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15 Reasons to Use Jetpack for WordPress in 2018

What happens when the people behind WordPress.com, get together to make a WordPress plugin? You get Jetpack. With over... read more

Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins for Scheduling & Reservations

If your business relies on appointments, you have a WordPress site and you haven’t installed a booking plugin... read more

Complete Guide to RSS and How to Use It with WordPress

What if users didn’t have to come to your WordPress site in order to read your articles? That would... read more

Complete Solution for RSS Feeds Display and Autoblogging

If you’re looking for a ton of information about any subject, isn’t it tedious to visit hundreds of... read more

Create An RSS News Aggregation Portal With WordPress

Back in 2013, Google dropped their support for RSS and killed off their popular service, Google Reader. It... read more

QuadMenu Review: Easy, Powerful Mega Menus for WordPress

In the world of WordPress mega menu plugins, QuadMenu stands out. The plugin makes creating mega menus a... read more

Why and How to Add a Hello Bar to Your WordPress Site

Setting up your WordPress site can be overwhelming. Getting your site’s content and design up to speed is... read more

How to Setup Open Graph and Twitter Cards for WordPress

Good content will attract a relevant audience to your website and there’s a good chance that some of those... read more


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July 2018

15 Reasons to Use Jetpack for WordPress in 2018


What happens when the people behind WordPress.com, get together to make a WordPress plugin? You get Jetpack.

With over 5 million active installations, Jetpack is designed to be an all-rounder plugin for people using WordPress, regardless of their expertise. Think of it as an all-in-one plugin, with features ranging from performance enhancements, security protocols, theme customization and many more.

People who are new to WordPress can use Jetpack’s site stats, contact form and other useful modules – without having to install a separate plugin for each feature. On the flip side, power users can take advantage of features such as related posts, lazy loading, and CDN – all for free! Though upgrading to Jetpack premium adds even more useful features for Google analytics, advertising, priority support and more.

This article was originally published in 2013, entitled 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Jetpack for WordPress. Five years later, we’re updating this guide with 15 of the best features offered by Jetpack – and why you should be using them in your WordPress site.

Before getting started, it would be helpful to know some of the synonyms used for Jetpack’s “features”. They range from “modules”, to “settings”, to just “features”. We’ll restrict our synonyms to “modules” and “features” throughout the remainder of this article.

Let’s get on with it!

1. Free Content Delivery Network (CDN) for WordPress using Photon

photon free content delivery network by jetpack

The very first feature that comes to mind is the free content delivery network provided by Jetpack. Unlike other CDN providers, Jetpack’s Photon CDN does not require any signup, gives you unlimited CDN bandwidth, and is completely free – for life!

Who should use Photon?

In short, everybody. Whether you are a power user, or a novice user, or someone who is just starting out; using a CDN dramatically speeds up your site’s loading time. This gives you a three-fold advantage:

  1. Google rewards faster sites with better SEO scores. You rank faster for your target keywords.
  2. You save your server’s bandwidth resources; since the images are served from the Photon content delivery network.
  3. A faster website results in a pleasant visitor experience. This, in turn, increases the chances of a conversion – whether it is an email signup, ebook download, or something as simple as a social share!

How do I enable Jetpack Photon?

jetpack-cdn-lazy-load-images

Photon CDN and Lazy load images module from Jetpack

All you need to do is enable the Photon module from the Speed up your site settings, found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

2. Lazy Loading of Images in WordPress

lazy loading of images illustration using a pig

Lazy Loading is a feature that has found a mention in under every credible WordPress performance optimization post. You see, the idea behind lazy loading is simple. Load the image only when the visitor sees it.

This has a two-fold benefit.

  1. One, the site loads faster since the page size of the site is lowered. This, in turn, gives us better SEO, and lower bandwidth consumption from the server site.
  2. The second advantage directly benefits the end user by saving his or her bandwidth.

How can lazy loading save mobile bandwidth?

Let’s say Samantha is browsing an article on the “best fashion WordPress themes” on her phone. When Samantha opens the website, the page starts loading all 25 images at once.

However, with lazy loading enabled, only the images visible in the viewport is loaded. The other images are loaded only when Samantha scrolls down to view them. Thus Samantha ends up saving her precious mobile bandwidth while enjoying a super-snappy website.

Who should use lazy load?

Again, everyone!

How do I enable Jetpack lazy load?

This module is located just below the Photon module. Simply toggle to enable it!

3. Subscribe to New Posts via Email in WordPress

subscribe and follow wordpress blog jetpack

This is a personal favourite. Jetpack has a series of beautiful features when it comes to visitor engagement. We’ll cover them one by one starting with this one.

Jetpack’s email subscription feature enables visitors to subscribe to your blog posts via email. It’s displayed as a Follow Blog button. People who click on it are asked to share their email address in order to subscribe or “follow” your blog’s posts.

Additionally, you can use the Follow Comments feature to give your readers the option to subscribe to your blog’s comments via email.

Whenever a new post is published, or a new comment is posted, your followers get an email with a link to your post/comment.

What are the benefits of Jetpack subscriptions?

Well, for starters, you don’t need to use an email service provider (ESP) like MailChimp. Even when your email list grows, you don’t have to pay for emails. Remember that ESPs with a forever free plan usually put a limitation on the number of subscribers, or the number of emails sent per month – as they should! (They gotta eat, don’t they?)

However, on the flip side, you won’t be able to send individual emails (i.e. without publishing a post) to your subscribers, using this Jetpack module. That’s when you’d have to signup for an ESP.

Who should use subscriptions?

Depends, really. People who simply want to focus on their writing and not on growing their email list can opt for this module. However, if you are serious about your email list from day one (it’s great if you are!), then you start using a free ESP like MailChimp.

How do I enable Jetpack blog subscriptions?

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Head over to the Subscriptions module under the WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Discussion tab.

4. WordPress Site Uptime & Downtime Monitoring

wordpress site uptime and downtime monitoring by jetpack

The downtime monitoring feature from Jetpack periodically monitors your site and notifies you via email whenever there is a downtime.

Not just that, it keeps on monitoring and sends you emails reminding you that your site is still down. Finally, once your site is back online – Jetpack sends yet another a confirmation email – informing you that your site is online again!

I absolutely love this feature – especially since it helped me win an argument and get a full refund from my shared hosting provider. All I had to do was share the screenshot of my inbox, and bam, they had to process my refund!

Who should use monitoring?

Everyone! Unless, of course, you are using a premium website uptime monitoring tool and don’t want to install an additional plugin.

How do I enable Jetpack downtime monitoring?

jetpack-downtime-monitoring

Downtime Monitoring module from Jetpack

Simply toggle the Downtime monitoring option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Security tab.

5. Related Posts for WordPress

related posts in jetpack

The Related Posts feature automatically suggests related content after every post in your WordPress site. It’s a great way to keep your visitors engaged, improve time-on-site and decrease bounce rate (to an extent).

But wait, there’s a problem:

However, calculating these related posts is a resource-intensive task. The problem multiplies when there are multiple categories and tags, and multiple posts under each of them. Calculating related posts becomes increasingly CPU intensive. Couple all of this into a shared hosting environment and you’ve got yourself a “resource violation” email, or worse – getting your account suspended.

So what’s the fix? Jetpack of course!

Jetpack offloads all of this complex, CPU-intensive computation to the cloud, and returns the finished results – i.e. the related posts – to our WordPress site. All of this for free!. You can further customize the appearance of the related posts (with or without image, excerpt, etc.) using the WordPress Customizer.

Who should use related posts?

Blogs with neatly organized taxonomy, along with sufficient posts and pages under each tag and category. You should not use Related Posts when you only have a handful of posts in your site. In such a case, I would recommend manually linking to your content.

How do I enable Jetpack related posts?

Simple! Just toggle the Related Posts option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Traffic tab.

6. Infinite Scroll in WordPress

infinite scroll wordpress posts jetpack

Infinite Scroll is a feature that automatically loads new posts without refreshing the page, as the visitor scrolls down to the bottom of the current post. Similar to Related Posts, this feature is designed to increase visitor engagement and time on site.

Furthermore, Jetpack gives you the ability to configure how the next posts are loaded. For instance, you can configure them to load automatically – according to the theme/user behaviour. You can also present the visitors with a “read/load more” button, which upon clicking loads the next set of posts.

Who should use infinite scroll?

Anyone with a couple of posts published in their WordPress site can use this feature. This is highly recommended for news and media blogs.

How do I enable Jetpack infinite scroll?

Infinite scroll module from Jetpack

Infinite Scroll module from Jetpack

You can enable this setting form the Theme enhancements setting found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

7. Build a Contact Form in WordPress

contact form illustration by jetpack

This Jetpack module enables you to build contact forms with custom fields directly from the default WordPress editor. With a single click, you’re able to insert and customize contact forms directly from the WordPress editor.

Who should use a contact form?

Most website should have an easy to use contact form, especially if you deal with clients. So anyone not already using a contact form plugin on their WordPress site.

How can I enable Jetpack contact forms?

Jetpack Contact Form inserted directly from the WordPress editor

Good news – this module is enabled by default in Jetpack.

8. Publish Posts via Email in WordPress

publish wordpress posts via email in jetpack

Imagine you’re in a remote location and you have to publish an article in your WordPress site. Media-rich sites like the WordPress editor won’t load due to the slow Internet connectivity. There aren’t any WiFi cafes nearby. The only thing that does seem to work is email. You barely have enough Internet speed to send out an email.

This is where Jetpack’s posts via email feature comes in handy. It gives you a dedicated email address for you to publish in your WordPress blog. Once activated, you can email your post to this address, and it would be published in your blog.

How would it work? Simple. The subject line of your email would be the post title, and the email body would be the blog post content. You can also send additional information such as categories, tags and more using these predefined shortcodes.

Who should use Jetpack post via email?

Publishing posts in WordPress via email using Jetpack!

 

Anyone who needs quick coverage without investing too much time in formatting or working our of areas with limited Internet connectivity.

  • Travel bloggers looking to share their experiences from remote locations with limited Internet connectivity.
  • Reports looking to share quick coverage without going opening the WordPress app every time.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to publish a post via email.

9. Automated Social Sharing in WordPress using Publicize Module

social media automation by jetpack

The Publicize module from Jetpack enables you to automatically post your freshly published content to your social media sites. It saves you the hassle of having to manually post in each social media network.

Who should use Publicize?

Well, anyone who promotes their content on social media is welcome to try this module. However, it is important to select the right social media network depending on your site’s niche,  and then create content specific to each network.

How can I enable Jetpack social sharing?

Jetpack social media sharing settings

You would need to establish a one-time connection with your social media networks from the Publicize settings located under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Sharing tab.

10. Secure Authentication and WordPress.com Login

jetpack security

Jetpack’s secure authentication module enables you (or your users) to login to your WordPress site using WordPress.com account.

You can also configure the module to only allow users to log in if their WordPress.com account email address match with the email ID used to create the user account in your WordPress.site. Additionally, you can require your site’s users to log in using two-factor authentication with WordPress.com.

Who should use login authentication?

Login using WordPress.com

Login using WordPress.com

If you are the sole person running your WordPress blog, then you can skip activating this module. However, if you have multiple contributors to your WordPress site, this could be a useful feature to have!

11. Media Embeds in WordPress

content embed in wordpress by jetpack

This is one of those features that are enabled by default in Jetpack. It essentially helps you paste media-rich content such as YouTube videos and SoundCloud audio files – in their native form – without writing a single line of code/shortcode.

All you have to do is copy-paste the link in your post in the WordPress editor, and Jetpack will take care of the rest.

Jetpack has evolved to support multiple websites with media-rich content including Instagram, Slideshare, Twitter, Google Docs, TED, DailyMotion, CodePen, Medium, Pinterest and more. For a detailed, up-to-date list, check out their official documentation on content embeds.

Who should use media-rich content?

Everyone! 🙂

12. Site Verification and Sitemaps in WordPress

site verification by jetpack

I’ll be straight up with you – Jetpack isn’t the best SEO plugin out there. For starters, the SEO module itself is a paid feature in Jetpack. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a far better, free plugin with a plethora of features and tutorials, trusted by over five million WordPress websites.

That being said, for users who aren’t ready to spend time with a dedicated SEO plugin can use Jetpack’s site verification modules to verify their site with multiple search engines including Google, Bing, Pinterest, and Yandex.

Sitemap and Site Verification Settings from Jetpack

Additionally Jetpack also creates a sitemap which makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site.

Who should use Jetpack sitemaps?

People who aren’t looking to invest time in a dedicated WordPress SEO plugin should use Jetpack’s sitemap. However, we highly recommend using a separate plugin. With just a few hours each week you can get the basics of Yoast SEO nailed down. This way, you’ll have implemented on-page SEO correctly right from day one. That’s a big boost for your long-term search rankings!

13. Widgets, Widgets and More WordPress Widgets

additional widget pack in jetpack

Widgets are one of the most popular features offered by the Jetpack plugin. It provides a plethora of uniquely useful widgets that can be used in multiple ways. They range from social media feeds, GDPR cookie notifications and more. Head over to your WordPress dashboard > Appearance > Widgets to access these additional widgets.

Another exciting widget feature offered by Jetpack is conditional widgets. It essentially enables you to configure the visibility of the widgets based on the page, post, tag or category.

You can define a condition, and only if the condition holds true, the widget is displayed.

Jetpack Custom Widgets

For instance, you can configure a newsletter subscription widget to be visible only in posts under the Finance category. This way you can build super-targeted mailing lists.

Who should use Jetpack widgets?

This mostly depends on the user. If your WordPress theme comes with custom widgets – such as social shares or newsletter subscriptions – you should use those instead of Jetpack, since they have been styled and coded to work well with your theme.

However, you can always use Jetpack’s conditional widgets to create engaging content in your website site.

14. Multiple Sites from a Single Dashboard at WordPress.com

manage multiple wordpress site jetpack

Remember how we spoke of using WordPress.com to reap the full benefits of Jetpack? Well, you’re going to love this feature.

Once you connect your sites with Jetpack, you can manage all of them from your WordPress.com dashboard. This includes things like viewing site stats, publishing posts, responding to comments, updating plugins and much more.

Who should use this?

People managing a handful of WordPress sites could derive value out of this feature. For instance, you can manage your blog(s) and personal site under one roof – in WordPress.com.

However, I would not recommend using this feature if you are managing multiple WordPress sites for clients. Tools like ManageWP and InfiniteWP are built to manage multiple WordPress sites at scale, with a lot more of built-in features and premium support.

15. (Premium) WordPress Backup and Restore by Jetpack

wordpress cloud backup and restore by jetpack

WordPress backup and restoration is a serious matter. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of backup plugins and services that specialize in hourly backups, incremental backups, and more.

Backup and Restore from Jetpack is a premium module starting at $39/year. It takes automatic backups and supports one-click restoration. What’s interesting is how the backup is made.

Jetpack essentially takes a backup whenever an event occurs. An event can include page and post creation/modification, comment submission/modification, plugin and theme installations, modifications, or updates, and additions of or changes to user accounts.

Jetpack also maintains an Activity Log of all the events, listed in chronological order. Every entry in this Activity Log serves as a restore point. Just click on an event and choose between downloading the backup, or restoring your site to that point.

Who should use JetPack backups powered by VaultPress?

Backup is an essential component of maintaining a WordPress site. I would recommend opting for a paid backup plugin if you prefer security and peace of mind, over saving a few bucks every month. (Fun fact – the cost of a backup plugin is usually the cost of a cup of coffee). However, with a little bit of tinkering, you should be able to get the same features for free.

How do I get this?

This is a paid feature starting at $39 per year. You need to purchase a Jetpack plan, configure the plugin with your hosting server credentials, and relax. Jetpack will automatically start taking backups.

Is there a better backup alternative?

If you are willing to spend a little bit extra on your WordPress hosting, consider a managed hosting provider like WPEngine. Not only do you get blazing fast speeds, better reliability, and rapid customer support – you also get a dedicated staging environment and one-click backup and restore. Plans start at $35/month for up to 25,000 visits per month and come with 2 months free if you opt for the annual plan. Not to mention a 60-day risk-free trial!

Jetpack Pricing

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

While most of Jetpack’s features are offered free of charge, there are certain premium modules such as backup and restore, elasticsearch, advanced malware protection that are only available under the paid plan.

Prices start at $39/year for the Personal plan, and come with backup & restore (with a 30-day backup archive) along with priority support.

Get Jetpack Premium

Is getting a paid Jetpack plan worth it?

If you are an occasional blogger with a growing blog, opting for Jetpack’s personal plan could be worth the money. You won’t have to worry about backups and restore, and if things go wrong, you can always contact the priority customer success team.

However, if you are blogging full-time, Jetpack’s Professional plan is recommended. You get advanced malware protection and the ability to accept payments via PayPal with this plan.

A Note on Jetpack and WordPress.com

It is important to note that that Jetpack is a plugin that works in conjunction with WordPress.com even though you can install and use it with WordPress.org sites. This means that you’ll have to create a WordPress.com account in order to reap the full advantages of Jetpack (but don’t worry – you don’t have to host your website on WordPress.com). The advanced customization options for a couple of Jetpack modules can be configured only using WordPress.com.

For the folks just getting started with WordPress, it’s worthwhile to know the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For starters, WordPress.com is the commercial alternative to WordPress.org – the open-source CMS platform. We’ve covered other important differences between the two solutions, in the aforementioned article.

Wrapping Up

jetpack in the future

I originally wrote this article in 2013 and I’m glad to see the new features and improvements in the Jetpack plugin. While they have introduced a paid plan, I absolutely love the fact that they’ve kept the best features like Photon and Downtime Monitoring free. Also, they haven’t deprecated any of the previous modules such as Beautiful Math, Spelling and Grammar, and WP.me Shortlinks.

As always – what are your favourite Jetpack modules? Do you use (or plan to use Jetpack)? Let us know in the comments below!

Love WordPress plugins? Check out our list of the most recommended WordPress plugins to see if you find something new!



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Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins for Scheduling & Reservations


If your business relies on appointments, you have a WordPress site and you haven’t installed a booking plugin yet, you need to get on that. Specifically one of these appointment booking WordPress plugins.

There’s no reason for so many businesses to still force their customers to call them on the phone, contact them by email and wait for a response, or worst of all, physically come into their offices to schedule an appointment. Implementing an easy-to-use booking plugin can lead to increased sales from people who work during most of your hours, or who don’t feel like going through hold times and waiting for a receptionist to book via phone. And it can lead to more appointments being made on impulse, especially since you can hit them with the option to book immediately after your web copy has (hopefully) done its job.

Thankfully, WordPress offers a ton of options for completing this task.

We’ve covered booking plugins before, but only as they relate to the hotels niche. Today, we’re covering 10+ more, and expanding our view to include appointment booking WordPress plugins intended for scheduling just about anything!

Disclaimer: WPExplorer is an affiliate for one or more products listed below. If you click a link and complete a purchase we could make a commission.

1. Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia is one of the most powerful appointment booking plugins you can choose for your business. This automated booking solution keeps working 24/7 so you never miss a new customer. Just install, configure your settings and you’re ready to rock-n-roll!

The plugin includes easy to use features to build your own appointment booking forms. Powerful options include support for multiple employees (along with the ability to add specific services, regular hours and time off for each), local currency, service extras, email notifications, image galleries, coupons, plus color/font options for the front-end design.

With your form ready, customers are able to use the interactive appointments calendar (monthly, weekly, daily as well as list/timeline views) and unique step-by-step booking wizard with faceted filtering to find an appointment time for a specific service with a specific staff member (or even at an exact location). When it’s time to pay, customer’s can use Amelia built-in payment gateways to to reserve their time or opt for an on-site payment.

Amelia even includes a useful shortcode to create a services page. Simple paste the shortcode on a new page any to display your current services with the parameters to specific one service, a whole category or all categories).

2. Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

If you have simpler appointment booking needs (perhaps needs that aren’t worth paying money to fulfill) then the free Appointment Booking Calendar could be your best bet. It offers greater functionality than many free versions of comparable plugins. Features that come with this plugin include bookable time slots, email notifications, the ability to export to Google Drive, printable booking lists, customization of availability and the number of times a user can book, captchas and more.

However, in order to access many of the best features, you need to shell out for the premium version. For instance, if you charge your customers to make an appointment, this plugin isn’t the best idea, as the free version only works with PayPal. To use any other payment gateway, you’re going to have to fork over some cash.

3. Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic’s offering to the booking world is a little different than most. It doesn’t just present the user with a calendar; it takes them directly to the form. The calendar comes up when a user clicks on the date section. So, this is more like the kind of setup your customers will be used to if they book a lot of flights or hotel rooms. That familiarity is a strength.

Like most appointment booking WordPress plugins, the Templatic Booking WordPress Plugin will enable advanced booking features inside your theme, which is perfect for rentals. And after you buy the plugin, it takes care of everything for you, with no monthly or other transaction fees. This is also one of the few plugins that will allow your customers to pay with a direct bank transfer. (However, if you’d like to stick with credit cards, you can always activate other gateways, like with any other plugin.)

Other features include a variable booking form, seasonal prices and the ability to offer the customer other services with their booking. And as a side note, the plugin works great with many of Templatic’s WordPress themes – specifically Service Biz which already includes the plugin.

4. Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments is one of the more comprehensive free bookings plugin available for WordPress sites. With the plugin’s feature list, I have no reason to dispute that claim. One unique feature: if you have multiple staff members that handle appointments, you can give each of them their own calendar – with a bio and picture attached – so that customers can pick which of your employees they’d prefer to book with.

It also works in reverse: the client can pick from a list of services your company offers, and if each one is assigned to a different employee, then they’ll automatically book with that employee. Not only that, it features easy integration with Google Calendars – both for you and the customer – with no coding required. And finally, it takes just three clicks for a customer to book an appointment: one to select a time, one to continue to the confirmation screen and one to confirm. That convenience may well be reflected in your sales.

With a list of over 30 other features, including custom color labels, autofill for repeat customers, Google Maps integration and the ability to login through social media, I’m going to have to say this looks like the best appointment-booking plugin out there at the moment. That price can’t be beat, either.

5. Booked Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked - Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked is a premium appointments manager with plenty of features and options to build an appointments booking form for your business. Accept guest bookings or require users to register for an account, allow users to manager their pending and approved appointments, add custom fields and time slots, create multiple calendars, accept paid bookings using Booked’s WooCommerce integration and more.

Book is also easy to customize. Choose from unlimited color for select options, a responsive layout, login and register form, customizable emails, etc. Plus the built-in shortcodes make it easy for your to insert calendars and login forms on any post or page. There’s even an “Add to Google Calendar” option you can add to help customers remember their appointments.

6. Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

The Easy Appointments plugin is just that – easy. It’s a quick and simple way to add an appointments system to your WordPress site. The plugin supports multiple services, workers, locations and a flexible time table so you can create an advanced timetable of appointment options.When setting up your Easy Appointments plugin there are also options to enable ad customize email notifications for booking confirmation, appointment status and confirmation/cancel.

When it comes to form styling, Easy Appointments keeps it easy too! Choose a 1-2 column layout, drag & drop form fields (and even create your own), add prices or labels, localize the date picker and more. Plus there’s built-in reporting to help you keep track of form conversions and stats.

7. Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

If you’ve been looking at powerful appointment booking WordPress plugins then you’ve probably come across Bookly before. This popular plugin is optimized to help you book more appointments no matter when or how your customers access your site.

Bookly is mobile and translation ready, so your forms look great in any language on any device. Plus, built-in support for email and SMS notifications plus Google Calendar integration ensure your customers never miss an appointment. Want to charge at the time of booking? No problem – Bookly’s payment portal integrations including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Mollie, Payson, PayU Latam, 2checkout, PayUbiz and WooCommerce. Other features include color scheme options, flex scheduling, holidays, booking process steps, 50+ currencies and more.

8. Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

The free Appointment Booking & Online Scheduling plugin by vCita is another great options to add an appointments form to your WordPress site. The plugin is perfect for accepting appointments for events, classes, one on one services and more.

While many other plugin offer similar features for online scheduling such as service appointments with specific staff members, confirmations, and payment support what sets this plugin apart is the messaging and callback functionality. The plugin syncs with the vCita Mobile App to notify you instantly about new booking requests, automate reminders and it allows you to send messages and files to your client before you meet.

9. gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

So far we’ve covered stand alone appointment booking plugins, but what if you want a more powerful forms system? Like Gravity Forms? That’s where gAppointments comes in. This premium plugin adds appointment booking features to the popular Gravity Forms plugin.

When you combine gAppointments with Gravity Forms you’ll have added support for paid bookings, nearly unlimited payment gateways, multiple bookings per date, service intervals, custom services, recurring appointments, Google & Yahoo calendar links, email notifications, auto confirm/complete appointments and more. This plus easy styling settings, translation options and simple front-end form management makes gAppointments a great choice.

10. Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

The Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers great features to build a booking calendar and manage your appointments via your WordPress site. Visitors can book an appointment using the easy 4-step booking process to secure a time, then the plugin will add the reservation to your individual staff’s dashboard so they can manage their own upcoming appointments.

Want more features? The free Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers a premium upgrade for mobile payments, group bookings, private notes, Google calendar integration, flex pricing, multiple locations and more

11. WooCommerce Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

WooCommerce Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

Build your own appointments form using WooCommerce! Just install the WooCommerce Appointment Booking add-on to begin taking reservations, selling tickets, booking appointments and more. Just add your products or services, add your staff, use the plugin to enter bookable times (including blackout dates)and then wait for customers to book times.

This plugin also seamlessly integrates with Google Calendar and allows admins to export an appointments CSV (great for accounting records or HR scheduling). Plus it still maintains all of the great features of WooCommerce like simple or variable products, image galleries, easy search, helpful widgets and more.

Wrapping up the Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

There’s no shortage of appointment booking WordPress plugins that will let you book an appointment via WordPress. There are so many, in fact, that the choice can easily be overwhelming. But hopefully, having a guide like this will prevent that from happening. Any other plugins I should know about? Anything you want to tell me about the ones listed above like your personal experiences? Leave a comment below!



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15 Reasons to Use Jetpack for WordPress in 2018


What happens when the people behind WordPress.com, get together to make a WordPress plugin? You get Jetpack.

With over 5 million active installations, Jetpack is designed to be an all-rounder plugin for people using WordPress, regardless of their expertise. Think of it as an all-in-one plugin, with features ranging from performance enhancements, security protocols, theme customization and many more.

People who are new to WordPress can use Jetpack’s site stats, contact form and other useful modules – without having to install a separate plugin for each feature. On the flip side, power users can take advantage of features such as related posts, lazy loading, and CDN – all for free! Though upgrading to Jetpack premium adds even more useful features for Google analytics, advertising, priority support and more.

This article was originally published in 2013, entitled 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Jetpack for WordPress. Five years later, we’re updating this guide with 15 of the best features offered by Jetpack – and why you should be using them in your WordPress site.

Before getting started, it would be helpful to know some of the synonyms used for Jetpack’s “features”. They range from “modules”, to “settings”, to just “features”. We’ll restrict our synonyms to “modules” and “features” throughout the remainder of this article.

Let’s get on with it!

1. Free Content Delivery Network (CDN) for WordPress using Photon

photon free content delivery network by jetpack

The very first feature that comes to mind is the free content delivery network provided by Jetpack. Unlike other CDN providers, Jetpack’s Photon CDN does not require any signup, gives you unlimited CDN bandwidth, and is completely free – for life!

Who should use Photon?

In short, everybody. Whether you are a power user, or a novice user, or someone who is just starting out; using a CDN dramatically speeds up your site’s loading time. This gives you a three-fold advantage:

  1. Google rewards faster sites with better SEO scores. You rank faster for your target keywords.
  2. You save your server’s bandwidth resources; since the images are served from the Photon content delivery network.
  3. A faster website results in a pleasant visitor experience. This, in turn, increases the chances of a conversion – whether it is an email signup, ebook download, or something as simple as a social share!

How do I enable Jetpack Photon?

jetpack-cdn-lazy-load-images

Photon CDN and Lazy load images module from Jetpack

All you need to do is enable the Photon module from the Speed up your site settings, found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

2. Lazy Loading of Images in WordPress

lazy loading of images illustration using a pig

Lazy Loading is a feature that has found a mention in under every credible WordPress performance optimization post. You see, the idea behind lazy loading is simple. Load the image only when the visitor sees it.

This has a two-fold benefit.

  1. One, the site loads faster since the page size of the site is lowered. This, in turn, gives us better SEO, and lower bandwidth consumption from the server site.
  2. The second advantage directly benefits the end user by saving his or her bandwidth.

How can lazy loading save mobile bandwidth?

Let’s say Samantha is browsing an article on the “best fashion WordPress themes” on her phone. When Samantha opens the website, the page starts loading all 25 images at once.

However, with lazy loading enabled, only the images visible in the viewport is loaded. The other images are loaded only when Samantha scrolls down to view them. Thus Samantha ends up saving her precious mobile bandwidth while enjoying a super-snappy website.

Who should use lazy load?

Again, everyone!

How do I enable Jetpack lazy load?

This module is located just below the Photon module. Simply toggle to enable it!

3. Subscribe to New Posts via Email in WordPress

subscribe and follow wordpress blog jetpack

This is a personal favourite. Jetpack has a series of beautiful features when it comes to visitor engagement. We’ll cover them one by one starting with this one.

Jetpack’s email subscription feature enables visitors to subscribe to your blog posts via email. It’s displayed as a Follow Blog button. People who click on it are asked to share their email address in order to subscribe or “follow” your blog’s posts.

Additionally, you can use the Follow Comments feature to give your readers the option to subscribe to your blog’s comments via email.

Whenever a new post is published, or a new comment is posted, your followers get an email with a link to your post/comment.

What are the benefits of Jetpack subscriptions?

Well, for starters, you don’t need to use an email service provider (ESP) like MailChimp. Even when your email list grows, you don’t have to pay for emails. Remember that ESPs with a forever free plan usually put a limitation on the number of subscribers, or the number of emails sent per month – as they should! (They gotta eat, don’t they?)

However, on the flip side, you won’t be able to send individual emails (i.e. without publishing a post) to your subscribers, using this Jetpack module. That’s when you’d have to signup for an ESP.

Who should use subscriptions?

Depends, really. People who simply want to focus on their writing and not on growing their email list can opt for this module. However, if you are serious about your email list from day one (it’s great if you are!), then you start using a free ESP like MailChimp.

How do I enable Jetpack blog subscriptions?

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Head over to the Subscriptions module under the WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Discussion tab.

4. WordPress Site Uptime & Downtime Monitoring

wordpress site uptime and downtime monitoring by jetpack

The downtime monitoring feature from Jetpack periodically monitors your site and notifies you via email whenever there is a downtime.

Not just that, it keeps on monitoring and sends you emails reminding you that your site is still down. Finally, once your site is back online – Jetpack sends yet another a confirmation email – informing you that your site is online again!

I absolutely love this feature – especially since it helped me win an argument and get a full refund from my shared hosting provider. All I had to do was share the screenshot of my inbox, and bam, they had to process my refund!

Who should use monitoring?

Everyone! Unless, of course, you are using a premium website uptime monitoring tool and don’t want to install an additional plugin.

How do I enable Jetpack downtime monitoring?

jetpack-downtime-monitoring

Downtime Monitoring module from Jetpack

Simply toggle the Downtime monitoring option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Security tab.

5. Related Posts for WordPress

related posts in jetpack

The Related Posts feature automatically suggests related content after every post in your WordPress site. It’s a great way to keep your visitors engaged, improve time-on-site and decrease bounce rate (to an extent).

But wait, there’s a problem:

However, calculating these related posts is a resource-intensive task. The problem multiplies when there are multiple categories and tags, and multiple posts under each of them. Calculating related posts becomes increasingly CPU intensive. Couple all of this into a shared hosting environment and you’ve got yourself a “resource violation” email, or worse – getting your account suspended.

So what’s the fix? Jetpack of course!

Jetpack offloads all of this complex, CPU-intensive computation to the cloud, and returns the finished results – i.e. the related posts – to our WordPress site. All of this for free!. You can further customize the appearance of the related posts (with or without image, excerpt, etc.) using the WordPress Customizer.

Who should use related posts?

Blogs with neatly organized taxonomy, along with sufficient posts and pages under each tag and category. You should not use Related Posts when you only have a handful of posts in your site. In such a case, I would recommend manually linking to your content.

How do I enable Jetpack related posts?

Simple! Just toggle the Related Posts option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Traffic tab.

6. Infinite Scroll in WordPress

infinite scroll wordpress posts jetpack

Infinite Scroll is a feature that automatically loads new posts without refreshing the page, as the visitor scrolls down to the bottom of the current post. Similar to Related Posts, this feature is designed to increase visitor engagement and time on site.

Furthermore, Jetpack gives you the ability to configure how the next posts are loaded. For instance, you can configure them to load automatically – according to the theme/user behaviour. You can also present the visitors with a “read/load more” button, which upon clicking loads the next set of posts.

Who should use infinite scroll?

Anyone with a couple of posts published in their WordPress site can use this feature. This is highly recommended for news and media blogs.

How do I enable Jetpack infinite scroll?

Infinite scroll module from Jetpack

Infinite Scroll module from Jetpack

You can enable this setting form the Theme enhancements setting found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

7. Build a Contact Form in WordPress

contact form illustration by jetpack

This Jetpack module enables you to build contact forms with custom fields directly from the default WordPress editor. With a single click, you’re able to insert and customize contact forms directly from the WordPress editor.

Who should use a contact form?

Most website should have an easy to use contact form, especially if you deal with clients. So anyone not already using a contact form plugin on their WordPress site.

How can I enable Jetpack contact forms?

Jetpack Contact Form inserted directly from the WordPress editor

Good news – this module is enabled by default in Jetpack.

8. Publish Posts via Email in WordPress

publish wordpress posts via email in jetpack

Imagine you’re in a remote location and you have to publish an article in your WordPress site. Media-rich sites like the WordPress editor won’t load due to the slow Internet connectivity. There aren’t any WiFi cafes nearby. The only thing that does seem to work is email. You barely have enough Internet speed to send out an email.

This is where Jetpack’s posts via email feature comes in handy. It gives you a dedicated email address for you to publish in your WordPress blog. Once activated, you can email your post to this address, and it would be published in your blog.

How would it work? Simple. The subject line of your email would be the post title, and the email body would be the blog post content. You can also send additional information such as categories, tags and more using these predefined shortcodes.

Who should use Jetpack post via email?

Publishing posts in WordPress via email using Jetpack!

 

Anyone who needs quick coverage without investing too much time in formatting or working our of areas with limited Internet connectivity.

  • Travel bloggers looking to share their experiences from remote locations with limited Internet connectivity.
  • Reports looking to share quick coverage without going opening the WordPress app every time.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to publish a post via email.

9. Automated Social Sharing in WordPress using Publicize Module

social media automation by jetpack

The Publicize module from Jetpack enables you to automatically post your freshly published content to your social media sites. It saves you the hassle of having to manually post in each social media network.

Who should use Publicize?

Well, anyone who promotes their content on social media is welcome to try this module. However, it is important to select the right social media network depending on your site’s niche,  and then create content specific to each network.

How can I enable Jetpack social sharing?

Jetpack social media sharing settings

You would need to establish a one-time connection with your social media networks from the Publicize settings located under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Sharing tab.

10. Secure Authentication and WordPress.com Login

jetpack security

Jetpack’s secure authentication module enables you (or your users) to login to your WordPress site using WordPress.com account.

You can also configure the module to only allow users to log in if their WordPress.com account email address match with the email ID used to create the user account in your WordPress.site. Additionally, you can require your site’s users to log in using two-factor authentication with WordPress.com.

Who should use login authentication?

Login using WordPress.com

Login using WordPress.com

If you are the sole person running your WordPress blog, then you can skip activating this module. However, if you have multiple contributors to your WordPress site, this could be a useful feature to have!

11. Media Embeds in WordPress

content embed in wordpress by jetpack

This is one of those features that are enabled by default in Jetpack. It essentially helps you paste media-rich content such as YouTube videos and SoundCloud audio files – in their native form – without writing a single line of code/shortcode.

All you have to do is copy-paste the link in your post in the WordPress editor, and Jetpack will take care of the rest.

Jetpack has evolved to support multiple websites with media-rich content including Instagram, Slideshare, Twitter, Google Docs, TED, DailyMotion, CodePen, Medium, Pinterest and more. For a detailed, up-to-date list, check out their official documentation on content embeds.

Who should use media-rich content?

Everyone! 🙂

12. Site Verification and Sitemaps in WordPress

site verification by jetpack

I’ll be straight up with you – Jetpack isn’t the best SEO plugin out there. For starters, the SEO module itself is a paid feature in Jetpack. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a far better, free plugin with a plethora of features and tutorials, trusted by over five million WordPress websites.

That being said, for users who aren’t ready to spend time with a dedicated SEO plugin can use Jetpack’s site verification modules to verify their site with multiple search engines including Google, Bing, Pinterest, and Yandex.

Sitemap and Site Verification Settings from Jetpack

Additionally Jetpack also creates a sitemap which makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site.

Who should use Jetpack sitemaps?

People who aren’t looking to invest time in a dedicated WordPress SEO plugin should use Jetpack’s sitemap. However, we highly recommend using a separate plugin. With just a few hours each week you can get the basics of Yoast SEO nailed down. This way, you’ll have implemented on-page SEO correctly right from day one. That’s a big boost for your long-term search rankings!

13. Widgets, Widgets and More WordPress Widgets

additional widget pack in jetpack

Widgets are one of the most popular features offered by the Jetpack plugin. It provides a plethora of uniquely useful widgets that can be used in multiple ways. They range from social media feeds, GDPR cookie notifications and more. Head over to your WordPress dashboard > Appearance > Widgets to access these additional widgets.

Another exciting widget feature offered by Jetpack is conditional widgets. It essentially enables you to configure the visibility of the widgets based on the page, post, tag or category.

You can define a condition, and only if the condition holds true, the widget is displayed.

Jetpack Custom Widgets

For instance, you can configure a newsletter subscription widget to be visible only in posts under the Finance category. This way you can build super-targeted mailing lists.

Who should use Jetpack widgets?

This mostly depends on the user. If your WordPress theme comes with custom widgets – such as social shares or newsletter subscriptions – you should use those instead of Jetpack, since they have been styled and coded to work well with your theme.

However, you can always use Jetpack’s conditional widgets to create engaging content in your website site.

14. Multiple Sites from a Single Dashboard at WordPress.com

manage multiple wordpress site jetpack

Remember how we spoke of using WordPress.com to reap the full benefits of Jetpack? Well, you’re going to love this feature.

Once you connect your sites with Jetpack, you can manage all of them from your WordPress.com dashboard. This includes things like viewing site stats, publishing posts, responding to comments, updating plugins and much more.

Who should use this?

People managing a handful of WordPress sites could derive value out of this feature. For instance, you can manage your blog(s) and personal site under one roof – in WordPress.com.

However, I would not recommend using this feature if you are managing multiple WordPress sites for clients. Tools like ManageWP and InfiniteWP are built to manage multiple WordPress sites at scale, with a lot more of built-in features and premium support.

15. (Premium) WordPress Backup and Restore by Jetpack

wordpress cloud backup and restore by jetpack

WordPress backup and restoration is a serious matter. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of backup plugins and services that specialize in hourly backups, incremental backups, and more.

Backup and Restore from Jetpack is a premium module starting at $39/year. It takes automatic backups and supports one-click restoration. What’s interesting is how the backup is made.

Jetpack essentially takes a backup whenever an event occurs. An event can include page and post creation/modification, comment submission/modification, plugin and theme installations, modifications, or updates, and additions of or changes to user accounts.

Jetpack also maintains an Activity Log of all the events, listed in chronological order. Every entry in this Activity Log serves as a restore point. Just click on an event and choose between downloading the backup, or restoring your site to that point.

Who should use JetPack backups powered by VaultPress?

Backup is an essential component of maintaining a WordPress site. I would recommend opting for a paid backup plugin if you prefer security and peace of mind, over saving a few bucks every month. (Fun fact – the cost of a backup plugin is usually the cost of a cup of coffee). However, with a little bit of tinkering, you should be able to get the same features for free.

How do I get this?

This is a paid feature starting at $39 per year. You need to purchase a Jetpack plan, configure the plugin with your hosting server credentials, and relax. Jetpack will automatically start taking backups.

Is there a better backup alternative?

If you are willing to spend a little bit extra on your WordPress hosting, consider a managed hosting provider like WPEngine. Not only do you get blazing fast speeds, better reliability, and rapid customer support – you also get a dedicated staging environment and one-click backup and restore. Plans start at $35/month for up to 25,000 visits per month and come with 2 months free if you opt for the annual plan. Not to mention a 60-day risk-free trial!

Jetpack Pricing

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

While most of Jetpack’s features are offered free of charge, there are certain premium modules such as backup and restore, elasticsearch, advanced malware protection that are only available under the paid plan.

Prices start at $39/year for the Personal plan, and come with backup & restore (with a 30-day backup archive) along with priority support.

Get Jetpack Premium

Is getting a paid Jetpack plan worth it?

If you are an occasional blogger with a growing blog, opting for Jetpack’s personal plan could be worth the money. You won’t have to worry about backups and restore, and if things go wrong, you can always contact the priority customer success team.

However, if you are blogging full-time, Jetpack’s Professional plan is recommended. You get advanced malware protection and the ability to accept payments via PayPal with this plan.

A Note on Jetpack and WordPress.com

It is important to note that that Jetpack is a plugin that works in conjunction with WordPress.com even though you can install and use it with WordPress.org sites. This means that you’ll have to create a WordPress.com account in order to reap the full advantages of Jetpack (but don’t worry – you don’t have to host your website on WordPress.com). The advanced customization options for a couple of Jetpack modules can be configured only using WordPress.com.

For the folks just getting started with WordPress, it’s worthwhile to know the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For starters, WordPress.com is the commercial alternative to WordPress.org – the open-source CMS platform. We’ve covered other important differences between the two solutions, in the aforementioned article.

Wrapping Up

jetpack in the future

I originally wrote this article in 2013 and I’m glad to see the new features and improvements in the Jetpack plugin. While they have introduced a paid plan, I absolutely love the fact that they’ve kept the best features like Photon and Downtime Monitoring free. Also, they haven’t deprecated any of the previous modules such as Beautiful Math, Spelling and Grammar, and WP.me Shortlinks.

As always – what are your favourite Jetpack modules? Do you use (or plan to use Jetpack)? Let us know in the comments below!

Love WordPress plugins? Check out our list of the most recommended WordPress plugins to see if you find something new!



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Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins for Scheduling & Reservations


If your business relies on appointments, you have a WordPress site and you haven’t installed a booking plugin yet, you need to get on that. Specifically one of these appointment booking WordPress plugins.

There’s no reason for so many businesses to still force their customers to call them on the phone, contact them by email and wait for a response, or worst of all, physically come into their offices to schedule an appointment. Implementing an easy-to-use booking plugin can lead to increased sales from people who work during most of your hours, or who don’t feel like going through hold times and waiting for a receptionist to book via phone. And it can lead to more appointments being made on impulse, especially since you can hit them with the option to book immediately after your web copy has (hopefully) done its job.

Thankfully, WordPress offers a ton of options for completing this task.

We’ve covered booking plugins before, but only as they relate to the hotels niche. Today, we’re covering 10+ more, and expanding our view to include appointment booking WordPress plugins intended for scheduling just about anything!

Disclaimer: WPExplorer is an affiliate for one or more products listed below. If you click a link and complete a purchase we could make a commission.

1. Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia is one of the most powerful appointment booking plugins you can choose for your business. This automated booking solution keeps working 24/7 so you never miss a new customer. Just install, configure your settings and you’re ready to rock-n-roll!

The plugin includes easy to use features to build your own appointment booking forms. Powerful options include support for multiple employees (along with the ability to add specific services, regular hours and time off for each), local currency, service extras, email notifications, image galleries, coupons, plus color/font options for the front-end design.

With your form ready, customers are able to use the interactive appointments calendar (monthly, weekly, daily as well as list/timeline views) and unique step-by-step booking wizard with faceted filtering to find an appointment time for a specific service with a specific staff member (or even at an exact location). When it’s time to pay, customer’s can use Amelia built-in payment gateways to to reserve their time or opt for an on-site payment.

Amelia even includes a useful shortcode to create a services page. Simple paste the shortcode on a new page any to display your current services with the parameters to specific one service, a whole category or all categories).

2. Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

If you have simpler appointment booking needs (perhaps needs that aren’t worth paying money to fulfill) then the free Appointment Booking Calendar could be your best bet. It offers greater functionality than many free versions of comparable plugins. Features that come with this plugin include bookable time slots, email notifications, the ability to export to Google Drive, printable booking lists, customization of availability and the number of times a user can book, captchas and more.

However, in order to access many of the best features, you need to shell out for the premium version. For instance, if you charge your customers to make an appointment, this plugin isn’t the best idea, as the free version only works with PayPal. To use any other payment gateway, you’re going to have to fork over some cash.

3. Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic’s offering to the booking world is a little different than most. It doesn’t just present the user with a calendar; it takes them directly to the form. The calendar comes up when a user clicks on the date section. So, this is more like the kind of setup your customers will be used to if they book a lot of flights or hotel rooms. That familiarity is a strength.

Like most appointment booking WordPress plugins, the Templatic Booking WordPress Plugin will enable advanced booking features inside your theme, which is perfect for rentals. And after you buy the plugin, it takes care of everything for you, with no monthly or other transaction fees. This is also one of the few plugins that will allow your customers to pay with a direct bank transfer. (However, if you’d like to stick with credit cards, you can always activate other gateways, like with any other plugin.)

Other features include a variable booking form, seasonal prices and the ability to offer the customer other services with their booking. And as a side note, the plugin works great with many of Templatic’s WordPress themes – specifically Service Biz which already includes the plugin.

4. Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments is one of the more comprehensive free bookings plugin available for WordPress sites. With the plugin’s feature list, I have no reason to dispute that claim. One unique feature: if you have multiple staff members that handle appointments, you can give each of them their own calendar – with a bio and picture attached – so that customers can pick which of your employees they’d prefer to book with.

It also works in reverse: the client can pick from a list of services your company offers, and if each one is assigned to a different employee, then they’ll automatically book with that employee. Not only that, it features easy integration with Google Calendars – both for you and the customer – with no coding required. And finally, it takes just three clicks for a customer to book an appointment: one to select a time, one to continue to the confirmation screen and one to confirm. That convenience may well be reflected in your sales.

With a list of over 30 other features, including custom color labels, autofill for repeat customers, Google Maps integration and the ability to login through social media, I’m going to have to say this looks like the best appointment-booking plugin out there at the moment. That price can’t be beat, either.

5. Booked Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked - Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked is a premium appointments manager with plenty of features and options to build an appointments booking form for your business. Accept guest bookings or require users to register for an account, allow users to manager their pending and approved appointments, add custom fields and time slots, create multiple calendars, accept paid bookings using Booked’s WooCommerce integration and more.

Book is also easy to customize. Choose from unlimited color for select options, a responsive layout, login and register form, customizable emails, etc. Plus the built-in shortcodes make it easy for your to insert calendars and login forms on any post or page. There’s even an “Add to Google Calendar” option you can add to help customers remember their appointments.

6. Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

The Easy Appointments plugin is just that – easy. It’s a quick and simple way to add an appointments system to your WordPress site. The plugin supports multiple services, workers, locations and a flexible time table so you can create an advanced timetable of appointment options.When setting up your Easy Appointments plugin there are also options to enable ad customize email notifications for booking confirmation, appointment status and confirmation/cancel.

When it comes to form styling, Easy Appointments keeps it easy too! Choose a 1-2 column layout, drag & drop form fields (and even create your own), add prices or labels, localize the date picker and more. Plus there’s built-in reporting to help you keep track of form conversions and stats.

7. Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

If you’ve been looking at powerful appointment booking WordPress plugins then you’ve probably come across Bookly before. This popular plugin is optimized to help you book more appointments no matter when or how your customers access your site.

Bookly is mobile and translation ready, so your forms look great in any language on any device. Plus, built-in support for email and SMS notifications plus Google Calendar integration ensure your customers never miss an appointment. Want to charge at the time of booking? No problem – Bookly’s payment portal integrations including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Mollie, Payson, PayU Latam, 2checkout, PayUbiz and WooCommerce. Other features include color scheme options, flex scheduling, holidays, booking process steps, 50+ currencies and more.

8. Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

The free Appointment Booking & Online Scheduling plugin by vCita is another great options to add an appointments form to your WordPress site. The plugin is perfect for accepting appointments for events, classes, one on one services and more.

While many other plugin offer similar features for online scheduling such as service appointments with specific staff members, confirmations, and payment support what sets this plugin apart is the messaging and callback functionality. The plugin syncs with the vCita Mobile App to notify you instantly about new booking requests, automate reminders and it allows you to send messages and files to your client before you meet.

9. gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

So far we’ve covered stand alone appointment booking plugins, but what if you want a more powerful forms system? Like Gravity Forms? That’s where gAppointments comes in. This premium plugin adds appointment booking features to the popular Gravity Forms plugin.

When you combine gAppointments with Gravity Forms you’ll have added support for paid bookings, nearly unlimited payment gateways, multiple bookings per date, service intervals, custom services, recurring appointments, Google & Yahoo calendar links, email notifications, auto confirm/complete appointments and more. This plus easy styling settings, translation options and simple front-end form management makes gAppointments a great choice.

10. Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

The Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers great features to build a booking calendar and manage your appointments via your WordPress site. Visitors can book an appointment using the easy 4-step booking process to secure a time, then the plugin will add the reservation to your individual staff’s dashboard so they can manage their own upcoming appointments.

Want more features? The free Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers a premium upgrade for mobile payments, group bookings, private notes, Google calendar integration, flex pricing, multiple locations and more

11. WooCommerce Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

WooCommerce Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

Build your own appointments form using WooCommerce! Just install the WooCommerce Appointment Booking add-on to begin taking reservations, selling tickets, booking appointments and more. Just add your products or services, add your staff, use the plugin to enter bookable times (including blackout dates)and then wait for customers to book times.

This plugin also seamlessly integrates with Google Calendar and allows admins to export an appointments CSV (great for accounting records or HR scheduling). Plus it still maintains all of the great features of WooCommerce like simple or variable products, image galleries, easy search, helpful widgets and more.

Wrapping up the Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

There’s no shortage of appointment booking WordPress plugins that will let you book an appointment via WordPress. There are so many, in fact, that the choice can easily be overwhelming. But hopefully, having a guide like this will prevent that from happening. Any other plugins I should know about? Anything you want to tell me about the ones listed above like your personal experiences? Leave a comment below!



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Complete Guide to RSS and How to Use It with WordPress


What if users didn’t have to come to your WordPress site in order to read your articles? That would certainly make it easier for users since they wouldn’t have to navigate to ten of their favorite blogs and news sources to get their daily information. It would also be nice for the website owners, since it would allow you to distribute your content in a more efficient manner, delivering the content to where the customers want it to be.

That’s the whole idea behind RSS.

RSS has been around since 1999, and it works as a distributor of content across the web. In addition, it combines with aggregators for easier reading, compiling, and organization.

In short, RSS keeps your readers reading all the content they want, in one location. This way, they don’t have to bookmark their favorite news websites or search on Google whenever they want a good read.

How RSS Works

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, offers readers a chance to subscribe to your blog. After that, the reader needs to use an RSS reader or aggregator to consume the content.

In order to subscribe, the reader clicks on a Subscribe button. That’s it. Sometimes it’s difficult to locate an RSS Subscribe button on a website or blog, but you can often find them near the social media buttons, in the footer, or by searching “Website Name” + “RSS Feed” in Google.

Sometimes it’s difficult to locate an RSS Subscribe button on a website or blog, but you can often find them near the social media buttons, in the footer, or by searching “Website Name” + “RSS Feed” in Google.

RSS feeds can also be broken up based on category or topic. This is far more relevant to large online magazines (like the Wall Street Journal or USA Today). Why is that the case? Because those publications have dozens, if not hundreds, of sections.

Why is that the case? Because those publications have dozens, if not hundreds, of sections.

Therefore, a reader could decide to subscribe to the entire paper or just the sports section.

And that’s another benefit of having an RSS feed. It’s entirely possible that some readers only find some of your articles appealing. Therefore, they might only want to subscribe to something like the travel or business sections.

After subscribing to the RSS feed, it’s required for the user to specify how they’re going to consume the information. As mentioned, this requires some sort of aggregator or RSS reader.

The most popular option for this used to be Google Reader. It was a clean, extremely effective way of bringing dozens of RSS feeds together.

Unfortunately, Google Reader stopped operating in 2013. So, that’s not an option anymore. However, there are plenty of other RSS readers being used today.

Which RSS Readers Come Highly Recommended?

After the shutdown of Google Reader, Google mainly recommended that all customers be transferred over to Feedly. It’s definitely the most similar to Google Reader, but it all depends on your own preferences.

There are dozens of RSS readers to choose from, but here are the most popular:

As mentioned, each one has its own charm. For instance, Feedly mimics Google Reader with its cleanliness and organization, while Panda is more of a way to browse multiple websites in one interface. I recommend you test all of them out to see which one is right if you plan on aggregating content. After all, it’s going to be your main hub for reading articles.

How to Use RSS with Your WordPress Site

Now that you understand how readers take advantage of RSS, it’s time to delve into the what and how for WordPress site owners.

To start, you should know that you’ll be interacting with an RSS in one or two ways. The first, and most important, aspect of RSS for website owners is getting that RSS Subscribe button on your site. This acts as a distribution network for your content, all without you doing much work on your end.

How to Add a Link and Icon to Your RSS Feed

You have a few choices to make for this process. Technically, you could go grab an RSS image from Google Images, place that in a widget, and link the image in your sidebar. That would save you the need to install a plugin, but it’s often not the cleanest way to go about including an RSS button.

First, check to see if your WordPress theme includes a custom widget for social icons. If a widget is available you should be able to insert it into any widget ready area (sidebar, footer or even top bar).

Total Social Widget

Above is an example of the Total theme social widget (which also includes options for button style, size, order and more). But if your theme doesn’t include this built-in feature, you may find that using a plugin is your best bet.

Add a Single RSS Button

Initially, you might try inserting the RSS button by itself. This might be the case if you want to keep it separate from social buttons or maybe place it towards the bottom of your website.

If that’s the case, there are a few plugins such as RSS Feed Icon or RSS Icon Widget. They both work fine, but you’re not getting any additional functionality like buttons for increasing your social following.

It’s more common to see the RSS button next to your Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest links, assuming you have those.

Add RSS with Social Media Links

If you’d like to combine all of those buttons in a row, you can typically find social media button plugins that also allow for either a custom icon and link or an actually RSS icon.

Ultimate Social Media Icons does the trick for social buttons and RSS, since it also includes an RSS icon and a field to insert your RSS URL.

What’s My RSS URL?

WordPress automatically generates an RSS feed for you. This feed is a compilation of your articles, and it can be shared with the RSS URL. As you can see in the screenshot above, an RSS URL is required for users to come and click on the button. Most of the time you’ll paste this URL into a plugin field, but sometimes you might simply link an image.

Regardless, your RSS URL looks like this: http://www.wpexplorer.com/feed/

The only thing you have to do is replace the “wpexplorer.com” text with your actual website. Once you have this URL it’s pretty darn easy to start distributing the RSS feed on your website.

Displaying Multiple RSS Feeds on Your WordPress Site

The second reason you might take advantage of RSS is if you’d like to display 3rd-party feeds on your own WordPress site. For example, maybe you run a finance blog and would like to deliver stock trends from a more up-to-date, credible source. After all, you’re not going to be updating stock price variations yourself. You’re better off grabbing the RSS feed from CNNMoney or Reuters and inserting it in your sidebar.

The same goes for most news blogs, since it’s often impossible to keep up with every corner of the news cycle. A movie blog wouldn’t want to miss out on sharing Rotten Tomato scores. And that’s where the Rotten Tomatoes RSS feed comes into play.

So, this RSS tactic is more about providing your users with valuable information, as opposed to distributing content throughout the internet.

The top plugin for implementing an RSS feed on your website is called WP RSS Aggregator.

Download the WP RSS Aggregator plugin and install it on your website. Go to the RSS Aggregator tab in the dashboard and fill in everything from the RSS URL to the name of the feed source. It’ll ask you for some other settings like whether you’d like to link to the source and if you want to remove duplicate titles.

After that, you can manage all your feeds and show them in one constant stream on your website. Place the feed in your sidebar or on its own page.

Why You Need RSS on Your WordPress Site

Some bloggers might dismiss RSS as an old technology. That notion is far from true, especially with tech-savvy readers. Some bloggers think it’s more for large magazines. That’s not true either.

Some bloggers think it’s more for large magazines. That’s not true either.

Even if you get five or ten RSS readers, that’s pretty darn good for a small or mid-sized blog. It’s simply a different way for your users to access content, so it’s like an alternative to your email list or when you post on social media.

If you have any questions about using RSS with WordPress, let us know in the comments below.



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15 Reasons to Use Jetpack for WordPress in 2018


What happens when the people behind WordPress.com, get together to make a WordPress plugin? You get Jetpack.

With over 5 million active installations, Jetpack is designed to be an all-rounder plugin for people using WordPress, regardless of their expertise. Think of it as an all-in-one plugin, with features ranging from performance enhancements, security protocols, theme customization and many more.

People who are new to WordPress can use Jetpack’s site stats, contact form and other useful modules – without having to install a separate plugin for each feature. On the flip side, power users can take advantage of features such as related posts, lazy loading, and CDN – all for free! Though upgrading to Jetpack premium adds even more useful features for Google analytics, advertising, priority support and more.

This article was originally published in 2013, entitled 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Jetpack for WordPress. Five years later, we’re updating this guide with 15 of the best features offered by Jetpack – and why you should be using them in your WordPress site.

Before getting started, it would be helpful to know some of the synonyms used for Jetpack’s “features”. They range from “modules”, to “settings”, to just “features”. We’ll restrict our synonyms to “modules” and “features” throughout the remainder of this article.

Let’s get on with it!

1. Free Content Delivery Network (CDN) for WordPress using Photon

photon free content delivery network by jetpack

The very first feature that comes to mind is the free content delivery network provided by Jetpack. Unlike other CDN providers, Jetpack’s Photon CDN does not require any signup, gives you unlimited CDN bandwidth, and is completely free – for life!

Who should use Photon?

In short, everybody. Whether you are a power user, or a novice user, or someone who is just starting out; using a CDN dramatically speeds up your site’s loading time. This gives you a three-fold advantage:

  1. Google rewards faster sites with better SEO scores. You rank faster for your target keywords.
  2. You save your server’s bandwidth resources; since the images are served from the Photon content delivery network.
  3. A faster website results in a pleasant visitor experience. This, in turn, increases the chances of a conversion – whether it is an email signup, ebook download, or something as simple as a social share!

How do I enable Jetpack Photon?

jetpack-cdn-lazy-load-images

Photon CDN and Lazy load images module from Jetpack

All you need to do is enable the Photon module from the Speed up your site settings, found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

2. Lazy Loading of Images in WordPress

lazy loading of images illustration using a pig

Lazy Loading is a feature that has found a mention in under every credible WordPress performance optimization post. You see, the idea behind lazy loading is simple. Load the image only when the visitor sees it.

This has a two-fold benefit.

  1. One, the site loads faster since the page size of the site is lowered. This, in turn, gives us better SEO, and lower bandwidth consumption from the server site.
  2. The second advantage directly benefits the end user by saving his or her bandwidth.

How can lazy loading save mobile bandwidth?

Let’s say Samantha is browsing an article on the “best fashion WordPress themes” on her phone. When Samantha opens the website, the page starts loading all 25 images at once.

However, with lazy loading enabled, only the images visible in the viewport is loaded. The other images are loaded only when Samantha scrolls down to view them. Thus Samantha ends up saving her precious mobile bandwidth while enjoying a super-snappy website.

Who should use lazy load?

Again, everyone!

How do I enable Jetpack lazy load?

This module is located just below the Photon module. Simply toggle to enable it!

3. Subscribe to New Posts via Email in WordPress

subscribe and follow wordpress blog jetpack

This is a personal favourite. Jetpack has a series of beautiful features when it comes to visitor engagement. We’ll cover them one by one starting with this one.

Jetpack’s email subscription feature enables visitors to subscribe to your blog posts via email. It’s displayed as a Follow Blog button. People who click on it are asked to share their email address in order to subscribe or “follow” your blog’s posts.

Additionally, you can use the Follow Comments feature to give your readers the option to subscribe to your blog’s comments via email.

Whenever a new post is published, or a new comment is posted, your followers get an email with a link to your post/comment.

What are the benefits of Jetpack subscriptions?

Well, for starters, you don’t need to use an email service provider (ESP) like MailChimp. Even when your email list grows, you don’t have to pay for emails. Remember that ESPs with a forever free plan usually put a limitation on the number of subscribers, or the number of emails sent per month – as they should! (They gotta eat, don’t they?)

However, on the flip side, you won’t be able to send individual emails (i.e. without publishing a post) to your subscribers, using this Jetpack module. That’s when you’d have to signup for an ESP.

Who should use subscriptions?

Depends, really. People who simply want to focus on their writing and not on growing their email list can opt for this module. However, if you are serious about your email list from day one (it’s great if you are!), then you start using a free ESP like MailChimp.

How do I enable Jetpack blog subscriptions?

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Head over to the Subscriptions module under the WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Discussion tab.

4. WordPress Site Uptime & Downtime Monitoring

wordpress site uptime and downtime monitoring by jetpack

The downtime monitoring feature from Jetpack periodically monitors your site and notifies you via email whenever there is a downtime.

Not just that, it keeps on monitoring and sends you emails reminding you that your site is still down. Finally, once your site is back online – Jetpack sends yet another a confirmation email – informing you that your site is online again!

I absolutely love this feature – especially since it helped me win an argument and get a full refund from my shared hosting provider. All I had to do was share the screenshot of my inbox, and bam, they had to process my refund!

Who should use monitoring?

Everyone! Unless, of course, you are using a premium website uptime monitoring tool and don’t want to install an additional plugin.

How do I enable Jetpack downtime monitoring?

jetpack-downtime-monitoring

Downtime Monitoring module from Jetpack

Simply toggle the Downtime monitoring option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Security tab.

5. Related Posts for WordPress

related posts in jetpack

The Related Posts feature automatically suggests related content after every post in your WordPress site. It’s a great way to keep your visitors engaged, improve time-on-site and decrease bounce rate (to an extent).

But wait, there’s a problem:

However, calculating these related posts is a resource-intensive task. The problem multiplies when there are multiple categories and tags, and multiple posts under each of them. Calculating related posts becomes increasingly CPU intensive. Couple all of this into a shared hosting environment and you’ve got yourself a “resource violation” email, or worse – getting your account suspended.

So what’s the fix? Jetpack of course!

Jetpack offloads all of this complex, CPU-intensive computation to the cloud, and returns the finished results – i.e. the related posts – to our WordPress site. All of this for free!. You can further customize the appearance of the related posts (with or without image, excerpt, etc.) using the WordPress Customizer.

Who should use related posts?

Blogs with neatly organized taxonomy, along with sufficient posts and pages under each tag and category. You should not use Related Posts when you only have a handful of posts in your site. In such a case, I would recommend manually linking to your content.

How do I enable Jetpack related posts?

Simple! Just toggle the Related Posts option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Traffic tab.

6. Infinite Scroll in WordPress

infinite scroll wordpress posts jetpack

Infinite Scroll is a feature that automatically loads new posts without refreshing the page, as the visitor scrolls down to the bottom of the current post. Similar to Related Posts, this feature is designed to increase visitor engagement and time on site.

Furthermore, Jetpack gives you the ability to configure how the next posts are loaded. For instance, you can configure them to load automatically – according to the theme/user behaviour. You can also present the visitors with a “read/load more” button, which upon clicking loads the next set of posts.

Who should use infinite scroll?

Anyone with a couple of posts published in their WordPress site can use this feature. This is highly recommended for news and media blogs.

How do I enable Jetpack infinite scroll?

Infinite scroll module from Jetpack

Infinite Scroll module from Jetpack

You can enable this setting form the Theme enhancements setting found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

7. Build a Contact Form in WordPress

contact form illustration by jetpack

This Jetpack module enables you to build contact forms with custom fields directly from the default WordPress editor. With a single click, you’re able to insert and customize contact forms directly from the WordPress editor.

Who should use a contact form?

Most website should have an easy to use contact form, especially if you deal with clients. So anyone not already using a contact form plugin on their WordPress site.

How can I enable Jetpack contact forms?

Jetpack Contact Form inserted directly from the WordPress editor

Good news – this module is enabled by default in Jetpack.

8. Publish Posts via Email in WordPress

publish wordpress posts via email in jetpack

Imagine you’re in a remote location and you have to publish an article in your WordPress site. Media-rich sites like the WordPress editor won’t load due to the slow Internet connectivity. There aren’t any WiFi cafes nearby. The only thing that does seem to work is email. You barely have enough Internet speed to send out an email.

This is where Jetpack’s posts via email feature comes in handy. It gives you a dedicated email address for you to publish in your WordPress blog. Once activated, you can email your post to this address, and it would be published in your blog.

How would it work? Simple. The subject line of your email would be the post title, and the email body would be the blog post content. You can also send additional information such as categories, tags and more using these predefined shortcodes.

Who should use Jetpack post via email?

Publishing posts in WordPress via email using Jetpack!

 

Anyone who needs quick coverage without investing too much time in formatting or working our of areas with limited Internet connectivity.

  • Travel bloggers looking to share their experiences from remote locations with limited Internet connectivity.
  • Reports looking to share quick coverage without going opening the WordPress app every time.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to publish a post via email.

9. Automated Social Sharing in WordPress using Publicize Module

social media automation by jetpack

The Publicize module from Jetpack enables you to automatically post your freshly published content to your social media sites. It saves you the hassle of having to manually post in each social media network.

Who should use Publicize?

Well, anyone who promotes their content on social media is welcome to try this module. However, it is important to select the right social media network depending on your site’s niche,  and then create content specific to each network.

How can I enable Jetpack social sharing?

Jetpack social media sharing settings

You would need to establish a one-time connection with your social media networks from the Publicize settings located under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Sharing tab.

10. Secure Authentication and WordPress.com Login

jetpack security

Jetpack’s secure authentication module enables you (or your users) to login to your WordPress site using WordPress.com account.

You can also configure the module to only allow users to log in if their WordPress.com account email address match with the email ID used to create the user account in your WordPress.site. Additionally, you can require your site’s users to log in using two-factor authentication with WordPress.com.

Who should use login authentication?

Login using WordPress.com

Login using WordPress.com

If you are the sole person running your WordPress blog, then you can skip activating this module. However, if you have multiple contributors to your WordPress site, this could be a useful feature to have!

11. Media Embeds in WordPress

content embed in wordpress by jetpack

This is one of those features that are enabled by default in Jetpack. It essentially helps you paste media-rich content such as YouTube videos and SoundCloud audio files – in their native form – without writing a single line of code/shortcode.

All you have to do is copy-paste the link in your post in the WordPress editor, and Jetpack will take care of the rest.

Jetpack has evolved to support multiple websites with media-rich content including Instagram, Slideshare, Twitter, Google Docs, TED, DailyMotion, CodePen, Medium, Pinterest and more. For a detailed, up-to-date list, check out their official documentation on content embeds.

Who should use media-rich content?

Everyone! 🙂

12. Site Verification and Sitemaps in WordPress

site verification by jetpack

I’ll be straight up with you – Jetpack isn’t the best SEO plugin out there. For starters, the SEO module itself is a paid feature in Jetpack. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a far better, free plugin with a plethora of features and tutorials, trusted by over five million WordPress websites.

That being said, for users who aren’t ready to spend time with a dedicated SEO plugin can use Jetpack’s site verification modules to verify their site with multiple search engines including Google, Bing, Pinterest, and Yandex.

Sitemap and Site Verification Settings from Jetpack

Additionally Jetpack also creates a sitemap which makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site.

Who should use Jetpack sitemaps?

People who aren’t looking to invest time in a dedicated WordPress SEO plugin should use Jetpack’s sitemap. However, we highly recommend using a separate plugin. With just a few hours each week you can get the basics of Yoast SEO nailed down. This way, you’ll have implemented on-page SEO correctly right from day one. That’s a big boost for your long-term search rankings!

13. Widgets, Widgets and More WordPress Widgets

additional widget pack in jetpack

Widgets are one of the most popular features offered by the Jetpack plugin. It provides a plethora of uniquely useful widgets that can be used in multiple ways. They range from social media feeds, GDPR cookie notifications and more. Head over to your WordPress dashboard > Appearance > Widgets to access these additional widgets.

Another exciting widget feature offered by Jetpack is conditional widgets. It essentially enables you to configure the visibility of the widgets based on the page, post, tag or category.

You can define a condition, and only if the condition holds true, the widget is displayed.

Jetpack Custom Widgets

For instance, you can configure a newsletter subscription widget to be visible only in posts under the Finance category. This way you can build super-targeted mailing lists.

Who should use Jetpack widgets?

This mostly depends on the user. If your WordPress theme comes with custom widgets – such as social shares or newsletter subscriptions – you should use those instead of Jetpack, since they have been styled and coded to work well with your theme.

However, you can always use Jetpack’s conditional widgets to create engaging content in your website site.

14. Multiple Sites from a Single Dashboard at WordPress.com

manage multiple wordpress site jetpack

Remember how we spoke of using WordPress.com to reap the full benefits of Jetpack? Well, you’re going to love this feature.

Once you connect your sites with Jetpack, you can manage all of them from your WordPress.com dashboard. This includes things like viewing site stats, publishing posts, responding to comments, updating plugins and much more.

Who should use this?

People managing a handful of WordPress sites could derive value out of this feature. For instance, you can manage your blog(s) and personal site under one roof – in WordPress.com.

However, I would not recommend using this feature if you are managing multiple WordPress sites for clients. Tools like ManageWP and InfiniteWP are built to manage multiple WordPress sites at scale, with a lot more of built-in features and premium support.

15. (Premium) WordPress Backup and Restore by Jetpack

wordpress cloud backup and restore by jetpack

WordPress backup and restoration is a serious matter. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of backup plugins and services that specialize in hourly backups, incremental backups, and more.

Backup and Restore from Jetpack is a premium module starting at $39/year. It takes automatic backups and supports one-click restoration. What’s interesting is how the backup is made.

Jetpack essentially takes a backup whenever an event occurs. An event can include page and post creation/modification, comment submission/modification, plugin and theme installations, modifications, or updates, and additions of or changes to user accounts.

Jetpack also maintains an Activity Log of all the events, listed in chronological order. Every entry in this Activity Log serves as a restore point. Just click on an event and choose between downloading the backup, or restoring your site to that point.

Who should use JetPack backups powered by VaultPress?

Backup is an essential component of maintaining a WordPress site. I would recommend opting for a paid backup plugin if you prefer security and peace of mind, over saving a few bucks every month. (Fun fact – the cost of a backup plugin is usually the cost of a cup of coffee). However, with a little bit of tinkering, you should be able to get the same features for free.

How do I get this?

This is a paid feature starting at $39 per year. You need to purchase a Jetpack plan, configure the plugin with your hosting server credentials, and relax. Jetpack will automatically start taking backups.

Is there a better backup alternative?

If you are willing to spend a little bit extra on your WordPress hosting, consider a managed hosting provider like WPEngine. Not only do you get blazing fast speeds, better reliability, and rapid customer support – you also get a dedicated staging environment and one-click backup and restore. Plans start at $35/month for up to 25,000 visits per month and come with 2 months free if you opt for the annual plan. Not to mention a 60-day risk-free trial!

Jetpack Pricing

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

While most of Jetpack’s features are offered free of charge, there are certain premium modules such as backup and restore, elasticsearch, advanced malware protection that are only available under the paid plan.

Prices start at $39/year for the Personal plan, and come with backup & restore (with a 30-day backup archive) along with priority support.

Get Jetpack Premium

Is getting a paid Jetpack plan worth it?

If you are an occasional blogger with a growing blog, opting for Jetpack’s personal plan could be worth the money. You won’t have to worry about backups and restore, and if things go wrong, you can always contact the priority customer success team.

However, if you are blogging full-time, Jetpack’s Professional plan is recommended. You get advanced malware protection and the ability to accept payments via PayPal with this plan.

A Note on Jetpack and WordPress.com

It is important to note that that Jetpack is a plugin that works in conjunction with WordPress.com even though you can install and use it with WordPress.org sites. This means that you’ll have to create a WordPress.com account in order to reap the full advantages of Jetpack (but don’t worry – you don’t have to host your website on WordPress.com). The advanced customization options for a couple of Jetpack modules can be configured only using WordPress.com.

For the folks just getting started with WordPress, it’s worthwhile to know the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For starters, WordPress.com is the commercial alternative to WordPress.org – the open-source CMS platform. We’ve covered other important differences between the two solutions, in the aforementioned article.

Wrapping Up

jetpack in the future

I originally wrote this article in 2013 and I’m glad to see the new features and improvements in the Jetpack plugin. While they have introduced a paid plan, I absolutely love the fact that they’ve kept the best features like Photon and Downtime Monitoring free. Also, they haven’t deprecated any of the previous modules such as Beautiful Math, Spelling and Grammar, and WP.me Shortlinks.

As always – what are your favourite Jetpack modules? Do you use (or plan to use Jetpack)? Let us know in the comments below!

Love WordPress plugins? Check out our list of the most recommended WordPress plugins to see if you find something new!



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Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins for Scheduling & Reservations


If your business relies on appointments, you have a WordPress site and you haven’t installed a booking plugin yet, you need to get on that. Specifically one of these appointment booking WordPress plugins.

There’s no reason for so many businesses to still force their customers to call them on the phone, contact them by email and wait for a response, or worst of all, physically come into their offices to schedule an appointment. Implementing an easy-to-use booking plugin can lead to increased sales from people who work during most of your hours, or who don’t feel like going through hold times and waiting for a receptionist to book via phone. And it can lead to more appointments being made on impulse, especially since you can hit them with the option to book immediately after your web copy has (hopefully) done its job.

Thankfully, WordPress offers a ton of options for completing this task.

We’ve covered booking plugins before, but only as they relate to the hotels niche. Today, we’re covering 10+ more, and expanding our view to include appointment booking WordPress plugins intended for scheduling just about anything!

Disclaimer: WPExplorer is an affiliate for one or more products listed below. If you click a link and complete a purchase we could make a commission.

1. Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia is one of the most powerful appointment booking plugins you can choose for your business. This automated booking solution keeps working 24/7 so you never miss a new customer. Just install, configure your settings and you’re ready to rock-n-roll!

The plugin includes easy to use features to build your own appointment booking forms. Powerful options include support for multiple employees (along with the ability to add specific services, regular hours and time off for each), local currency, service extras, email notifications, image galleries, coupons, plus color/font options for the front-end design.

With your form ready, customers are able to use the interactive appointments calendar (monthly, weekly, daily as well as list/timeline views) and unique step-by-step booking wizard with faceted filtering to find an appointment time for a specific service with a specific staff member (or even at an exact location). When it’s time to pay, customer’s can use Amelia built-in payment gateways to to reserve their time or opt for an on-site payment.

Amelia even includes a useful shortcode to create a services page. Simple paste the shortcode on a new page any to display your current services with the parameters to specific one service, a whole category or all categories).

2. Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

If you have simpler appointment booking needs (perhaps needs that aren’t worth paying money to fulfill) then the free Appointment Booking Calendar could be your best bet. It offers greater functionality than many free versions of comparable plugins. Features that come with this plugin include bookable time slots, email notifications, the ability to export to Google Drive, printable booking lists, customization of availability and the number of times a user can book, captchas and more.

However, in order to access many of the best features, you need to shell out for the premium version. For instance, if you charge your customers to make an appointment, this plugin isn’t the best idea, as the free version only works with PayPal. To use any other payment gateway, you’re going to have to fork over some cash.

3. Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic’s offering to the booking world is a little different than most. It doesn’t just present the user with a calendar; it takes them directly to the form. The calendar comes up when a user clicks on the date section. So, this is more like the kind of setup your customers will be used to if they book a lot of flights or hotel rooms. That familiarity is a strength.

Like most appointment booking WordPress plugins, the Templatic Booking WordPress Plugin will enable advanced booking features inside your theme, which is perfect for rentals. And after you buy the plugin, it takes care of everything for you, with no monthly or other transaction fees. This is also one of the few plugins that will allow your customers to pay with a direct bank transfer. (However, if you’d like to stick with credit cards, you can always activate other gateways, like with any other plugin.)

Other features include a variable booking form, seasonal prices and the ability to offer the customer other services with their booking. And as a side note, the plugin works great with many of Templatic’s WordPress themes – specifically Service Biz which already includes the plugin.

4. Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments is one of the more comprehensive free bookings plugin available for WordPress sites. With the plugin’s feature list, I have no reason to dispute that claim. One unique feature: if you have multiple staff members that handle appointments, you can give each of them their own calendar – with a bio and picture attached – so that customers can pick which of your employees they’d prefer to book with.

It also works in reverse: the client can pick from a list of services your company offers, and if each one is assigned to a different employee, then they’ll automatically book with that employee. Not only that, it features easy integration with Google Calendars – both for you and the customer – with no coding required. And finally, it takes just three clicks for a customer to book an appointment: one to select a time, one to continue to the confirmation screen and one to confirm. That convenience may well be reflected in your sales.

With a list of over 30 other features, including custom color labels, autofill for repeat customers, Google Maps integration and the ability to login through social media, I’m going to have to say this looks like the best appointment-booking plugin out there at the moment. That price can’t be beat, either.

5. Booked Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked - Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked is a premium appointments manager with plenty of features and options to build an appointments booking form for your business. Accept guest bookings or require users to register for an account, allow users to manager their pending and approved appointments, add custom fields and time slots, create multiple calendars, accept paid bookings using Booked’s WooCommerce integration and more.

Book is also easy to customize. Choose from unlimited color for select options, a responsive layout, login and register form, customizable emails, etc. Plus the built-in shortcodes make it easy for your to insert calendars and login forms on any post or page. There’s even an “Add to Google Calendar” option you can add to help customers remember their appointments.

6. Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

The Easy Appointments plugin is just that – easy. It’s a quick and simple way to add an appointments system to your WordPress site. The plugin supports multiple services, workers, locations and a flexible time table so you can create an advanced timetable of appointment options.When setting up your Easy Appointments plugin there are also options to enable ad customize email notifications for booking confirmation, appointment status and confirmation/cancel.

When it comes to form styling, Easy Appointments keeps it easy too! Choose a 1-2 column layout, drag & drop form fields (and even create your own), add prices or labels, localize the date picker and more. Plus there’s built-in reporting to help you keep track of form conversions and stats.

7. Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

If you’ve been looking at powerful appointment booking WordPress plugins then you’ve probably come across Bookly before. This popular plugin is optimized to help you book more appointments no matter when or how your customers access your site.

Bookly is mobile and translation ready, so your forms look great in any language on any device. Plus, built-in support for email and SMS notifications plus Google Calendar integration ensure your customers never miss an appointment. Want to charge at the time of booking? No problem – Bookly’s payment portal integrations including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Mollie, Payson, PayU Latam, 2checkout, PayUbiz and WooCommerce. Other features include color scheme options, flex scheduling, holidays, booking process steps, 50+ currencies and more.

8. Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

The free Appointment Booking & Online Scheduling plugin by vCita is another great options to add an appointments form to your WordPress site. The plugin is perfect for accepting appointments for events, classes, one on one services and more.

While many other plugin offer similar features for online scheduling such as service appointments with specific staff members, confirmations, and payment support what sets this plugin apart is the messaging and callback functionality. The plugin syncs with the vCita Mobile App to notify you instantly about new booking requests, automate reminders and it allows you to send messages and files to your client before you meet.

9. gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

So far we’ve covered stand alone appointment booking plugins, but what if you want a more powerful forms system? Like Gravity Forms? That’s where gAppointments comes in. This premium plugin adds appointment booking features to the popular Gravity Forms plugin.

When you combine gAppointments with Gravity Forms you’ll have added support for paid bookings, nearly unlimited payment gateways, multiple bookings per date, service intervals, custom services, recurring appointments, Google & Yahoo calendar links, email notifications, auto confirm/complete appointments and more. This plus easy styling settings, translation options and simple front-end form management makes gAppointments a great choice.

10. Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

The Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers great features to build a booking calendar and manage your appointments via your WordPress site. Visitors can book an appointment using the easy 4-step booking process to secure a time, then the plugin will add the reservation to your individual staff’s dashboard so they can manage their own upcoming appointments.

Want more features? The free Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers a premium upgrade for mobile payments, group bookings, private notes, Google calendar integration, flex pricing, multiple locations and more

11. WooCommerce Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

WooCommerce Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

Build your own appointments form using WooCommerce! Just install the WooCommerce Appointment Booking add-on to begin taking reservations, selling tickets, booking appointments and more. Just add your products or services, add your staff, use the plugin to enter bookable times (including blackout dates)and then wait for customers to book times.

This plugin also seamlessly integrates with Google Calendar and allows admins to export an appointments CSV (great for accounting records or HR scheduling). Plus it still maintains all of the great features of WooCommerce like simple or variable products, image galleries, easy search, helpful widgets and more.

Wrapping up the Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

There’s no shortage of appointment booking WordPress plugins that will let you book an appointment via WordPress. There are so many, in fact, that the choice can easily be overwhelming. But hopefully, having a guide like this will prevent that from happening. Any other plugins I should know about? Anything you want to tell me about the ones listed above like your personal experiences? Leave a comment below!



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15 Reasons to Use Jetpack for WordPress in 2018


What happens when the people behind WordPress.com, get together to make a WordPress plugin? You get Jetpack.

With over 5 million active installations, Jetpack is designed to be an all-rounder plugin for people using WordPress, regardless of their expertise. Think of it as an all-in-one plugin, with features ranging from performance enhancements, security protocols, theme customization and many more.

People who are new to WordPress can use Jetpack’s site stats, contact form and other useful modules – without having to install a separate plugin for each feature. On the flip side, power users can take advantage of features such as related posts, lazy loading, and CDN – all for free! Though upgrading to Jetpack premium adds even more useful features for Google analytics, advertising, priority support and more.

This article was originally published in 2013, entitled 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Jetpack for WordPress. Five years later, we’re updating this guide with 15 of the best features offered by Jetpack – and why you should be using them in your WordPress site.

Before getting started, it would be helpful to know some of the synonyms used for Jetpack’s “features”. They range from “modules”, to “settings”, to just “features”. We’ll restrict our synonyms to “modules” and “features” throughout the remainder of this article.

Let’s get on with it!

1. Free Content Delivery Network (CDN) for WordPress using Photon

photon free content delivery network by jetpack

The very first feature that comes to mind is the free content delivery network provided by Jetpack. Unlike other CDN providers, Jetpack’s Photon CDN does not require any signup, gives you unlimited CDN bandwidth, and is completely free – for life!

Who should use Photon?

In short, everybody. Whether you are a power user, or a novice user, or someone who is just starting out; using a CDN dramatically speeds up your site’s loading time. This gives you a three-fold advantage:

  1. Google rewards faster sites with better SEO scores. You rank faster for your target keywords.
  2. You save your server’s bandwidth resources; since the images are served from the Photon content delivery network.
  3. A faster website results in a pleasant visitor experience. This, in turn, increases the chances of a conversion – whether it is an email signup, ebook download, or something as simple as a social share!

How do I enable Jetpack Photon?

jetpack-cdn-lazy-load-images

Photon CDN and Lazy load images module from Jetpack

All you need to do is enable the Photon module from the Speed up your site settings, found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

2. Lazy Loading of Images in WordPress

lazy loading of images illustration using a pig

Lazy Loading is a feature that has found a mention in under every credible WordPress performance optimization post. You see, the idea behind lazy loading is simple. Load the image only when the visitor sees it.

This has a two-fold benefit.

  1. One, the site loads faster since the page size of the site is lowered. This, in turn, gives us better SEO, and lower bandwidth consumption from the server site.
  2. The second advantage directly benefits the end user by saving his or her bandwidth.

How can lazy loading save mobile bandwidth?

Let’s say Samantha is browsing an article on the “best fashion WordPress themes” on her phone. When Samantha opens the website, the page starts loading all 25 images at once.

However, with lazy loading enabled, only the images visible in the viewport is loaded. The other images are loaded only when Samantha scrolls down to view them. Thus Samantha ends up saving her precious mobile bandwidth while enjoying a super-snappy website.

Who should use lazy load?

Again, everyone!

How do I enable Jetpack lazy load?

This module is located just below the Photon module. Simply toggle to enable it!

3. Subscribe to New Posts via Email in WordPress

subscribe and follow wordpress blog jetpack

This is a personal favourite. Jetpack has a series of beautiful features when it comes to visitor engagement. We’ll cover them one by one starting with this one.

Jetpack’s email subscription feature enables visitors to subscribe to your blog posts via email. It’s displayed as a Follow Blog button. People who click on it are asked to share their email address in order to subscribe or “follow” your blog’s posts.

Additionally, you can use the Follow Comments feature to give your readers the option to subscribe to your blog’s comments via email.

Whenever a new post is published, or a new comment is posted, your followers get an email with a link to your post/comment.

What are the benefits of Jetpack subscriptions?

Well, for starters, you don’t need to use an email service provider (ESP) like MailChimp. Even when your email list grows, you don’t have to pay for emails. Remember that ESPs with a forever free plan usually put a limitation on the number of subscribers, or the number of emails sent per month – as they should! (They gotta eat, don’t they?)

However, on the flip side, you won’t be able to send individual emails (i.e. without publishing a post) to your subscribers, using this Jetpack module. That’s when you’d have to signup for an ESP.

Who should use subscriptions?

Depends, really. People who simply want to focus on their writing and not on growing their email list can opt for this module. However, if you are serious about your email list from day one (it’s great if you are!), then you start using a free ESP like MailChimp.

How do I enable Jetpack blog subscriptions?

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Head over to the Subscriptions module under the WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Discussion tab.

4. WordPress Site Uptime & Downtime Monitoring

wordpress site uptime and downtime monitoring by jetpack

The downtime monitoring feature from Jetpack periodically monitors your site and notifies you via email whenever there is a downtime.

Not just that, it keeps on monitoring and sends you emails reminding you that your site is still down. Finally, once your site is back online – Jetpack sends yet another a confirmation email – informing you that your site is online again!

I absolutely love this feature – especially since it helped me win an argument and get a full refund from my shared hosting provider. All I had to do was share the screenshot of my inbox, and bam, they had to process my refund!

Who should use monitoring?

Everyone! Unless, of course, you are using a premium website uptime monitoring tool and don’t want to install an additional plugin.

How do I enable Jetpack downtime monitoring?

jetpack-downtime-monitoring

Downtime Monitoring module from Jetpack

Simply toggle the Downtime monitoring option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Security tab.

5. Related Posts for WordPress

related posts in jetpack

The Related Posts feature automatically suggests related content after every post in your WordPress site. It’s a great way to keep your visitors engaged, improve time-on-site and decrease bounce rate (to an extent).

But wait, there’s a problem:

However, calculating these related posts is a resource-intensive task. The problem multiplies when there are multiple categories and tags, and multiple posts under each of them. Calculating related posts becomes increasingly CPU intensive. Couple all of this into a shared hosting environment and you’ve got yourself a “resource violation” email, or worse – getting your account suspended.

So what’s the fix? Jetpack of course!

Jetpack offloads all of this complex, CPU-intensive computation to the cloud, and returns the finished results – i.e. the related posts – to our WordPress site. All of this for free!. You can further customize the appearance of the related posts (with or without image, excerpt, etc.) using the WordPress Customizer.

Who should use related posts?

Blogs with neatly organized taxonomy, along with sufficient posts and pages under each tag and category. You should not use Related Posts when you only have a handful of posts in your site. In such a case, I would recommend manually linking to your content.

How do I enable Jetpack related posts?

Simple! Just toggle the Related Posts option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Traffic tab.

6. Infinite Scroll in WordPress

infinite scroll wordpress posts jetpack

Infinite Scroll is a feature that automatically loads new posts without refreshing the page, as the visitor scrolls down to the bottom of the current post. Similar to Related Posts, this feature is designed to increase visitor engagement and time on site.

Furthermore, Jetpack gives you the ability to configure how the next posts are loaded. For instance, you can configure them to load automatically – according to the theme/user behaviour. You can also present the visitors with a “read/load more” button, which upon clicking loads the next set of posts.

Who should use infinite scroll?

Anyone with a couple of posts published in their WordPress site can use this feature. This is highly recommended for news and media blogs.

How do I enable Jetpack infinite scroll?

Infinite scroll module from Jetpack

Infinite Scroll module from Jetpack

You can enable this setting form the Theme enhancements setting found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

7. Build a Contact Form in WordPress

contact form illustration by jetpack

This Jetpack module enables you to build contact forms with custom fields directly from the default WordPress editor. With a single click, you’re able to insert and customize contact forms directly from the WordPress editor.

Who should use a contact form?

Most website should have an easy to use contact form, especially if you deal with clients. So anyone not already using a contact form plugin on their WordPress site.

How can I enable Jetpack contact forms?

Jetpack Contact Form inserted directly from the WordPress editor

Good news – this module is enabled by default in Jetpack.

8. Publish Posts via Email in WordPress

publish wordpress posts via email in jetpack

Imagine you’re in a remote location and you have to publish an article in your WordPress site. Media-rich sites like the WordPress editor won’t load due to the slow Internet connectivity. There aren’t any WiFi cafes nearby. The only thing that does seem to work is email. You barely have enough Internet speed to send out an email.

This is where Jetpack’s posts via email feature comes in handy. It gives you a dedicated email address for you to publish in your WordPress blog. Once activated, you can email your post to this address, and it would be published in your blog.

How would it work? Simple. The subject line of your email would be the post title, and the email body would be the blog post content. You can also send additional information such as categories, tags and more using these predefined shortcodes.

Who should use Jetpack post via email?

Publishing posts in WordPress via email using Jetpack!

 

Anyone who needs quick coverage without investing too much time in formatting or working our of areas with limited Internet connectivity.

  • Travel bloggers looking to share their experiences from remote locations with limited Internet connectivity.
  • Reports looking to share quick coverage without going opening the WordPress app every time.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to publish a post via email.

9. Automated Social Sharing in WordPress using Publicize Module

social media automation by jetpack

The Publicize module from Jetpack enables you to automatically post your freshly published content to your social media sites. It saves you the hassle of having to manually post in each social media network.

Who should use Publicize?

Well, anyone who promotes their content on social media is welcome to try this module. However, it is important to select the right social media network depending on your site’s niche,  and then create content specific to each network.

How can I enable Jetpack social sharing?

Jetpack social media sharing settings

You would need to establish a one-time connection with your social media networks from the Publicize settings located under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Sharing tab.

10. Secure Authentication and WordPress.com Login

jetpack security

Jetpack’s secure authentication module enables you (or your users) to login to your WordPress site using WordPress.com account.

You can also configure the module to only allow users to log in if their WordPress.com account email address match with the email ID used to create the user account in your WordPress.site. Additionally, you can require your site’s users to log in using two-factor authentication with WordPress.com.

Who should use login authentication?

Login using WordPress.com

Login using WordPress.com

If you are the sole person running your WordPress blog, then you can skip activating this module. However, if you have multiple contributors to your WordPress site, this could be a useful feature to have!

11. Media Embeds in WordPress

content embed in wordpress by jetpack

This is one of those features that are enabled by default in Jetpack. It essentially helps you paste media-rich content such as YouTube videos and SoundCloud audio files – in their native form – without writing a single line of code/shortcode.

All you have to do is copy-paste the link in your post in the WordPress editor, and Jetpack will take care of the rest.

Jetpack has evolved to support multiple websites with media-rich content including Instagram, Slideshare, Twitter, Google Docs, TED, DailyMotion, CodePen, Medium, Pinterest and more. For a detailed, up-to-date list, check out their official documentation on content embeds.

Who should use media-rich content?

Everyone! 🙂

12. Site Verification and Sitemaps in WordPress

site verification by jetpack

I’ll be straight up with you – Jetpack isn’t the best SEO plugin out there. For starters, the SEO module itself is a paid feature in Jetpack. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a far better, free plugin with a plethora of features and tutorials, trusted by over five million WordPress websites.

That being said, for users who aren’t ready to spend time with a dedicated SEO plugin can use Jetpack’s site verification modules to verify their site with multiple search engines including Google, Bing, Pinterest, and Yandex.

Sitemap and Site Verification Settings from Jetpack

Additionally Jetpack also creates a sitemap which makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site.

Who should use Jetpack sitemaps?

People who aren’t looking to invest time in a dedicated WordPress SEO plugin should use Jetpack’s sitemap. However, we highly recommend using a separate plugin. With just a few hours each week you can get the basics of Yoast SEO nailed down. This way, you’ll have implemented on-page SEO correctly right from day one. That’s a big boost for your long-term search rankings!

13. Widgets, Widgets and More WordPress Widgets

additional widget pack in jetpack

Widgets are one of the most popular features offered by the Jetpack plugin. It provides a plethora of uniquely useful widgets that can be used in multiple ways. They range from social media feeds, GDPR cookie notifications and more. Head over to your WordPress dashboard > Appearance > Widgets to access these additional widgets.

Another exciting widget feature offered by Jetpack is conditional widgets. It essentially enables you to configure the visibility of the widgets based on the page, post, tag or category.

You can define a condition, and only if the condition holds true, the widget is displayed.

Jetpack Custom Widgets

For instance, you can configure a newsletter subscription widget to be visible only in posts under the Finance category. This way you can build super-targeted mailing lists.

Who should use Jetpack widgets?

This mostly depends on the user. If your WordPress theme comes with custom widgets – such as social shares or newsletter subscriptions – you should use those instead of Jetpack, since they have been styled and coded to work well with your theme.

However, you can always use Jetpack’s conditional widgets to create engaging content in your website site.

14. Multiple Sites from a Single Dashboard at WordPress.com

manage multiple wordpress site jetpack

Remember how we spoke of using WordPress.com to reap the full benefits of Jetpack? Well, you’re going to love this feature.

Once you connect your sites with Jetpack, you can manage all of them from your WordPress.com dashboard. This includes things like viewing site stats, publishing posts, responding to comments, updating plugins and much more.

Who should use this?

People managing a handful of WordPress sites could derive value out of this feature. For instance, you can manage your blog(s) and personal site under one roof – in WordPress.com.

However, I would not recommend using this feature if you are managing multiple WordPress sites for clients. Tools like ManageWP and InfiniteWP are built to manage multiple WordPress sites at scale, with a lot more of built-in features and premium support.

15. (Premium) WordPress Backup and Restore by Jetpack

wordpress cloud backup and restore by jetpack

WordPress backup and restoration is a serious matter. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of backup plugins and services that specialize in hourly backups, incremental backups, and more.

Backup and Restore from Jetpack is a premium module starting at $39/year. It takes automatic backups and supports one-click restoration. What’s interesting is how the backup is made.

Jetpack essentially takes a backup whenever an event occurs. An event can include page and post creation/modification, comment submission/modification, plugin and theme installations, modifications, or updates, and additions of or changes to user accounts.

Jetpack also maintains an Activity Log of all the events, listed in chronological order. Every entry in this Activity Log serves as a restore point. Just click on an event and choose between downloading the backup, or restoring your site to that point.

Who should use JetPack backups powered by VaultPress?

Backup is an essential component of maintaining a WordPress site. I would recommend opting for a paid backup plugin if you prefer security and peace of mind, over saving a few bucks every month. (Fun fact – the cost of a backup plugin is usually the cost of a cup of coffee). However, with a little bit of tinkering, you should be able to get the same features for free.

How do I get this?

This is a paid feature starting at $39 per year. You need to purchase a Jetpack plan, configure the plugin with your hosting server credentials, and relax. Jetpack will automatically start taking backups.

Is there a better backup alternative?

If you are willing to spend a little bit extra on your WordPress hosting, consider a managed hosting provider like WPEngine. Not only do you get blazing fast speeds, better reliability, and rapid customer support – you also get a dedicated staging environment and one-click backup and restore. Plans start at $35/month for up to 25,000 visits per month and come with 2 months free if you opt for the annual plan. Not to mention a 60-day risk-free trial!

Jetpack Pricing

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

While most of Jetpack’s features are offered free of charge, there are certain premium modules such as backup and restore, elasticsearch, advanced malware protection that are only available under the paid plan.

Prices start at $39/year for the Personal plan, and come with backup & restore (with a 30-day backup archive) along with priority support.

Get Jetpack Premium

Is getting a paid Jetpack plan worth it?

If you are an occasional blogger with a growing blog, opting for Jetpack’s personal plan could be worth the money. You won’t have to worry about backups and restore, and if things go wrong, you can always contact the priority customer success team.

However, if you are blogging full-time, Jetpack’s Professional plan is recommended. You get advanced malware protection and the ability to accept payments via PayPal with this plan.

A Note on Jetpack and WordPress.com

It is important to note that that Jetpack is a plugin that works in conjunction with WordPress.com even though you can install and use it with WordPress.org sites. This means that you’ll have to create a WordPress.com account in order to reap the full advantages of Jetpack (but don’t worry – you don’t have to host your website on WordPress.com). The advanced customization options for a couple of Jetpack modules can be configured only using WordPress.com.

For the folks just getting started with WordPress, it’s worthwhile to know the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For starters, WordPress.com is the commercial alternative to WordPress.org – the open-source CMS platform. We’ve covered other important differences between the two solutions, in the aforementioned article.

Wrapping Up

jetpack in the future

I originally wrote this article in 2013 and I’m glad to see the new features and improvements in the Jetpack plugin. While they have introduced a paid plan, I absolutely love the fact that they’ve kept the best features like Photon and Downtime Monitoring free. Also, they haven’t deprecated any of the previous modules such as Beautiful Math, Spelling and Grammar, and WP.me Shortlinks.

As always – what are your favourite Jetpack modules? Do you use (or plan to use Jetpack)? Let us know in the comments below!

Love WordPress plugins? Check out our list of the most recommended WordPress plugins to see if you find something new!



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Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins for Scheduling & Reservations


If your business relies on appointments, you have a WordPress site and you haven’t installed a booking plugin yet, you need to get on that. Specifically one of these appointment booking WordPress plugins.

There’s no reason for so many businesses to still force their customers to call them on the phone, contact them by email and wait for a response, or worst of all, physically come into their offices to schedule an appointment. Implementing an easy-to-use booking plugin can lead to increased sales from people who work during most of your hours, or who don’t feel like going through hold times and waiting for a receptionist to book via phone. And it can lead to more appointments being made on impulse, especially since you can hit them with the option to book immediately after your web copy has (hopefully) done its job.

Thankfully, WordPress offers a ton of options for completing this task.

We’ve covered booking plugins before, but only as they relate to the hotels niche. Today, we’re covering 10+ more, and expanding our view to include appointment booking WordPress plugins intended for scheduling just about anything!

Disclaimer: WPExplorer is an affiliate for one or more products listed below. If you click a link and complete a purchase we could make a commission.

1. Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia is one of the most powerful appointment booking plugins you can choose for your business. This automated booking solution keeps working 24/7 so you never miss a new customer. Just install, configure your settings and you’re ready to rock-n-roll!

The plugin includes easy to use features to build your own appointment booking forms. Powerful options include support for multiple employees (along with the ability to add specific services, regular hours and time off for each), local currency, service extras, email notifications, image galleries, coupons, plus color/font options for the front-end design.

With your form ready, customers are able to use the interactive appointments calendar (monthly, weekly, daily as well as list/timeline views) and unique step-by-step booking wizard with faceted filtering to find an appointment time for a specific service with a specific staff member (or even at an exact location). When it’s time to pay, customer’s can use Amelia built-in payment gateways to to reserve their time or opt for an on-site payment.

Amelia even includes a useful shortcode to create a services page. Simple paste the shortcode on a new page any to display your current services with the parameters to specific one service, a whole category or all categories).

2. Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

If you have simpler appointment booking needs (perhaps needs that aren’t worth paying money to fulfill) then the free Appointment Booking Calendar could be your best bet. It offers greater functionality than many free versions of comparable plugins. Features that come with this plugin include bookable time slots, email notifications, the ability to export to Google Drive, printable booking lists, customization of availability and the number of times a user can book, captchas and more.

However, in order to access many of the best features, you need to shell out for the premium version. For instance, if you charge your customers to make an appointment, this plugin isn’t the best idea, as the free version only works with PayPal. To use any other payment gateway, you’re going to have to fork over some cash.

3. Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic’s offering to the booking world is a little different than most. It doesn’t just present the user with a calendar; it takes them directly to the form. The calendar comes up when a user clicks on the date section. So, this is more like the kind of setup your customers will be used to if they book a lot of flights or hotel rooms. That familiarity is a strength.

Like most appointment booking WordPress plugins, the Templatic Booking WordPress Plugin will enable advanced booking features inside your theme, which is perfect for rentals. And after you buy the plugin, it takes care of everything for you, with no monthly or other transaction fees. This is also one of the few plugins that will allow your customers to pay with a direct bank transfer. (However, if you’d like to stick with credit cards, you can always activate other gateways, like with any other plugin.)

Other features include a variable booking form, seasonal prices and the ability to offer the customer other services with their booking. And as a side note, the plugin works great with many of Templatic’s WordPress themes – specifically Service Biz which already includes the plugin.

4. Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments is one of the more comprehensive free bookings plugin available for WordPress sites. With the plugin’s feature list, I have no reason to dispute that claim. One unique feature: if you have multiple staff members that handle appointments, you can give each of them their own calendar – with a bio and picture attached – so that customers can pick which of your employees they’d prefer to book with.

It also works in reverse: the client can pick from a list of services your company offers, and if each one is assigned to a different employee, then they’ll automatically book with that employee. Not only that, it features easy integration with Google Calendars – both for you and the customer – with no coding required. And finally, it takes just three clicks for a customer to book an appointment: one to select a time, one to continue to the confirmation screen and one to confirm. That convenience may well be reflected in your sales.

With a list of over 30 other features, including custom color labels, autofill for repeat customers, Google Maps integration and the ability to login through social media, I’m going to have to say this looks like the best appointment-booking plugin out there at the moment. That price can’t be beat, either.

5. Booked Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked - Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked is a premium appointments manager with plenty of features and options to build an appointments booking form for your business. Accept guest bookings or require users to register for an account, allow users to manager their pending and approved appointments, add custom fields and time slots, create multiple calendars, accept paid bookings using Booked’s WooCommerce integration and more.

Book is also easy to customize. Choose from unlimited color for select options, a responsive layout, login and register form, customizable emails, etc. Plus the built-in shortcodes make it easy for your to insert calendars and login forms on any post or page. There’s even an “Add to Google Calendar” option you can add to help customers remember their appointments.

6. Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

The Easy Appointments plugin is just that – easy. It’s a quick and simple way to add an appointments system to your WordPress site. The plugin supports multiple services, workers, locations and a flexible time table so you can create an advanced timetable of appointment options.When setting up your Easy Appointments plugin there are also options to enable ad customize email notifications for booking confirmation, appointment status and confirmation/cancel.

When it comes to form styling, Easy Appointments keeps it easy too! Choose a 1-2 column layout, drag & drop form fields (and even create your own), add prices or labels, localize the date picker and more. Plus there’s built-in reporting to help you keep track of form conversions and stats.

7. Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

If you’ve been looking at powerful appointment booking WordPress plugins then you’ve probably come across Bookly before. This popular plugin is optimized to help you book more appointments no matter when or how your customers access your site.

Bookly is mobile and translation ready, so your forms look great in any language on any device. Plus, built-in support for email and SMS notifications plus Google Calendar integration ensure your customers never miss an appointment. Want to charge at the time of booking? No problem – Bookly’s payment portal integrations including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Mollie, Payson, PayU Latam, 2checkout, PayUbiz and WooCommerce. Other features include color scheme options, flex scheduling, holidays, booking process steps, 50+ currencies and more.

8. Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

The free Appointment Booking & Online Scheduling plugin by vCita is another great options to add an appointments form to your WordPress site. The plugin is perfect for accepting appointments for events, classes, one on one services and more.

While many other plugin offer similar features for online scheduling such as service appointments with specific staff members, confirmations, and payment support what sets this plugin apart is the messaging and callback functionality. The plugin syncs with the vCita Mobile App to notify you instantly about new booking requests, automate reminders and it allows you to send messages and files to your client before you meet.

9. gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

So far we’ve covered stand alone appointment booking plugins, but what if you want a more powerful forms system? Like Gravity Forms? That’s where gAppointments comes in. This premium plugin adds appointment booking features to the popular Gravity Forms plugin.

When you combine gAppointments with Gravity Forms you’ll have added support for paid bookings, nearly unlimited payment gateways, multiple bookings per date, service intervals, custom services, recurring appointments, Google & Yahoo calendar links, email notifications, auto confirm/complete appointments and more. This plus easy styling settings, translation options and simple front-end form management makes gAppointments a great choice.

10. Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

The Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers great features to build a booking calendar and manage your appointments via your WordPress site. Visitors can book an appointment using the easy 4-step booking process to secure a time, then the plugin will add the reservation to your individual staff’s dashboard so they can manage their own upcoming appointments.

Want more features? The free Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers a premium upgrade for mobile payments, group bookings, private notes, Google calendar integration, flex pricing, multiple locations and more

11. WooCommerce Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

WooCommerce Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

Build your own appointments form using WooCommerce! Just install the WooCommerce Appointment Booking add-on to begin taking reservations, selling tickets, booking appointments and more. Just add your products or services, add your staff, use the plugin to enter bookable times (including blackout dates)and then wait for customers to book times.

This plugin also seamlessly integrates with Google Calendar and allows admins to export an appointments CSV (great for accounting records or HR scheduling). Plus it still maintains all of the great features of WooCommerce like simple or variable products, image galleries, easy search, helpful widgets and more.

Wrapping up the Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

There’s no shortage of appointment booking WordPress plugins that will let you book an appointment via WordPress. There are so many, in fact, that the choice can easily be overwhelming. But hopefully, having a guide like this will prevent that from happening. Any other plugins I should know about? Anything you want to tell me about the ones listed above like your personal experiences? Leave a comment below!



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15 Reasons to Use Jetpack for WordPress in 2018


What happens when the people behind WordPress.com, get together to make a WordPress plugin? You get Jetpack.

With over 5 million active installations, Jetpack is designed to be an all-rounder plugin for people using WordPress, regardless of their expertise. Think of it as an all-in-one plugin, with features ranging from performance enhancements, security protocols, theme customization and many more.

People who are new to WordPress can use Jetpack’s site stats, contact form and other useful modules – without having to install a separate plugin for each feature. On the flip side, power users can take advantage of features such as related posts, lazy loading, and CDN – all for free! Though upgrading to Jetpack premium adds even more useful features for Google analytics, advertising, priority support and more.

This article was originally published in 2013, entitled 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Jetpack for WordPress. Five years later, we’re updating this guide with 15 of the best features offered by Jetpack – and why you should be using them in your WordPress site.

Before getting started, it would be helpful to know some of the synonyms used for Jetpack’s “features”. They range from “modules”, to “settings”, to just “features”. We’ll restrict our synonyms to “modules” and “features” throughout the remainder of this article.

Let’s get on with it!

1. Free Content Delivery Network (CDN) for WordPress using Photon

photon free content delivery network by jetpack

The very first feature that comes to mind is the free content delivery network provided by Jetpack. Unlike other CDN providers, Jetpack’s Photon CDN does not require any signup, gives you unlimited CDN bandwidth, and is completely free – for life!

Who should use Photon?

In short, everybody. Whether you are a power user, or a novice user, or someone who is just starting out; using a CDN dramatically speeds up your site’s loading time. This gives you a three-fold advantage:

  1. Google rewards faster sites with better SEO scores. You rank faster for your target keywords.
  2. You save your server’s bandwidth resources; since the images are served from the Photon content delivery network.
  3. A faster website results in a pleasant visitor experience. This, in turn, increases the chances of a conversion – whether it is an email signup, ebook download, or something as simple as a social share!

How do I enable Jetpack Photon?

jetpack-cdn-lazy-load-images

Photon CDN and Lazy load images module from Jetpack

All you need to do is enable the Photon module from the Speed up your site settings, found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

2. Lazy Loading of Images in WordPress

lazy loading of images illustration using a pig

Lazy Loading is a feature that has found a mention in under every credible WordPress performance optimization post. You see, the idea behind lazy loading is simple. Load the image only when the visitor sees it.

This has a two-fold benefit.

  1. One, the site loads faster since the page size of the site is lowered. This, in turn, gives us better SEO, and lower bandwidth consumption from the server site.
  2. The second advantage directly benefits the end user by saving his or her bandwidth.

How can lazy loading save mobile bandwidth?

Let’s say Samantha is browsing an article on the “best fashion WordPress themes” on her phone. When Samantha opens the website, the page starts loading all 25 images at once.

However, with lazy loading enabled, only the images visible in the viewport is loaded. The other images are loaded only when Samantha scrolls down to view them. Thus Samantha ends up saving her precious mobile bandwidth while enjoying a super-snappy website.

Who should use lazy load?

Again, everyone!

How do I enable Jetpack lazy load?

This module is located just below the Photon module. Simply toggle to enable it!

3. Subscribe to New Posts via Email in WordPress

subscribe and follow wordpress blog jetpack

This is a personal favourite. Jetpack has a series of beautiful features when it comes to visitor engagement. We’ll cover them one by one starting with this one.

Jetpack’s email subscription feature enables visitors to subscribe to your blog posts via email. It’s displayed as a Follow Blog button. People who click on it are asked to share their email address in order to subscribe or “follow” your blog’s posts.

Additionally, you can use the Follow Comments feature to give your readers the option to subscribe to your blog’s comments via email.

Whenever a new post is published, or a new comment is posted, your followers get an email with a link to your post/comment.

What are the benefits of Jetpack subscriptions?

Well, for starters, you don’t need to use an email service provider (ESP) like MailChimp. Even when your email list grows, you don’t have to pay for emails. Remember that ESPs with a forever free plan usually put a limitation on the number of subscribers, or the number of emails sent per month – as they should! (They gotta eat, don’t they?)

However, on the flip side, you won’t be able to send individual emails (i.e. without publishing a post) to your subscribers, using this Jetpack module. That’s when you’d have to signup for an ESP.

Who should use subscriptions?

Depends, really. People who simply want to focus on their writing and not on growing their email list can opt for this module. However, if you are serious about your email list from day one (it’s great if you are!), then you start using a free ESP like MailChimp.

How do I enable Jetpack blog subscriptions?

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Head over to the Subscriptions module under the WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Discussion tab.

4. WordPress Site Uptime & Downtime Monitoring

wordpress site uptime and downtime monitoring by jetpack

The downtime monitoring feature from Jetpack periodically monitors your site and notifies you via email whenever there is a downtime.

Not just that, it keeps on monitoring and sends you emails reminding you that your site is still down. Finally, once your site is back online – Jetpack sends yet another a confirmation email – informing you that your site is online again!

I absolutely love this feature – especially since it helped me win an argument and get a full refund from my shared hosting provider. All I had to do was share the screenshot of my inbox, and bam, they had to process my refund!

Who should use monitoring?

Everyone! Unless, of course, you are using a premium website uptime monitoring tool and don’t want to install an additional plugin.

How do I enable Jetpack downtime monitoring?

jetpack-downtime-monitoring

Downtime Monitoring module from Jetpack

Simply toggle the Downtime monitoring option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Security tab.

5. Related Posts for WordPress

related posts in jetpack

The Related Posts feature automatically suggests related content after every post in your WordPress site. It’s a great way to keep your visitors engaged, improve time-on-site and decrease bounce rate (to an extent).

But wait, there’s a problem:

However, calculating these related posts is a resource-intensive task. The problem multiplies when there are multiple categories and tags, and multiple posts under each of them. Calculating related posts becomes increasingly CPU intensive. Couple all of this into a shared hosting environment and you’ve got yourself a “resource violation” email, or worse – getting your account suspended.

So what’s the fix? Jetpack of course!

Jetpack offloads all of this complex, CPU-intensive computation to the cloud, and returns the finished results – i.e. the related posts – to our WordPress site. All of this for free!. You can further customize the appearance of the related posts (with or without image, excerpt, etc.) using the WordPress Customizer.

Who should use related posts?

Blogs with neatly organized taxonomy, along with sufficient posts and pages under each tag and category. You should not use Related Posts when you only have a handful of posts in your site. In such a case, I would recommend manually linking to your content.

How do I enable Jetpack related posts?

Simple! Just toggle the Related Posts option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Traffic tab.

6. Infinite Scroll in WordPress

infinite scroll wordpress posts jetpack

Infinite Scroll is a feature that automatically loads new posts without refreshing the page, as the visitor scrolls down to the bottom of the current post. Similar to Related Posts, this feature is designed to increase visitor engagement and time on site.

Furthermore, Jetpack gives you the ability to configure how the next posts are loaded. For instance, you can configure them to load automatically – according to the theme/user behaviour. You can also present the visitors with a “read/load more” button, which upon clicking loads the next set of posts.

Who should use infinite scroll?

Anyone with a couple of posts published in their WordPress site can use this feature. This is highly recommended for news and media blogs.

How do I enable Jetpack infinite scroll?

Infinite scroll module from Jetpack

Infinite Scroll module from Jetpack

You can enable this setting form the Theme enhancements setting found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

7. Build a Contact Form in WordPress

contact form illustration by jetpack

This Jetpack module enables you to build contact forms with custom fields directly from the default WordPress editor. With a single click, you’re able to insert and customize contact forms directly from the WordPress editor.

Who should use a contact form?

Most website should have an easy to use contact form, especially if you deal with clients. So anyone not already using a contact form plugin on their WordPress site.

How can I enable Jetpack contact forms?

Jetpack Contact Form inserted directly from the WordPress editor

Good news – this module is enabled by default in Jetpack.

8. Publish Posts via Email in WordPress

publish wordpress posts via email in jetpack

Imagine you’re in a remote location and you have to publish an article in your WordPress site. Media-rich sites like the WordPress editor won’t load due to the slow Internet connectivity. There aren’t any WiFi cafes nearby. The only thing that does seem to work is email. You barely have enough Internet speed to send out an email.

This is where Jetpack’s posts via email feature comes in handy. It gives you a dedicated email address for you to publish in your WordPress blog. Once activated, you can email your post to this address, and it would be published in your blog.

How would it work? Simple. The subject line of your email would be the post title, and the email body would be the blog post content. You can also send additional information such as categories, tags and more using these predefined shortcodes.

Who should use Jetpack post via email?

Publishing posts in WordPress via email using Jetpack!

 

Anyone who needs quick coverage without investing too much time in formatting or working our of areas with limited Internet connectivity.

  • Travel bloggers looking to share their experiences from remote locations with limited Internet connectivity.
  • Reports looking to share quick coverage without going opening the WordPress app every time.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to publish a post via email.

9. Automated Social Sharing in WordPress using Publicize Module

social media automation by jetpack

The Publicize module from Jetpack enables you to automatically post your freshly published content to your social media sites. It saves you the hassle of having to manually post in each social media network.

Who should use Publicize?

Well, anyone who promotes their content on social media is welcome to try this module. However, it is important to select the right social media network depending on your site’s niche,  and then create content specific to each network.

How can I enable Jetpack social sharing?

Jetpack social media sharing settings

You would need to establish a one-time connection with your social media networks from the Publicize settings located under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Sharing tab.

10. Secure Authentication and WordPress.com Login

jetpack security

Jetpack’s secure authentication module enables you (or your users) to login to your WordPress site using WordPress.com account.

You can also configure the module to only allow users to log in if their WordPress.com account email address match with the email ID used to create the user account in your WordPress.site. Additionally, you can require your site’s users to log in using two-factor authentication with WordPress.com.

Who should use login authentication?

Login using WordPress.com

Login using WordPress.com

If you are the sole person running your WordPress blog, then you can skip activating this module. However, if you have multiple contributors to your WordPress site, this could be a useful feature to have!

11. Media Embeds in WordPress

content embed in wordpress by jetpack

This is one of those features that are enabled by default in Jetpack. It essentially helps you paste media-rich content such as YouTube videos and SoundCloud audio files – in their native form – without writing a single line of code/shortcode.

All you have to do is copy-paste the link in your post in the WordPress editor, and Jetpack will take care of the rest.

Jetpack has evolved to support multiple websites with media-rich content including Instagram, Slideshare, Twitter, Google Docs, TED, DailyMotion, CodePen, Medium, Pinterest and more. For a detailed, up-to-date list, check out their official documentation on content embeds.

Who should use media-rich content?

Everyone! 🙂

12. Site Verification and Sitemaps in WordPress

site verification by jetpack

I’ll be straight up with you – Jetpack isn’t the best SEO plugin out there. For starters, the SEO module itself is a paid feature in Jetpack. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a far better, free plugin with a plethora of features and tutorials, trusted by over five million WordPress websites.

That being said, for users who aren’t ready to spend time with a dedicated SEO plugin can use Jetpack’s site verification modules to verify their site with multiple search engines including Google, Bing, Pinterest, and Yandex.

Sitemap and Site Verification Settings from Jetpack

Additionally Jetpack also creates a sitemap which makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site.

Who should use Jetpack sitemaps?

People who aren’t looking to invest time in a dedicated WordPress SEO plugin should use Jetpack’s sitemap. However, we highly recommend using a separate plugin. With just a few hours each week you can get the basics of Yoast SEO nailed down. This way, you’ll have implemented on-page SEO correctly right from day one. That’s a big boost for your long-term search rankings!

13. Widgets, Widgets and More WordPress Widgets

additional widget pack in jetpack

Widgets are one of the most popular features offered by the Jetpack plugin. It provides a plethora of uniquely useful widgets that can be used in multiple ways. They range from social media feeds, GDPR cookie notifications and more. Head over to your WordPress dashboard > Appearance > Widgets to access these additional widgets.

Another exciting widget feature offered by Jetpack is conditional widgets. It essentially enables you to configure the visibility of the widgets based on the page, post, tag or category.

You can define a condition, and only if the condition holds true, the widget is displayed.

Jetpack Custom Widgets

For instance, you can configure a newsletter subscription widget to be visible only in posts under the Finance category. This way you can build super-targeted mailing lists.

Who should use Jetpack widgets?

This mostly depends on the user. If your WordPress theme comes with custom widgets – such as social shares or newsletter subscriptions – you should use those instead of Jetpack, since they have been styled and coded to work well with your theme.

However, you can always use Jetpack’s conditional widgets to create engaging content in your website site.

14. Multiple Sites from a Single Dashboard at WordPress.com

manage multiple wordpress site jetpack

Remember how we spoke of using WordPress.com to reap the full benefits of Jetpack? Well, you’re going to love this feature.

Once you connect your sites with Jetpack, you can manage all of them from your WordPress.com dashboard. This includes things like viewing site stats, publishing posts, responding to comments, updating plugins and much more.

Who should use this?

People managing a handful of WordPress sites could derive value out of this feature. For instance, you can manage your blog(s) and personal site under one roof – in WordPress.com.

However, I would not recommend using this feature if you are managing multiple WordPress sites for clients. Tools like ManageWP and InfiniteWP are built to manage multiple WordPress sites at scale, with a lot more of built-in features and premium support.

15. (Premium) WordPress Backup and Restore by Jetpack

wordpress cloud backup and restore by jetpack

WordPress backup and restoration is a serious matter. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of backup plugins and services that specialize in hourly backups, incremental backups, and more.

Backup and Restore from Jetpack is a premium module starting at $39/year. It takes automatic backups and supports one-click restoration. What’s interesting is how the backup is made.

Jetpack essentially takes a backup whenever an event occurs. An event can include page and post creation/modification, comment submission/modification, plugin and theme installations, modifications, or updates, and additions of or changes to user accounts.

Jetpack also maintains an Activity Log of all the events, listed in chronological order. Every entry in this Activity Log serves as a restore point. Just click on an event and choose between downloading the backup, or restoring your site to that point.

Who should use JetPack backups powered by VaultPress?

Backup is an essential component of maintaining a WordPress site. I would recommend opting for a paid backup plugin if you prefer security and peace of mind, over saving a few bucks every month. (Fun fact – the cost of a backup plugin is usually the cost of a cup of coffee). However, with a little bit of tinkering, you should be able to get the same features for free.

How do I get this?

This is a paid feature starting at $39 per year. You need to purchase a Jetpack plan, configure the plugin with your hosting server credentials, and relax. Jetpack will automatically start taking backups.

Is there a better backup alternative?

If you are willing to spend a little bit extra on your WordPress hosting, consider a managed hosting provider like WPEngine. Not only do you get blazing fast speeds, better reliability, and rapid customer support – you also get a dedicated staging environment and one-click backup and restore. Plans start at $35/month for up to 25,000 visits per month and come with 2 months free if you opt for the annual plan. Not to mention a 60-day risk-free trial!

Jetpack Pricing

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

While most of Jetpack’s features are offered free of charge, there are certain premium modules such as backup and restore, elasticsearch, advanced malware protection that are only available under the paid plan.

Prices start at $39/year for the Personal plan, and come with backup & restore (with a 30-day backup archive) along with priority support.

Get Jetpack Premium

Is getting a paid Jetpack plan worth it?

If you are an occasional blogger with a growing blog, opting for Jetpack’s personal plan could be worth the money. You won’t have to worry about backups and restore, and if things go wrong, you can always contact the priority customer success team.

However, if you are blogging full-time, Jetpack’s Professional plan is recommended. You get advanced malware protection and the ability to accept payments via PayPal with this plan.

A Note on Jetpack and WordPress.com

It is important to note that that Jetpack is a plugin that works in conjunction with WordPress.com even though you can install and use it with WordPress.org sites. This means that you’ll have to create a WordPress.com account in order to reap the full advantages of Jetpack (but don’t worry – you don’t have to host your website on WordPress.com). The advanced customization options for a couple of Jetpack modules can be configured only using WordPress.com.

For the folks just getting started with WordPress, it’s worthwhile to know the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For starters, WordPress.com is the commercial alternative to WordPress.org – the open-source CMS platform. We’ve covered other important differences between the two solutions, in the aforementioned article.

Wrapping Up

jetpack in the future

I originally wrote this article in 2013 and I’m glad to see the new features and improvements in the Jetpack plugin. While they have introduced a paid plan, I absolutely love the fact that they’ve kept the best features like Photon and Downtime Monitoring free. Also, they haven’t deprecated any of the previous modules such as Beautiful Math, Spelling and Grammar, and WP.me Shortlinks.

As always – what are your favourite Jetpack modules? Do you use (or plan to use Jetpack)? Let us know in the comments below!

Love WordPress plugins? Check out our list of the most recommended WordPress plugins to see if you find something new!



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Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins for Scheduling & Reservations


If your business relies on appointments, you have a WordPress site and you haven’t installed a booking plugin yet, you need to get on that. Specifically one of these appointment booking WordPress plugins.

There’s no reason for so many businesses to still force their customers to call them on the phone, contact them by email and wait for a response, or worst of all, physically come into their offices to schedule an appointment. Implementing an easy-to-use booking plugin can lead to increased sales from people who work during most of your hours, or who don’t feel like going through hold times and waiting for a receptionist to book via phone. And it can lead to more appointments being made on impulse, especially since you can hit them with the option to book immediately after your web copy has (hopefully) done its job.

Thankfully, WordPress offers a ton of options for completing this task.

We’ve covered booking plugins before, but only as they relate to the hotels niche. Today, we’re covering 10+ more, and expanding our view to include appointment booking WordPress plugins intended for scheduling just about anything!

Disclaimer: WPExplorer is an affiliate for one or more products listed below. If you click a link and complete a purchase we could make a commission.

1. Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia is one of the most powerful appointment booking plugins you can choose for your business. This automated booking solution keeps working 24/7 so you never miss a new customer. Just install, configure your settings and you’re ready to rock-n-roll!

The plugin includes easy to use features to build your own appointment booking forms. Powerful options include support for multiple employees (along with the ability to add specific services, regular hours and time off for each), local currency, service extras, email notifications, image galleries, coupons, plus color/font options for the front-end design.

With your form ready, customers are able to use the interactive appointments calendar (monthly, weekly, daily as well as list/timeline views) and unique step-by-step booking wizard with faceted filtering to find an appointment time for a specific service with a specific staff member (or even at an exact location). When it’s time to pay, customer’s can use Amelia built-in payment gateways to to reserve their time or opt for an on-site payment.

Amelia even includes a useful shortcode to create a services page. Simple paste the shortcode on a new page any to display your current services with the parameters to specific one service, a whole category or all categories).

2. Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

If you have simpler appointment booking needs (perhaps needs that aren’t worth paying money to fulfill) then the free Appointment Booking Calendar could be your best bet. It offers greater functionality than many free versions of comparable plugins. Features that come with this plugin include bookable time slots, email notifications, the ability to export to Google Drive, printable booking lists, customization of availability and the number of times a user can book, captchas and more.

However, in order to access many of the best features, you need to shell out for the premium version. For instance, if you charge your customers to make an appointment, this plugin isn’t the best idea, as the free version only works with PayPal. To use any other payment gateway, you’re going to have to fork over some cash.

3. Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic’s offering to the booking world is a little different than most. It doesn’t just present the user with a calendar; it takes them directly to the form. The calendar comes up when a user clicks on the date section. So, this is more like the kind of setup your customers will be used to if they book a lot of flights or hotel rooms. That familiarity is a strength.

Like most appointment booking WordPress plugins, the Templatic Booking WordPress Plugin will enable advanced booking features inside your theme, which is perfect for rentals. And after you buy the plugin, it takes care of everything for you, with no monthly or other transaction fees. This is also one of the few plugins that will allow your customers to pay with a direct bank transfer. (However, if you’d like to stick with credit cards, you can always activate other gateways, like with any other plugin.)

Other features include a variable booking form, seasonal prices and the ability to offer the customer other services with their booking. And as a side note, the plugin works great with many of Templatic’s WordPress themes – specifically Service Biz which already includes the plugin.

4. Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments is one of the more comprehensive free bookings plugin available for WordPress sites. With the plugin’s feature list, I have no reason to dispute that claim. One unique feature: if you have multiple staff members that handle appointments, you can give each of them their own calendar – with a bio and picture attached – so that customers can pick which of your employees they’d prefer to book with.

It also works in reverse: the client can pick from a list of services your company offers, and if each one is assigned to a different employee, then they’ll automatically book with that employee. Not only that, it features easy integration with Google Calendars – both for you and the customer – with no coding required. And finally, it takes just three clicks for a customer to book an appointment: one to select a time, one to continue to the confirmation screen and one to confirm. That convenience may well be reflected in your sales.

With a list of over 30 other features, including custom color labels, autofill for repeat customers, Google Maps integration and the ability to login through social media, I’m going to have to say this looks like the best appointment-booking plugin out there at the moment. That price can’t be beat, either.

5. Booked Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked - Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked is a premium appointments manager with plenty of features and options to build an appointments booking form for your business. Accept guest bookings or require users to register for an account, allow users to manager their pending and approved appointments, add custom fields and time slots, create multiple calendars, accept paid bookings using Booked’s WooCommerce integration and more.

Book is also easy to customize. Choose from unlimited color for select options, a responsive layout, login and register form, customizable emails, etc. Plus the built-in shortcodes make it easy for your to insert calendars and login forms on any post or page. There’s even an “Add to Google Calendar” option you can add to help customers remember their appointments.

6. Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

The Easy Appointments plugin is just that – easy. It’s a quick and simple way to add an appointments system to your WordPress site. The plugin supports multiple services, workers, locations and a flexible time table so you can create an advanced timetable of appointment options.When setting up your Easy Appointments plugin there are also options to enable ad customize email notifications for booking confirmation, appointment status and confirmation/cancel.

When it comes to form styling, Easy Appointments keeps it easy too! Choose a 1-2 column layout, drag & drop form fields (and even create your own), add prices or labels, localize the date picker and more. Plus there’s built-in reporting to help you keep track of form conversions and stats.

7. Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

If you’ve been looking at powerful appointment booking WordPress plugins then you’ve probably come across Bookly before. This popular plugin is optimized to help you book more appointments no matter when or how your customers access your site.

Bookly is mobile and translation ready, so your forms look great in any language on any device. Plus, built-in support for email and SMS notifications plus Google Calendar integration ensure your customers never miss an appointment. Want to charge at the time of booking? No problem – Bookly’s payment portal integrations including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Mollie, Payson, PayU Latam, 2checkout, PayUbiz and WooCommerce. Other features include color scheme options, flex scheduling, holidays, booking process steps, 50+ currencies and more.

8. Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

The free Appointment Booking & Online Scheduling plugin by vCita is another great options to add an appointments form to your WordPress site. The plugin is perfect for accepting appointments for events, classes, one on one services and more.

While many other plugin offer similar features for online scheduling such as service appointments with specific staff members, confirmations, and payment support what sets this plugin apart is the messaging and callback functionality. The plugin syncs with the vCita Mobile App to notify you instantly about new booking requests, automate reminders and it allows you to send messages and files to your client before you meet.

9. gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

So far we’ve covered stand alone appointment booking plugins, but what if you want a more powerful forms system? Like Gravity Forms? That’s where gAppointments comes in. This premium plugin adds appointment booking features to the popular Gravity Forms plugin.

When you combine gAppointments with Gravity Forms you’ll have added support for paid bookings, nearly unlimited payment gateways, multiple bookings per date, service intervals, custom services, recurring appointments, Google & Yahoo calendar links, email notifications, auto confirm/complete appointments and more. This plus easy styling settings, translation options and simple front-end form management makes gAppointments a great choice.

10. Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

The Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers great features to build a booking calendar and manage your appointments via your WordPress site. Visitors can book an appointment using the easy 4-step booking process to secure a time, then the plugin will add the reservation to your individual staff’s dashboard so they can manage their own upcoming appointments.

Want more features? The free Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers a premium upgrade for mobile payments, group bookings, private notes, Google calendar integration, flex pricing, multiple locations and more

11. WooCommerce Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

WooCommerce Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

Build your own appointments form using WooCommerce! Just install the WooCommerce Appointment Booking add-on to begin taking reservations, selling tickets, booking appointments and more. Just add your products or services, add your staff, use the plugin to enter bookable times (including blackout dates)and then wait for customers to book times.

This plugin also seamlessly integrates with Google Calendar and allows admins to export an appointments CSV (great for accounting records or HR scheduling). Plus it still maintains all of the great features of WooCommerce like simple or variable products, image galleries, easy search, helpful widgets and more.

Wrapping up the Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

There’s no shortage of appointment booking WordPress plugins that will let you book an appointment via WordPress. There are so many, in fact, that the choice can easily be overwhelming. But hopefully, having a guide like this will prevent that from happening. Any other plugins I should know about? Anything you want to tell me about the ones listed above like your personal experiences? Leave a comment below!



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15 Reasons to Use Jetpack for WordPress in 2018


What happens when the people behind WordPress.com, get together to make a WordPress plugin? You get Jetpack.

With over 5 million active installations, Jetpack is designed to be an all-rounder plugin for people using WordPress, regardless of their expertise. Think of it as an all-in-one plugin, with features ranging from performance enhancements, security protocols, theme customization and many more.

People who are new to WordPress can use Jetpack’s site stats, contact form and other useful modules – without having to install a separate plugin for each feature. On the flip side, power users can take advantage of features such as related posts, lazy loading, and CDN – all for free! Though upgrading to Jetpack premium adds even more useful features for Google analytics, advertising, priority support and more.

This article was originally published in 2013, entitled 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Jetpack for WordPress. Five years later, we’re updating this guide with 15 of the best features offered by Jetpack – and why you should be using them in your WordPress site.

Before getting started, it would be helpful to know some of the synonyms used for Jetpack’s “features”. They range from “modules”, to “settings”, to just “features”. We’ll restrict our synonyms to “modules” and “features” throughout the remainder of this article.

Let’s get on with it!

1. Free Content Delivery Network (CDN) for WordPress using Photon

photon free content delivery network by jetpack

The very first feature that comes to mind is the free content delivery network provided by Jetpack. Unlike other CDN providers, Jetpack’s Photon CDN does not require any signup, gives you unlimited CDN bandwidth, and is completely free – for life!

Who should use Photon?

In short, everybody. Whether you are a power user, or a novice user, or someone who is just starting out; using a CDN dramatically speeds up your site’s loading time. This gives you a three-fold advantage:

  1. Google rewards faster sites with better SEO scores. You rank faster for your target keywords.
  2. You save your server’s bandwidth resources; since the images are served from the Photon content delivery network.
  3. A faster website results in a pleasant visitor experience. This, in turn, increases the chances of a conversion – whether it is an email signup, ebook download, or something as simple as a social share!

How do I enable Jetpack Photon?

jetpack-cdn-lazy-load-images

Photon CDN and Lazy load images module from Jetpack

All you need to do is enable the Photon module from the Speed up your site settings, found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

2. Lazy Loading of Images in WordPress

lazy loading of images illustration using a pig

Lazy Loading is a feature that has found a mention in under every credible WordPress performance optimization post. You see, the idea behind lazy loading is simple. Load the image only when the visitor sees it.

This has a two-fold benefit.

  1. One, the site loads faster since the page size of the site is lowered. This, in turn, gives us better SEO, and lower bandwidth consumption from the server site.
  2. The second advantage directly benefits the end user by saving his or her bandwidth.

How can lazy loading save mobile bandwidth?

Let’s say Samantha is browsing an article on the “best fashion WordPress themes” on her phone. When Samantha opens the website, the page starts loading all 25 images at once.

However, with lazy loading enabled, only the images visible in the viewport is loaded. The other images are loaded only when Samantha scrolls down to view them. Thus Samantha ends up saving her precious mobile bandwidth while enjoying a super-snappy website.

Who should use lazy load?

Again, everyone!

How do I enable Jetpack lazy load?

This module is located just below the Photon module. Simply toggle to enable it!

3. Subscribe to New Posts via Email in WordPress

subscribe and follow wordpress blog jetpack

This is a personal favourite. Jetpack has a series of beautiful features when it comes to visitor engagement. We’ll cover them one by one starting with this one.

Jetpack’s email subscription feature enables visitors to subscribe to your blog posts via email. It’s displayed as a Follow Blog button. People who click on it are asked to share their email address in order to subscribe or “follow” your blog’s posts.

Additionally, you can use the Follow Comments feature to give your readers the option to subscribe to your blog’s comments via email.

Whenever a new post is published, or a new comment is posted, your followers get an email with a link to your post/comment.

What are the benefits of Jetpack subscriptions?

Well, for starters, you don’t need to use an email service provider (ESP) like MailChimp. Even when your email list grows, you don’t have to pay for emails. Remember that ESPs with a forever free plan usually put a limitation on the number of subscribers, or the number of emails sent per month – as they should! (They gotta eat, don’t they?)

However, on the flip side, you won’t be able to send individual emails (i.e. without publishing a post) to your subscribers, using this Jetpack module. That’s when you’d have to signup for an ESP.

Who should use subscriptions?

Depends, really. People who simply want to focus on their writing and not on growing their email list can opt for this module. However, if you are serious about your email list from day one (it’s great if you are!), then you start using a free ESP like MailChimp.

How do I enable Jetpack blog subscriptions?

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Subscribe to blog and comments module from Jetpack

Head over to the Subscriptions module under the WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Discussion tab.

4. WordPress Site Uptime & Downtime Monitoring

wordpress site uptime and downtime monitoring by jetpack

The downtime monitoring feature from Jetpack periodically monitors your site and notifies you via email whenever there is a downtime.

Not just that, it keeps on monitoring and sends you emails reminding you that your site is still down. Finally, once your site is back online – Jetpack sends yet another a confirmation email – informing you that your site is online again!

I absolutely love this feature – especially since it helped me win an argument and get a full refund from my shared hosting provider. All I had to do was share the screenshot of my inbox, and bam, they had to process my refund!

Who should use monitoring?

Everyone! Unless, of course, you are using a premium website uptime monitoring tool and don’t want to install an additional plugin.

How do I enable Jetpack downtime monitoring?

jetpack-downtime-monitoring

Downtime Monitoring module from Jetpack

Simply toggle the Downtime monitoring option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Security tab.

5. Related Posts for WordPress

related posts in jetpack

The Related Posts feature automatically suggests related content after every post in your WordPress site. It’s a great way to keep your visitors engaged, improve time-on-site and decrease bounce rate (to an extent).

But wait, there’s a problem:

However, calculating these related posts is a resource-intensive task. The problem multiplies when there are multiple categories and tags, and multiple posts under each of them. Calculating related posts becomes increasingly CPU intensive. Couple all of this into a shared hosting environment and you’ve got yourself a “resource violation” email, or worse – getting your account suspended.

So what’s the fix? Jetpack of course!

Jetpack offloads all of this complex, CPU-intensive computation to the cloud, and returns the finished results – i.e. the related posts – to our WordPress site. All of this for free!. You can further customize the appearance of the related posts (with or without image, excerpt, etc.) using the WordPress Customizer.

Who should use related posts?

Blogs with neatly organized taxonomy, along with sufficient posts and pages under each tag and category. You should not use Related Posts when you only have a handful of posts in your site. In such a case, I would recommend manually linking to your content.

How do I enable Jetpack related posts?

Simple! Just toggle the Related Posts option under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Traffic tab.

6. Infinite Scroll in WordPress

infinite scroll wordpress posts jetpack

Infinite Scroll is a feature that automatically loads new posts without refreshing the page, as the visitor scrolls down to the bottom of the current post. Similar to Related Posts, this feature is designed to increase visitor engagement and time on site.

Furthermore, Jetpack gives you the ability to configure how the next posts are loaded. For instance, you can configure them to load automatically – according to the theme/user behaviour. You can also present the visitors with a “read/load more” button, which upon clicking loads the next set of posts.

Who should use infinite scroll?

Anyone with a couple of posts published in their WordPress site can use this feature. This is highly recommended for news and media blogs.

How do I enable Jetpack infinite scroll?

Infinite scroll module from Jetpack

Infinite Scroll module from Jetpack

You can enable this setting form the Theme enhancements setting found under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Writing tab.

7. Build a Contact Form in WordPress

contact form illustration by jetpack

This Jetpack module enables you to build contact forms with custom fields directly from the default WordPress editor. With a single click, you’re able to insert and customize contact forms directly from the WordPress editor.

Who should use a contact form?

Most website should have an easy to use contact form, especially if you deal with clients. So anyone not already using a contact form plugin on their WordPress site.

How can I enable Jetpack contact forms?

Jetpack Contact Form inserted directly from the WordPress editor

Good news – this module is enabled by default in Jetpack.

8. Publish Posts via Email in WordPress

publish wordpress posts via email in jetpack

Imagine you’re in a remote location and you have to publish an article in your WordPress site. Media-rich sites like the WordPress editor won’t load due to the slow Internet connectivity. There aren’t any WiFi cafes nearby. The only thing that does seem to work is email. You barely have enough Internet speed to send out an email.

This is where Jetpack’s posts via email feature comes in handy. It gives you a dedicated email address for you to publish in your WordPress blog. Once activated, you can email your post to this address, and it would be published in your blog.

How would it work? Simple. The subject line of your email would be the post title, and the email body would be the blog post content. You can also send additional information such as categories, tags and more using these predefined shortcodes.

Who should use Jetpack post via email?

Publishing posts in WordPress via email using Jetpack!

 

Anyone who needs quick coverage without investing too much time in formatting or working our of areas with limited Internet connectivity.

  • Travel bloggers looking to share their experiences from remote locations with limited Internet connectivity.
  • Reports looking to share quick coverage without going opening the WordPress app every time.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to publish a post via email.

9. Automated Social Sharing in WordPress using Publicize Module

social media automation by jetpack

The Publicize module from Jetpack enables you to automatically post your freshly published content to your social media sites. It saves you the hassle of having to manually post in each social media network.

Who should use Publicize?

Well, anyone who promotes their content on social media is welcome to try this module. However, it is important to select the right social media network depending on your site’s niche,  and then create content specific to each network.

How can I enable Jetpack social sharing?

Jetpack social media sharing settings

You would need to establish a one-time connection with your social media networks from the Publicize settings located under WordPress Dashboard > Jetpack > Settings > Sharing tab.

10. Secure Authentication and WordPress.com Login

jetpack security

Jetpack’s secure authentication module enables you (or your users) to login to your WordPress site using WordPress.com account.

You can also configure the module to only allow users to log in if their WordPress.com account email address match with the email ID used to create the user account in your WordPress.site. Additionally, you can require your site’s users to log in using two-factor authentication with WordPress.com.

Who should use login authentication?

Login using WordPress.com

Login using WordPress.com

If you are the sole person running your WordPress blog, then you can skip activating this module. However, if you have multiple contributors to your WordPress site, this could be a useful feature to have!

11. Media Embeds in WordPress

content embed in wordpress by jetpack

This is one of those features that are enabled by default in Jetpack. It essentially helps you paste media-rich content such as YouTube videos and SoundCloud audio files – in their native form – without writing a single line of code/shortcode.

All you have to do is copy-paste the link in your post in the WordPress editor, and Jetpack will take care of the rest.

Jetpack has evolved to support multiple websites with media-rich content including Instagram, Slideshare, Twitter, Google Docs, TED, DailyMotion, CodePen, Medium, Pinterest and more. For a detailed, up-to-date list, check out their official documentation on content embeds.

Who should use media-rich content?

Everyone! 🙂

12. Site Verification and Sitemaps in WordPress

site verification by jetpack

I’ll be straight up with you – Jetpack isn’t the best SEO plugin out there. For starters, the SEO module itself is a paid feature in Jetpack. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a far better, free plugin with a plethora of features and tutorials, trusted by over five million WordPress websites.

That being said, for users who aren’t ready to spend time with a dedicated SEO plugin can use Jetpack’s site verification modules to verify their site with multiple search engines including Google, Bing, Pinterest, and Yandex.

Sitemap and Site Verification Settings from Jetpack

Additionally Jetpack also creates a sitemap which makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site.

Who should use Jetpack sitemaps?

People who aren’t looking to invest time in a dedicated WordPress SEO plugin should use Jetpack’s sitemap. However, we highly recommend using a separate plugin. With just a few hours each week you can get the basics of Yoast SEO nailed down. This way, you’ll have implemented on-page SEO correctly right from day one. That’s a big boost for your long-term search rankings!

13. Widgets, Widgets and More WordPress Widgets

additional widget pack in jetpack

Widgets are one of the most popular features offered by the Jetpack plugin. It provides a plethora of uniquely useful widgets that can be used in multiple ways. They range from social media feeds, GDPR cookie notifications and more. Head over to your WordPress dashboard > Appearance > Widgets to access these additional widgets.

Another exciting widget feature offered by Jetpack is conditional widgets. It essentially enables you to configure the visibility of the widgets based on the page, post, tag or category.

You can define a condition, and only if the condition holds true, the widget is displayed.

Jetpack Custom Widgets

For instance, you can configure a newsletter subscription widget to be visible only in posts under the Finance category. This way you can build super-targeted mailing lists.

Who should use Jetpack widgets?

This mostly depends on the user. If your WordPress theme comes with custom widgets – such as social shares or newsletter subscriptions – you should use those instead of Jetpack, since they have been styled and coded to work well with your theme.

However, you can always use Jetpack’s conditional widgets to create engaging content in your website site.

14. Multiple Sites from a Single Dashboard at WordPress.com

manage multiple wordpress site jetpack

Remember how we spoke of using WordPress.com to reap the full benefits of Jetpack? Well, you’re going to love this feature.

Once you connect your sites with Jetpack, you can manage all of them from your WordPress.com dashboard. This includes things like viewing site stats, publishing posts, responding to comments, updating plugins and much more.

Who should use this?

People managing a handful of WordPress sites could derive value out of this feature. For instance, you can manage your blog(s) and personal site under one roof – in WordPress.com.

However, I would not recommend using this feature if you are managing multiple WordPress sites for clients. Tools like ManageWP and InfiniteWP are built to manage multiple WordPress sites at scale, with a lot more of built-in features and premium support.

15. (Premium) WordPress Backup and Restore by Jetpack

wordpress cloud backup and restore by jetpack

WordPress backup and restoration is a serious matter. Over the years we’ve seen a lot of backup plugins and services that specialize in hourly backups, incremental backups, and more.

Backup and Restore from Jetpack is a premium module starting at $39/year. It takes automatic backups and supports one-click restoration. What’s interesting is how the backup is made.

Jetpack essentially takes a backup whenever an event occurs. An event can include page and post creation/modification, comment submission/modification, plugin and theme installations, modifications, or updates, and additions of or changes to user accounts.

Jetpack also maintains an Activity Log of all the events, listed in chronological order. Every entry in this Activity Log serves as a restore point. Just click on an event and choose between downloading the backup, or restoring your site to that point.

Who should use JetPack backups powered by VaultPress?

Backup is an essential component of maintaining a WordPress site. I would recommend opting for a paid backup plugin if you prefer security and peace of mind, over saving a few bucks every month. (Fun fact – the cost of a backup plugin is usually the cost of a cup of coffee). However, with a little bit of tinkering, you should be able to get the same features for free.

How do I get this?

This is a paid feature starting at $39 per year. You need to purchase a Jetpack plan, configure the plugin with your hosting server credentials, and relax. Jetpack will automatically start taking backups.

Is there a better backup alternative?

If you are willing to spend a little bit extra on your WordPress hosting, consider a managed hosting provider like WPEngine. Not only do you get blazing fast speeds, better reliability, and rapid customer support – you also get a dedicated staging environment and one-click backup and restore. Plans start at $35/month for up to 25,000 visits per month and come with 2 months free if you opt for the annual plan. Not to mention a 60-day risk-free trial!

Jetpack Pricing

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

Jetpack Pricing options as of July 2018

While most of Jetpack’s features are offered free of charge, there are certain premium modules such as backup and restore, elasticsearch, advanced malware protection that are only available under the paid plan.

Prices start at $39/year for the Personal plan, and come with backup & restore (with a 30-day backup archive) along with priority support.

Get Jetpack Premium

Is getting a paid Jetpack plan worth it?

If you are an occasional blogger with a growing blog, opting for Jetpack’s personal plan could be worth the money. You won’t have to worry about backups and restore, and if things go wrong, you can always contact the priority customer success team.

However, if you are blogging full-time, Jetpack’s Professional plan is recommended. You get advanced malware protection and the ability to accept payments via PayPal with this plan.

A Note on Jetpack and WordPress.com

It is important to note that that Jetpack is a plugin that works in conjunction with WordPress.com even though you can install and use it with WordPress.org sites. This means that you’ll have to create a WordPress.com account in order to reap the full advantages of Jetpack (but don’t worry – you don’t have to host your website on WordPress.com). The advanced customization options for a couple of Jetpack modules can be configured only using WordPress.com.

For the folks just getting started with WordPress, it’s worthwhile to know the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For starters, WordPress.com is the commercial alternative to WordPress.org – the open-source CMS platform. We’ve covered other important differences between the two solutions, in the aforementioned article.

Wrapping Up

jetpack in the future

I originally wrote this article in 2013 and I’m glad to see the new features and improvements in the Jetpack plugin. While they have introduced a paid plan, I absolutely love the fact that they’ve kept the best features like Photon and Downtime Monitoring free. Also, they haven’t deprecated any of the previous modules such as Beautiful Math, Spelling and Grammar, and WP.me Shortlinks.

As always – what are your favourite Jetpack modules? Do you use (or plan to use Jetpack)? Let us know in the comments below!

Love WordPress plugins? Check out our list of the most recommended WordPress plugins to see if you find something new!



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Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins for Scheduling & Reservations


If your business relies on appointments, you have a WordPress site and you haven’t installed a booking plugin yet, you need to get on that. Specifically one of these appointment booking WordPress plugins.

There’s no reason for so many businesses to still force their customers to call them on the phone, contact them by email and wait for a response, or worst of all, physically come into their offices to schedule an appointment. Implementing an easy-to-use booking plugin can lead to increased sales from people who work during most of your hours, or who don’t feel like going through hold times and waiting for a receptionist to book via phone. And it can lead to more appointments being made on impulse, especially since you can hit them with the option to book immediately after your web copy has (hopefully) done its job.

Thankfully, WordPress offers a ton of options for completing this task.

We’ve covered booking plugins before, but only as they relate to the hotels niche. Today, we’re covering 10+ more, and expanding our view to include appointment booking WordPress plugins intended for scheduling just about anything!

Disclaimer: WPExplorer is an affiliate for one or more products listed below. If you click a link and complete a purchase we could make a commission.

1. Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia Enterprise-Level Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Amelia is one of the most powerful appointment booking plugins you can choose for your business. This automated booking solution keeps working 24/7 so you never miss a new customer. Just install, configure your settings and you’re ready to rock-n-roll!

The plugin includes easy to use features to build your own appointment booking forms. Powerful options include support for multiple employees (along with the ability to add specific services, regular hours and time off for each), local currency, service extras, email notifications, image galleries, coupons, plus color/font options for the front-end design.

With your form ready, customers are able to use the interactive appointments calendar (monthly, weekly, daily as well as list/timeline views) and unique step-by-step booking wizard with faceted filtering to find an appointment time for a specific service with a specific staff member (or even at an exact location). When it’s time to pay, customer’s can use Amelia built-in payment gateways to to reserve their time or opt for an on-site payment.

Amelia even includes a useful shortcode to create a services page. Simple paste the shortcode on a new page any to display your current services with the parameters to specific one service, a whole category or all categories).

2. Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

If you have simpler appointment booking needs (perhaps needs that aren’t worth paying money to fulfill) then the free Appointment Booking Calendar could be your best bet. It offers greater functionality than many free versions of comparable plugins. Features that come with this plugin include bookable time slots, email notifications, the ability to export to Google Drive, printable booking lists, customization of availability and the number of times a user can book, captchas and more.

However, in order to access many of the best features, you need to shell out for the premium version. For instance, if you charge your customers to make an appointment, this plugin isn’t the best idea, as the free version only works with PayPal. To use any other payment gateway, you’re going to have to fork over some cash.

3. Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Templatic’s offering to the booking world is a little different than most. It doesn’t just present the user with a calendar; it takes them directly to the form. The calendar comes up when a user clicks on the date section. So, this is more like the kind of setup your customers will be used to if they book a lot of flights or hotel rooms. That familiarity is a strength.

Like most appointment booking WordPress plugins, the Templatic Booking WordPress Plugin will enable advanced booking features inside your theme, which is perfect for rentals. And after you buy the plugin, it takes care of everything for you, with no monthly or other transaction fees. This is also one of the few plugins that will allow your customers to pay with a direct bank transfer. (However, if you’d like to stick with credit cards, you can always activate other gateways, like with any other plugin.)

Other features include a variable booking form, seasonal prices and the ability to offer the customer other services with their booking. And as a side note, the plugin works great with many of Templatic’s WordPress themes – specifically Service Biz which already includes the plugin.

4. Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments Free WordPress Plugin by WPMUdev

Appointments is one of the more comprehensive free bookings plugin available for WordPress sites. With the plugin’s feature list, I have no reason to dispute that claim. One unique feature: if you have multiple staff members that handle appointments, you can give each of them their own calendar – with a bio and picture attached – so that customers can pick which of your employees they’d prefer to book with.

It also works in reverse: the client can pick from a list of services your company offers, and if each one is assigned to a different employee, then they’ll automatically book with that employee. Not only that, it features easy integration with Google Calendars – both for you and the customer – with no coding required. And finally, it takes just three clicks for a customer to book an appointment: one to select a time, one to continue to the confirmation screen and one to confirm. That convenience may well be reflected in your sales.

With a list of over 30 other features, including custom color labels, autofill for repeat customers, Google Maps integration and the ability to login through social media, I’m going to have to say this looks like the best appointment-booking plugin out there at the moment. That price can’t be beat, either.

5. Booked Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked - Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

Booked is a premium appointments manager with plenty of features and options to build an appointments booking form for your business. Accept guest bookings or require users to register for an account, allow users to manager their pending and approved appointments, add custom fields and time slots, create multiple calendars, accept paid bookings using Booked’s WooCommerce integration and more.

Book is also easy to customize. Choose from unlimited color for select options, a responsive layout, login and register form, customizable emails, etc. Plus the built-in shortcodes make it easy for your to insert calendars and login forms on any post or page. There’s even an “Add to Google Calendar” option you can add to help customers remember their appointments.

6. Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

Easy Appointments Free WordPress Plugin

The Easy Appointments plugin is just that – easy. It’s a quick and simple way to add an appointments system to your WordPress site. The plugin supports multiple services, workers, locations and a flexible time table so you can create an advanced timetable of appointment options.When setting up your Easy Appointments plugin there are also options to enable ad customize email notifications for booking confirmation, appointment status and confirmation/cancel.

When it comes to form styling, Easy Appointments keeps it easy too! Choose a 1-2 column layout, drag & drop form fields (and even create your own), add prices or labels, localize the date picker and more. Plus there’s built-in reporting to help you keep track of form conversions and stats.

7. Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling Premium WordPress Plugin

If you’ve been looking at powerful appointment booking WordPress plugins then you’ve probably come across Bookly before. This popular plugin is optimized to help you book more appointments no matter when or how your customers access your site.

Bookly is mobile and translation ready, so your forms look great in any language on any device. Plus, built-in support for email and SMS notifications plus Google Calendar integration ensure your customers never miss an appointment. Want to charge at the time of booking? No problem – Bookly’s payment portal integrations including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Mollie, Payson, PayU Latam, 2checkout, PayUbiz and WooCommerce. Other features include color scheme options, flex scheduling, holidays, booking process steps, 50+ currencies and more.

8. Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

The free Appointment Booking & Online Scheduling plugin by vCita is another great options to add an appointments form to your WordPress site. The plugin is perfect for accepting appointments for events, classes, one on one services and more.

While many other plugin offer similar features for online scheduling such as service appointments with specific staff members, confirmations, and payment support what sets this plugin apart is the messaging and callback functionality. The plugin syncs with the vCita Mobile App to notify you instantly about new booking requests, automate reminders and it allows you to send messages and files to your client before you meet.

9. gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

gAppointments Gravity Forms Appointments Premium WordPress Plugin

So far we’ve covered stand alone appointment booking plugins, but what if you want a more powerful forms system? Like Gravity Forms? That’s where gAppointments comes in. This premium plugin adds appointment booking features to the popular Gravity Forms plugin.

When you combine gAppointments with Gravity Forms you’ll have added support for paid bookings, nearly unlimited payment gateways, multiple bookings per date, service intervals, custom services, recurring appointments, Google & Yahoo calendar links, email notifications, auto confirm/complete appointments and more. This plus easy styling settings, translation options and simple front-end form management makes gAppointments a great choice.

10. Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Booking Ultra Pro Appointments Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

The Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers great features to build a booking calendar and manage your appointments via your WordPress site. Visitors can book an appointment using the easy 4-step booking process to secure a time, then the plugin will add the reservation to your individual staff’s dashboard so they can manage their own upcoming appointments.

Want more features? The free Booking Ultra Pro plugin offers a premium upgrade for mobile payments, group bookings, private notes, Google calendar integration, flex pricing, multiple locations and more

11. WooCommerce Appointment Booking Premium WordPress Plugin

WooCommerce Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

Build your own appointments form using WooCommerce! Just install the WooCommerce Appointment Booking add-on to begin taking reservations, selling tickets, booking appointments and more. Just add your products or services, add your staff, use the plugin to enter bookable times (including blackout dates)and then wait for customers to book times.

This plugin also seamlessly integrates with Google Calendar and allows admins to export an appointments CSV (great for accounting records or HR scheduling). Plus it still maintains all of the great features of WooCommerce like simple or variable products, image galleries, easy search, helpful widgets and more.

Wrapping up the Best Appointment Booking WordPress Plugins

There’s no shortage of appointment booking WordPress plugins that will let you book an appointment via WordPress. There are so many, in fact, that the choice can easily be overwhelming. But hopefully, having a guide like this will prevent that from happening. Any other plugins I should know about? Anything you want to tell me about the ones listed above like your personal experiences? Leave a comment below!



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