a lot of clients with popular shops or multiple websited outgrow what they offer.

Their top plan, the GoGeek Plan, tops out at 30GB of disk space and 100K visits. That should be sufficient for most sites but you might find yourself getting performance issues or even maxing out your resources.

Because it is a shared web host, Siteground restricts you from using an excessive amount of CPU and resources. If you exceed that amount they can (and will) shut down your site temporarily.

Don’t let this scare you though! Siteground is a perfect host for most bloggers and you can get started with their lowest plan for $3.95. You do have to pay for the entire year upfront however.

Siteground Tip: Purchase as many years as you can at the introductory rate! Because the renewal price is nearly 3x the promo rate.

If you’re new to Siteground and wondering how you can install WordPress easily (in under 5 minutes) then check out this guide.

Get Started with Siteground for only $3.95/mo

Highest Quality: Kinsta

If you decide to go the managed hosting route or just want the literal best of the best for your website I hands down recommend Kinsta Hosting.

I discovered Kinsta simply through their extensive WordPress knowledge and articles. My job requires a lot of Googling and learning about new WordPress or development changes and Kinsta was always coming up first.

Being so impressed with their level of tech knowledge I was quick to learn more about their web hosting packages. Kinsta Hosting is aimed at higher traffic sites who need more resources and the fastest speeds you can possibly imagine.

Previously, I recommended WP Engine as my favorite managed host. And while I still think they are a good choice if their packages fit you, Kinsta honestly blows them out of the water.

Recently a client (on WP Engine) was experiencing performance issues and odd CPU spikes even though his site was generally well optimized. We moved it over to Kinsta and the pages started loading instantly. No joke, you click on a link and the page was just there, no loading or hang ups or waiting.

Take a look at some of the features included with their hosting plans:

Kinsta managed hosting features

Kinsta starts at $30 a month or $300 for the year and is well worth the price if the best performance is your number one priority. They also offer a 30 day money-back guarantee, 24/7 support, free migrations, and even a staging area to work on your website.

You can tell that attention to detail is important at Kinsta. All of their control panels and pages are expertly designed and branded. You won’t get any cookie cutter corporate dashboards, just the easy to understand custom control panel for your website.

Kinsta managed web hosting for lightning fast websites

Try Kinsta Managed Hosting and get lightning fast speeds!


Here’s a quick comparison of each of these hosts’ starter plans:

NamecheapSitegroundKinsta
Starts at $2.88 a month
20GB SSD-accelerated disk space
Unlimited bandwidth
Up to 3 websites
30 email accounts
Backups twice a week
Migration from another cPanel host
30 day money-back guarantee
Starts at $3.95 a month ($11.95/mo after promo)
10 GB SSD storage
Bandwidth up to about 10K visits
Only 1 website
Unlimited email accounts
Backups daily
Professional migrations only on higher plans
30 day money-back guarantee
Starts at $30 a month
5GB SSD storage
Bandwidth up to about 20K visits
Only 1 website
No email service
Backups daily
At least one site migration
30 day money-back guarantee

And there you have it – my detailed analysis of the best web hosting companies for bloggers and business owners. Depending on your website needs and what you can afford, there is an option out there for everyone.

Who is your current web host? Let me know in the comments below!

Why Dubsado is the Only Business Tool You Need

Why Dubsado is the Only Tool You Need to Manage Your Business

When my business began getting it’s first few clients I didn’t really have a system in place and it quickly became overwhelming the more projects I booked.

Invoicing, contracts, project management, communication, forms, feedback, and so on and so forth. You realize fast that you need tools to help with every aspect of your business.

Try Dubsado for Free!

While I have been generally pleased with how I’ve managed to automate my onboarding of new clients in the beginning, things started getting out of hand pretty quickly.

One of the issues I came across was how hard it was for me to keep track of the past projects I’ve completed for clients.

I had to hunt through contracts and folders just to find out what I had helped a client with before and what I charged them. Things were scattered throughout my website, Paypal, Asana, and Wave so finding one client was a hassle.

And while I’ve tried a ton of options for getting contracts signed, none of them really provided all the functions I needed and integrated nicely with the payment processor I wanted to use (in this case Paypal).

But the last straw was when I completely overlooked a client paying me for a project. The tools I relied on weren’t working and it was starting to affect my business.

Enter Dubsado.

If you don’t know, Dubsado is a full feature tool for running your business. It does just about everything you could need from contracts, invoicing, proposals, forms, payment plans, workflows, communication, client portals, and much more.

When Dubsado was first making ground in the online business world, I tried it for few months and actually didn’t really care for it. There were a lot of little things that needed ironed out and they didn’t integrate with Paypal at the time which meant I couldn’t use the invoicing system.

So I gave up on Dubsado and went back to my previous apps. Eventually I got wind that Dubsado had added a ton of new features and finally integrated with Paypal!

I rejoiced and quickly signed back up and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. Keep reading to discover my favorite things about Dubsado and why you should invest in it for your own business!

Contracts, Invoices, Proposals…

Dubsado really has it all. And if they are lacking it then you better believe it’s something they plan on adding. Here are just a few of the things Dubsado can take care of in your business:

  • Contracts
  • Proposals
  • Invoices
  • Canned emails
  • Scheduling
  • Workflows
  • Time tracking
  • Lead capture
  • Forms / questionnaires
  • Payment plans
  • Client portals
  • Task boards
  • Client management
  • Calendar integration

Even though I’m not even using half of these features, I find it to be completely worth the money for what I do use it for.

The biggest thing for me is being able to send the contract, invoice, and proposal to a client in just a few seconds and it’s all wrapped up and ready to go for them.

Not only is the process simple for me, clients love the ease of use and not having to jump through extra hoops.

Automation and Workflows

Oh, sweet sweet automation. You really haven’t lived until you’ve begun automating parts of your business. Dubsado is amazing for this!

Dubsado has a feature called “Workflows” which basically run tasks and do things without you needing to lift a finger. These workflows can be triggered when someone fills out your lead form or when you apply it to a project.

Dubsado Workflows

Take a look at this workflow I use for new monthly maintenance clients.

All I have to do is attach it to the correct project and boom – it starts going to work right away!

This means while Dubsado is onboarding my client and getting me paid, I can be sitting on the couch with a beer (or a glass of whatever you prefer).

My workflows are fairly simple but I’ve seen very complex setups. You can even assign a “to do” for you in the workflow, have it pause, and wait for you to confirm before continuing. This gives you so much control!

And ever since Dubsado integrated with the lord of automation itself, Zapier, there is even more automation to be had (more on that below)!

Stellar Support and updates

One thing that never fails to blow me away is the level of support and openness the team at Dubsado offers. They have a very active Facebook group, friendly and responsive chat support, and provide endless tools to help it’s users understand Dubsado.

They’re always launching new features or at least letting us know what’s coming soon. It feels good to know I’m investing in a tool that is always expanding and improving itself.

They listen to their users and are always open to suggestions. This is something that’s rare to find in a company but the team at Dubsado feels like a group of friends, here to help you on your business journey.

If you’re having trouble learning Dubsado they’ll also help you out for free. That’s right, they’ll help you migrate from your previous system or chat with you one on one to guide you and answer questions.

There are paid options if you want a more hands-off option and they often host webinars and tutorial videos with tips and tricks you might not have realized.

Branding on my own terms

Don’t like the looks of other apps or hate that they stick their branding all over the place? Dubsado let’s you completely customize almost everything!

You can upload your logo and select a brand color which helps make everything look cohesive. The form builders are completely drag and drop so you can design it out to your heart’s content.

And the client portal allows you to set your own banner and color scheme so it is completely and totally on brand when your clients see it.

Try Dubsado for Free!

Integrations galore

Dubsado connects with a lot of other tools and apps to make your life easier.

For payments, you’ll have a hard time finding a payment processor you’re unhappy with. You have the option to use Paypal, Square, or Stripe to get paid.

If you use a calendar app and keeping your appointments and projects organized is important, you’ll love that Dubsado works with Google Calendar and Apple iCal.

There’s a few other integrations like CloudSpot and QuickBooks but my personal favorite is Zapier. Using the power of Zapier you can have Dubsado connect with almost any other app available in the Zapier library.

Want to know how I use Zapier and Dubsado?

In the Dubsado invoice I list the tasks I need to do as invoice line items. Once the client pays the invoice Zapier does it’s magic and sends those line items to Asana as a new task, assigned to me, and with a due date already attached.

Contract Templates + Tools for Freelancers

Contract Templates + Tools for Freelancers

Nothing makes me weep more than seeing those long posts in Facebook Groups about how someone is dealing with a sticky legal situation or a client who won’t pay up.

Most of the time these freelancers didn’t have a contract in place at all. 

If you’ll be working with clients you need a contract to protect yourself and the client as well as to make sure all the guidelines and boundaries are set from the go.

I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve never been in a situation like that but I always use a contract with my clients no matter how small the project or how many times we’ve worked together. It gives me peace of mind and makes my business look professional.

If you’re ready to start using contracts in your business then you’re in luck! You can easily find templates and get contracts signed electronically all for free.

Keep reading to learn what your contract needs, what tools you can use, and advice on using contracts in your business.

Legal Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and recommend you seek legal advice if you want a rock solid contract to protect you. 

What to include in your contract

Before you go hunting for a template to use you’ll want to have a few ideas of what exactly to include in your contract. It will probably vary depending on your niche and what service you provide but you’ll want to make sure you cover your bases.

A cancellation clause. You don’t want to end up with a client who sucks and no way to get out of your contract. Some type of cancellation or termination clause can outline your ability to terminate and under what cause, some sort of deadline or timeline for termination, and what happens to any money or work that has already been transferred. Don’t forget your client may want to terminate the contract at some point so cover that as well.

Who keeps what. If you do creative work like design then you’ll want to clearly outline what files your client will receive in the end and who has the rights to the designs, ideas, etc. If your client demands the source files you can then refer them back to the contract.

Client “delay” clause. In the event your client shall disappear off the face of the planet without so much as a ‘see ya later’ then you need to decide what’s going to happen with their project and any deposit or invoice they’ve already covered. Or if you have trouble getting content or files from a client within a deadline then create a clause that will deter that. 

Project specifications. Such as pricing and payment details, hourly rates, deadlines and check-in dates, revisions and “extras”, etc. You don’t want to not have all the details you’ve discussed not laid out on the contract. It may seem redundant but you’ll have peace of mind knowing everything is squared away.

Finding a contract template

The first step to utilizing contracts in your business is to find a template to use first.

There are plenty of free options out there and even premium templates created by lawyers for freelancers and entrepreneurs. Your best bet is to contact a lawyer to craft a contract tailored for you and your business.

But I know that’s probably not gonna happen for most of us so using a well crafted template is the next best thing.

Docracy

This is the first place I ever used to find contract templates and get them signed by clients. It’s completely free to use and has tons of different legal documents for all kinds of jobs and niches available for open use.

The two contracts that I started with and have adapted over the years are the Independent Contract Agreement (Designers) and Retainer Agreement (which can be turned into a flat rate contract easily). 

My tips for finding contract templates on Docracy is to look for highly rated documents, like this Independent Contractor Agreement. Also look for documents related to you industry or niche (designer, developer, VA) and don’t be afraid to mix and match to create your own.

After you found a template you like you can add it your documents dashboard and use it as is or start making changes. Docracy used to allow you to send and sign contracts for free but they had to remove that to cut on costs.

You can still use Docracy to find a great template but you’ll likely have to upgrade for signing.

The Contract Shop

While this option isn’t a free you can purchase all sorts of contracts, legal documents, privacy policies, terms and conditions, and other agreements for just about any niche or business under the sun.

And the best part is every document has been prepared and reviewed by an actually legal attorney!

You’ll be able to see what each document includes and outlines and how it protects you and your business. All you have to do is fill in your template and you’re good to go!

If you’re not sure which contract is right for you they will soon have a quiz that will point you in the right direction. For now, this independent contractor agreement is a good general contract for freelancers.

Getting your contracts signed

Once you have a great contract template in place it’s not going to do much good unless you can get it signed by your client.

Since Docracy no longer offers free contract signing, there aren’t a lot of free options available. If you only need a few basic contracts signed per month you’ll be ok, otherwise you’ll have to pay for a service.

HelloSign

Although I haven’t used HelloSign personally, I’ve seen many business colleagues who have recommended it.

The free version allows for you to send 3 documents per month but doesn’t give you the ability to have any templates saved. This is probably fine if you are only booking 1-2 clients a month or just getting started with freelancing.

If you just need a quick contract signed that’s secure and professional this will do the trick. But I can’t really recommend anything more than the free version because I just think there are more affordable (and better) options out there.

WP Online Contract

This is a plugin for WordPress so if you don’t have a WP site this won’t work for you. But if you do it’s a great solution for contracts right on your own website!

Prior to returning to Dubsado, I use WP Online Contract for sending and signing client contracts. You can have as many templates as you like, use shortcodes (basically like smart fields), set up your email notifications and more.

Some of my favorite features of this plugin is that it allows you to use templates and fields to easily fill out and send a new contract. It literally took me less than a minute to send out a contract to a new client.

It also makes getting paid super easy because after the client signs a button can appear to send them straight to Paypal (or another processor if you purchase an add-on). This eliminated the need for me to make separate invoices and ensured the client would pay right after signing.

There were some problems I ran into though.

Since it is a WordPress plugin running on your site you might run into plugin or theme conflicts that may cause the contract plugin to behave weird. This happened to me and I was able to get around it but those who aren’t so tech-savvy might not be so lucky.

Some other hiccups I had were small bugs like the email template not correctly showing my reply email or the client’s name. Luckily the developer of this plugin is very helpful and constantly improving and updating the plugin.

Dubsado

Dubsado is so much more than contracts. It’s a complete Customer Relationship Manager and covers contracts, invoicing, workflows, email templates, time tracking, to do’s, calendar, bookkeeping, templates, forms, and even more than that.

If all you need is a simple contract signed with no frills this isn’t going to be the solution for you. But if you’re ready to completely streamline your client process then I totally recommend diving into Dubsado! (You get 3 clients to use for free on your trial!)

All contracts (and other types of templates) in Dubsado can use smart fields which means it can pull in data about your client, their project, and the invoice. This saves me a ton of time when onboarding a new client; all I have to do is attach the right contract and click a button.

The great thing about Dubsado is that it is always improving. Recently the ability to use your own domain and title (custom url mapping) was released and now my clients experience my branding 100% from the domain and text to the colors and imagery.

They generously offer a free trial that gives you 3 clients to try out. You can also save 20% off your first month or year when you use my referral code: shayleesmith

Recommended Reading: Why Dubsado is the Only Tool You Need to Manage Your Business

Templates and signing all in one

These tools include their own “ready to use” contracts and the ability to send and sign them all in one. The downside to this is that you can’t really customize every part of the contract usually. Sure you can update fields and tweak sections but you won’t be able to use your own contract.

If you need something quick and easy to use plus reviewed by fellow freelancers then these options are going to be perfect.

And.co

When And.co by Fiverr came into existence I was pretty surprised because it looks like a great tool for new business owners. It’s free to use for 1 client and has a lot of similar features as Dubsado although not quite as robust.

For the contract features of And.co you get their “freelance vetted” contract template that can be customized along with e-signing, alerts, “self-destruction” options, and automatic invoice creation. 

I’ve briefly tried And.co myself and it was a breeze to get started with. There appears to be an option to upload your own documents or contracts but I’m not sure that can you digitally sign uploaded files.

Like Dubsado, And.co offers a lot more than just contract templates and signing. They also cover your invoices and payments, time tracking, reports, recurring payments, proposals, and basic workflows.

While 1 client on the free version might give you an idea of how the system will work for you, I don’t think that will cut it for a business. Luckily you can get unlimited clients on the paid plan.

Hello Bonsai

Another great “all in one” business tool for contracts, invoices, and proposals that has a beautiful and clean interface. This used to be a free service for freelancers but now they only offer a 14-day free trial.

I won’t go into all the features but it does pretty much everything And.co does though some of the features are more extensive, support is probably better, and I think the UI is really snazzy.

Like And.co, you get to use their pre-made contract template and fill in the blanks or tweak clauses. Although it’s nice they’ve taken care of contracts for their users it would be even better if you could use your own contracts on a paid service.

In my opinion, if you’re going to be paying the monthly fee for one of these services, I would pick Dubsado.

Hopefully this post has helped you get a grasp on contracts for your own business! It’s so important that you have a contract that protects both you and the client in place even before you book your first client.

What tool do you use for your own contracts? Let me know in the comments!

Roundup of GDPR Resources to Get Compliant

Roundup of GDPR Resources to Get Compliant

Although the GDPR is already upon us, there are probably lots of you who are still struggling to wrap your heads around it or get compliant. If you don’t know what the General Data Protection Regulation is then you may be living under a rock (or it’s just not the trendy topic anymore).

GDPR is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. But even if you don’t reside in the EU or target those visitors, you’re still obligated to abide by those laws for EU-based visitors, commentors, clients, and subscribers.

Basically, if you collect any type of data (such as IP address, name, email) then you are required to protect that data and respect the rights of those visitors.

The biggest things you’ll likely need to do is:

  • Update your Privacy Policy and other legal jargon
  • Adjust your opt-in forms and email marketing tactics
  • Install a cookie consent notification on your website

Below is a roundup of freebies, checklists, templates, and resources to help get your website, blog, business, and email list compliant with the GDPR laws.

Information + Checklists

GDPR For Entrepreneurs: What You Need to Know – A podcast / blog post by Amy Porterfield featuring Bobby Klinck (an intellectual property attorney) that is amazing! It outlines the major changes business owners need to make for the GDPR as well as action items to follow.

Free GDPR Compliance Checklist – This is a great free download that tells you what is required of you as a business owner, what to include in your privacy policy, and tweaks you can do to your email marketing.

GDPR Compliant Blog Course – A very extensive course that will teach you in-depth all the legal caveats of the GDPR along with your obligations to comply. Included are action steps and tons of bonus templates to make this the only resource you’ll need!

GDPR for Online Entrepreneurs – A free Facebook group for online entrepreneurs who need advice or help with the GDPR ran by a UK-based lawyer. Inside you’ll find a ton of video content and lessons to answer your questions.

Email Marketing

Mailerlite’s GDPR Features: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 – A 3 part blog series on new updates and changes within Mailerlite for the GDPR. There’s an updated form builder with new compliance features, reengagement campaigns, and even a snippet to include in your privacy policy.

Creating Opt-in Forms under the GDPR – Examples of good and bad forms and how they comply (or don’t) with the GDPR. Mentioned are the use of check boxes, freebie incentives, and confusing language.

Convertkit’s GDPR FAQ – Frequently asked questions on the GDPR and how Convertkit is handling them plus features they are offering. CK has been excellent about these new GDPR updates and I’m really impressed. While I love Mailerlite, CK has a more robust system to allow for handling EU opt-ins.

Privacy Policy Templates

GDPR Compliant Terms + Conditions and Privacy Policy – Written by a real lawyer, these legal documents are GDPR ready and easy to fill out with your own information.

Shopify’s free Privacy Policy generator and Terms of Service generator

GetTerms.io – A free generator or a GDPR compliant bundle for only $15

Free GDPR compliant Privacy Policy template – This is a really in-depth template written up by (again) a real lawyer! Although you have to leave a credit back to their site, it is highly customizable and includes a ton of suggestions and template areas for you to adapt it to your needs. It even has an extra page that explains how each part relates to the GDPR.

GDPR Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy swipe files – A blogger shares her very own policies! Her husband is a lawyer and has helped her craft her own documents that she’s kindly sharing with her visitors.

Cookie Notifications

I’ve heard mixed things about having to have a cookie consent notification on your website. According to WPMU Dev, you only need a cookie notification if you’re 1) based in the EU, 2) target EU-based consumers, or 3) your website server is located in the EU.

But on the flip side, others claim that just having EU visitors on your website is enough to warrant the cookie notification.

I’m not a lawyer so I have no clue. If you decide to add one to your website there are several tools and plugins to easily take care of it.

Cookie Consent – A free and simple to use plugin for WordPress that will allow you to add a cookie notification to your website. It has several features that allow you to customize the notification and make it work for your website.

Cookie Notice – A free and fully GDPR compliant cookie plugin for WordPress. There are a variety of settings and customizations and it’s even SEO friendly!

Cookiebot – Free or paid cookie service that works with any website with just a few lines of code. This tool has the most features and can even detect what cookies your website is using so you can display them in your privacy policy.

How to Plan Effectively for a Successful Business

How to Plan Effectively for a Successful Business

If you’ve just started a business or blog, or even if you’ve been at it a while, then you know things can become overwhelming – fast! Especially if you’re juggling a 9-5, young children, or just don’t have enough hours in the day.

When I started to realize my website was more than just a hobby (aka a real business) I didn’t know there would be so many moving parts.

Without a solid plan in place you’ll probably be spinning your wheels for a long time. Most people try to do all the things and quickly get burnt out or just give up on their dreams completely.

That’s why I’m so excited to share this interview with Emily of My Adaptable Career who knows how to plan efficiently and turn your ideas into obtainable goals.

Read the interview below to meet Emily, learn about her business and her secrets to accomplishing more by doing less!

 

Tell us more about yourself and why you started your business and blog, My Adaptable Career?

Hi everyone! I’m Emily and I have two kids under the age of 5, a husband who travels all the time for his job, a business, and no time to waste. Because time is my most limited resource, I’m always pushing to get bigger and better results in my business without working any more hours. And I help other bloggers do the same.

As you can probably guess, I started My Adaptable Career because I wanted a flexible career that fit around my life. I used to freelance, but even that wasn’t flexible enough for me! I wanted total control over my schedule, my successes, and my failures. I know so many other bloggers and online business owners feel the same way. The tricky part is being your own boss. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out where to focus your time and energy. And that’s what I help other bloggers do: get the clarity and confidence they need to take their business to the next level.

 

What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of owning a business?

Haha, in case you couldn’t tell, the flexibility is definitely my favorite part. I love that I can put my family first, but still have a creative outlet beyond my kids. I also love experimenting. It’s exhilarating to try new things and see if they help me grow my business faster. Of course, when my experiments flop, I get a little flustered, but I’ve had enough wins to make it worth it.

 

What did you discover to be the biggest obstacle in growing a successful business?

My own hang-ups have been my biggest obstacle, which is hard to accept. I’d like to think my mindset is rock solid, but in truth, it’s something I always need to work on. Here’s an example: I like to think of myself as a perfectionist, but when I sat down and thought about (1 year into my business!), I realized that “getting it perfect” was really just an excuse to procrastinate. And let’s just say, I procrastinated a lot! So I’m always trying to improve my mindset and push out of my comfort zone.

 

If others are struggling with that too, what’s the #1 thing you would recommend they do?

If you want to work on your mindset, my top tip is to do the thing that makes you feel most uncomfortable. For me, that’s getting visible. I was literally shaking before I did my first Facebook live video. I couldn’t sleep the night before! But I pushed myself to do it, and now it’s easier every time. I can go live spontaneously without stressing about it. Now my newest fear is running ads. I don’t like the thought of losing money, and I hate when I don’t feel competent at something (like running ads). So I’m doing the scary thing because I know that if it’s scary, it’s probably the thing that will move my business forward the fastest.

 

All the aspects of running a business can be really overwhelming; I know I struggle with juggling everything! How do you deal with all the things and still have time for yourself?

Yes, it can be totally overwhelming! Luckily, prioritizing is one of my ninja skills. For my own business, I rarely work more than 20 hours a week, both because I’m solo parenting 2 little kids much of the time and because I know if I don’t rest and take care of myself I’ll burn out. So my trick is to eliminate as many things as possible and protect my most productive time. I don’t schedule anything from 9 am – noon because I can get tons of work done while my daughter is at preschool and my baby naps and crawls around the house. As for eliminating the non-essentials, I’m always looking to cut out things that aren’t helping me grow my business. I analyze certain stats every month in my business (and you can read more about my process here), which helps me figure out what’s working and what’s a waste of time.

 

When you do have a spare moment, what do you like to do for fun or to wind down?

I love to read fiction and drink wine while I sit on my couch. That’s my normal nightly routine. 🙂 As a family, we also love to travel. So I spend a lot of my downtime planning new trips and fantasizing about our next vacation. 

 

When it comes to time management and productivity, what’s the biggest secret you’ve learned?

I think the biggest secret I’ve learned is that productivity is not about doing more. It’s about doing less and doing better. I’m pretty minimalist in my home life, and I’m trying to be that way more with my blog and business. I’m always testing, tweaking, trying to do less, but do the more important and valuable work. 

I’m such a sucker for a new productivity tool or system. I definitely buy into hype and try all the new strategies and tools. But 99% of the time, I find that those tools and strategies just add to the chaos and overwhelm. Getting back to the basics and eliminating unessential tasks is what’s helped me turn my blog into a profitable business without working more than 20 hours a week.

 

You have a course called Planning for Success that helps biz owners get closer to their goals and plan effectively. Can you tell us more about it and what students can expect to learn?

Planning for Success is a business planning course specifically designed for bloggers and online business owners who are overwhelmed and struggling to grow. In the course, my students learn how to clarify their goals, prioritize their workload, and manage their time so they can make more money with ease.

My students especially love the clarity they’ve gotten from taking the course.  Many of them have taken huge leaps with their businesses after working through the course. I’ve had several students launch their first product soon after taking the course because they realized it’s the fastest way for them to monetize. I’ve had other students use information from the course to help them set better boundaries. Boundaries don’t sound sexy, but it’s been really transformational to watch these women say “no” to various distractions, which gives them more time to work strategically on their business and more time to relax and enjoy life.

Everyone gets something different from the course, but the common thread is that most of my students start working more strategically, which leads to the major transformation they’ve been waiting for in their business.

 

What inspired you the most to create this course? Who did you have in mind to help?

I wanted to help small bloggers get bigger results without sacrificing their time and freedom. I know how overwhelming it is to start a business and how hard it is to balance everything on your to do list. I wanted to help people streamline and grow at the same time. Ultimately, I want to help them run a successful business while still having plenty of time to enjoy everything else in life.

Most of my students aren’t full time bloggers, but they’d like to be. They’ve got a 9-5 job, or young kids, or both, and their business fits into the margins of their day. Because their time is so limited, they want to make sure they’re always working on the right thing to grow their business. They don’t have time to waste! So I help them evaluate what’s working and not working, make a plan to grow, and take action on that plan.

 

How long will Planning for Success be open for enrollment?

Just 6 days! I’ll kick off enrollment with a free planning workshop on February 8. There will be a special bonus for people who enroll during the free workshop, so sign up if you’re curious about Planning for Success. The doors will close on February 13, so I can shower new students with love on Valentine’s Day. And also because enrollment is only open for 6 days. 😉

Start Planning for Success Now!

 

Emily McGee is the founder of My Adaptable Career, where she helps small bloggers get big results through better planning and productivity. Ready to organize your blog post ideas and create content that blows your audience away? Check out this guide to creating epic content and download a free editorial calendar template.

The Easiest Way to Make a Resource Library

The Easiest Way to Make a Resource Library

One thing I see a lot of people ask online and in Facebook Groups is how to create a resource library where they can store all their freebies that people can opt-in to download.

Resource libraries are a great way to grow to grow your email list because people can get access to all your best content at once. It also gives you a place to store all your freebies and content upgrades.

The most common way is to set up a password protected page that holds all your free downloads and you then share the password with your email list.

But it’s difficult for subscribers to keep up with the password, it’s a hassle to change it every so often, and it’s just not that intuitive.

I had my resource library like that for a long time, but since I’m savvy with code I was able to tweak mine a lot more than most people. Often I would get asked how someone else could make their library more like mine.

But I was getting frustrated with my own resource library. It was hard to track the download analytics and I had people asking about the password all over the place.

It’s as simple as Easy Content Upgrades

So I finally decided to take the leap and get one of my favorite plugins to use for clients – Easy Content Upgrades! It’s super affordable at only $29 and will totally streamline your content upgrade and resource library situation.

It also works with most of the popular email tools like Mailchimp, Mailerlite, Converkit, and ActiveCampaign.

Although the plugin is created to make content upgrades super easy, I love it especially for the resource library feature. In fact, I haven’t even got around to implementing the content upgrades part of it! 

Grow Your List Handbook

Free 14-page interactive workbook that teaches you the basics of email marketing

No more hassle for content upgrades

This plugin is built to take the trouble out of adding content upgrades to your website. This means you don’t have to go to your email marketing tool and create a form, design, fill in the content, the freebie url, setup an autoresponder to deliver it, then put some code into your website.

Everything can be done right from your website with this plugin! You connect your email marketing service of choice and it syncs right away.

Since I use Mailerlite, it will automatically add someone to a group of my choice when they download a certain content upgrade. If you’re on Mailchimp, you can use something called merge tags to specify what they have downloaded.

Easy Content Upgrades plugin

One of the best parts is there a form builder that you can customize beforehand so you have don’t have to adjust every single content upgrade; but you absolutely can if you want to!

On top of that you can choose from embedded forms or popups, include a screenshot of the freebie, and customize the emails that get sent for confirmation. You can upload the freebie directly to your website or redirect subscribers somewhere else.

When you’re ready to put the content upgrade into your post or pages you can just copy and paste the shortcode or click the button available in the visual editor.

No coding or tech knowledge needed for any of this!

Get Easy Content Upgrades!

The easiest resource library ever

Now time for my favorite part – the resource library! All you have to do is create a page for it and go to the plugin’s settings to select it. You’re also able to change the locked message and the email that gets sent.

Any content upgrade can easily be added right into the resource library by checking a box or just go straight to the library builder and add them there.

But my absolute favorite thing, and the reason I decided I needed this plugin, is because there is NO password required!

All a subscriber has to do is enter their email, they will get a confirmation email and then they can access the library.

It keeps them “logged in” to the library for a long time but if they ever need to access it again all they have to do is enter their email and the plugin checks and grants them access! That is a lifesaver for me because I don’t want to fiddle with a password.

Some other things you can do is choose to display a description and the content upgrade image, sort them however you like, and choose to display up to six columns of freebies. It will also send them to any of your groups/lists/tags that you desire.

Other reasons I love this plugin

There are a few extra things that come with this plugin that make it even that much better.

One of those being analytics and logs. This makes it very simple to see what downloads are popular over the days or months, the log of downloads in order, and what downloads have yet to be claimed by the subscriber (and they also expire!).

You may not think much of it to begin with but this data is important down the line. When you’re wondering what freebies are doing the best for you this is the easiest way to find out!

Grow Your List Handbook

Free 14-page interactive workbook that teaches you the basics of email marketing

Hands down, Ashley (the plugin developer) is amazing. Not only has she provided me instant support for this plugin on behalf of a client she has helped me numerous times with my own code and WordPress problems.

She’s one of my biggest inspirations as a WordPress developer and I love the plugins and themes and she creates. I personally know she is an amazing developer so I am happy to share her plugins with those who need them (I’m also an affiliate because of this).

So if you ever have a problem with the plugin or need support you can know she’ll be able to resolve it for you. 

If you’re not sold take a look at the plugin page yourself and see what all it can do. Plus there’s a 30 day money back guarantee if you just don’t like it at all!

I hope you find this plugin as easy to use as I did and it helps in building your free resource library! If you have any questions just let me know below in the comments.

Get Easy Content Upgrades!

How to Install Free SSL on Your WordPress Website

How to Install Free SSL on Your WordPress Website

One of the many reasons I love Siteground hosting is because they offer a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for free. Many other hosts do as well but Siteground makes it super simple to install.

If you’re not on Siteground, the installation of your certificate may be different. If in doubt, contact your hosting as they can sometimes install it for you.

First of all, let’s talk about SSL or secure socket layer. In a nutshell, it basically secures the information being passed from the browser to the web server. It keeps this info safe and private and is required if you accept payments on your site.

SSL is what gives you the https:// protocol in your domain name.

In the past, only sites that needed extra encryption or accepted payments were ones who cared about getting SSL certificates.

But now it’s become commonplace to have them and Google will penalize non-secure sites. You’ll also get a boost in your rankings on Google by having SSL.

So if you haven’t set it up yet, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

Activate Let’s Encrypt

The first step is to login to your Siteground account. After that navigate to My Accounts > Go To cPanel and click Yes (Proceed) if you are prompted.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the Security section. Then click the Let’s Encrypt icon.

You might already have a certificate installed for your domain. If not, go to the bottom and select the domain you want to install SSL for and enter your email. Click Install.

It should work some magic and then show up. If you get an error then contact Siteground support, sometimes something gets messed up in the back end.

Next you’ll want to turn on the HTTPS Enforce for that domain. This will ensure that any url to your site will redirect to the https version.

Make sure it’s set to on. That’s all we have to do within Siteground, now all we have to do is make some changes within WordPress.

Switch everything to https

Next navigate to the WordPress dashboard of the website you just setup https for and go to Settings > General. You’ll want to update your WordPress Address and Site Address to https instead of http.

After this you may need to clear your cache, refresh your website, or relog into your website. If your site isn’t working when you go to the https version yet you might have to wait a little while and try again, but it’s usually instant.

Next, I like to use the Better Search and Replace plugin to update all the urls throughout the site. After you install it go to Tools > Better Search Replace.

Search for your old http domain and replace with the new https domain. Make sure the domains are identical other than the https protocol.

Select all the tables by clicking one then pressing Ctrl + A on your keyboard.  Then uncheck the Run as dry run? box.

Finally, Run Search/Replace and it will update your domain throughout your website database. If you’re worried about running into problems, backup your database first using Updraft Plus.

If you have urls in your widgets you’ll need to go and resave them. The info should already have been updated with your new url but the widget needs to be resaved before the changes take place.

Get the green padlock

By now you should have a green padlock on your website on every page. If for some reason you’re still getting a “this page may not be secure” error or there isn’t a green secure padlock in your browser, then use Why No Padlock to determine what the issue is.

When your site is on https, all the urls to images and files must also be https urls or else it will trigger a warning. The search/replace plugin should take care of most of that but there are cases where a theme or plugin might not be coded well and is using bad protocols.

Why No Padlock will tell you the exact file and place that has an insecure url so you can go in and update it.

And that’s it! Don’t forget to update your Google Analytics and Google Search Console after the switch.

Some people say they lose their social shares after changing but I haven’t had a problem personally. If you’re concerned about losing your social shares get Social Pug Pro to save them before updating your domain.

Let me know if you have questions down in the comments below!

How I Automate My Social Media Scheduling for FREE

How I Automate My Social Media Scheduling for FREE

Ah, social media. It’s something we must do in our businesses to keep things active and people coming to us but its often something we hate; unless you’re a social media marketer and just love that stuff.

Truth be told, having to schedule out content really sucks, whether it be for Facebook or Pinterest. In fact, my social media pretty much died in the past month. Oops!

Somehow Recurpost had get disconnected from my Twitter and it wasn’t sending out my posts and I’d also gotten lazy with keeping Tailwind filled up.

Besides that my Facebook page was usually dead (does anyone use pages!?) and I don’t even mess with Instagram anymore.

So I started thinking about my strategy and wanted to setup more systems to optimize my marketing.  And finally decided to give LinkedIn more attention since it seems to coming back around.

After a lot of research and trying tools, I’ve come up with a way to keep almost all of my social channels active. This doesn’t include Pinterest though which doesn’t really have any free options for scheduling (aside from trials). 

Before we get started – I’m no social media expert. I don’t have a big strategy, don’t use a content or editorial calendar and tend to just wing things.

But if you’re just looking for some ways to get content on your profiles without much work, follow along!

Revive Old Post

This plugin used to be called Tweet Old Post so I never really thought I’d need it.

Why bother tweeting out my old posts? 

For one, I realized I could save about 30+ spots in Recurpost by using this plugin.

Before I had added my best content to Recurpost to send out to Twitter. But now that I’m adding more and more of other people’s content into Recurpost, I’ve realized those spots are precious and I don’t want to waste them.

After setting up the plugin I have my content being shared every few hours to my Facebook page. Because of Twitter’s new change in their terms of use (where you can’t share duplicate posts) I don’t auto-share these posts there.

Boom! That’s all it took and now my content is getting shared on autopilot.

The biggest downside is that you can’t choose the exact schedule your content is shared at unless you go for the Pro version. If you upgrade, you can also share to other social networks and have custom shared messages.

Another cool feature is that you can have the plugin automatically turn you blog post categories or tags into hashtags for Twitter!

Recurpost

Since I’ve already mentioned it – Recurpost is something you need to be using!

Update: Because of the change to Twitter’s policy you can’t share a duplicate posts. As such, Recurpost will only let you share a post once before it asks you to update the content.

Even if you just stick to the free version like me, you’ll be able to create libraries of content (up to 100 posts) to share automatically on up to 3 social networks. And you can post up to 10 times per day, per network.

I have a library of some of my affiliate links and favorite tools, another for my freebies, opt-ins, and paid offerings, and another library just for other’s content.

One drawback I’m currently facing is having to create separate libraries for Twitter and Facebook content. Because Twitter relies on 280 characters and hashtags, the posts that go out differ a lot from Facebook posts.

So you can either have duplicate libraries with tweaked content or just focus all your posts on one network. Or if you don’t even care then just share the same content to both networks.

I’ve decided to keep most of Recurpost content sent to Twitter because I’ve already got Buffer + Pocket working together to keep my Facebook page active (read on that below).

Buffer and Hootsuite

Both of these tools are free social media schedulers with more robust paid versions.

Buffer is more of a content library where you add content right in the dashboard or around the web (or through connected apps). You can share up to 10 posts per social network per day and you can have 4 social networks. 

But you can’t have 2 of the same kind of social network. For example, only a Facebook page, profile or group. You’d need the Awesome plan to add more than one of those.

However, Buffer is really nifty in that you can connect to a lot of other tools like IFTTT and Zapier, which Hootsuite doesn’t do right now.

You can also go back in a Rebuffer old content so it’s added back into to queue. 

I’ve been liking Hootsuite a lot more lately since they revamped their post scheduler. On the free plan I can connect to 3 social networks and schedule up to 30 posts.

It works with Instagram too! Being able to quickly schedule the same post to a few networks has made it easy to get content out there.

Hootsuite has a browser add-on just like Buffer but you can choose whether to schedule content at a certain time or let Hootsuite choose the best time.

So now you might be wondering how I fill Buffer up with content then?

I used to go around blogs and social media to find content, add it to Buffer via the Chrome add-on and write descriptions for each network. That took a lot of time and was boring so now I use a combo of the next three tools.

IFTTT

This is a tool that really makes automating anything so easy! IFTTT (if this then that) will connect your apps by setting up a trigger and then an action. 

You can browse the tons of recipes / applets already made and find cool things to connect your gadgets or even make your own. Here are some that I use:

If any new item added to Pocket, then add to Buffer – I won’t get into too much detail about Pocket since I’m only using it for this one thing, but it’s basically a curated feed of content and posts that you can search for by topic. 

From there you can add stuff to your Pocket list. So I made a recipe on IFTTT that takes anything I add to my Pocket list and pushes it to my Buffer.

One major downside is that IFTTT will only connect with one social network you’re using on Buffer. I’ve chosen to use my Facebook page since Recurpost takes care of Twitter content.

It’s still super easy to share right inside of Pocket though, just click the arrow and share (to your other Buffer networks as well).

Now to add schedule the content, every few days I go into Pocket and search some topics that would interest my audience and click to add them to my list. 

Boom! That’s it and it literally takes me like 30 seconds to do and I have my Facebook page content scheduled for a few days.

I haven’t played with Pocket a whole lot but it seems like you might find a lot of the same content over and over if you stick to the same topics. Using something like Feedly might work better for you but I haven’t tried it.

Some other cool IFTTT’s you can do with Pocket is have it automatically share it to Facebook or Twitter as soon as you add it to your list. And you can even have your Twitter likes sent to your Pocket list!

Share new WordPress posts to a Facebook Page and Tweet my WordPress blog posts – These two recipes will send out my newest blog posts to my social channels as soon as they go live (or close enough).

Even though I have the plugin sharing my old content I still want my new posts to be advertised when they are published. 

Schedule Daily/Weekly Group Facebook Threads with Images Using Google Calendar + Buffer – I’m no longer using this recipe since I moved FB group posts over to Recurpost but it was a lifesaver before then.

When I first started my group I couldn’t find a way to schedule out the weekly group posts rather than manually Rebuffering them each week and that was so annoying!

Luckily I came across this blog post that walked me through the steps of using IFTTT to automate the process. Technically you could even build out an editorial calendar with this method.

Basically, IFTTT is a lifesaver for automating tasks! You may have heard of Zapier too but I prefer to use IFTTT for little things like social media that have to run quite often.

Quuu

Finally, we have this new tool I just discovered (thanks to Brittany Berger) that curates content for you and sends it off to your Buffer. This tool is the definition of social media on autopilot!

For the free version, it will curate up to 2 posts per day and send them to 3 of your social networks on your Buffer account. You can also choose 5 different topics for it to pull content from.

So there’s basically no reason you should not be using this tool (unless they just don’t have the type of content for your audience). 

Since I have my Facebook page, Twitter, and LinkedIn connected on Buffer I have Quuu sending out to all of them. No extra work on my part and I have 2 posts a day being published  

Paid options

Eventually I want to step up my game even more than cobbling together a bunch of tools. When I’m ready to invest, I think I’ll be choosing between Buffer’s Awesome plan and a tool called SmarterQueue. 

Both are pretty affordable: Buffer Awesome is only $102/yr and SmarterQueue starts at just $16.99/mo if paid annually. 

Buffer unlocks a lot of great new features when you go Awesome: your 10 post limit gets upped to 100, you get 10 social profiles plus Pinterest, and you get access to the calendar.

It’s cheap and simple and a great way to upgrade. 

SmarterQueue is a bit more fancy because you get evergreen recycling (aka more content on autopilot). I also love the visual calendar that shows all your content at a glance.

It also makes checking your social analytics and curating content a lot easier. 

Other higher priced but advanced options include CoSchedule and Meet Edgar but those are too much for my needs right now.


So there you have all the tools I’ve used to totally revamp my social media process. It isn’t perfect and it took about an entire work day to figure everything out… plus I’m still adding content into Recurpost (100 is actually quite a bit). 

Unfortunately, when you use a bunch of different services it can get a bit messy. It’s hard for me to know what’s getting sent out, and to what social network and at what time. 

It’s also really difficult to try and sync up all the tools so they aren’t posting at the same exact times and are spread out among the day. But for free this is what you’re working with and I’ve already seen an increase in traffic from sharing more.

Although you still need to show up on social media and be active and present, you have to choose where to spend your time.

Take a day to look at your social accounts and choose a few to automate and try some of the tools I shared. Let me know in the comments what systems you created!