WordPress.com Weekend Specials

Just noted that WordPress.com are running some special offers this weekend only.

Their US$99 premium now includes free premium themes for a year, saving $120. Using wordpress.com for your small or home business was covered in and earlier meetup and we’re a big fan of this option for beginners. Check out WordPress for Beginners

If anyone needs help over the weekend setting these up websites or wanting to use a .co.nz domain and setup email for these, which can get tricky, email us kevin@wordhost.co.nz­ or fill in your details in the form below…

As said in my article using wordpress.com servers and tools is a great startup option for small business or serious bloggers, writers, non-profits, branded family websites etc. It reduces the need to get spend hundreds/thousands on website design, hosting etc and can usually be setup in a day. It’s a much superior website option over other cheap tools like weebly, blogger and the hundreds of nasty host company website builders… Just the ability to more easily share content and gain search traffic is impressive.

p.s. A professional upgrade path is important too. If you follow the process in my beginners article, it makes it easy for us to migrate/upgrade this WordPress.com site over to your full 100% customised self-hosted WordPress site later as you grow, or need more advanced features. You then have total control to add in Membership options, email list building tools, slick galleries, directories, enhanced SEO and analytics, even an eCommerce shop etc – All done for way less cost than others will charge you.

 

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Email marketing and list building tools

A great meetup last night. We all learned a lot I think. Focus was on the free tools needed to build your email list. It basically comes down to two general methods.

1. Use an external service like Mailchimp, which provides for 2,500 emails per month and free plugin like Sumome to capture leads with it’s fancy popup form on the website and push the email addresses to Mailchimp. Other email marketing services I also like include AWeber and CampaignMonitor.

Meetup Group Specials

300x250v8The other non-free popup forms system that’s getting loads of press is optinmonster and we’ve secured a 35% off special discount if you use the checkout voucher code BF2014 Offer valid until 1st December, so get in quick. This brings the single site license down to around NZ$40 and fully featured developer version to approx NZ$165

Popupally pro is an alternative, with most of the optinmonster features. Both of these compatible with Mailchimp, Aweber and others, including Mailpoet mentioned below.

There’s no question these tools dramatically increase email signup rates. I know I’ve signed up for a lot more this year as these special popups become more common.

2. The other option instead of Mailchimp is to use one of the free Newsletter plugins for WordPress, the most popular being Mailpoet. They provide the standard subscribe forms you can place on the site, but popups are becoming popular now and getting loads more signups. One free WP plugin I found today to do this PopupAlly.

So, now you’re capturing leads for your list and Mailpoet has the design tools included, there’s then the issue of delivery of emails. Due to the limits your website host and/or ISP provider places on sending bulk emails. you can use Mandrill, which is part of the mailchimp system. A good tutorial on setting up this is here. But be aware that mandrill may not work on some cheap shared hosts, since the host provider may place limits upon how WordPress connects to outside services. If you have this issue, let me know.

What to write? This is really beyond the scope of this meetup group, however don’t be afraid to keep things personal. Here’s an article we wrote some years back. Click here..

Walk before you run

The other trick with list building is to only ask for their email address initially, nothing else. It’s tempting to ask for their full name, email address, company etc, but this will kill your signup rates. Once they have become regular readers, you can take the next step and ask them for more detail in subsequent email campaigns. Setup a special form on another page with another offer that asks more detail then, which will allow you to segment the list and make the emails more personalised, which in turn will help conversions and sales…

Kevin Trye

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Meetup Special Offers

In recent meetups we’ve talked about the need to properly setup Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Yoast SEO plugins, all essential to see how your site performs and ranks in Google, as well as know where to obtain tips on what to do about it.

However although easy for us geeks, many struggle to do this setup correctly and then understand the data Google provides. We can do some or all of this for you, offering a 30% discount for meetup members during October for our webmaster and audit packages. When going through the checkout, just enter the coupon code meetup103o   Details here

 

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Setting up Shop Online – The Low Risk Blog Option

This was the topic of our September 24th Meetup.

The need for individuals and companies to sell their products or services online is exploding. But most are going about it the wrong, high risk way. They start by approaching a developer and building a shopping cart website. Sounds logical, right? But totally wrong and ensuring only higher than needed costs and disappointment…..

Successful shops (real or online), always start with a business plan and a pre-launch strategy to ensure that when the shop is open, they get plenty of visitors arriving on day one and a steady stream of sales every week... Yet this rarely occurs online today. Most believe (or are told) that just having a beautiful online storefront automatically ensures people will magically ‘turn up’ to buy stuff shortly after it goes live. Yeah, right….

The best business and sales strategy to successfully selling online is in the planning, competitor analysis and pre-launch marketing phase. This is where a cheap WordPress blog and some Google toolsets can do wonders.

Tools needed:

1. Setup a gmail account which then gives you access to all Googles free tools. Their pay per click Adwords tools are important for market research, not just adwords campaigns. This helps determine if you have a sufficient market size for your e-commerce products. Start to write blog posts on these topics, ensuring it is well structured and in required categories. Some of the high traffic keywords are harder to rank for quickly, so start with those in the hundreds, not thousands of results, often called the ‘long tail‘ keywords. This is important for AdWords as well as organic search optimisation.

2. Load following WP plugins  Yoast SEO and Yoast Analytics

wmaster3. To get traffic, you must know what Google thinks of your website performance and where it is ranked. What traffic you’re missing out on and have a low ranking for. What topics Google is ranking you for and if they match up with what you want to rank for…

It’s therefore essential you have Google Webmaster data available for your site to monitor errors and search queries over coming months. This information lets you modify site content and strategy. I’ve found a really good video tutorial on webmaster tools here.

300x250v84. With people now coming to your blog, build up a client mailing list. Ensure you have a newsletter signup form prominently shown. Ensure that there is an incentive too. e.g. ‘Join our mailing list to get opening specials” etc. Setup a free account with Mailchimp who provide code to add to your site pages or sidebar. Alternatively, checkout optinmonster.

If you’re selling locally, don’t forget the value of old fashioned offline marketing too like newspaper ads, letterbox flyers, local clubs etc, primarily to get people to your blog site to signup to your e-newsletter. Online marketing can include making yourself known across multiple Facebook groups that could have an interest in your products, the primarily goal being to get them to opt in to your newsletter. There’s also tools that can allow WordPress to auto-push blog articles into Facebook and other social channels. Handy stuff.

wordpress-woocommerce5. Once you have defined your market, products and have the mailing list slowly building up so on opening day you get some initial sales.  There are many shopping cart add-ons for wordpress as well as third party solutions. Here’s some notes on using Woocommerce and Shopify. Both can work well.

analyticsIf you have problems with setting up any of the Google tools being adwords planner, analytics, yoast plugins, webmaster tools etc for your blog, then we can do it for you for a flat fee of $65 and give you some notes to help out. We just need you to already have, or signup for a gmail account first.

Let WordPress take care of the Marketing and Traffic

The idea here is to have your WordPress blog be the sales and marketing channel for your eCommerce store, since is is easier to get traffic to your WordPress blog than it is to any eCommerce cart system. Most cart systems suck at SEO and getting search traffic. Once your cart is running and live, ensure you write about your new products on your blogsite, with simple links through to your storefront.  If you’re using woocommerce plugin for WordPress, then this is easier still, able to embed parts of your cart into the blog posts.

p.s. I mentioned a recent report released last week on Google ranking factors, which in effect tells us that Google is examining your site content and intent, not just keywords or keyword density, backlinks etc which are still important, but less than it was a couple years back. This makes it somewhat easier and is good news for bloggers.  Read more.,.. 

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Website Not Working for You?

Thought we’d step back and take a look at why most websites fail, expanding upon a conversation we had at last nights meetup group.

Yes, having a WordPress site has huge benefits in terms of easy updates and being google-friendly. But beyond the technology, you also need to understand what your visitors expect of you and your website – How to turn those extra site visitors, into sales.

winstonmarsh-thumbHere’s one of the best 15 min summaries I’ve come across in the last ten years, providing a really practical roadmap and ‘to do’ list for any website owner. It’s an old audio interview with Winston Marsh, an elderly Aussie with decades of small business marketing experience, both traditional and online.

Article taken from my Support website

The other hot discussion was around Google tools and SEO for WordPress. Here’s a link to our earlier SEO meetup, updated. Also look at the WPSocial plugin. It’s powerful, but like many things around SEO, a pain to setup correctly. If you’re looking for that magic plugin to solve your traffic issues then this (or others) isn’t it. Getting and maintaining website traffic also takes expert planing, data analysis and commitment each week.

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WordPress Meetup Training

With WordCamp behind us and much learned in the process, now is the time to look forward to even more local free and paid-for training options around WordPress. Unlike last year, we are looking to have more guest speakers contribute their ideas.

We’ve also updated several articles on this site like last years ones on WordPress SEO and on selecting a theme. There’s also a new article on WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

geekTopics around blogging, hosting and plugins we’ll cover in more depth at our meetups and on another new training website we’re building for the group. Plugins especially is a difficult and controversial area, but one we shouldn’t avoid…  I will however break it down into topics covering different needs like:

  • ecommerce
  • membership
  • social media
  • galleries, videos
  • webforms, jetpack etc

kevintrye-twitter-followusFinally, from today, making greater use of a new Ak WordPress meetup group twitter account @akwpmeetup to announce items of interest.

I also have most of the emails of our Meetup group, plus those 100+ that attended WorkCamp last month and will also publish weekly emails giving out news on training event, plus new developments, plugins or themes we’ve discovered that week. So, either follow me on twitter, or register your email in the form below.

large-signup

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Auckland WordCamp this month

ticket-wordcampPreparations for WordCamp Auckland 2014 on 26th July are well under way. All sessions and speakers all sorted and more sponsors coming on board. Already almost half the tickets are sold. It promises to be a great event. If you haven’t booked already do it today.

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