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13+ Ways You’re Losing Money without Jetpack for WordPress

Jetpack is one of the most popular plugins in WordPress with over 1 million active installations. It’s an [...]

Read More

How to Create a Promotional eBook for Your WordPress Website (in 4 Steps)

Maybe you’ve toyed around with the idea of writing an e-book for a while, but you haven’t gotten [...]

Read More

How To Make Your WordPress Theme WooCommerce Compatible

So you want to add a shop to your theme – awesome! WooCommerce is a great choice. Technically speaking ALL [...]

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Quick Guide to Updating WordPress – Why and How to Update

We all know that WordPress is a popular Content Management System, that uses open source software to help [...]

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14 Best Quiz Plugins for WordPress to Improve User Engagement

At some point during the course our online entrepreneurial journey, we find ourselves asking what next? What can [...]

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WordPress Maintenance Checks to Get Out of the Way Today

When things get crazy during the holiday season and leading up to it, many of us choose to [...]

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10 Best Eco-Conscious WordPress Themes for Your Business

Fortunately for our planet, the growing trend of businesses with eco-conscious practices shows no signs of slowing down. [...]

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Premium WordPress Plugins of the Month: January 2017

If you’re looking to take your WordPress-powered website to the next level, perhaps it’s time to introduce some [...]

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February 2017

13+ Ways You’re Losing Money without Jetpack for WordPress


Jetpack is one of the most popular plugins in WordPress with over 1 million active installations. It’s an entire family of products (and services) ranging from social logins to free CDNs. Its designed to optimize your WordPress website in every possible way – at absolutely zero cost.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the many time (and money) saving features Jetpack has to offer. We’ve also shared the possible paid and free alternatives for each feature. This will give you an idea of the great deal of benefits you could enjoy with Jetpack.

1. You’re not using the free Content Delivery Network (CDN) from Jetpack

Jetpack’s Photon module takes all the images from your site and stores it in WordPress.com’s global content distribution network. This network is  is distributed at multiple locations across the globe and optimized for high availability, redundancy. With a CDN installed, when a visitor lands in your site, the images are served from a server that is closest to the visitor’s physical location. This has multiple benefits:

  • Images are optimized to reduce size, while preserving quality.
  • Images are served quickly – thanks to WordPress’ distributed network – contributing to a speedy website.
  • Websites that load fast tend to convert better. Better conversions equal greater revenue.
  • Off-loading your images to Jetpack’s Photon module saves your server’s bandwidth and computing resources. You save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Photon saves your visitor’s bandwidth by serving them lossless compressed images using Google’s famous WebP image format. However, a handful of browsers support this format.

Use Photon as an online image editing service

Sometimes we need to perform simple tasks such as resizing an image, complex ones such as adding filters, adjusting the contrast of removing black bars from an image. The Photon Developer API allows developers to take advantage of WordPress cloud infrastructure and perform all sorts of tricks on their images.

For example, the following call to the API reduces the quality of the original JPG image to 75% strips all its metadata. This resulted in a 81% drop in the size, while maintaining almost lossless image compression.

Optimized Image by the Photon API (448 KB)

http://i0.wp.com/ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg?&quality=75&strip=all

Original Image (2.61 MB)

http://ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg

A single API call to the Photon API reduced the image size by 83%

All of this is done on-the-fly by a single call to the API. Your server resources remain untouched!

2. You’re Not Scheduling Posts to your Social Networks with the Automatic Publishing Module

Different social networks react differently to the same post copy – therefore headlines must be optimized for each. The copy you write for your Facebook page shouldn’t be the same for your Twitter or Pinterest page.

The Automatic Publishing feature enables users to automatically post content to their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages, after connecting the respective accounts. Users can configure images for Facebook and Twitter and schedule posting on the social networks once the post is published on the site.

You can either purchase expensive social post scheduling tools, or you can simply use Jetpack’s Publicize module. Your call!

3. You’re not using Related Posts

Related Posts are one of the largest contributors to reducing a website’s bounce rate. As soon as a visitor scrolls to the bottom of the article, they are shown related posts that fall under the same category, tag or custom post type.

Displaying related posts at the end of every article can increase your visitor’s “time on site” and enhance user engagement, which would ultimately drives conversions. Think about it – the more time visitors spend on your site, the better your brand is positioned in their mind. As a result, at the time when they need a product or service you offer – you have the competitive advantage of top-of-mind presence.

Jetpack’s Related Posts module displays the related posts after every article. Here’s the interesting part – unlike many other related post plugins, Jetpack does all the analysis, processing, and serving of related posts using their cloud infrastructure, so that there is no additional load on your server. This makes it a tremendous asset to reducing server load and improving our site’s performance – while simultaneously displaying related posts!

4. You’re not using Jetpack’s Security Features

Jetpack’s Protect module offers a ton of security features that are essential for any website. Premium security plugins such as Securi and iThemes Security cost over $100 a year. However, if you’re starting out and need a good security plugin that gets the job done, Jetpack is your answer. Here’s why:

  • For starters, it provides free protection against bruteforce attacks.
  • Next up, you can use secure authentication via WordPress.com to allow only those people to login who have a valid WordPress.com account.
  • You can also enable two-factor authentication to really tighten up security.
  • Finally, the IP Whitelisting feature enables you to allow only a set of IPs to access the admin dashboard. This makes it an excellent preventive measure against malicious login attempts.

Under additional benefits, the Jetpack Protect module automatically updates the installed themes and plugins in your WordPress site. You end up saving a lot of time, while enjoying peace of mind.

5. You’re not using the Site Monitoring feature

Downtimes are bad. Not only does it result in a decline in your conversions, and it also negatively impacts your search engine rankings. For example, consider the case when Google sends a visitor to your site. Only problem – the visitor finds that the page doesn’t load. The visitor returns to the search page and clicks on the next search result. That’s a yellow flag – your SEO scores are diminished a bit.

Jetpack’s Downtime Monitoring feature alerts you when your site goes down – over email and over SMS.  It also emails you when your site is back up and the total downtime duration. This service checks your site every five minutes from different corners of the globe, ensuring that no matter where your visitors come from – they see a working website.

6. You Could Leverage Post via Email – But You’re Not

Being present at the right place at the right time is a key factor to our success. The same principles apply to the success of your blog. Being the first one to cover a developing story in your blog’s domain can result in a new stream of visitors from social media.

That’s when the Post via Email feature comes in handy. Simply write the post in an email and send it over to the specified email address. The post will be published in your site. You can attach images and galleries in your email, and they’ll be posted as well. You can also specify tags and categories or specify a delay. What’s more, if you have the Automatic Publishing module enabled, the post will be posted to your social networks as well! Talk about chain reactions.

7. Did you enable the Subscriptions module?

There’s an entire industry built around email marketing software. While most of them are paid, some are free but come with limitations. At the very least, even the best of email marketing services require you to sign up for an account, which can be a bit of a task.

Jetpack’s Subscription module follows no-brainer technique wherein you simply need to add a widget asking your visitors to signup for new posts or “Subscribe for Updates” from you blog.

With the module activated, whenever you publish a new post, all your subscribers get an email with your latest post. However on the downside, you cannot have advanced tracking embedded in these emails.

8. You’re not leveraging “Social Proof”

One of the ways to get visitors to stick around your blog is to establish “social proof’. We are psychologically attuned to follow what everyone is doing. Imaging you’re on your way to work, just like every other day. You’re about to enter the subway when suddenly everyone starts running out of the station. Would you still go in?

Something similar happens when we see those symbols such as “Plugin downloaded over 100,000 times” or “Currently running on 75,000 active WordPress sites” or even “5 years of experience distilled into product”. A sort of unnamed assurance dawns on us.

The Extra Sidebar Widgets from Jetpack help you display similar “milestone-like” information on your site. You can feature your blog’s stats and contributors who may be well-known in the industry. You can also display additional information such as your Twitter feed, contact info, featured posts, etc.

A combination of these widgets will not only help establish social proof, but also contribute to user engagement. How’s that, you ask?

Remember how we talked about displaying related posts at the end of every post can influence the user to stick around for longer? A similar logic follows when you display “featured posts” or “exclusive deals” in your sidebars and/footers.

9. You could save time with the Site Verification module

When it comes to SEO, registering your website in the Google Search Console or the Bing Webmaster Center are of utmost importance. However, the process of verifying the domain ownership is time-consuming and requires HTML files to be uploaded to the root directory.

You could avoid all that and use Jetpack’ Site Verification module. Simply copy-paste the verification codes from Google/Bing console and paste it in the module’s settings. You site will be instantly validated.

The Site Verification module also supports Pinterest, which when activated will add your Pinterest profile picture to any pin that originates from your site.

10. Jetpack Comments take the hassle out of social commenting

The Comments module gives your visitors the option to login with their social profiles before leaving a comment on your site. This means if someone is logged into their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or WordPress.com account, they can use any one of those accounts to leave a comment.

All comments appear in a singular, streamlined thread. Here’s how that’s beneficial:

We relate better to comments when it’s associated with a real name and photo. With social comments feature activated, you encourage people to use their social profiles when commenting.

As a result, not only does this feature add social strength to your posts, it also makes commenting super easy. With a single click, all the info (name, photo, website URL, etc.) is extracted from my preferred social profile and filled in the WordPress comments section.

11. You losing out on potential leads by not using the Comments module

You might be wondering how this is possible. Let’s carefully examine the following image:

On the bottom left corner, you see two options:

Notify me of follow-up comments via email

When enabled, all follow-up comments in this post will be sent to that particular visitor. Follow-up comments encourages people to participate in the conversation. When you actively engage with your blog’s commenters, you build an active community – one comment at a time! Now for the interesting part.

Notify me of new posts via email

When a visitor checks this option, he/she is essentially subscribing to your blog’s updated. In other words – you just gained a lead! In my opinion this is a real gem of a feature and works beautifully when you have an active community.

12. You’re wasting too much time trying to configure Google Analytics

Google Analytics a tool that used by seasoned veterans and novices alike. Everybody’s head about it, everybody wants to use it – but only a few seem to understand it. Configuring Google Analytics to even half its potential requires serious know-how.

Maybe you don’t want to focus on that right now. If you’re like me, you could simply enable Jetpack’s Site Stats feature. It requires absolutely zero-configuration and works right out of the box.

The Site Stats module takes a few hours to gather the data. Once ready, it gives you clear and concise numbers about overall traffic by different time periods as well as for individual posts and pages. It also gives you key insights about most popular times, geographic locations, and search terms. What more do you need? 😉

13. You’re (probably) not managing multiple sites with Jetpack

Did you know that Jetpack provides a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com, using which you can manage all your WordPress websites? Yes, it’s true. All you need to do is install the Jetpack plugin in all your sites, login with the same WordPress.com account and sit back.

Jetpack will collate data from all your WordPress installations and display them in a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com. You can update themes, plugins and core versions of WordPress from the dashboard. You can also publish posts and make changes to the menus for different sites from the same dashboard.

For people who need a free solution to manage multiple website, Jetpack’s centralized management dashboard is a lifesaver.

14. Bonus Tip: WordAds (Premium)

Jetpack recently launched WordAds – a blog monetization platform that helps you to make money from your blog. WordAds displays relevant, high-quality ads to your site’s visitors. These ads are displayed from approved advertisers which are a part of the WordPress.com advertiser program.

Snapshot of sample earnings from the Jetpack Ads program

However, this is a premium feature and comes only with the Jetpack Pro plan starting at $9/month or $99/year. Let’s discuss a couple of other premium-only Jetpack modules that are included in the Pro plan.

Premium Features from Jetpack

Let us quickly review the premium features Jetpack offers us. The following features are available in the Personal Plan at $3.5/month (or $39/year).

  • Daily automated backups, 1-click restore and 30-day archive
  • Advanced spam filtering
  • Priority support

In addition to the above features, the Premium Plan retails at $9/mo and has the following features:

  • Daily malware scans
  • Jetpack Ads, aka WordAds program
  • Video hosting with 13GB of storage

A complete list of features along with a comparison table is available in Jetpack’s detailed pricing page.

Conclusion

Jetpack has come a long way from a simply utility plugin with a handful of features – to a fully integrated service platform. With a host of free services and a range of premium features, Jetpack offers the most comprehensive tool set packed in a single plugin. Its designed for beginners and seasoned veterans alike.

After reading this article, you are aware of Jetpack’s most flattering features. However, that doesn’t mean you activate all of them at one go. Analyze your current requirements and understand how Jetpack’s modules can help you achieve them.  Here’s a quick list of the features I think can be activated for most websites:

  1. Free CDN
  2. Related posts (only when you have organized your content with proper tags and categories, and have sufficient content under each category)
  3. Site monitoring
  4. Security features from the Protect module
  5. Comments module
  6. Site stats

Jetpack’s dozens of useful features infused with simplicity and the power of WordPress.com’s cloud makes it a powerful weapon in any marketer’s arsenal. Give it a spin today. Also, did we miss your favourite Jetpack feature? Let us know in the comments below!



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How to Create a Promotional eBook for Your WordPress Website (in 4 Steps)


Maybe you’ve toyed around with the idea of writing an e-book for a while, but you haven’t gotten around to it yet. After all, creating an e-book is too hard and time-consuming, right?

While putting together a promotional e-book is no walk in the park, you can do it if you put your mind to it. Furthermore, publishing an e-book comes with many benefits, such as enabling you to promote your website and establish yourself as an authority in your field.

In this article, we’ve put together a four-step process to help you create your first promotional e-book, covering everything from planning to publishing. Let’s dive right in!

Step #1: Pick the Right Tools

The first step to the e-book writing process is finding the right tools. Writing an e-book is a lot different than a regular blog post from a formatting standpoint, so you’ll need to find tools that can help you tackle that aspect, as well as some others. With that in mind, we put together a brief list of our favorite writing tools, separated into four categories for your benefit.

1. Writing and Editing

  • Microsoft Word. You’re probably already familiar with this one. It’s one of the best tools for brainstorming and writing any type of content. Furthermore, it enables you to set up complex macros to handle repetitive tasks, which can be a significant timesaver.
  • Google Docs. On paper, Google Docs is very similar to Microsoft Word, except for its superior collaboration features. If you’re working with an editor and you need to stay on top of changes and revisions, this tool should be right up your alley.

2. Formatting and Conversion

  • PublishXpress. PublishXpress offers seamless conversions to the .epub and .mobi formats. All you need to do is upload your source file, choose a cover, and click on the Convert button.
  • Anthologize. Anthologize is a WordPress plugin that converts WordPress posts into PDFs with just a few clicks.

3. All-in-One Tools

  • Pressbooks. This powerful WordPress plugin enables you to plan, write, edit, format, and publish e-books right from your dashboard.
  • Calibre. This desktop app offers a full suite of features to write, format, publish, and even convert e-books between multiple file types.

4. WordPress Tools

  • PDF & Print by BestWebSoft. What to offer premium or free content on your website as a pdf? This free plugin add PDF and Print buttons to your posts so your readers can easily download or print your content for later reading.
  • Simple PDF Exporter. Need to export all or your posts, or all of a custom post type? This free plugin bulk exports your posts to a single PDF file making the process quick and easy.

Step #2: Start Writing Your Promotional E-Book

Once you’ve found the right tools, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start writing. This phase can be lengthy, and it can get frustrating, so it’s important that you stick to a process that works for you. With that in mind, here’s how we handle long writing tasks:

  1. Choose a topic. This is a personal decision, but for the best results, you should pick a subject that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about.
  2. Research. Investigate your topic and start thinking about what information is going to make it into your e-book.
  3. Put together an outline. Once you’ve researched your ideas thoroughly, create an outline for your project. There are no hard and fast rules for doing so, but you can always look for a template to get you started.
  4. Write your first draft. Sit down and start typing – depending on your personal taste, this step may include generous amounts of coffee. You might want to avoid editing at this stage, since it can slow you down.
  5. Edit and polish your draft. Ideally, you should take a small break between completing your first draft and editing it. Check for ideas that you might have missed, word repetition, issues with flow, and, of course, grammar mistakes and typos.
  6. Proofread. This step is best handled by a fresh pair of eyes, so you should think about outsourcing it to an editor. A good editor should catch anything that you missed during the previous step.
  7. Publish your e-book. We’ll talk more about how to publish your e-book further on, so keep reading!

When it comes to writing long-format content such as an e-book, it pays to be as structured as possible, and breaking down the process into several steps will make the endeavor much less stressful than tackling it without it a plan.

Step #3: Format Your E-Book

A screenshot of an e-book cover.

An example of an attractive e-book cover.

Once you’ve finished writing your e-book, it’s time to work on its layout and formatting, and then convert the document to your desired file type. Getting the formatting for your e-book right is critical so that it renders correctly across all kinds of displays, especially those in small form factors.

When you’re satisfied with your e-book’s layout and format, we need to convert it to a suitable file type to minimize compatibility errors. These are the most popular e-book file formats at the moment:

  • PDF: This file type is extremely common thanks to its wide range of compatibility.
  • Mobi: The Mobipocket (or mobi) format is ideal if you need to render complex content with ease and flexibility.
  • ePub: This popular e-book format offers a solid experience and is supported by most reading software.

Out of those three, PDF is by far the most popular format thanks to its mainstream support. However, these days most people are likely to have access to reading software that supports a wide range of file types, so you needn’t choose PDF by default if compatibility is your main concern.

Step #4: Upload and Publish Your E-book

After all your hard work, all that’s left is to publish your e-book and wait for the glowing reviews to start pouring in. There are two main options when it comes to publishing, so let’s check out the benefits of each to help you make a decision.

Self Publish Your Book

Your first option is to self-publish your book. That means you won’t need to go through a distributing agent, and it’s as simple as uploading the e-book to your WordPress website and hitting the Publish button. Self-publishing can be the best route if you’re working with a limited budget, or you don’t want to share your profits with an online distributor. Furthermore, it enables you to retain control over the entire process, which can save you a lot of headaches.

Using the Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) plugin, you can handle the entire process right from your WordPress dashboard. In fact. we even have an entire Easy Digital Downloads guide to walk you through the process of setting up your online store for the first time.

The Easy Digital Downloads plugin.

If you want to offer your e-book for free, the Free Downloads add-on for EDD enables you to do so without forcing buyers to go through the regular checkout process. Instead, all they have to do is supply their email in exchange for your e-book.

Contact A Distributor

The second option when it comes to publishing is to use an e-book distributor. With a distributor, you simply upload your e-book, set a price, and sit back while they do all the hard work for you (in exchange for a fee, of course). Some of our favorite distribution services include SmashwordsDraft2Digital, and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

If you don’t have the time to handle all the minutia of publishing your e-book, the right distribution service can take a huge load off your shoulders. However, do keep in mind that most services come with guidelines of their own, and you’ll need to deal with them to update your e-book and receive payments. If you don’t mind those small drawbacks, then by all means, consider the option.

Conclusion

Publishing an e-book can be a frustrating endeavor if you don’t know where to start. However, tackling the project with a solid plan in mind should help you finish faster and save you a lot of headaches.

Here are the four main steps to getting your first promotional e-book written and published:

  1. Find the right tools for the job.
  2. Sit down and write.
  3. Format your e-book.
  4. Publish your e-book on your website or by using a distribution service.

How do you tackle complex writing projects like promotional e-books? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!



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13+ Ways You’re Losing Money without Jetpack for WordPress


Jetpack is one of the most popular plugins in WordPress with over 1 million active installations. It’s an entire family of products (and services) ranging from social logins to free CDNs. Its designed to optimize your WordPress website in every possible way – at absolutely zero cost.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the many time (and money) saving features Jetpack has to offer. We’ve also shared the possible paid and free alternatives for each feature. This will give you an idea of the great deal of benefits you could enjoy with Jetpack.

1. You’re not using the free Content Delivery Network (CDN) from Jetpack

Jetpack’s Photon module takes all the images from your site and stores it in WordPress.com’s global content distribution network. This network is  is distributed at multiple locations across the globe and optimized for high availability, redundancy. With a CDN installed, when a visitor lands in your site, the images are served from a server that is closest to the visitor’s physical location. This has multiple benefits:

  • Images are optimized to reduce size, while preserving quality.
  • Images are served quickly – thanks to WordPress’ distributed network – contributing to a speedy website.
  • Websites that load fast tend to convert better. Better conversions equal greater revenue.
  • Off-loading your images to Jetpack’s Photon module saves your server’s bandwidth and computing resources. You save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Photon saves your visitor’s bandwidth by serving them lossless compressed images using Google’s famous WebP image format. However, a handful of browsers support this format.

Use Photon as an online image editing service

Sometimes we need to perform simple tasks such as resizing an image, complex ones such as adding filters, adjusting the contrast of removing black bars from an image. The Photon Developer API allows developers to take advantage of WordPress cloud infrastructure and perform all sorts of tricks on their images.

For example, the following call to the API reduces the quality of the original JPG image to 75% strips all its metadata. This resulted in a 81% drop in the size, while maintaining almost lossless image compression.

Optimized Image by the Photon API (448 KB)

http://i0.wp.com/ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg?&quality=75&strip=all

Original Image (2.61 MB)

http://ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg

A single API call to the Photon API reduced the image size by 83%

All of this is done on-the-fly by a single call to the API. Your server resources remain untouched!

2. You’re Not Scheduling Posts to your Social Networks with the Automatic Publishing Module

Different social networks react differently to the same post copy – therefore headlines must be optimized for each. The copy you write for your Facebook page shouldn’t be the same for your Twitter or Pinterest page.

The Automatic Publishing feature enables users to automatically post content to their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages, after connecting the respective accounts. Users can configure images for Facebook and Twitter and schedule posting on the social networks once the post is published on the site.

You can either purchase expensive social post scheduling tools, or you can simply use Jetpack’s Publicize module. Your call!

3. You’re not using Related Posts

Related Posts are one of the largest contributors to reducing a website’s bounce rate. As soon as a visitor scrolls to the bottom of the article, they are shown related posts that fall under the same category, tag or custom post type.

Displaying related posts at the end of every article can increase your visitor’s “time on site” and enhance user engagement, which would ultimately drives conversions. Think about it – the more time visitors spend on your site, the better your brand is positioned in their mind. As a result, at the time when they need a product or service you offer – you have the competitive advantage of top-of-mind presence.

Jetpack’s Related Posts module displays the related posts after every article. Here’s the interesting part – unlike many other related post plugins, Jetpack does all the analysis, processing, and serving of related posts using their cloud infrastructure, so that there is no additional load on your server. This makes it a tremendous asset to reducing server load and improving our site’s performance – while simultaneously displaying related posts!

4. You’re not using Jetpack’s Security Features

Jetpack’s Protect module offers a ton of security features that are essential for any website. Premium security plugins such as Securi and iThemes Security cost over $100 a year. However, if you’re starting out and need a good security plugin that gets the job done, Jetpack is your answer. Here’s why:

  • For starters, it provides free protection against bruteforce attacks.
  • Next up, you can use secure authentication via WordPress.com to allow only those people to login who have a valid WordPress.com account.
  • You can also enable two-factor authentication to really tighten up security.
  • Finally, the IP Whitelisting feature enables you to allow only a set of IPs to access the admin dashboard. This makes it an excellent preventive measure against malicious login attempts.

Under additional benefits, the Jetpack Protect module automatically updates the installed themes and plugins in your WordPress site. You end up saving a lot of time, while enjoying peace of mind.

5. You’re not using the Site Monitoring feature

Downtimes are bad. Not only does it result in a decline in your conversions, and it also negatively impacts your search engine rankings. For example, consider the case when Google sends a visitor to your site. Only problem – the visitor finds that the page doesn’t load. The visitor returns to the search page and clicks on the next search result. That’s a yellow flag – your SEO scores are diminished a bit.

Jetpack’s Downtime Monitoring feature alerts you when your site goes down – over email and over SMS.  It also emails you when your site is back up and the total downtime duration. This service checks your site every five minutes from different corners of the globe, ensuring that no matter where your visitors come from – they see a working website.

6. You Could Leverage Post via Email – But You’re Not

Being present at the right place at the right time is a key factor to our success. The same principles apply to the success of your blog. Being the first one to cover a developing story in your blog’s domain can result in a new stream of visitors from social media.

That’s when the Post via Email feature comes in handy. Simply write the post in an email and send it over to the specified email address. The post will be published in your site. You can attach images and galleries in your email, and they’ll be posted as well. You can also specify tags and categories or specify a delay. What’s more, if you have the Automatic Publishing module enabled, the post will be posted to your social networks as well! Talk about chain reactions.

7. Did you enable the Subscriptions module?

There’s an entire industry built around email marketing software. While most of them are paid, some are free but come with limitations. At the very least, even the best of email marketing services require you to sign up for an account, which can be a bit of a task.

Jetpack’s Subscription module follows no-brainer technique wherein you simply need to add a widget asking your visitors to signup for new posts or “Subscribe for Updates” from you blog.

With the module activated, whenever you publish a new post, all your subscribers get an email with your latest post. However on the downside, you cannot have advanced tracking embedded in these emails.

8. You’re not leveraging “Social Proof”

One of the ways to get visitors to stick around your blog is to establish “social proof’. We are psychologically attuned to follow what everyone is doing. Imaging you’re on your way to work, just like every other day. You’re about to enter the subway when suddenly everyone starts running out of the station. Would you still go in?

Something similar happens when we see those symbols such as “Plugin downloaded over 100,000 times” or “Currently running on 75,000 active WordPress sites” or even “5 years of experience distilled into product”. A sort of unnamed assurance dawns on us.

The Extra Sidebar Widgets from Jetpack help you display similar “milestone-like” information on your site. You can feature your blog’s stats and contributors who may be well-known in the industry. You can also display additional information such as your Twitter feed, contact info, featured posts, etc.

A combination of these widgets will not only help establish social proof, but also contribute to user engagement. How’s that, you ask?

Remember how we talked about displaying related posts at the end of every post can influence the user to stick around for longer? A similar logic follows when you display “featured posts” or “exclusive deals” in your sidebars and/footers.

9. You could save time with the Site Verification module

When it comes to SEO, registering your website in the Google Search Console or the Bing Webmaster Center are of utmost importance. However, the process of verifying the domain ownership is time-consuming and requires HTML files to be uploaded to the root directory.

You could avoid all that and use Jetpack’ Site Verification module. Simply copy-paste the verification codes from Google/Bing console and paste it in the module’s settings. You site will be instantly validated.

The Site Verification module also supports Pinterest, which when activated will add your Pinterest profile picture to any pin that originates from your site.

10. Jetpack Comments take the hassle out of social commenting

The Comments module gives your visitors the option to login with their social profiles before leaving a comment on your site. This means if someone is logged into their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or WordPress.com account, they can use any one of those accounts to leave a comment.

All comments appear in a singular, streamlined thread. Here’s how that’s beneficial:

We relate better to comments when it’s associated with a real name and photo. With social comments feature activated, you encourage people to use their social profiles when commenting.

As a result, not only does this feature add social strength to your posts, it also makes commenting super easy. With a single click, all the info (name, photo, website URL, etc.) is extracted from my preferred social profile and filled in the WordPress comments section.

11. You losing out on potential leads by not using the Comments module

You might be wondering how this is possible. Let’s carefully examine the following image:

On the bottom left corner, you see two options:

Notify me of follow-up comments via email

When enabled, all follow-up comments in this post will be sent to that particular visitor. Follow-up comments encourages people to participate in the conversation. When you actively engage with your blog’s commenters, you build an active community – one comment at a time! Now for the interesting part.

Notify me of new posts via email

When a visitor checks this option, he/she is essentially subscribing to your blog’s updated. In other words – you just gained a lead! In my opinion this is a real gem of a feature and works beautifully when you have an active community.

12. You’re wasting too much time trying to configure Google Analytics

Google Analytics a tool that used by seasoned veterans and novices alike. Everybody’s head about it, everybody wants to use it – but only a few seem to understand it. Configuring Google Analytics to even half its potential requires serious know-how.

Maybe you don’t want to focus on that right now. If you’re like me, you could simply enable Jetpack’s Site Stats feature. It requires absolutely zero-configuration and works right out of the box.

The Site Stats module takes a few hours to gather the data. Once ready, it gives you clear and concise numbers about overall traffic by different time periods as well as for individual posts and pages. It also gives you key insights about most popular times, geographic locations, and search terms. What more do you need? 😉

13. You’re (probably) not managing multiple sites with Jetpack

Did you know that Jetpack provides a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com, using which you can manage all your WordPress websites? Yes, it’s true. All you need to do is install the Jetpack plugin in all your sites, login with the same WordPress.com account and sit back.

Jetpack will collate data from all your WordPress installations and display them in a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com. You can update themes, plugins and core versions of WordPress from the dashboard. You can also publish posts and make changes to the menus for different sites from the same dashboard.

For people who need a free solution to manage multiple website, Jetpack’s centralized management dashboard is a lifesaver.

14. Bonus Tip: WordAds (Premium)

Jetpack recently launched WordAds – a blog monetization platform that helps you to make money from your blog. WordAds displays relevant, high-quality ads to your site’s visitors. These ads are displayed from approved advertisers which are a part of the WordPress.com advertiser program.

Snapshot of sample earnings from the Jetpack Ads program

However, this is a premium feature and comes only with the Jetpack Pro plan starting at $9/month or $99/year. Let’s discuss a couple of other premium-only Jetpack modules that are included in the Pro plan.

Premium Features from Jetpack

Let us quickly review the premium features Jetpack offers us. The following features are available in the Personal Plan at $3.5/month (or $39/year).

  • Daily automated backups, 1-click restore and 30-day archive
  • Advanced spam filtering
  • Priority support

In addition to the above features, the Premium Plan retails at $9/mo and has the following features:

  • Daily malware scans
  • Jetpack Ads, aka WordAds program
  • Video hosting with 13GB of storage

A complete list of features along with a comparison table is available in Jetpack’s detailed pricing page.

Conclusion

Jetpack has come a long way from a simply utility plugin with a handful of features – to a fully integrated service platform. With a host of free services and a range of premium features, Jetpack offers the most comprehensive tool set packed in a single plugin. Its designed for beginners and seasoned veterans alike.

After reading this article, you are aware of Jetpack’s most flattering features. However, that doesn’t mean you activate all of them at one go. Analyze your current requirements and understand how Jetpack’s modules can help you achieve them.  Here’s a quick list of the features I think can be activated for most websites:

  1. Free CDN
  2. Related posts (only when you have organized your content with proper tags and categories, and have sufficient content under each category)
  3. Site monitoring
  4. Security features from the Protect module
  5. Comments module
  6. Site stats

Jetpack’s dozens of useful features infused with simplicity and the power of WordPress.com’s cloud makes it a powerful weapon in any marketer’s arsenal. Give it a spin today. Also, did we miss your favourite Jetpack feature? Let us know in the comments below!



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How to Create a Promotional eBook for Your WordPress Website (in 4 Steps)


Maybe you’ve toyed around with the idea of writing an e-book for a while, but you haven’t gotten around to it yet. After all, creating an e-book is too hard and time-consuming, right?

While putting together a promotional e-book is no walk in the park, you can do it if you put your mind to it. Furthermore, publishing an e-book comes with many benefits, such as enabling you to promote your website and establish yourself as an authority in your field.

In this article, we’ve put together a four-step process to help you create your first promotional e-book, covering everything from planning to publishing. Let’s dive right in!

Step #1: Pick the Right Tools

The first step to the e-book writing process is finding the right tools. Writing an e-book is a lot different than a regular blog post from a formatting standpoint, so you’ll need to find tools that can help you tackle that aspect, as well as some others. With that in mind, we put together a brief list of our favorite writing tools, separated into four categories for your benefit.

1. Writing and Editing

  • Microsoft Word. You’re probably already familiar with this one. It’s one of the best tools for brainstorming and writing any type of content. Furthermore, it enables you to set up complex macros to handle repetitive tasks, which can be a significant timesaver.
  • Google Docs. On paper, Google Docs is very similar to Microsoft Word, except for its superior collaboration features. If you’re working with an editor and you need to stay on top of changes and revisions, this tool should be right up your alley.

2. Formatting and Conversion

  • PublishXpress. PublishXpress offers seamless conversions to the .epub and .mobi formats. All you need to do is upload your source file, choose a cover, and click on the Convert button.
  • Anthologize. Anthologize is a WordPress plugin that converts WordPress posts into PDFs with just a few clicks.

3. All-in-One Tools

  • Pressbooks. This powerful WordPress plugin enables you to plan, write, edit, format, and publish e-books right from your dashboard.
  • Calibre. This desktop app offers a full suite of features to write, format, publish, and even convert e-books between multiple file types.

4. WordPress Tools

  • PDF & Print by BestWebSoft. What to offer premium or free content on your website as a pdf? This free plugin add PDF and Print buttons to your posts so your readers can easily download or print your content for later reading.
  • Simple PDF Exporter. Need to export all or your posts, or all of a custom post type? This free plugin bulk exports your posts to a single PDF file making the process quick and easy.

Step #2: Start Writing Your Promotional E-Book

Once you’ve found the right tools, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start writing. This phase can be lengthy, and it can get frustrating, so it’s important that you stick to a process that works for you. With that in mind, here’s how we handle long writing tasks:

  1. Choose a topic. This is a personal decision, but for the best results, you should pick a subject that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about.
  2. Research. Investigate your topic and start thinking about what information is going to make it into your e-book.
  3. Put together an outline. Once you’ve researched your ideas thoroughly, create an outline for your project. There are no hard and fast rules for doing so, but you can always look for a template to get you started.
  4. Write your first draft. Sit down and start typing – depending on your personal taste, this step may include generous amounts of coffee. You might want to avoid editing at this stage, since it can slow you down.
  5. Edit and polish your draft. Ideally, you should take a small break between completing your first draft and editing it. Check for ideas that you might have missed, word repetition, issues with flow, and, of course, grammar mistakes and typos.
  6. Proofread. This step is best handled by a fresh pair of eyes, so you should think about outsourcing it to an editor. A good editor should catch anything that you missed during the previous step.
  7. Publish your e-book. We’ll talk more about how to publish your e-book further on, so keep reading!

When it comes to writing long-format content such as an e-book, it pays to be as structured as possible, and breaking down the process into several steps will make the endeavor much less stressful than tackling it without it a plan.

Step #3: Format Your E-Book

A screenshot of an e-book cover.

An example of an attractive e-book cover.

Once you’ve finished writing your e-book, it’s time to work on its layout and formatting, and then convert the document to your desired file type. Getting the formatting for your e-book right is critical so that it renders correctly across all kinds of displays, especially those in small form factors.

When you’re satisfied with your e-book’s layout and format, we need to convert it to a suitable file type to minimize compatibility errors. These are the most popular e-book file formats at the moment:

  • PDF: This file type is extremely common thanks to its wide range of compatibility.
  • Mobi: The Mobipocket (or mobi) format is ideal if you need to render complex content with ease and flexibility.
  • ePub: This popular e-book format offers a solid experience and is supported by most reading software.

Out of those three, PDF is by far the most popular format thanks to its mainstream support. However, these days most people are likely to have access to reading software that supports a wide range of file types, so you needn’t choose PDF by default if compatibility is your main concern.

Step #4: Upload and Publish Your E-book

After all your hard work, all that’s left is to publish your e-book and wait for the glowing reviews to start pouring in. There are two main options when it comes to publishing, so let’s check out the benefits of each to help you make a decision.

Self Publish Your Book

Your first option is to self-publish your book. That means you won’t need to go through a distributing agent, and it’s as simple as uploading the e-book to your WordPress website and hitting the Publish button. Self-publishing can be the best route if you’re working with a limited budget, or you don’t want to share your profits with an online distributor. Furthermore, it enables you to retain control over the entire process, which can save you a lot of headaches.

Using the Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) plugin, you can handle the entire process right from your WordPress dashboard. In fact. we even have an entire Easy Digital Downloads guide to walk you through the process of setting up your online store for the first time.

The Easy Digital Downloads plugin.

If you want to offer your e-book for free, the Free Downloads add-on for EDD enables you to do so without forcing buyers to go through the regular checkout process. Instead, all they have to do is supply their email in exchange for your e-book.

Contact A Distributor

The second option when it comes to publishing is to use an e-book distributor. With a distributor, you simply upload your e-book, set a price, and sit back while they do all the hard work for you (in exchange for a fee, of course). Some of our favorite distribution services include SmashwordsDraft2Digital, and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

If you don’t have the time to handle all the minutia of publishing your e-book, the right distribution service can take a huge load off your shoulders. However, do keep in mind that most services come with guidelines of their own, and you’ll need to deal with them to update your e-book and receive payments. If you don’t mind those small drawbacks, then by all means, consider the option.

Conclusion

Publishing an e-book can be a frustrating endeavor if you don’t know where to start. However, tackling the project with a solid plan in mind should help you finish faster and save you a lot of headaches.

Here are the four main steps to getting your first promotional e-book written and published:

  1. Find the right tools for the job.
  2. Sit down and write.
  3. Format your e-book.
  4. Publish your e-book on your website or by using a distribution service.

How do you tackle complex writing projects like promotional e-books? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!



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How To Make Your WordPress Theme WooCommerce Compatible


So you want to add a shop to your theme – awesome! WooCommerce is a great choice. Technically speaking ALL themes are “WooCommerce Compatible” because it’s a plugin. In theory any plugin should work with any WordPress theme (that is coded properly).

As a theme developer though you may want to tweak the output of WooCommerce to better fit your theme or to provide options to your end users not readily available in the WooCommerce settings (such as altering the number of columns on the shop). Below you will find some helpful snippets that you can use to provide “better” support for WooCommerce in your theme and/or to alter things for your specific design.

Important: Many of the snippets below use functions available in WooCommerce only. So make sure these snippets aren’t just dumped at the bottom of your functions.php file in a theme created for distribution. If you are going to share your theme with others or sell it be sure to place the snippets in their own file loaded only when the WooCommerce plugin is active.

Check if WooCommerce is Enabled

In my themes I like to define a custom constant that can be used to check if WooCommerce is enabled this way I can include files or run functions only when WooCommerce is active (see important message above if you haven’t yet).

// Add new constant that returns true if WooCommerce is active
define( 'WPEX_WOOCOMMERCE_ACTIVE', class_exists( 'WooCommerce' ) );

// Checking if WooCommerce is active
if ( WPEX_WOOCOMMERCE_ACTIVE ) {
    // Do something...
    // Such as including a new file with all your Woo edits.
}

Declare WooCommerce Support

This is the first and most important piece of code to add to your theme which “enables” WooCommerce support and prevents the warnings from the plugin telling the end user that the theme is not compatible.

add_action( 'after_setup_theme', function() {
	add_theme_support( 'woocommerce' );
} );

Remove WooCommerce CSS

Personally I rather override WooCommerce styles to prevent any possible issues with 3rd party WooCommerce plugins. However, if you want to remove all WooCommerce styles it is very easy.

The following snippet is for removing ALL WooCommerce styles:

// Remove all Woo Styles
add_filter( 'woocommerce_enqueue_styles', '__return_empty_array' );

This snippet is an example of conditionally removing specific CSS styles:

function wpex_remove_woo_styles( $styles ) {
	unset( $styles['woocommerce-general'] );
	unset( $styles['woocommerce-layout'] );
	unset( $styles['woocommerce-smallscreen'] );
	return $styles;
}
add_filter( 'woocommerce_enqueue_styles', 'wpex_remove_woo_styles' );

Remove The Shop Title

A lot of themes already have functions to display archive titles so this code removes the extra title from WooCommerce which is better then hiding it via CSS.

add_filter( 'woocommerce_show_page_title', '__return_false' );

Alter The Archive Title for The Shop

If your theme is using the archive_title() or get_archive_title() functions to display the title for your archives you can easily tweak it via a filter to grab the name of your product page instead for the shop archive title.

function wpex_woo_archive_title( $title ) {
	if ( is_shop() && $shop_id = wc_get_page_id( 'shop' ) ) {
		$title = get_the_title( $shop_id );
	}
	return $title;
}
add_filter( 'get_the_archive_title', 'wpex_woo_archive_title' );

Change the number of products displayed per page on the shop

Used to alter how many products display per page on the shop and product archives (categories and tags).

// Alter WooCommerce shop posts per page
function wpex_woo_posts_per_page( $cols ) {
    return 12;
}
add_filter( 'loop_shop_per_page', 'wpex_woo_posts_per_page' );

Change the number of columns displayed on the shop per row

I don’t understand why WooCommerce works in this way but you can’t just alter the ‘loop_shop_columns’ filter, you must also add the unique classes to the body tag in order for the columns to work. While the Woo Shortcodes have a div wrapper with the correct classes the shop pages do not, that’s why we need two functions.

// Alter shop columns
function wpex_woo_shop_columns( $columns ) {
	return 4;
}
add_filter( 'loop_shop_columns', 'wpex_woo_shop_columns' );

// Add correct body class for shop columns
function wpex_woo_shop_columns_body_class( $classes ) {
	if ( is_shop() || is_product_category() || is_product_tag() ) {
		$classes[] = 'columns-4';
	}
	return $classes;
}
add_filter( 'body_class', 'wpex_woo_shop_columns_body_class' );

Change the Next & Previous Pagination Arrows

This snippet will allow you to tweak the pagination arrows on the shop to match those in your theme.

function wpex_woo_pagination_args( $args ) {
	$args['prev_text'] = '<i class="fa fa-angle-left"></i>';
	$args['next_text'] = '<i class="fa fa-angle-right"></i>';
	return $args;
}
add_filter( 'woocommerce_pagination_args', 'wpex_woo_pagination_args' );

Change the OnSale Badge Text

Especially useful on sites using a different language or to remove the exclamation mark which I am not a huge fan of.

function wpex_woo_sale_flash() {
	return '<span class="onsale">' . esc_html__( 'Sale', 'woocommerce' ) . '</span>';
}
add_filter( 'woocommerce_sale_flash', 'wpex_woo_sale_flash' );

Change Product Gallery thumbnails columns

You may want to change the number of columns for the single product gallery thumbnails depending on your layout and this function will do just that.

function wpex_woo_product_thumbnails_columns() {
	return 4;
}
add_action( 'woocommerce_product_thumbnails_columns', 'wpex_woo_product_thumbnails_columns' );

Alter the number of displayed related products

Used to alter the number of products displayed for related products on the single product page.

// Set related products to display 4 products
function wpex_woo_related_posts_per_page( $args ) {
	$args['posts_per_page'] = 4;
	return $args;
}
add_filter( 'woocommerce_output_related_products_args', 'wpex_woo_related_posts_per_page' );

Change the number of columns per row for related & up-sells sections on products

Just like the shop if you want to properly alter the number of columns for related and up-sell products on the single product pages you must filter the columns and also alter the body classes accordingly.

// Filter up-sells columns
function wpex_woo_single_loops_columns( $columns ) {
	return 4;
}
add_filter( 'woocommerce_up_sells_columns', 'wpex_woo_single_loops_columns' );

// Filter related args
function wpex_woo_related_columns( $args ) {
	$args['columns'] = 4;
	return $args;
}
add_filter( 'woocommerce_output_related_products_args', 'wpex_woo_related_columns', 10 );

// Filter body classes to add column class
function wpex_woo_single_loops_columns_body_class( $classes ) {
	if ( is_singular( 'product' ) ) {
		$classes[] = 'columns-4';
	}
	return $classes;
}
add_filter( 'body_class', 'wpex_woo_single_loops_columns_body_class' );

Add a dynamic cart link & cart cost to your menu

This snippet will add a WooCommerce cart item to your menu that displays the cost of the items in your cart. Plus if your site has Font-Awesome enabled it will display a little shopping bag icon. Important: These functions must not be wrapped in an is_admin() conditional because they rely on AJAX to update the cost you must make sure the functions are available when is_admin() returns true and false.

// Add the cart link to menu
function wpex_add_menu_cart_item_to_menus( $items, $args ) {

	// Make sure your change 'wpex_main' to your Menu location !!!!
	if ( $args->theme_location === 'wpex_main' ) {

		$css_class = 'menu-item menu-item-type-cart menu-item-type-woocommerce-cart';
		
		if ( is_cart() ) {
			$css_class .= ' current-menu-item';
		}

		$items .= '<li class="' . esc_attr( $css_class ) . '">';

			$items .= wpex_menu_cart_item();

		$items .= '</li>';

	}

	return $items;

}
add_filter( 'wp_nav_menu_items', 'wpex_add_menu_cart_item_to_menus', 10, 2 );

// Function returns the main menu cart link
function wpex_menu_cart_item() {

	$output = '';

	$cart_count = WC()->cart->cart_contents_count;

	$css_class = 'wpex-menu-cart-total wpex-cart-total-'. intval( $cart_count );

	if ( $cart_count ) {
		$url  = WC()->cart->get_cart_url();
	} else {
		$url  = wc_get_page_permalink( 'shop' );
	}

	$html = $cart_extra = WC()->cart->get_cart_total();
	$html = str_replace( 'amount', '', $html );

	$output .= '<a href="'. esc_url( $url ) .'" class="' . esc_attr( $css_class ) . '">';

		$output .= '<span class="fa fa-shopping-bag"></span>';

		$output .= wp_kses_post( $html );

	$output .= '</a>';

	return $output;
}


// Update cart link with AJAX
function wpex_main_menu_cart_link_fragments( $fragments ) {
	$fragments['.wpex-menu-cart-total'] = wpex_menu_cart_item();
	return $fragments;
}
add_filter( 'add_to_cart_fragments', 'wpex_main_menu_cart_link_fragments' );

Conclusion

WooCommerce will work with any theme by default but adding some extra support for the plugin so that it better fits your theme is very easy to do. I actually wrote this post while coding our New York WordPress Blog & Shop theme so most of these tweaks are included in our theme. Or if you’d rather you can purchase the theme to have a look at how everything was done (see the files at wpex-new-york/inc/woocommerce) – it may be an easier way for you to learn how to properly add custom support for the WooCommerce plugin by looking at an already coded theme.

Are there any other snippets you think belong on this list or you would find helpful when developing new WooCommerce-ready themes?



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Medium

13+ Ways You’re Losing Money without Jetpack for WordPress


Jetpack is one of the most popular plugins in WordPress with over 1 million active installations. It’s an entire family of products (and services) ranging from social logins to free CDNs. Its designed to optimize your WordPress website in every possible way – at absolutely zero cost.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the many time (and money) saving features Jetpack has to offer. We’ve also shared the possible paid and free alternatives for each feature. This will give you an idea of the great deal of benefits you could enjoy with Jetpack.

1. You’re not using the free Content Delivery Network (CDN) from Jetpack

Jetpack’s Photon module takes all the images from your site and stores it in WordPress.com’s global content distribution network. This network is  is distributed at multiple locations across the globe and optimized for high availability, redundancy. With a CDN installed, when a visitor lands in your site, the images are served from a server that is closest to the visitor’s physical location. This has multiple benefits:

  • Images are optimized to reduce size, while preserving quality.
  • Images are served quickly – thanks to WordPress’ distributed network – contributing to a speedy website.
  • Websites that load fast tend to convert better. Better conversions equal greater revenue.
  • Off-loading your images to Jetpack’s Photon module saves your server’s bandwidth and computing resources. You save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Photon saves your visitor’s bandwidth by serving them lossless compressed images using Google’s famous WebP image format. However, a handful of browsers support this format.

Use Photon as an online image editing service

Sometimes we need to perform simple tasks such as resizing an image, complex ones such as adding filters, adjusting the contrast of removing black bars from an image. The Photon Developer API allows developers to take advantage of WordPress cloud infrastructure and perform all sorts of tricks on their images.

For example, the following call to the API reduces the quality of the original JPG image to 75% strips all its metadata. This resulted in a 81% drop in the size, while maintaining almost lossless image compression.

Optimized Image by the Photon API (448 KB)

http://i0.wp.com/ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg?&quality=75&strip=all

Original Image (2.61 MB)

http://ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg

A single API call to the Photon API reduced the image size by 83%

All of this is done on-the-fly by a single call to the API. Your server resources remain untouched!

2. You’re Not Scheduling Posts to your Social Networks with the Automatic Publishing Module

Different social networks react differently to the same post copy – therefore headlines must be optimized for each. The copy you write for your Facebook page shouldn’t be the same for your Twitter or Pinterest page.

The Automatic Publishing feature enables users to automatically post content to their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages, after connecting the respective accounts. Users can configure images for Facebook and Twitter and schedule posting on the social networks once the post is published on the site.

You can either purchase expensive social post scheduling tools, or you can simply use Jetpack’s Publicize module. Your call!

3. You’re not using Related Posts

Related Posts are one of the largest contributors to reducing a website’s bounce rate. As soon as a visitor scrolls to the bottom of the article, they are shown related posts that fall under the same category, tag or custom post type.

Displaying related posts at the end of every article can increase your visitor’s “time on site” and enhance user engagement, which would ultimately drives conversions. Think about it – the more time visitors spend on your site, the better your brand is positioned in their mind. As a result, at the time when they need a product or service you offer – you have the competitive advantage of top-of-mind presence.

Jetpack’s Related Posts module displays the related posts after every article. Here’s the interesting part – unlike many other related post plugins, Jetpack does all the analysis, processing, and serving of related posts using their cloud infrastructure, so that there is no additional load on your server. This makes it a tremendous asset to reducing server load and improving our site’s performance – while simultaneously displaying related posts!

4. You’re not using Jetpack’s Security Features

Jetpack’s Protect module offers a ton of security features that are essential for any website. Premium security plugins such as Securi and iThemes Security cost over $100 a year. However, if you’re starting out and need a good security plugin that gets the job done, Jetpack is your answer. Here’s why:

  • For starters, it provides free protection against bruteforce attacks.
  • Next up, you can use secure authentication via WordPress.com to allow only those people to login who have a valid WordPress.com account.
  • You can also enable two-factor authentication to really tighten up security.
  • Finally, the IP Whitelisting feature enables you to allow only a set of IPs to access the admin dashboard. This makes it an excellent preventive measure against malicious login attempts.

Under additional benefits, the Jetpack Protect module automatically updates the installed themes and plugins in your WordPress site. You end up saving a lot of time, while enjoying peace of mind.

5. You’re not using the Site Monitoring feature

Downtimes are bad. Not only does it result in a decline in your conversions, and it also negatively impacts your search engine rankings. For example, consider the case when Google sends a visitor to your site. Only problem – the visitor finds that the page doesn’t load. The visitor returns to the search page and clicks on the next search result. That’s a yellow flag – your SEO scores are diminished a bit.

Jetpack’s Downtime Monitoring feature alerts you when your site goes down – over email and over SMS.  It also emails you when your site is back up and the total downtime duration. This service checks your site every five minutes from different corners of the globe, ensuring that no matter where your visitors come from – they see a working website.

6. You Could Leverage Post via Email – But You’re Not

Being present at the right place at the right time is a key factor to our success. The same principles apply to the success of your blog. Being the first one to cover a developing story in your blog’s domain can result in a new stream of visitors from social media.

That’s when the Post via Email feature comes in handy. Simply write the post in an email and send it over to the specified email address. The post will be published in your site. You can attach images and galleries in your email, and they’ll be posted as well. You can also specify tags and categories or specify a delay. What’s more, if you have the Automatic Publishing module enabled, the post will be posted to your social networks as well! Talk about chain reactions.

7. Did you enable the Subscriptions module?

There’s an entire industry built around email marketing software. While most of them are paid, some are free but come with limitations. At the very least, even the best of email marketing services require you to sign up for an account, which can be a bit of a task.

Jetpack’s Subscription module follows no-brainer technique wherein you simply need to add a widget asking your visitors to signup for new posts or “Subscribe for Updates” from you blog.

With the module activated, whenever you publish a new post, all your subscribers get an email with your latest post. However on the downside, you cannot have advanced tracking embedded in these emails.

8. You’re not leveraging “Social Proof”

One of the ways to get visitors to stick around your blog is to establish “social proof’. We are psychologically attuned to follow what everyone is doing. Imaging you’re on your way to work, just like every other day. You’re about to enter the subway when suddenly everyone starts running out of the station. Would you still go in?

Something similar happens when we see those symbols such as “Plugin downloaded over 100,000 times” or “Currently running on 75,000 active WordPress sites” or even “5 years of experience distilled into product”. A sort of unnamed assurance dawns on us.

The Extra Sidebar Widgets from Jetpack help you display similar “milestone-like” information on your site. You can feature your blog’s stats and contributors who may be well-known in the industry. You can also display additional information such as your Twitter feed, contact info, featured posts, etc.

A combination of these widgets will not only help establish social proof, but also contribute to user engagement. How’s that, you ask?

Remember how we talked about displaying related posts at the end of every post can influence the user to stick around for longer? A similar logic follows when you display “featured posts” or “exclusive deals” in your sidebars and/footers.

9. You could save time with the Site Verification module

When it comes to SEO, registering your website in the Google Search Console or the Bing Webmaster Center are of utmost importance. However, the process of verifying the domain ownership is time-consuming and requires HTML files to be uploaded to the root directory.

You could avoid all that and use Jetpack’ Site Verification module. Simply copy-paste the verification codes from Google/Bing console and paste it in the module’s settings. You site will be instantly validated.

The Site Verification module also supports Pinterest, which when activated will add your Pinterest profile picture to any pin that originates from your site.

10. Jetpack Comments take the hassle out of social commenting

The Comments module gives your visitors the option to login with their social profiles before leaving a comment on your site. This means if someone is logged into their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or WordPress.com account, they can use any one of those accounts to leave a comment.

All comments appear in a singular, streamlined thread. Here’s how that’s beneficial:

We relate better to comments when it’s associated with a real name and photo. With social comments feature activated, you encourage people to use their social profiles when commenting.

As a result, not only does this feature add social strength to your posts, it also makes commenting super easy. With a single click, all the info (name, photo, website URL, etc.) is extracted from my preferred social profile and filled in the WordPress comments section.

11. You losing out on potential leads by not using the Comments module

You might be wondering how this is possible. Let’s carefully examine the following image:

On the bottom left corner, you see two options:

Notify me of follow-up comments via email

When enabled, all follow-up comments in this post will be sent to that particular visitor. Follow-up comments encourages people to participate in the conversation. When you actively engage with your blog’s commenters, you build an active community – one comment at a time! Now for the interesting part.

Notify me of new posts via email

When a visitor checks this option, he/she is essentially subscribing to your blog’s updated. In other words – you just gained a lead! In my opinion this is a real gem of a feature and works beautifully when you have an active community.

12. You’re wasting too much time trying to configure Google Analytics

Google Analytics a tool that used by seasoned veterans and novices alike. Everybody’s head about it, everybody wants to use it – but only a few seem to understand it. Configuring Google Analytics to even half its potential requires serious know-how.

Maybe you don’t want to focus on that right now. If you’re like me, you could simply enable Jetpack’s Site Stats feature. It requires absolutely zero-configuration and works right out of the box.

The Site Stats module takes a few hours to gather the data. Once ready, it gives you clear and concise numbers about overall traffic by different time periods as well as for individual posts and pages. It also gives you key insights about most popular times, geographic locations, and search terms. What more do you need? 😉

13. You’re (probably) not managing multiple sites with Jetpack

Did you know that Jetpack provides a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com, using which you can manage all your WordPress websites? Yes, it’s true. All you need to do is install the Jetpack plugin in all your sites, login with the same WordPress.com account and sit back.

Jetpack will collate data from all your WordPress installations and display them in a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com. You can update themes, plugins and core versions of WordPress from the dashboard. You can also publish posts and make changes to the menus for different sites from the same dashboard.

For people who need a free solution to manage multiple website, Jetpack’s centralized management dashboard is a lifesaver.

14. Bonus Tip: WordAds (Premium)

Jetpack recently launched WordAds – a blog monetization platform that helps you to make money from your blog. WordAds displays relevant, high-quality ads to your site’s visitors. These ads are displayed from approved advertisers which are a part of the WordPress.com advertiser program.

Snapshot of sample earnings from the Jetpack Ads program

However, this is a premium feature and comes only with the Jetpack Pro plan starting at $9/month or $99/year. Let’s discuss a couple of other premium-only Jetpack modules that are included in the Pro plan.

Premium Features from Jetpack

Let us quickly review the premium features Jetpack offers us. The following features are available in the Personal Plan at $3.5/month (or $39/year).

  • Daily automated backups, 1-click restore and 30-day archive
  • Advanced spam filtering
  • Priority support

In addition to the above features, the Premium Plan retails at $9/mo and has the following features:

  • Daily malware scans
  • Jetpack Ads, aka WordAds program
  • Video hosting with 13GB of storage

A complete list of features along with a comparison table is available in Jetpack’s detailed pricing page.

Conclusion

Jetpack has come a long way from a simply utility plugin with a handful of features – to a fully integrated service platform. With a host of free services and a range of premium features, Jetpack offers the most comprehensive tool set packed in a single plugin. Its designed for beginners and seasoned veterans alike.

After reading this article, you are aware of Jetpack’s most flattering features. However, that doesn’t mean you activate all of them at one go. Analyze your current requirements and understand how Jetpack’s modules can help you achieve them.  Here’s a quick list of the features I think can be activated for most websites:

  1. Free CDN
  2. Related posts (only when you have organized your content with proper tags and categories, and have sufficient content under each category)
  3. Site monitoring
  4. Security features from the Protect module
  5. Comments module
  6. Site stats

Jetpack’s dozens of useful features infused with simplicity and the power of WordPress.com’s cloud makes it a powerful weapon in any marketer’s arsenal. Give it a spin today. Also, did we miss your favourite Jetpack feature? Let us know in the comments below!



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How to Create a Promotional eBook for Your WordPress Website (in 4 Steps)


Maybe you’ve toyed around with the idea of writing an e-book for a while, but you haven’t gotten around to it yet. After all, creating an e-book is too hard and time-consuming, right?

While putting together a promotional e-book is no walk in the park, you can do it if you put your mind to it. Furthermore, publishing an e-book comes with many benefits, such as enabling you to promote your website and establish yourself as an authority in your field.

In this article, we’ve put together a four-step process to help you create your first promotional e-book, covering everything from planning to publishing. Let’s dive right in!

Step #1: Pick the Right Tools

The first step to the e-book writing process is finding the right tools. Writing an e-book is a lot different than a regular blog post from a formatting standpoint, so you’ll need to find tools that can help you tackle that aspect, as well as some others. With that in mind, we put together a brief list of our favorite writing tools, separated into four categories for your benefit.

1. Writing and Editing

  • Microsoft Word. You’re probably already familiar with this one. It’s one of the best tools for brainstorming and writing any type of content. Furthermore, it enables you to set up complex macros to handle repetitive tasks, which can be a significant timesaver.
  • Google Docs. On paper, Google Docs is very similar to Microsoft Word, except for its superior collaboration features. If you’re working with an editor and you need to stay on top of changes and revisions, this tool should be right up your alley.

2. Formatting and Conversion

  • PublishXpress. PublishXpress offers seamless conversions to the .epub and .mobi formats. All you need to do is upload your source file, choose a cover, and click on the Convert button.
  • Anthologize. Anthologize is a WordPress plugin that converts WordPress posts into PDFs with just a few clicks.

3. All-in-One Tools

  • Pressbooks. This powerful WordPress plugin enables you to plan, write, edit, format, and publish e-books right from your dashboard.
  • Calibre. This desktop app offers a full suite of features to write, format, publish, and even convert e-books between multiple file types.

4. WordPress Tools

  • PDF & Print by BestWebSoft. What to offer premium or free content on your website as a pdf? This free plugin add PDF and Print buttons to your posts so your readers can easily download or print your content for later reading.
  • Simple PDF Exporter. Need to export all or your posts, or all of a custom post type? This free plugin bulk exports your posts to a single PDF file making the process quick and easy.

Step #2: Start Writing Your Promotional E-Book

Once you’ve found the right tools, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start writing. This phase can be lengthy, and it can get frustrating, so it’s important that you stick to a process that works for you. With that in mind, here’s how we handle long writing tasks:

  1. Choose a topic. This is a personal decision, but for the best results, you should pick a subject that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about.
  2. Research. Investigate your topic and start thinking about what information is going to make it into your e-book.
  3. Put together an outline. Once you’ve researched your ideas thoroughly, create an outline for your project. There are no hard and fast rules for doing so, but you can always look for a template to get you started.
  4. Write your first draft. Sit down and start typing – depending on your personal taste, this step may include generous amounts of coffee. You might want to avoid editing at this stage, since it can slow you down.
  5. Edit and polish your draft. Ideally, you should take a small break between completing your first draft and editing it. Check for ideas that you might have missed, word repetition, issues with flow, and, of course, grammar mistakes and typos.
  6. Proofread. This step is best handled by a fresh pair of eyes, so you should think about outsourcing it to an editor. A good editor should catch anything that you missed during the previous step.
  7. Publish your e-book. We’ll talk more about how to publish your e-book further on, so keep reading!

When it comes to writing long-format content such as an e-book, it pays to be as structured as possible, and breaking down the process into several steps will make the endeavor much less stressful than tackling it without it a plan.

Step #3: Format Your E-Book

A screenshot of an e-book cover.

An example of an attractive e-book cover.

Once you’ve finished writing your e-book, it’s time to work on its layout and formatting, and then convert the document to your desired file type. Getting the formatting for your e-book right is critical so that it renders correctly across all kinds of displays, especially those in small form factors.

When you’re satisfied with your e-book’s layout and format, we need to convert it to a suitable file type to minimize compatibility errors. These are the most popular e-book file formats at the moment:

  • PDF: This file type is extremely common thanks to its wide range of compatibility.
  • Mobi: The Mobipocket (or mobi) format is ideal if you need to render complex content with ease and flexibility.
  • ePub: This popular e-book format offers a solid experience and is supported by most reading software.

Out of those three, PDF is by far the most popular format thanks to its mainstream support. However, these days most people are likely to have access to reading software that supports a wide range of file types, so you needn’t choose PDF by default if compatibility is your main concern.

Step #4: Upload and Publish Your E-book

After all your hard work, all that’s left is to publish your e-book and wait for the glowing reviews to start pouring in. There are two main options when it comes to publishing, so let’s check out the benefits of each to help you make a decision.

Self Publish Your Book

Your first option is to self-publish your book. That means you won’t need to go through a distributing agent, and it’s as simple as uploading the e-book to your WordPress website and hitting the Publish button. Self-publishing can be the best route if you’re working with a limited budget, or you don’t want to share your profits with an online distributor. Furthermore, it enables you to retain control over the entire process, which can save you a lot of headaches.

Using the Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) plugin, you can handle the entire process right from your WordPress dashboard. In fact. we even have an entire Easy Digital Downloads guide to walk you through the process of setting up your online store for the first time.

The Easy Digital Downloads plugin.

If you want to offer your e-book for free, the Free Downloads add-on for EDD enables you to do so without forcing buyers to go through the regular checkout process. Instead, all they have to do is supply their email in exchange for your e-book.

Contact A Distributor

The second option when it comes to publishing is to use an e-book distributor. With a distributor, you simply upload your e-book, set a price, and sit back while they do all the hard work for you (in exchange for a fee, of course). Some of our favorite distribution services include SmashwordsDraft2Digital, and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

If you don’t have the time to handle all the minutia of publishing your e-book, the right distribution service can take a huge load off your shoulders. However, do keep in mind that most services come with guidelines of their own, and you’ll need to deal with them to update your e-book and receive payments. If you don’t mind those small drawbacks, then by all means, consider the option.

Conclusion

Publishing an e-book can be a frustrating endeavor if you don’t know where to start. However, tackling the project with a solid plan in mind should help you finish faster and save you a lot of headaches.

Here are the four main steps to getting your first promotional e-book written and published:

  1. Find the right tools for the job.
  2. Sit down and write.
  3. Format your e-book.
  4. Publish your e-book on your website or by using a distribution service.

How do you tackle complex writing projects like promotional e-books? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!



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13+ Ways You’re Losing Money without Jetpack for WordPress


Jetpack is one of the most popular plugins in WordPress with over 1 million active installations. It’s an entire family of products (and services) ranging from social logins to free CDNs. Its designed to optimize your WordPress website in every possible way – at absolutely zero cost.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the many time (and money) saving features Jetpack has to offer. We’ve also shared the possible paid and free alternatives for each feature. This will give you an idea of the great deal of benefits you could enjoy with Jetpack.

1. You’re not using the free Content Delivery Network (CDN) from Jetpack

Jetpack’s Photon module takes all the images from your site and stores it in WordPress.com’s global content distribution network. This network is  is distributed at multiple locations across the globe and optimized for high availability, redundancy. With a CDN installed, when a visitor lands in your site, the images are served from a server that is closest to the visitor’s physical location. This has multiple benefits:

  • Images are optimized to reduce size, while preserving quality.
  • Images are served quickly – thanks to WordPress’ distributed network – contributing to a speedy website.
  • Websites that load fast tend to convert better. Better conversions equal greater revenue.
  • Off-loading your images to Jetpack’s Photon module saves your server’s bandwidth and computing resources. You save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Photon saves your visitor’s bandwidth by serving them lossless compressed images using Google’s famous WebP image format. However, a handful of browsers support this format.

Use Photon as an online image editing service

Sometimes we need to perform simple tasks such as resizing an image, complex ones such as adding filters, adjusting the contrast of removing black bars from an image. The Photon Developer API allows developers to take advantage of WordPress cloud infrastructure and perform all sorts of tricks on their images.

For example, the following call to the API reduces the quality of the original JPG image to 75% strips all its metadata. This resulted in a 81% drop in the size, while maintaining almost lossless image compression.

Optimized Image by the Photon API (448 KB)

http://i0.wp.com/ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg?&quality=75&strip=all

Original Image (2.61 MB)

http://ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg

A single API call to the Photon API reduced the image size by 83%

All of this is done on-the-fly by a single call to the API. Your server resources remain untouched!

2. You’re Not Scheduling Posts to your Social Networks with the Automatic Publishing Module

Different social networks react differently to the same post copy – therefore headlines must be optimized for each. The copy you write for your Facebook page shouldn’t be the same for your Twitter or Pinterest page.

The Automatic Publishing feature enables users to automatically post content to their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages, after connecting the respective accounts. Users can configure images for Facebook and Twitter and schedule posting on the social networks once the post is published on the site.

You can either purchase expensive social post scheduling tools, or you can simply use Jetpack’s Publicize module. Your call!

3. You’re not using Related Posts

Related Posts are one of the largest contributors to reducing a website’s bounce rate. As soon as a visitor scrolls to the bottom of the article, they are shown related posts that fall under the same category, tag or custom post type.

Displaying related posts at the end of every article can increase your visitor’s “time on site” and enhance user engagement, which would ultimately drives conversions. Think about it – the more time visitors spend on your site, the better your brand is positioned in their mind. As a result, at the time when they need a product or service you offer – you have the competitive advantage of top-of-mind presence.

Jetpack’s Related Posts module displays the related posts after every article. Here’s the interesting part – unlike many other related post plugins, Jetpack does all the analysis, processing, and serving of related posts using their cloud infrastructure, so that there is no additional load on your server. This makes it a tremendous asset to reducing server load and improving our site’s performance – while simultaneously displaying related posts!

4. You’re not using Jetpack’s Security Features

Jetpack’s Protect module offers a ton of security features that are essential for any website. Premium security plugins such as Securi and iThemes Security cost over $100 a year. However, if you’re starting out and need a good security plugin that gets the job done, Jetpack is your answer. Here’s why:

  • For starters, it provides free protection against bruteforce attacks.
  • Next up, you can use secure authentication via WordPress.com to allow only those people to login who have a valid WordPress.com account.
  • You can also enable two-factor authentication to really tighten up security.
  • Finally, the IP Whitelisting feature enables you to allow only a set of IPs to access the admin dashboard. This makes it an excellent preventive measure against malicious login attempts.

Under additional benefits, the Jetpack Protect module automatically updates the installed themes and plugins in your WordPress site. You end up saving a lot of time, while enjoying peace of mind.

5. You’re not using the Site Monitoring feature

Downtimes are bad. Not only does it result in a decline in your conversions, and it also negatively impacts your search engine rankings. For example, consider the case when Google sends a visitor to your site. Only problem – the visitor finds that the page doesn’t load. The visitor returns to the search page and clicks on the next search result. That’s a yellow flag – your SEO scores are diminished a bit.

Jetpack’s Downtime Monitoring feature alerts you when your site goes down – over email and over SMS.  It also emails you when your site is back up and the total downtime duration. This service checks your site every five minutes from different corners of the globe, ensuring that no matter where your visitors come from – they see a working website.

6. You Could Leverage Post via Email – But You’re Not

Being present at the right place at the right time is a key factor to our success. The same principles apply to the success of your blog. Being the first one to cover a developing story in your blog’s domain can result in a new stream of visitors from social media.

That’s when the Post via Email feature comes in handy. Simply write the post in an email and send it over to the specified email address. The post will be published in your site. You can attach images and galleries in your email, and they’ll be posted as well. You can also specify tags and categories or specify a delay. What’s more, if you have the Automatic Publishing module enabled, the post will be posted to your social networks as well! Talk about chain reactions.

7. Did you enable the Subscriptions module?

There’s an entire industry built around email marketing software. While most of them are paid, some are free but come with limitations. At the very least, even the best of email marketing services require you to sign up for an account, which can be a bit of a task.

Jetpack’s Subscription module follows no-brainer technique wherein you simply need to add a widget asking your visitors to signup for new posts or “Subscribe for Updates” from you blog.

With the module activated, whenever you publish a new post, all your subscribers get an email with your latest post. However on the downside, you cannot have advanced tracking embedded in these emails.

8. You’re not leveraging “Social Proof”

One of the ways to get visitors to stick around your blog is to establish “social proof’. We are psychologically attuned to follow what everyone is doing. Imaging you’re on your way to work, just like every other day. You’re about to enter the subway when suddenly everyone starts running out of the station. Would you still go in?

Something similar happens when we see those symbols such as “Plugin downloaded over 100,000 times” or “Currently running on 75,000 active WordPress sites” or even “5 years of experience distilled into product”. A sort of unnamed assurance dawns on us.

The Extra Sidebar Widgets from Jetpack help you display similar “milestone-like” information on your site. You can feature your blog’s stats and contributors who may be well-known in the industry. You can also display additional information such as your Twitter feed, contact info, featured posts, etc.

A combination of these widgets will not only help establish social proof, but also contribute to user engagement. How’s that, you ask?

Remember how we talked about displaying related posts at the end of every post can influence the user to stick around for longer? A similar logic follows when you display “featured posts” or “exclusive deals” in your sidebars and/footers.

9. You could save time with the Site Verification module

When it comes to SEO, registering your website in the Google Search Console or the Bing Webmaster Center are of utmost importance. However, the process of verifying the domain ownership is time-consuming and requires HTML files to be uploaded to the root directory.

You could avoid all that and use Jetpack’ Site Verification module. Simply copy-paste the verification codes from Google/Bing console and paste it in the module’s settings. You site will be instantly validated.

The Site Verification module also supports Pinterest, which when activated will add your Pinterest profile picture to any pin that originates from your site.

10. Jetpack Comments take the hassle out of social commenting

The Comments module gives your visitors the option to login with their social profiles before leaving a comment on your site. This means if someone is logged into their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or WordPress.com account, they can use any one of those accounts to leave a comment.

All comments appear in a singular, streamlined thread. Here’s how that’s beneficial:

We relate better to comments when it’s associated with a real name and photo. With social comments feature activated, you encourage people to use their social profiles when commenting.

As a result, not only does this feature add social strength to your posts, it also makes commenting super easy. With a single click, all the info (name, photo, website URL, etc.) is extracted from my preferred social profile and filled in the WordPress comments section.

11. You losing out on potential leads by not using the Comments module

You might be wondering how this is possible. Let’s carefully examine the following image:

On the bottom left corner, you see two options:

Notify me of follow-up comments via email

When enabled, all follow-up comments in this post will be sent to that particular visitor. Follow-up comments encourages people to participate in the conversation. When you actively engage with your blog’s commenters, you build an active community – one comment at a time! Now for the interesting part.

Notify me of new posts via email

When a visitor checks this option, he/she is essentially subscribing to your blog’s updated. In other words – you just gained a lead! In my opinion this is a real gem of a feature and works beautifully when you have an active community.

12. You’re wasting too much time trying to configure Google Analytics

Google Analytics a tool that used by seasoned veterans and novices alike. Everybody’s head about it, everybody wants to use it – but only a few seem to understand it. Configuring Google Analytics to even half its potential requires serious know-how.

Maybe you don’t want to focus on that right now. If you’re like me, you could simply enable Jetpack’s Site Stats feature. It requires absolutely zero-configuration and works right out of the box.

The Site Stats module takes a few hours to gather the data. Once ready, it gives you clear and concise numbers about overall traffic by different time periods as well as for individual posts and pages. It also gives you key insights about most popular times, geographic locations, and search terms. What more do you need? 😉

13. You’re (probably) not managing multiple sites with Jetpack

Did you know that Jetpack provides a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com, using which you can manage all your WordPress websites? Yes, it’s true. All you need to do is install the Jetpack plugin in all your sites, login with the same WordPress.com account and sit back.

Jetpack will collate data from all your WordPress installations and display them in a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com. You can update themes, plugins and core versions of WordPress from the dashboard. You can also publish posts and make changes to the menus for different sites from the same dashboard.

For people who need a free solution to manage multiple website, Jetpack’s centralized management dashboard is a lifesaver.

14. Bonus Tip: WordAds (Premium)

Jetpack recently launched WordAds – a blog monetization platform that helps you to make money from your blog. WordAds displays relevant, high-quality ads to your site’s visitors. These ads are displayed from approved advertisers which are a part of the WordPress.com advertiser program.

Snapshot of sample earnings from the Jetpack Ads program

However, this is a premium feature and comes only with the Jetpack Pro plan starting at $9/month or $99/year. Let’s discuss a couple of other premium-only Jetpack modules that are included in the Pro plan.

Premium Features from Jetpack

Let us quickly review the premium features Jetpack offers us. The following features are available in the Personal Plan at $3.5/month (or $39/year).

  • Daily automated backups, 1-click restore and 30-day archive
  • Advanced spam filtering
  • Priority support

In addition to the above features, the Premium Plan retails at $9/mo and has the following features:

  • Daily malware scans
  • Jetpack Ads, aka WordAds program
  • Video hosting with 13GB of storage

A complete list of features along with a comparison table is available in Jetpack’s detailed pricing page.

Conclusion

Jetpack has come a long way from a simply utility plugin with a handful of features – to a fully integrated service platform. With a host of free services and a range of premium features, Jetpack offers the most comprehensive tool set packed in a single plugin. Its designed for beginners and seasoned veterans alike.

After reading this article, you are aware of Jetpack’s most flattering features. However, that doesn’t mean you activate all of them at one go. Analyze your current requirements and understand how Jetpack’s modules can help you achieve them.  Here’s a quick list of the features I think can be activated for most websites:

  1. Free CDN
  2. Related posts (only when you have organized your content with proper tags and categories, and have sufficient content under each category)
  3. Site monitoring
  4. Security features from the Protect module
  5. Comments module
  6. Site stats

Jetpack’s dozens of useful features infused with simplicity and the power of WordPress.com’s cloud makes it a powerful weapon in any marketer’s arsenal. Give it a spin today. Also, did we miss your favourite Jetpack feature? Let us know in the comments below!



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How to Create a Promotional eBook for Your WordPress Website (in 4 Steps)


Maybe you’ve toyed around with the idea of writing an e-book for a while, but you haven’t gotten around to it yet. After all, creating an e-book is too hard and time-consuming, right?

While putting together a promotional e-book is no walk in the park, you can do it if you put your mind to it. Furthermore, publishing an e-book comes with many benefits, such as enabling you to promote your website and establish yourself as an authority in your field.

In this article, we’ve put together a four-step process to help you create your first promotional e-book, covering everything from planning to publishing. Let’s dive right in!

Step #1: Pick the Right Tools

The first step to the e-book writing process is finding the right tools. Writing an e-book is a lot different than a regular blog post from a formatting standpoint, so you’ll need to find tools that can help you tackle that aspect, as well as some others. With that in mind, we put together a brief list of our favorite writing tools, separated into four categories for your benefit.

1. Writing and Editing

  • Microsoft Word. You’re probably already familiar with this one. It’s one of the best tools for brainstorming and writing any type of content. Furthermore, it enables you to set up complex macros to handle repetitive tasks, which can be a significant timesaver.
  • Google Docs. On paper, Google Docs is very similar to Microsoft Word, except for its superior collaboration features. If you’re working with an editor and you need to stay on top of changes and revisions, this tool should be right up your alley.

2. Formatting and Conversion

  • PublishXpress. PublishXpress offers seamless conversions to the .epub and .mobi formats. All you need to do is upload your source file, choose a cover, and click on the Convert button.
  • Anthologize. Anthologize is a WordPress plugin that converts WordPress posts into PDFs with just a few clicks.

3. All-in-One Tools

  • Pressbooks. This powerful WordPress plugin enables you to plan, write, edit, format, and publish e-books right from your dashboard.
  • Calibre. This desktop app offers a full suite of features to write, format, publish, and even convert e-books between multiple file types.

4. WordPress Tools

  • PDF & Print by BestWebSoft. What to offer premium or free content on your website as a pdf? This free plugin add PDF and Print buttons to your posts so your readers can easily download or print your content for later reading.
  • Simple PDF Exporter. Need to export all or your posts, or all of a custom post type? This free plugin bulk exports your posts to a single PDF file making the process quick and easy.

Step #2: Start Writing Your Promotional E-Book

Once you’ve found the right tools, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start writing. This phase can be lengthy, and it can get frustrating, so it’s important that you stick to a process that works for you. With that in mind, here’s how we handle long writing tasks:

  1. Choose a topic. This is a personal decision, but for the best results, you should pick a subject that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about.
  2. Research. Investigate your topic and start thinking about what information is going to make it into your e-book.
  3. Put together an outline. Once you’ve researched your ideas thoroughly, create an outline for your project. There are no hard and fast rules for doing so, but you can always look for a template to get you started.
  4. Write your first draft. Sit down and start typing – depending on your personal taste, this step may include generous amounts of coffee. You might want to avoid editing at this stage, since it can slow you down.
  5. Edit and polish your draft. Ideally, you should take a small break between completing your first draft and editing it. Check for ideas that you might have missed, word repetition, issues with flow, and, of course, grammar mistakes and typos.
  6. Proofread. This step is best handled by a fresh pair of eyes, so you should think about outsourcing it to an editor. A good editor should catch anything that you missed during the previous step.
  7. Publish your e-book. We’ll talk more about how to publish your e-book further on, so keep reading!

When it comes to writing long-format content such as an e-book, it pays to be as structured as possible, and breaking down the process into several steps will make the endeavor much less stressful than tackling it without it a plan.

Step #3: Format Your E-Book

A screenshot of an e-book cover.

An example of an attractive e-book cover.

Once you’ve finished writing your e-book, it’s time to work on its layout and formatting, and then convert the document to your desired file type. Getting the formatting for your e-book right is critical so that it renders correctly across all kinds of displays, especially those in small form factors.

When you’re satisfied with your e-book’s layout and format, we need to convert it to a suitable file type to minimize compatibility errors. These are the most popular e-book file formats at the moment:

  • PDF: This file type is extremely common thanks to its wide range of compatibility.
  • Mobi: The Mobipocket (or mobi) format is ideal if you need to render complex content with ease and flexibility.
  • ePub: This popular e-book format offers a solid experience and is supported by most reading software.

Out of those three, PDF is by far the most popular format thanks to its mainstream support. However, these days most people are likely to have access to reading software that supports a wide range of file types, so you needn’t choose PDF by default if compatibility is your main concern.

Step #4: Upload and Publish Your E-book

After all your hard work, all that’s left is to publish your e-book and wait for the glowing reviews to start pouring in. There are two main options when it comes to publishing, so let’s check out the benefits of each to help you make a decision.

Self Publish Your Book

Your first option is to self-publish your book. That means you won’t need to go through a distributing agent, and it’s as simple as uploading the e-book to your WordPress website and hitting the Publish button. Self-publishing can be the best route if you’re working with a limited budget, or you don’t want to share your profits with an online distributor. Furthermore, it enables you to retain control over the entire process, which can save you a lot of headaches.

Using the Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) plugin, you can handle the entire process right from your WordPress dashboard. In fact. we even have an entire Easy Digital Downloads guide to walk you through the process of setting up your online store for the first time.

The Easy Digital Downloads plugin.

If you want to offer your e-book for free, the Free Downloads add-on for EDD enables you to do so without forcing buyers to go through the regular checkout process. Instead, all they have to do is supply their email in exchange for your e-book.

Contact A Distributor

The second option when it comes to publishing is to use an e-book distributor. With a distributor, you simply upload your e-book, set a price, and sit back while they do all the hard work for you (in exchange for a fee, of course). Some of our favorite distribution services include SmashwordsDraft2Digital, and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

If you don’t have the time to handle all the minutia of publishing your e-book, the right distribution service can take a huge load off your shoulders. However, do keep in mind that most services come with guidelines of their own, and you’ll need to deal with them to update your e-book and receive payments. If you don’t mind those small drawbacks, then by all means, consider the option.

Conclusion

Publishing an e-book can be a frustrating endeavor if you don’t know where to start. However, tackling the project with a solid plan in mind should help you finish faster and save you a lot of headaches.

Here are the four main steps to getting your first promotional e-book written and published:

  1. Find the right tools for the job.
  2. Sit down and write.
  3. Format your e-book.
  4. Publish your e-book on your website or by using a distribution service.

How do you tackle complex writing projects like promotional e-books? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!



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13+ Ways You’re Losing Money without Jetpack for WordPress


Jetpack is one of the most popular plugins in WordPress with over 1 million active installations. It’s an entire family of products (and services) ranging from social logins to free CDNs. Its designed to optimize your WordPress website in every possible way – at absolutely zero cost.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the many time (and money) saving features Jetpack has to offer. We’ve also shared the possible paid and free alternatives for each feature. This will give you an idea of the great deal of benefits you could enjoy with Jetpack.

1. You’re not using the free Content Delivery Network (CDN) from Jetpack

Jetpack’s Photon module takes all the images from your site and stores it in WordPress.com’s global content distribution network. This network is  is distributed at multiple locations across the globe and optimized for high availability, redundancy. With a CDN installed, when a visitor lands in your site, the images are served from a server that is closest to the visitor’s physical location. This has multiple benefits:

  • Images are optimized to reduce size, while preserving quality.
  • Images are served quickly – thanks to WordPress’ distributed network – contributing to a speedy website.
  • Websites that load fast tend to convert better. Better conversions equal greater revenue.
  • Off-loading your images to Jetpack’s Photon module saves your server’s bandwidth and computing resources. You save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Photon saves your visitor’s bandwidth by serving them lossless compressed images using Google’s famous WebP image format. However, a handful of browsers support this format.

Use Photon as an online image editing service

Sometimes we need to perform simple tasks such as resizing an image, complex ones such as adding filters, adjusting the contrast of removing black bars from an image. The Photon Developer API allows developers to take advantage of WordPress cloud infrastructure and perform all sorts of tricks on their images.

For example, the following call to the API reduces the quality of the original JPG image to 75% strips all its metadata. This resulted in a 81% drop in the size, while maintaining almost lossless image compression.

Optimized Image by the Photon API (448 KB)

http://i0.wp.com/ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg?&quality=75&strip=all

Original Image (2.61 MB)

http://ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg

A single API call to the Photon API reduced the image size by 83%

All of this is done on-the-fly by a single call to the API. Your server resources remain untouched!

2. You’re Not Scheduling Posts to your Social Networks with the Automatic Publishing Module

Different social networks react differently to the same post copy – therefore headlines must be optimized for each. The copy you write for your Facebook page shouldn’t be the same for your Twitter or Pinterest page.

The Automatic Publishing feature enables users to automatically post content to their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages, after connecting the respective accounts. Users can configure images for Facebook and Twitter and schedule posting on the social networks once the post is published on the site.

You can either purchase expensive social post scheduling tools, or you can simply use Jetpack’s Publicize module. Your call!

3. You’re not using Related Posts

Related Posts are one of the largest contributors to reducing a website’s bounce rate. As soon as a visitor scrolls to the bottom of the article, they are shown related posts that fall under the same category, tag or custom post type.

Displaying related posts at the end of every article can increase your visitor’s “time on site” and enhance user engagement, which would ultimately drives conversions. Think about it – the more time visitors spend on your site, the better your brand is positioned in their mind. As a result, at the time when they need a product or service you offer – you have the competitive advantage of top-of-mind presence.

Jetpack’s Related Posts module displays the related posts after every article. Here’s the interesting part – unlike many other related post plugins, Jetpack does all the analysis, processing, and serving of related posts using their cloud infrastructure, so that there is no additional load on your server. This makes it a tremendous asset to reducing server load and improving our site’s performance – while simultaneously displaying related posts!

4. You’re not using Jetpack’s Security Features

Jetpack’s Protect module offers a ton of security features that are essential for any website. Premium security plugins such as Securi and iThemes Security cost over $100 a year. However, if you’re starting out and need a good security plugin that gets the job done, Jetpack is your answer. Here’s why:

  • For starters, it provides free protection against bruteforce attacks.
  • Next up, you can use secure authentication via WordPress.com to allow only those people to login who have a valid WordPress.com account.
  • You can also enable two-factor authentication to really tighten up security.
  • Finally, the IP Whitelisting feature enables you to allow only a set of IPs to access the admin dashboard. This makes it an excellent preventive measure against malicious login attempts.

Under additional benefits, the Jetpack Protect module automatically updates the installed themes and plugins in your WordPress site. You end up saving a lot of time, while enjoying peace of mind.

5. You’re not using the Site Monitoring feature

Downtimes are bad. Not only does it result in a decline in your conversions, and it also negatively impacts your search engine rankings. For example, consider the case when Google sends a visitor to your site. Only problem – the visitor finds that the page doesn’t load. The visitor returns to the search page and clicks on the next search result. That’s a yellow flag – your SEO scores are diminished a bit.

Jetpack’s Downtime Monitoring feature alerts you when your site goes down – over email and over SMS.  It also emails you when your site is back up and the total downtime duration. This service checks your site every five minutes from different corners of the globe, ensuring that no matter where your visitors come from – they see a working website.

6. You Could Leverage Post via Email – But You’re Not

Being present at the right place at the right time is a key factor to our success. The same principles apply to the success of your blog. Being the first one to cover a developing story in your blog’s domain can result in a new stream of visitors from social media.

That’s when the Post via Email feature comes in handy. Simply write the post in an email and send it over to the specified email address. The post will be published in your site. You can attach images and galleries in your email, and they’ll be posted as well. You can also specify tags and categories or specify a delay. What’s more, if you have the Automatic Publishing module enabled, the post will be posted to your social networks as well! Talk about chain reactions.

7. Did you enable the Subscriptions module?

There’s an entire industry built around email marketing software. While most of them are paid, some are free but come with limitations. At the very least, even the best of email marketing services require you to sign up for an account, which can be a bit of a task.

Jetpack’s Subscription module follows no-brainer technique wherein you simply need to add a widget asking your visitors to signup for new posts or “Subscribe for Updates” from you blog.

With the module activated, whenever you publish a new post, all your subscribers get an email with your latest post. However on the downside, you cannot have advanced tracking embedded in these emails.

8. You’re not leveraging “Social Proof”

One of the ways to get visitors to stick around your blog is to establish “social proof’. We are psychologically attuned to follow what everyone is doing. Imaging you’re on your way to work, just like every other day. You’re about to enter the subway when suddenly everyone starts running out of the station. Would you still go in?

Something similar happens when we see those symbols such as “Plugin downloaded over 100,000 times” or “Currently running on 75,000 active WordPress sites” or even “5 years of experience distilled into product”. A sort of unnamed assurance dawns on us.

The Extra Sidebar Widgets from Jetpack help you display similar “milestone-like” information on your site. You can feature your blog’s stats and contributors who may be well-known in the industry. You can also display additional information such as your Twitter feed, contact info, featured posts, etc.

A combination of these widgets will not only help establish social proof, but also contribute to user engagement. How’s that, you ask?

Remember how we talked about displaying related posts at the end of every post can influence the user to stick around for longer? A similar logic follows when you display “featured posts” or “exclusive deals” in your sidebars and/footers.

9. You could save time with the Site Verification module

When it comes to SEO, registering your website in the Google Search Console or the Bing Webmaster Center are of utmost importance. However, the process of verifying the domain ownership is time-consuming and requires HTML files to be uploaded to the root directory.

You could avoid all that and use Jetpack’ Site Verification module. Simply copy-paste the verification codes from Google/Bing console and paste it in the module’s settings. You site will be instantly validated.

The Site Verification module also supports Pinterest, which when activated will add your Pinterest profile picture to any pin that originates from your site.

10. Jetpack Comments take the hassle out of social commenting

The Comments module gives your visitors the option to login with their social profiles before leaving a comment on your site. This means if someone is logged into their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or WordPress.com account, they can use any one of those accounts to leave a comment.

All comments appear in a singular, streamlined thread. Here’s how that’s beneficial:

We relate better to comments when it’s associated with a real name and photo. With social comments feature activated, you encourage people to use their social profiles when commenting.

As a result, not only does this feature add social strength to your posts, it also makes commenting super easy. With a single click, all the info (name, photo, website URL, etc.) is extracted from my preferred social profile and filled in the WordPress comments section.

11. You losing out on potential leads by not using the Comments module

You might be wondering how this is possible. Let’s carefully examine the following image:

On the bottom left corner, you see two options:

Notify me of follow-up comments via email

When enabled, all follow-up comments in this post will be sent to that particular visitor. Follow-up comments encourages people to participate in the conversation. When you actively engage with your blog’s commenters, you build an active community – one comment at a time! Now for the interesting part.

Notify me of new posts via email

When a visitor checks this option, he/she is essentially subscribing to your blog’s updated. In other words – you just gained a lead! In my opinion this is a real gem of a feature and works beautifully when you have an active community.

12. You’re wasting too much time trying to configure Google Analytics

Google Analytics a tool that used by seasoned veterans and novices alike. Everybody’s head about it, everybody wants to use it – but only a few seem to understand it. Configuring Google Analytics to even half its potential requires serious know-how.

Maybe you don’t want to focus on that right now. If you’re like me, you could simply enable Jetpack’s Site Stats feature. It requires absolutely zero-configuration and works right out of the box.

The Site Stats module takes a few hours to gather the data. Once ready, it gives you clear and concise numbers about overall traffic by different time periods as well as for individual posts and pages. It also gives you key insights about most popular times, geographic locations, and search terms. What more do you need? 😉

13. You’re (probably) not managing multiple sites with Jetpack

Did you know that Jetpack provides a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com, using which you can manage all your WordPress websites? Yes, it’s true. All you need to do is install the Jetpack plugin in all your sites, login with the same WordPress.com account and sit back.

Jetpack will collate data from all your WordPress installations and display them in a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com. You can update themes, plugins and core versions of WordPress from the dashboard. You can also publish posts and make changes to the menus for different sites from the same dashboard.

For people who need a free solution to manage multiple website, Jetpack’s centralized management dashboard is a lifesaver.

14. Bonus Tip: WordAds (Premium)

Jetpack recently launched WordAds – a blog monetization platform that helps you to make money from your blog. WordAds displays relevant, high-quality ads to your site’s visitors. These ads are displayed from approved advertisers which are a part of the WordPress.com advertiser program.

Snapshot of sample earnings from the Jetpack Ads program

However, this is a premium feature and comes only with the Jetpack Pro plan starting at $9/month or $99/year. Let’s discuss a couple of other premium-only Jetpack modules that are included in the Pro plan.

Premium Features from Jetpack

Let us quickly review the premium features Jetpack offers us. The following features are available in the Personal Plan at $3.5/month (or $39/year).

  • Daily automated backups, 1-click restore and 30-day archive
  • Advanced spam filtering
  • Priority support

In addition to the above features, the Premium Plan retails at $9/mo and has the following features:

  • Daily malware scans
  • Jetpack Ads, aka WordAds program
  • Video hosting with 13GB of storage

A complete list of features along with a comparison table is available in Jetpack’s detailed pricing page.

Conclusion

Jetpack has come a long way from a simply utility plugin with a handful of features – to a fully integrated service platform. With a host of free services and a range of premium features, Jetpack offers the most comprehensive tool set packed in a single plugin. Its designed for beginners and seasoned veterans alike.

After reading this article, you are aware of Jetpack’s most flattering features. However, that doesn’t mean you activate all of them at one go. Analyze your current requirements and understand how Jetpack’s modules can help you achieve them.  Here’s a quick list of the features I think can be activated for most websites:

  1. Free CDN
  2. Related posts (only when you have organized your content with proper tags and categories, and have sufficient content under each category)
  3. Site monitoring
  4. Security features from the Protect module
  5. Comments module
  6. Site stats

Jetpack’s dozens of useful features infused with simplicity and the power of WordPress.com’s cloud makes it a powerful weapon in any marketer’s arsenal. Give it a spin today. Also, did we miss your favourite Jetpack feature? Let us know in the comments below!



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How to Create a Promotional eBook for Your WordPress Website (in 4 Steps)


Maybe you’ve toyed around with the idea of writing an e-book for a while, but you haven’t gotten around to it yet. After all, creating an e-book is too hard and time-consuming, right?

While putting together a promotional e-book is no walk in the park, you can do it if you put your mind to it. Furthermore, publishing an e-book comes with many benefits, such as enabling you to promote your website and establish yourself as an authority in your field.

In this article, we’ve put together a four-step process to help you create your first promotional e-book, covering everything from planning to publishing. Let’s dive right in!

Step #1: Pick the Right Tools

The first step to the e-book writing process is finding the right tools. Writing an e-book is a lot different than a regular blog post from a formatting standpoint, so you’ll need to find tools that can help you tackle that aspect, as well as some others. With that in mind, we put together a brief list of our favorite writing tools, separated into four categories for your benefit.

1. Writing and Editing

  • Microsoft Word. You’re probably already familiar with this one. It’s one of the best tools for brainstorming and writing any type of content. Furthermore, it enables you to set up complex macros to handle repetitive tasks, which can be a significant timesaver.
  • Google Docs. On paper, Google Docs is very similar to Microsoft Word, except for its superior collaboration features. If you’re working with an editor and you need to stay on top of changes and revisions, this tool should be right up your alley.

2. Formatting and Conversion

  • PublishXpress. PublishXpress offers seamless conversions to the .epub and .mobi formats. All you need to do is upload your source file, choose a cover, and click on the Convert button.
  • Anthologize. Anthologize is a WordPress plugin that converts WordPress posts into PDFs with just a few clicks.

3. All-in-One Tools

  • Pressbooks. This powerful WordPress plugin enables you to plan, write, edit, format, and publish e-books right from your dashboard.
  • Calibre. This desktop app offers a full suite of features to write, format, publish, and even convert e-books between multiple file types.

4. WordPress Tools

  • PDF & Print by BestWebSoft. What to offer premium or free content on your website as a pdf? This free plugin add PDF and Print buttons to your posts so your readers can easily download or print your content for later reading.
  • Simple PDF Exporter. Need to export all or your posts, or all of a custom post type? This free plugin bulk exports your posts to a single PDF file making the process quick and easy.

Step #2: Start Writing Your Promotional E-Book

Once you’ve found the right tools, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start writing. This phase can be lengthy, and it can get frustrating, so it’s important that you stick to a process that works for you. With that in mind, here’s how we handle long writing tasks:

  1. Choose a topic. This is a personal decision, but for the best results, you should pick a subject that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about.
  2. Research. Investigate your topic and start thinking about what information is going to make it into your e-book.
  3. Put together an outline. Once you’ve researched your ideas thoroughly, create an outline for your project. There are no hard and fast rules for doing so, but you can always look for a template to get you started.
  4. Write your first draft. Sit down and start typing – depending on your personal taste, this step may include generous amounts of coffee. You might want to avoid editing at this stage, since it can slow you down.
  5. Edit and polish your draft. Ideally, you should take a small break between completing your first draft and editing it. Check for ideas that you might have missed, word repetition, issues with flow, and, of course, grammar mistakes and typos.
  6. Proofread. This step is best handled by a fresh pair of eyes, so you should think about outsourcing it to an editor. A good editor should catch anything that you missed during the previous step.
  7. Publish your e-book. We’ll talk more about how to publish your e-book further on, so keep reading!

When it comes to writing long-format content such as an e-book, it pays to be as structured as possible, and breaking down the process into several steps will make the endeavor much less stressful than tackling it without it a plan.

Step #3: Format Your E-Book

A screenshot of an e-book cover.

An example of an attractive e-book cover.

Once you’ve finished writing your e-book, it’s time to work on its layout and formatting, and then convert the document to your desired file type. Getting the formatting for your e-book right is critical so that it renders correctly across all kinds of displays, especially those in small form factors.

When you’re satisfied with your e-book’s layout and format, we need to convert it to a suitable file type to minimize compatibility errors. These are the most popular e-book file formats at the moment:

  • PDF: This file type is extremely common thanks to its wide range of compatibility.
  • Mobi: The Mobipocket (or mobi) format is ideal if you need to render complex content with ease and flexibility.
  • ePub: This popular e-book format offers a solid experience and is supported by most reading software.

Out of those three, PDF is by far the most popular format thanks to its mainstream support. However, these days most people are likely to have access to reading software that supports a wide range of file types, so you needn’t choose PDF by default if compatibility is your main concern.

Step #4: Upload and Publish Your E-book

After all your hard work, all that’s left is to publish your e-book and wait for the glowing reviews to start pouring in. There are two main options when it comes to publishing, so let’s check out the benefits of each to help you make a decision.

Self Publish Your Book

Your first option is to self-publish your book. That means you won’t need to go through a distributing agent, and it’s as simple as uploading the e-book to your WordPress website and hitting the Publish button. Self-publishing can be the best route if you’re working with a limited budget, or you don’t want to share your profits with an online distributor. Furthermore, it enables you to retain control over the entire process, which can save you a lot of headaches.

Using the Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) plugin, you can handle the entire process right from your WordPress dashboard. In fact. we even have an entire Easy Digital Downloads guide to walk you through the process of setting up your online store for the first time.

The Easy Digital Downloads plugin.

If you want to offer your e-book for free, the Free Downloads add-on for EDD enables you to do so without forcing buyers to go through the regular checkout process. Instead, all they have to do is supply their email in exchange for your e-book.

Contact A Distributor

The second option when it comes to publishing is to use an e-book distributor. With a distributor, you simply upload your e-book, set a price, and sit back while they do all the hard work for you (in exchange for a fee, of course). Some of our favorite distribution services include SmashwordsDraft2Digital, and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

If you don’t have the time to handle all the minutia of publishing your e-book, the right distribution service can take a huge load off your shoulders. However, do keep in mind that most services come with guidelines of their own, and you’ll need to deal with them to update your e-book and receive payments. If you don’t mind those small drawbacks, then by all means, consider the option.

Conclusion

Publishing an e-book can be a frustrating endeavor if you don’t know where to start. However, tackling the project with a solid plan in mind should help you finish faster and save you a lot of headaches.

Here are the four main steps to getting your first promotional e-book written and published:

  1. Find the right tools for the job.
  2. Sit down and write.
  3. Format your e-book.
  4. Publish your e-book on your website or by using a distribution service.

How do you tackle complex writing projects like promotional e-books? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!



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13+ Ways You’re Losing Money without Jetpack for WordPress


Jetpack is one of the most popular plugins in WordPress with over 1 million active installations. It’s an entire family of products (and services) ranging from social logins to free CDNs. Its designed to optimize your WordPress website in every possible way – at absolutely zero cost.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the many time (and money) saving features Jetpack has to offer. We’ve also shared the possible paid and free alternatives for each feature. This will give you an idea of the great deal of benefits you could enjoy with Jetpack.

1. You’re not using the free Content Delivery Network (CDN) from Jetpack

Jetpack’s Photon module takes all the images from your site and stores it in WordPress.com’s global content distribution network. This network is  is distributed at multiple locations across the globe and optimized for high availability, redundancy. With a CDN installed, when a visitor lands in your site, the images are served from a server that is closest to the visitor’s physical location. This has multiple benefits:

  • Images are optimized to reduce size, while preserving quality.
  • Images are served quickly – thanks to WordPress’ distributed network – contributing to a speedy website.
  • Websites that load fast tend to convert better. Better conversions equal greater revenue.
  • Off-loading your images to Jetpack’s Photon module saves your server’s bandwidth and computing resources. You save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Photon saves your visitor’s bandwidth by serving them lossless compressed images using Google’s famous WebP image format. However, a handful of browsers support this format.

Use Photon as an online image editing service

Sometimes we need to perform simple tasks such as resizing an image, complex ones such as adding filters, adjusting the contrast of removing black bars from an image. The Photon Developer API allows developers to take advantage of WordPress cloud infrastructure and perform all sorts of tricks on their images.

For example, the following call to the API reduces the quality of the original JPG image to 75% strips all its metadata. This resulted in a 81% drop in the size, while maintaining almost lossless image compression.

Optimized Image by the Photon API (448 KB)

http://i0.wp.com/ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg?&quality=75&strip=all

Original Image (2.61 MB)

http://ma.tt/files/2014/09/8084136238_169f1ca1f0_o.jpg

A single API call to the Photon API reduced the image size by 83%

All of this is done on-the-fly by a single call to the API. Your server resources remain untouched!

2. You’re Not Scheduling Posts to your Social Networks with the Automatic Publishing Module

Different social networks react differently to the same post copy – therefore headlines must be optimized for each. The copy you write for your Facebook page shouldn’t be the same for your Twitter or Pinterest page.

The Automatic Publishing feature enables users to automatically post content to their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages, after connecting the respective accounts. Users can configure images for Facebook and Twitter and schedule posting on the social networks once the post is published on the site.

You can either purchase expensive social post scheduling tools, or you can simply use Jetpack’s Publicize module. Your call!

3. You’re not using Related Posts

Related Posts are one of the largest contributors to reducing a website’s bounce rate. As soon as a visitor scrolls to the bottom of the article, they are shown related posts that fall under the same category, tag or custom post type.

Displaying related posts at the end of every article can increase your visitor’s “time on site” and enhance user engagement, which would ultimately drives conversions. Think about it – the more time visitors spend on your site, the better your brand is positioned in their mind. As a result, at the time when they need a product or service you offer – you have the competitive advantage of top-of-mind presence.

Jetpack’s Related Posts module displays the related posts after every article. Here’s the interesting part – unlike many other related post plugins, Jetpack does all the analysis, processing, and serving of related posts using their cloud infrastructure, so that there is no additional load on your server. This makes it a tremendous asset to reducing server load and improving our site’s performance – while simultaneously displaying related posts!

4. You’re not using Jetpack’s Security Features

Jetpack’s Protect module offers a ton of security features that are essential for any website. Premium security plugins such as Securi and iThemes Security cost over $100 a year. However, if you’re starting out and need a good security plugin that gets the job done, Jetpack is your answer. Here’s why:

  • For starters, it provides free protection against bruteforce attacks.
  • Next up, you can use secure authentication via WordPress.com to allow only those people to login who have a valid WordPress.com account.
  • You can also enable two-factor authentication to really tighten up security.
  • Finally, the IP Whitelisting feature enables you to allow only a set of IPs to access the admin dashboard. This makes it an excellent preventive measure against malicious login attempts.

Under additional benefits, the Jetpack Protect module automatically updates the installed themes and plugins in your WordPress site. You end up saving a lot of time, while enjoying peace of mind.

5. You’re not using the Site Monitoring feature

Downtimes are bad. Not only does it result in a decline in your conversions, and it also negatively impacts your search engine rankings. For example, consider the case when Google sends a visitor to your site. Only problem – the visitor finds that the page doesn’t load. The visitor returns to the search page and clicks on the next search result. That’s a yellow flag – your SEO scores are diminished a bit.

Jetpack’s Downtime Monitoring feature alerts you when your site goes down – over email and over SMS.  It also emails you when your site is back up and the total downtime duration. This service checks your site every five minutes from different corners of the globe, ensuring that no matter where your visitors come from – they see a working website.

6. You Could Leverage Post via Email – But You’re Not

Being present at the right place at the right time is a key factor to our success. The same principles apply to the success of your blog. Being the first one to cover a developing story in your blog’s domain can result in a new stream of visitors from social media.

That’s when the Post via Email feature comes in handy. Simply write the post in an email and send it over to the specified email address. The post will be published in your site. You can attach images and galleries in your email, and they’ll be posted as well. You can also specify tags and categories or specify a delay. What’s more, if you have the Automatic Publishing module enabled, the post will be posted to your social networks as well! Talk about chain reactions.

7. Did you enable the Subscriptions module?

There’s an entire industry built around email marketing software. While most of them are paid, some are free but come with limitations. At the very least, even the best of email marketing services require you to sign up for an account, which can be a bit of a task.

Jetpack’s Subscription module follows no-brainer technique wherein you simply need to add a widget asking your visitors to signup for new posts or “Subscribe for Updates” from you blog.

With the module activated, whenever you publish a new post, all your subscribers get an email with your latest post. However on the downside, you cannot have advanced tracking embedded in these emails.

8. You’re not leveraging “Social Proof”

One of the ways to get visitors to stick around your blog is to establish “social proof’. We are psychologically attuned to follow what everyone is doing. Imaging you’re on your way to work, just like every other day. You’re about to enter the subway when suddenly everyone starts running out of the station. Would you still go in?

Something similar happens when we see those symbols such as “Plugin downloaded over 100,000 times” or “Currently running on 75,000 active WordPress sites” or even “5 years of experience distilled into product”. A sort of unnamed assurance dawns on us.

The Extra Sidebar Widgets from Jetpack help you display similar “milestone-like” information on your site. You can feature your blog’s stats and contributors who may be well-known in the industry. You can also display additional information such as your Twitter feed, contact info, featured posts, etc.

A combination of these widgets will not only help establish social proof, but also contribute to user engagement. How’s that, you ask?

Remember how we talked about displaying related posts at the end of every post can influence the user to stick around for longer? A similar logic follows when you display “featured posts” or “exclusive deals” in your sidebars and/footers.

9. You could save time with the Site Verification module

When it comes to SEO, registering your website in the Google Search Console or the Bing Webmaster Center are of utmost importance. However, the process of verifying the domain ownership is time-consuming and requires HTML files to be uploaded to the root directory.

You could avoid all that and use Jetpack’ Site Verification module. Simply copy-paste the verification codes from Google/Bing console and paste it in the module’s settings. You site will be instantly validated.

The Site Verification module also supports Pinterest, which when activated will add your Pinterest profile picture to any pin that originates from your site.

10. Jetpack Comments take the hassle out of social commenting

The Comments module gives your visitors the option to login with their social profiles before leaving a comment on your site. This means if someone is logged into their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or WordPress.com account, they can use any one of those accounts to leave a comment.

All comments appear in a singular, streamlined thread. Here’s how that’s beneficial:

We relate better to comments when it’s associated with a real name and photo. With social comments feature activated, you encourage people to use their social profiles when commenting.

As a result, not only does this feature add social strength to your posts, it also makes commenting super easy. With a single click, all the info (name, photo, website URL, etc.) is extracted from my preferred social profile and filled in the WordPress comments section.

11. You losing out on potential leads by not using the Comments module

You might be wondering how this is possible. Let’s carefully examine the following image:

On the bottom left corner, you see two options:

Notify me of follow-up comments via email

When enabled, all follow-up comments in this post will be sent to that particular visitor. Follow-up comments encourages people to participate in the conversation. When you actively engage with your blog’s commenters, you build an active community – one comment at a time! Now for the interesting part.

Notify me of new posts via email

When a visitor checks this option, he/she is essentially subscribing to your blog’s updated. In other words – you just gained a lead! In my opinion this is a real gem of a feature and works beautifully when you have an active community.

12. You’re wasting too much time trying to configure Google Analytics

Google Analytics a tool that used by seasoned veterans and novices alike. Everybody’s head about it, everybody wants to use it – but only a few seem to understand it. Configuring Google Analytics to even half its potential requires serious know-how.

Maybe you don’t want to focus on that right now. If you’re like me, you could simply enable Jetpack’s Site Stats feature. It requires absolutely zero-configuration and works right out of the box.

The Site Stats module takes a few hours to gather the data. Once ready, it gives you clear and concise numbers about overall traffic by different time periods as well as for individual posts and pages. It also gives you key insights about most popular times, geographic locations, and search terms. What more do you need? 😉

13. You’re (probably) not managing multiple sites with Jetpack

Did you know that Jetpack provides a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com, using which you can manage all your WordPress websites? Yes, it’s true. All you need to do is install the Jetpack plugin in all your sites, login with the same WordPress.com account and sit back.

Jetpack will collate data from all your WordPress installations and display them in a centralized dashboard in WordPress.com. You can update themes, plugins and core versions of WordPress from the dashboard. You can also publish posts and make changes to the menus for different sites from the same dashboard.

For people who need a free solution to manage multiple website, Jetpack’s centralized management dashboard is a lifesaver.

14. Bonus Tip: WordAds (Premium)

Jetpack recently launched WordAds – a blog monetization platform that helps you to make money from your blog. WordAds displays relevant, high-quality ads to your site’s visitors. These ads are displayed from approved advertisers which are a part of the WordPress.com advertiser program.

Snapshot of sample earnings from the Jetpack Ads program

However, this is a premium feature and comes only with the Jetpack Pro plan starting at $9/month or $99/year. Let’s discuss a couple of other premium-only Jetpack modules that are included in the Pro plan.

Premium Features from Jetpack

Let us quickly review the premium features Jetpack offers us. The following features are available in the Personal Plan at $3.5/month (or $39/year).

  • Daily automated backups, 1-click restore and 30-day archive
  • Advanced spam filtering
  • Priority support

In addition to the above features, the Premium Plan retails at $9/mo and has the following features:

  • Daily malware scans
  • Jetpack Ads, aka WordAds program
  • Video hosting with 13GB of storage

A complete list of features along with a comparison table is available in Jetpack’s detailed pricing page.

Conclusion

Jetpack has come a long way from a simply utility plugin with a handful of features – to a fully integrated service platform. With a host of free services and a range of premium features, Jetpack offers the most comprehensive tool set packed in a single plugin. Its designed for beginners and seasoned veterans alike.

After reading this article, you are aware of Jetpack’s most flattering features. However, that doesn’t mean you activate all of them at one go. Analyze your current requirements and understand how Jetpack’s modules can help you achieve them.  Here’s a quick list of the features I think can be activated for most websites:

  1. Free CDN
  2. Related posts (only when you have organized your content with proper tags and categories, and have sufficient content under each category)
  3. Site monitoring
  4. Security features from the Protect module
  5. Comments module
  6. Site stats

Jetpack’s dozens of useful features infused with simplicity and the power of WordPress.com’s cloud makes it a powerful weapon in any marketer’s arsenal. Give it a spin today. Also, did we miss your favourite Jetpack feature? Let us know in the comments below!



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How to Create a Promotional eBook for Your WordPress Website (in 4 Steps)


Maybe you’ve toyed around with the idea of writing an e-book for a while, but you haven’t gotten around to it yet. After all, creating an e-book is too hard and time-consuming, right?

While putting together a promotional e-book is no walk in the park, you can do it if you put your mind to it. Furthermore, publishing an e-book comes with many benefits, such as enabling you to promote your website and establish yourself as an authority in your field.

In this article, we’ve put together a four-step process to help you create your first promotional e-book, covering everything from planning to publishing. Let’s dive right in!

Step #1: Pick the Right Tools

The first step to the e-book writing process is finding the right tools. Writing an e-book is a lot different than a regular blog post from a formatting standpoint, so you’ll need to find tools that can help you tackle that aspect, as well as some others. With that in mind, we put together a brief list of our favorite writing tools, separated into four categories for your benefit.

1. Writing and Editing

  • Microsoft Word. You’re probably already familiar with this one. It’s one of the best tools for brainstorming and writing any type of content. Furthermore, it enables you to set up complex macros to handle repetitive tasks, which can be a significant timesaver.
  • Google Docs. On paper, Google Docs is very similar to Microsoft Word, except for its superior collaboration features. If you’re working with an editor and you need to stay on top of changes and revisions, this tool should be right up your alley.

2. Formatting and Conversion

  • PublishXpress. PublishXpress offers seamless conversions to the .epub and .mobi formats. All you need to do is upload your source file, choose a cover, and click on the Convert button.
  • Anthologize. Anthologize is a WordPress plugin that converts WordPress posts into PDFs with just a few clicks.

3. All-in-One Tools

  • Pressbooks. This powerful WordPress plugin enables you to plan, write, edit, format, and publish e-books right from your dashboard.
  • Calibre. This desktop app offers a full suite of features to write, format, publish, and even convert e-books between multiple file types.

4. WordPress Tools

  • PDF & Print by BestWebSoft. What to offer premium or free content on your website as a pdf? This free plugin add PDF and Print buttons to your posts so your readers can easily download or print your content for later reading.
  • Simple PDF Exporter. Need to export all or your posts, or all of a custom post type? This free plugin bulk exports your posts to a single PDF file making the process quick and easy.

Step #2: Start Writing Your Promotional E-Book

Once you’ve found the right tools, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start writing. This phase can be lengthy, and it can get frustrating, so it’s important that you stick to a process that works for you. With that in mind, here’s how we handle long writing tasks:

  1. Choose a topic. This is a personal decision, but for the best results, you should pick a subject that you’re passionate and knowledgeable about.
  2. Research. Investigate your topic and start thinking about what information is going to make it into your e-book.
  3. Put together an outline. Once you’ve researched your ideas thoroughly, create an outline for your project. There are no hard and fast rules for doing so, but you can always look for a template to get you started.
  4. Write your first draft. Sit down and start typing – depending on your personal taste, this step may include generous amounts of coffee. You might want to avoid editing at this stage, since it can slow you down.
  5. Edit and polish your draft. Ideally, you should take a small break between completing your first draft and editing it. Check for ideas that you might have missed, word repetition, issues with flow, and, of course, grammar mistakes and typos.
  6. Proofread. This step is best handled by a fresh pair of eyes, so you should think about outsourcing it to an editor. A good editor should catch anything that you missed during the previous step.
  7. Publish your e-book. We’ll talk more about how to publish your e-book further on, so keep reading!

When it comes to writing long-format content such as an e-book, it pays to be as structured as possible, and breaking down the process into several steps will make the endeavor much less stressful than tackling it without it a plan.

Step #3: Format Your E-Book

A screenshot of an e-book cover.

An example of an attractive e-book cover.

Once you’ve finished writing your e-book, it’s time to work on its layout and formatting, and then convert the document to your desired file type. Getting the formatting for your e-book right is critical so that it renders correctly across all kinds of displays, especially those in small form factors.

When you’re satisfied with your e-book’s layout and format, we need to convert it to a suitable file type to minimize compatibility errors. These are the most popular e-book file formats at the moment:

  • PDF: This file type is extremely common thanks to its wide range of compatibility.
  • Mobi: The Mobipocket (or mobi) format is ideal if you need to render complex content with ease and flexibility.
  • ePub: This popular e-book format offers a solid experience and is supported by most reading software.

Out of those three, PDF is by far the most popular format thanks to its mainstream support. However, these days most people are likely to have access to reading software that supports a wide range of file types, so you needn’t choose PDF by default if compatibility is your main concern.

Step #4: Upload and Publish Your E-book

After all your hard work, all that’s left is to publish your e-book and wait for the glowing reviews to start pouring in. There are two main options when it comes to publishing, so let’s check out the benefits of each to help you make a decision.

Self Publish Your Book

Your first option is to self-publish your book. That means you won’t need to go through a distributing agent, and it’s as simple as uploading the e-book to your WordPress website and hitting the Publish button. Self-publishing can be the best route if you’re working with a limited budget, or you don’t want to share your profits with an online distributor. Furthermore, it enables you to retain control over the entire process, which can save you a lot of headaches.

Using the Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) plugin, you can handle the entire process right from your WordPress dashboard. In fact. we even have an entire Easy Digital Downloads guide to walk you through the process of setting up your online store for the first time.

The Easy Digital Downloads plugin.

If you want to offer your e-book for free, the Free Downloads add-on for EDD enables you to do so without forcing buyers to go through the regular checkout process. Instead, all they have to do is supply their email in exchange for your e-book.

Contact A Distributor

The second option when it comes to publishing is to use an e-book distributor. With a distributor, you simply upload your e-book, set a price, and sit back while they do all the hard work for you (in exchange for a fee, of course). Some of our favorite distribution services include SmashwordsDraft2Digital, and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

If you don’t have the time to handle all the minutia of publishing your e-book, the right distribution service can take a huge load off your shoulders. However, do keep in mind that most services come with guidelines of their own, and you’ll need to deal with them to update your e-book and receive payments. If you don’t mind those small drawbacks, then by all means, consider the option.

Conclusion

Publishing an e-book can be a frustrating endeavor if you don’t know where to start. However, tackling the project with a solid plan in mind should help you finish faster and save you a lot of headaches.

Here are the four main steps to getting your first promotional e-book written and published:

  1. Find the right tools for the job.
  2. Sit down and write.
  3. Format your e-book.
  4. Publish your e-book on your website or by using a distribution service.

How do you tackle complex writing projects like promotional e-books? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!



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