Freelancer Self Care: Why It Matters and How to Do It

We’ve been doing interviews with several pros about freelancer self care. It’s always helpful to hear from the experts, and we wanted to pull all their good ideas into one place. Taking care of yourself is an important part of any freelancer’s business. Unfortunately, most of us put it off or don’t even think about it … until it’s too late.

Why Self Care Matters

We don’t take self care seriously until something serious happens.

For Jennifer Bourn, it was her husband’s cancer. For Michelle Schulp, it was chronic pain. For Patrick Neve, becoming a parent inspired him to take better care of himself.

When Jenny Beaumont lost her mom to cancer, she re-prioritized her life. She remembers working on her laptop in the hospital room with her mom, missing out on some of those final moments:

“None of us knew how to just be there with one another, to spend that time talking about things, or just sitting in silence, to accompany one another through those most difficult of times. Those are moments I can’t take back, but which have now reshaped my attitude toward life in a positive way.”

Don’t wait for something serious to force you to take self care seriously. Take care of yourself now.

“The life of a freelancer can drive you mad if you don’t find balance.” –Patrick Neve

All the freedom of freelancing means you can abuse that freedom. You can work long hours and never take breaks—and you won’t last long.

It’s crucial that you understand the importance of taking care of yourself.

Freelancer self care is just as important as finances or contracts or marketing. Consider it another part of your business that you absolutely cannot neglect.

Know Yourself

The first step to taking care of yourself is to know yourself. Everybody relaxes and recharges in their own way.

  • Introverts want to hole up by themselves, while extroverts want to hang out with other people.
  • Some people think a good vacation is a whirlwind tour of action and excitement. Others want to drop into a hammock and not move.
  • Some freelancers like to think about code 24/7. Some need to spend time with something completely different so they can come back with fresh eyes.
  • We all have different strengths and weaknesses, different areas where we need to grow. Part of taking care of yourself is learning and growing, but that will look different for everyone.
  • How often do you need breaks? Do you like long sessions of work followed by long breaks, or shorter work sessions interrupted with shorter breaks? Can you recharge your batteries over a weekend or do you need a solid two-week vacation?

Freelancer self care is all about figuring out what works for you.

And to make it harder: What works for you can change over time. The ideas and hobbies you found energizing a few years ago might not work the same today.

The bottom line is that you need to pay attention to yourself. When are you feeling stress? What helps relieve that stress? Figure out what works and what doesn’t, listen to your body, try different things.

Freelancer Self Care Starts With Health

Every single freelancer we talked to about self care mentioned health. You need to eat right, you need exercise, you need good sleep.

“The thing that motivates me to stay healthy the most is that I’ve recognized that my eating, exercise, and sleep directly impact my work and my business.” –Brian Casel

If you’re not healthy, you’re going to have a hard time getting work done. Again, take action before it becomes a crisis.

It starts by recognizing the sedentary nature of computer work. Sitting all day long is incredibly unhealthy.

You can’t chain yourself to a desk all day. You need to get up and move around. Brian Casel uses a standing desk. Patrick Neve drinks from a 32-ounce jug to force himself to get up. Jennifer Bourn leaves her phone in the next room so she has to get up if she wants to check it.

Simply forcing yourself to get up and move around is a good way to disrupt a sedentary lifestyle. But it takes more than that.

Several of our freelancers made exercise a priority by starting the day with it. And exercise doesn’t have to be a sweaty, intense affair. Jenny Beaumont starts the day with yoga and goes on walks with her husband in the evening.

Mental Health

Physical health is important, but don’t forget mental health. All that stress can weigh on your mind and result in serious issues. Depression is not uncommon, and sometimes you need some help.

There can be a temptation to self medicate when you find yourself in a dark place: “Having that extra beer or shot to make yourself feel better starts you down a dangerous path,” cautions Adam Soucie. “When you’re teetering on the edge, mixing either with your stress and possible depression is a recipe for disaster.”

If you’re struggling with mental health issues, talk to somebody.

“Having someone to talk to about your deepest and darkest thoughts without judgment is incredibly helpful,” Adam Soucie says, describing the benefits of therapy.

For more on the value of mental health, check out these resources:

iThemes founder Cory Miller has been up front about his struggles with mental health and most recently his efforts at physical health (the two are certainly linked). There’s no shame in taking care of yourself.

Give Me a Break

Taking care of your health is a good foundation for self care. Now you need to be proactive about taking appropriate breaks to rest and recharge.

“Every day we need rest: It’s not something that we should push back until the last possible moment. We need to pace ourselves and take care of ourselves every single day.” –Jenny Beaumont

You should take regular breaks throughout the day. Getting up from the computer and walking around, letting your eyes rest, allowing your mind to unplug—even five minutes can make a difference.

Be sure to include breaks as a part of your daily routine. That should also include having an end to your work day. Working late into the night might have worked in school, but it’s not a viable long-term solution.

“It’s really important for agency workers and freelancers alike to have set work hours. Once those hours are over, work stops. Period. You have to have a life away from your code or design.” –Adam Soucie

Regular short-term breaks, whether it’s a 15-minute walk around the block or putting work aside to actually enjoy the weekend, are important. But you should also include regular long-term breaks—also known as vacation.

Vacation

Taking a vacation can be a real challenge for freelancers: “Vacation is a pretty foreign concept for me,” admits Jenny Beaumont.

Paid vacation is a nice perk of full-time employment, but it’s something freelancers have to figure out for themselves. Taking time off usually means not making money, and for a lot of freelancers that’s not happening.

To make vacation a reality, freelancers have to plan for it and schedule it. That means setting money aside (both to cover the lost income and to pay for the actual vacation) and clearing your calendar.

It can be a real challenge, but it’s worth it. Jennifer Bourn says it’s one of the best perks of freelancing: “We typically take seven to eight weeks of vacation each year, plus long weekends throughout the summer, and all major holidays.”

As a freelancer, you set the rules. So if you think you can’t manage a vacation, you need to change the rules.

Our freelancers have some tips for how to make the most of your vacation (once you do manage to make it happen):

  • The anticipation of vacation is the best part: “We almost always have our next vacation planned,” says Brian Casel. “If we don’t have some kind of getaway planned in the next few months, we (especially me!) get antsy and it makes work less enjoyable.” (This is one of the lessons from Happy Money).
  • Time to readjust: Michelle Schulp tries to take a day on either side of her vacation to adjust. You need a day to step away and unplug, and you need a day to step back into things.
  • Unplug from email: “I would always recommend steering clear of emails while on vacation,” says Patrick Neve. “Email can easily eat up hours of time that would be better spent creating memories with the ones you love.”
  • Leave work behind: “It’s all about being present in the moment and allowing everything else to fall into the background,” says Jennifer Bourn.
  • Turning work trips into vacation: A lot of work trips do double duty as vacations for Michelle Schulp, and she makes that work by taking time for meaningful social connections. That energizes her and makes it more than a work trip.

Jennifer Bourn has also written a couple posts about how to make vacations happen: How to Take a Vacation From Your Business Without Freaking Out & How to Take a Real Vacation Even If You Own A Business

Reward Yourself

Vacation can be a powerful reward, but you also need more regular rewards. You should have small, daily or weekly rewards—whether it’s taking a few hours off in the middle of the week or a special snack or treat.

Figure out the reward that motivates you, even if it’s as simple as a sticker.

“We have to reward ourselves once in a while. It’s easy to feel guilty for doing this, but if you never reward yourself, you’ll burn out.” –Patrick Neve

Learn New Things

Freelancer self care doesn’t have to be all vacations and rewards. Sometimes taking care of yourself means improving yourself. Sometimes you need to learn new things or stretch your creative muscles with a side project.

Maybe you need to take a class and push your skills. Or maybe that class should be in something completely different from your daily work.

“Never stop learning and never stop trying new things.” –Brian Casel

Again, you need to know yourself and what works best for you.

Interact With Others

Another way to take care of yourself is to hang out with the people who inspire and sharpen you. Go to some events and spend time with your people.

Maybe rubbing shoulders isn’t what you need. Maybe you need to invest in people. Look into mentoring an up and coming freelancer. Inspire the next generation of coders.

Sometimes passing on what you’ve learned and investing in others can recharge and refresh you. You’ll gain a new perspective and a sense of accomplishment you won’t get from keeping everything to yourself.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Freelancer self care isn’t just about taking time away from work. It’s also about working better.

Taking breaks and getting exercise and all the things we’ve talked about above will actually make you more productive.

That’s right, take some time off and get more work done. It’s magic!

Not really. You’ll be happier, more engaged, and more energetic. You’ll attack your work with more vigor and brain power, you’ll have more stamina, you’ll do better work in less time. And getting things done will make you feel even better. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle.

So take a look at how you work and find ways to be more productive.

You can find some advice in the book, Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much by Tony Crabbe. The premise is that busy is a myth and should never be a goal. Instead of rushing around working harder, we should work smarter.

A lot of taking care of yourself is about how you work. Some tips from Busy for a better work life:

And yeah, if you’re too busy to read five blog posts about being busy, we summarized it for you in one.

Our list of 99 productivity tips can also help you work smarter, not harder.

The Perks of Freelancing

Finally, the perks of freelancing really make taking care of yourself easier.

Brian Casel, Jennifer Bourn, Patrick Neve, and Jenny Beaumont all said that a flexible schedule was one of the best perks of freelancing. That flexibility means you can tackle family drama and finish work later. Or work extra hard now so you can take a three-day weekend. You’re not punching a clock and following someone else’s demands. You make your own rules, and that freedom allows freelancers to breathe easy.

That’s quite a boon to self care.

“The biggest ‘perk’ is just giving myself permission to prioritize self care,” says Michelle Schulp.

Get more insights on freelancer self care by reading the complete interviews with our experts:

So freelancers, take care of yourselves.

The post Freelancer Self Care: Why It Matters and How to Do It appeared first on iThemes.

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WordPress Is Not Just A System For Bloggers

When a lot of newcomers hear about WordPress, they are very quick to assume that it is a platform made just for bloggers. Whilst they may be partly true, the thing that most people tend to forget is that WordPress is also a system that the greater community is free create themes for, and add extra functionality through the use of plugins. It is in this case that WordPress has also become known for being used for some of the largest news sites on the internet, plus various photo portfolios, sales letters, and even full blown membership portals.

So, what is it that makes WordPress so versatile? For one, WordPress has a built in membership system, which allows users to sign up to be able to do specific functions such as commenting, and even posting their own content from time to time. This can easily be used by plugin makers as their foundation for creating membership based platforms. In fact, there have been various of these plugins released, mainly premium, however, they provide a very solid platform for a good membership based website.

Themes are also becoming much more versatile these days. With big theme makers straying from the standard blog themes that we have been getting used to, there are real estate style themes available now, along with portfolio themes, plus even a handful of sales letter themes that include a membership portal, plus payment processor options. This means that WordPress can now be used for multiple purposes instead of being limited to just being a blog.

There are also several other plugins out there that will allow for the sale and distribution of product. In fact, there are even some plugins out there that will allow you to create your own online store that sells products as an affiliate of marketplaces such as Amazon and Ebay. This is a huge leap in how WordPress is used, as this allows you to operate a fully functioning online store front without the need to ever even hold so much as a single item of stock, or deal with support issues.

As you no doubt understand by now, WordPress has become a very versatile platform that many people can use for a variety of functions. It can take some time to set up WordPress with the right plugins and themes, however, once the job is done, it is worth every ounce of your time.

18 WordPress New Year’s Resolutions for 2018

2018 is officially here. Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Your WordPress website could probably benefit from some renewed attention and updates, and the New Year is the perfect time to revisit your business or blogging goals.

In this post, we offer 18 WordPress New Year’s resolutions if you’re in need of some inspiration. Choose one, tackle them all or write your own—you decide!

wp resolutions

The Key to Successful New Year’s Resolutions: SMART Goals

SMART Goals, described by Paul J. Meyer in his 2003 book, Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Apply the concept of SMART Goals to your New Year’s resolutions for the most success in achieving your goals.

18 New Years Resolutions for Your WordPress Website

  • 1. Start running scheduled, automated website backups.

Does your WordPress site have a reliable backup strategy in place? Are you relying on host backups alone?

Owning a website means protecting your online investment, and one of the best ways to do that is with something as seemingly boring as backups. WordPress doesn’t have a built-in backup system, so it’s up to WordPress admins to have a backup strategy in place.

A WordPress backup solution should offer these four components:

  1. A complete website backup. You need to backup your entire WordPress website installation (the database + all WP files). A database backup alone won’t cut it.
  2. Scheduled, automatic backups. Backups need to run automatically at scheduled intervals, depending on your site activity and traffic, like hourly, daily or weekly.
  3. Support for off-site backup storage. Backup files must be stored off-site in a safe, secure location, not on the same server as your website.
  4. A way to restore your website from a backup. If your website crashes, you need a way to restore your WordPress website quickly & easily from a backup file.

Note: While your website host may offer backup services, it’s important to know how their backup system stores your website data, how accessible it is to you (can you download the files yourself?) and how quickly support can restore your latest backup in the event of a server crash or error.

Tip: Install a WordPress backup plugin such as BackupBuddy. BackupBuddy was designed specifically to backup WordPress websites and also offers a real-time WordPress backup feature with Stash Live (included for free in BackupBuddy 7.0+). BackupBuddy offers customizable automatic backup schedules and supports multiple off-site storage destinations for your backups.
  • 2. Start practicing good WordPress security measures.

How secure is your WordPress site? Do you know the most common WordPress security issues? Spend some time this year to review WordPress security tips (such as using a reputable hosting provider and keeping your software updated) to minimize your risk of being hacked.

Tip: Install a WordPress security plugin such as iThemes Security. Run the WordPress security check feature to analyze your site and activate the recommended security settings.
  • 3. Update out-of-date themes, plugins and WordPress core.

Are you running out-of-date versions of WordPress core or any themes or plugins on your site? If so, you could be running software with known security vulnerabilities. While it may seem like a chore to keep up with constant updates, keeping everything updated is a very important part of maintaining your WordPress website.

Tip: Use a service like iThemes Sync to manage multiple WordPress sites. Instead of logging into each individual site, Sync gives you one dashboard to perform updates. Sync also sends daily update notification emails to let you know when new updates are available.
  • 4. Set up two-factor authentication.

Are you using two-factor authentication for your WordPress admin login? If not, you may want to consider implementing this important security measure in 2018.

WordPress two-factor authentication (or WordPress 2-step verification) adds an important extra layer of protection to your WordPress site’s login and admin area by requiring 1) a password and 2) a secondary time-sensitive code to log in.

While it may seem like a hassle to add another component to your login, two-factor authentication is still one of the best ways to secure your login, making it nearly impossible to be compromised. At the very least, set up two-factor authentication on all online banking or financial accounts.

Learn more about WordPress two-factor authentication and how it works. The iThemes Security plugin offers two-factor authentication for your WordPress admin login with support for multiple two-factor apps and other methods.
  • 5. Start using a password manager.

Are you using a password manager yet? If not, you might want to review these important reasons for why you should use a password manager (in addition to two-factor authentication) to protect your online identity. Adding a password manager to your online workflow may actually speed up your logins and give you peace of mind as well.

A password manager such as LastPass remembers your login information for you, allowing you to use complex passwords for all your logins across the web. Check out this recent free training webinar on Getting Started with LastPass.
  • 6. Blog more.

Blogging may fall to the bottom of your to-do list, especially when you’re juggling other high-priority tasks. But maybe 2018 is the year you resolve to blog more. Realistically, can you blog daily? Maybe twice-weekly? Maybe just weekly? Make it a priority to blog more frequently to bring in more traffic to your website.

Need blogging ideas and inspiration? Download our free ebook: Blogging Isn’t Dead: Discovering (or Rediscovering) the Power of Blogging.
  • 7. Develop an SEO strategy.

How’s your SEO strategy? Are you seeing success with your targeted keywords and phrases, qualifying leads through quality content? If not, and you need to brush up on your SEO knowledge, set aside time each week or month to work on your website’s SEO. Little changes can mean big results!

Check out this giant library of free SEO training with SEO Expert Rebecca Gill.
  • 8. Optimize images on my website.

One bad habit a lot of website owners get into is not optimizing the images they upload to use in their posts or pages. Do you know large image files can have a BIG impact on page load time? Are you optimizing your images for the web? Stop uploading huge image files to your website and optimize them instead. Even in the era of retina displays, images should still not climb above 500KB in size. Yikes.

Use a plugin such as Smush Image Compression and Optimization to resize, optimize and compress all of your images.
  • 9. Update my website’s design.

Is your blog looking tired or outdated? Is 2018 the year you need to roll out a new website design? Perhaps it’s time to overhaul your entire website, but maybe all that’s needed is to “freshen up” your theme or design.

It’s easy to get focused on design rather than content. If you aren’t blogging regularly, a new design can be a distraction from actually writing and producing content for your blog. Sometimes it’s best to work with the website you have now, make changes and get creative. Make some changes and get creative. At the end of the day, your goal as a blog owner is to focus on producing new high-quality content.

Check out this post for tips and ideas before you embark on a total redesign: 5 Ways to Freshen Up Your WordPress blog.
  • 10. Update my portfolio.

What did you accomplish in 2017? What major projects did you complete? Does your website reflect your latest client work or product releases? Resolve in 2018 to spend some time updating your portfolio with project photos, summaries and client testimonials.

  • 11. Get informed about Gutenberg.

A major update is coming soon to the WordPress. Do you know about the Gutenberg WordPress Editor? If you don’t know already, the Gutenberg a new page builder that is being designed to integrate with WordPress core. Gutenberg will add content blocks and page builder-like functionality to every up-to-date WordPress website. When in use, it will replace TinyMCE as the default content editor. With Gutenberg, content is added in blocks of various types from the WordPress backend.

Spend some time in the next few months reading up on Gutenberg and preparing for how it will change the WordPress editor. Check out this post: The Gutenberg WordPress Editor: 10 Things You Need to Know.
  • 12. Get involved in WordPress community.

Did you know WordPress has a thriving online and in-person community? Are you participating? Have you attended a WordPress meetup or a WordCamp? These WordPress focused meetups and events bring WordPress users together to share knowledge, solve problems and network. Who knows! Maybe you’ll make a new friend or two.

Find your local WordPress Meetup group and check out the WordCamp Central schedule.
  • 13. Set up (and review) website analytics.

Do you have Google Analytics and Google Search Console properly set up on your website? What about WooCommerce analytics to track sales data for your store?

Analytics offers a ton of insights and clues as to what’s working (and what isn’t) and your website, but some website owners get quickly overwhelmed by the setup required and the data in the reports. Maybe this is the year you finally tackle your analytics and translate the data into actionable steps to improve your website and e-commerce performance.

Check out the recent 12 Days of Google Analtyics webinar to help sort through your data. Run a WooCommerce e-commerce shop? Install iThemes Accelerator, our new WooCommerce reports plugin, for instant in-dashboard analytic reports.
  • 14. Raise my prices.

Are you charging enough for the work you do? Have you raised your rates in the past 12 months? Why not?

You should raise your rates at least 5% a year. (Seriously!) Most markets can support a 5% increase in rates. Communicate your rate increase to your existing clients, and raise both your hourly rates and your service contracts in 2018.

Need help pricing your services or help in dealing with clients? Check out the Freelance Summit hosted by Nathan Ingram.
  • 15. Start building (and using) an email list.

Do you have an email list currently for your website or blog? Are you emailing that list consistently with updates, tutorials or promotions? Email is still one of best performing marketing platforms based on ROI, so spend some time in 2018 either building your email list, working on your email strategy and actually sending emails. To help build your email list, use an opt-in incentive such as a free download (think ebooks, templates, worksheets, videos, etc.)

Use a tool such as OptinMonster to help drive your email signups, then integrate OptinMonster with an email marketing service such as MailChimp.
  • 16. Write an ebook.

Writing an ebook can seem overwhelming. But if you already have a blog post series on a similar topic, you can easily compile those posts into an ebook. Ebooks downloads can be as simple as a PDF (if you’re not comfortable yet with EPUB or Kindle), and you can offer the download directly from your website as a way to build your email newsletter list and position yourself as an expert.

Some tools and services will do the work of compiling blog posts into ebooks for you. Check out Beacon, which also offers a WordPress plugin, to turn your blog posts into a well-designed PDF.
  • 17. Learn a new coding/design/marketing/other skill.

What do you want to learn in 2018? Do you need to improve your HTML, PHP, CSS or JavaScript skills? Web or UX design? Digital and content marketing? Set aside time each month (maybe Friday afternoons) to watch tutorials or take online classes. Be sure to track your progress and compare how far you’ve come in a year. Commit to constantly learning and growing in 2018.

Check out iThemes Training for professional WordPress training and other online training sites such as Lynda.com or Skillshare. If you don’t already have one yet (or if you haven’t used it in a while), take advantage of your local library card.
  • 18. Have more fun and practice self-care.

One of the most meaningful resolutions you can make this year is to have more fun and practice better self-care. This may mean different things to different people—from committing to eat healthier, exercise more, get outdoors, get better work/life balance or spend more time with the people you love. What do you enjoy doing? Do more of that. Maybe it’s finding a new hobby or returning to an old one that got lost in the midst of being a grown-up. How will you have fun and take care of yourself in 2018?

Check out our recent interviews with WordPress freelancers on freelancer self care. They share a ton of great advice and insights!

Here’s to an amazing 2018.

The post 18 WordPress New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 appeared first on iThemes.

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PSD to WordPress: Take Professional Help

process, but in reality it’s not that easy as assumed to be. In order to convert a PSD file to WordPress, creation of separate theme files for different theme components is very essential. If you are not an expert in this process, then outsourcing your PSD to WordPress would be a good option for getting your job done perfectly. However, in order to do so, at first you have to design a theme in Photoshop and then go for hiring a company that has been providing excellent PSD to WordPress services to their customers for quite a longer period of time. It will help you to get your desired results.

WordPress is a very useful platform to work with, as it is easy to use on regular basis particularly for bloggers. However, it’s not easier to set up properly. If you are trying for the first time to convert the PSD files to WordPress, then you might find the theme coding a little difficult. The situation can be worse if you are not aware of what you are doing, for instance: it will be difficult to create the desired look of your theme. Though you can go for readymade WordPress themes, yet creating your own theme will always be beneficial for you.

The companies that provide PSD to WordPress conversion service will ensure that every part of your PSD design gets a fine look and thus, becomes a finished product. The reason behind going for a PSD to WordPress conversion company is that these companies have all the experts who can provide you with a great service and thus, will convert your PSD design into WordPress in a more professional way.

A lot of people are there who have the basic knowledge of HTML along with little designing and coding for web pages just think that PSD to WordPress is not such a difficult process and they can easily do it. However, in order to convert a PSD design file to WordPress, you need a lot of technical knowledge about both the PSD file formats and WordPress. Having basic knowledge about it, can’t be very beneficial in this regard.

Finally, we can say that proper conversion from PSD to WordPress requires a lot of considerations and knowledge. If you don’t have much knowledge about it, then instead of trying for this, taking the help of professionals will be a wise decision. It will help you to get your desired results.

 

WordPress Plugin Roundup: Best of July – December 2017

In this post, we round up the most cool and useful (oh, and free!) WordPress plugins added to the WordPress Plugin Directory from July to December of 2017. This roundup includes our top picks from each month so you’ll have a “best of” recap of our favorite new plugins.

1. Postmenu

The Postmenu plugin allows you to duplicate/clone posts, pages, menus or menu links (items of menu). Easily add your posts or pages to the menus and control who can see the content on the web using “User Roles” in the menu.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • An incredibly powerful plugin that does a number of useful admin tasks.
  • Adds 3 options to the post/page list:
    • Duplicate – copies the post/page as is with –copy appended to the title
    • Advanced Duplicate – specify the new title, slug and other items to be copied
    • Menu Link – opens a UI to the menu editor right in the post/page list
  • Also adds Duplicate, Duplicate and Edit, and Advanced Duplicate to the Add New button in the post/page editor
  • On the Settings > Postmenu page:
    • Control where the postmenu functions are displayed and what roles can access them
    • Duplicate full menus

2. WP Pexels

wp pexels plugin

The WP Pexels plugin helps you search millions of free photos from pexels.com then insert into content or set as featured image very quickly.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Pexels.com is a free stock art website with some excellent images
  • Super easy setup – just activate the plugin. It adds a button in the WordPress editor
  • Not the most intuitive interface, but not bad either.
  • Search for your image – pagination is handled by a drop down (not the best UI)
  • Select your image and you get three options
    • Insert – inserts the image into the page or post directly from Pixabay (does not add it to the media library)
    • Save & Insert – saves the image to your media library and inserts the image into the page or post (only available in the Pro Version – $ 15)
    • Featured – saves the image to the media library and sets it as featured image.
  • Similar plugin available from same author for Pixabay, but limited to 640px images.

3. WP YouTube Video Optimizer

The WP YouTube Video Optimizer plugin gives you the ability to optimize the YouTube videos on your website. By default, if you use the direct embed code, then it downloads the YouTube player on every occurrence of a YouTube video. This plugin shows a video thumbnail to your viewer and loads the YouTube video only when the user clicks the play icon.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Could dramatically increase page load speed on pages containing videos.
  • Lots of shortcode parameters available and well explained on the plugin page.

4. Snippy

Use the Snippy plugin to quickly create your own custom shortcodes. A Snippy shortcode is built by combining bits. A bit can be a file, like a Stylesheet or a Script, or a piece of code, like HTML, CSS or JavaScript. The “code” bits can contain placeholders, which are automatically made accessible as shortcode attributes.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Super helpful plugin to set up shortcodes without having to get into PHP.
  • Create buttons, reusable calls to action and more simply.
  • A powerful way to customize a site for a client.

5. Media Library Organizer

The Media Library Organizer plugin is a simple, effective WordPress plugin that allows you to categorize and search images, video and other media in your WordPress Media Library.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • A very handy plugin if your site has lots of media files.
  • Remembers user preferences on sorting and sort order.

6. Smush Image Compression and Optimization

The Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin allows you to resize, optimize and compress all of your images with the incredibly powerful and 100% free WordPress image smusher, brought to you by WPMU DEV.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Probably the best image optimizer for WordPress.
  • Image compression is offloaded to the WPMU servers so your site isn’t affected.
  • Recently directory smushing has been added to handle images outside the media library too … pretty sweet.

7. Admin Select Box To Select2

Admin Select Box To Select2

The Admin Select Box To Select2 plugin is used to convert all simple select boxes to select2.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Adds a searchable box to the top of all standard select boxes in the WordPress admin.
  • Can be very helpful if you have long lists of taxonomies or dates that you need to quickly filter through.

8. Classic Editor The First of (Probably) Many Gutenberg Replacements

wordpress classic editor plugin

The Classic Editor plugin restores the previous Edit Post screen and makes it possible to use the WordPress plugins that extend it, add old-style meta boxes or otherwise depend on the previous editor.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • This plugin allows you to turn off the Gutenberg WordPress editor entirely or use the classic editor on only certain pages or posts.
  • Uses Add New (Classic) and Edit (Classic) in a mixed use scenario.
  • Checkbox to turn off Gutenberg is under Settings > Writing.

9. Tabify Edit Screen

tabify edit screen plugin

With the Tabify Edit Screen plugin, you can make your post edit screen easier to navigate and manage by creating a set of tabs.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • It may take a moment to see how this plugin works, but once you do, it offers some splendid customization options for the page and post editor screens.
  • Move metaboxes to tabs within the settings screen.
  • Works for custom post types.
  • Control who can see tabs based on role.

10. Install FitVids – Embed fluid width Videos

The Install Fitvids plugin allows you to add responsive video embeds on your blog.

Nathan’s Notes:

  • The ability to oEmbed videos from YouTube and other media by simply placing the URL on its own line in the content is a nice feature of WordPress.
  • However, embedded videos are usually smaller than the content width and may not look fantastic as a result. And changing the width can be confusing for some.
  • This plugin installs the FitVid javascript which will automagically make all your videos go full width.

11. WP Optin Wheel

wp-optin-wheel-plugin

The WP Optin Wheel plugin can help grow your email list by offering your visitors a chance to win a coupon, or link through spinning the wheel of fortune. Users have reported that their signup rate increased by 20%!

Nathan’s Notes:

  • Creative way to increase mailing list signups.
  • Only available as a pop-up in free version. Pro version offers more options.
  • Pro version of WP Optin Wheel available starting at €35/year for one site.

12. WP Shapes

With the WP Shapes plugin, you can add a transparent image using a shortcode and make the inline content wrap around the images on one side left or right. Content looks in a shape based on the image.

Nathan’s Notes:

Watch the Webinar: WordPress Plugin Roundup – Best of July – December 2017

This post is based on the Best of July – December 2017 Plugin Roundup webinar by Nathan Ingram. In this webinar, Nathan demonstrates how to use each of these plugins so you can get a better idea of how they work. Check out the entire series of monthly WordPress Plugin Roundup posts here & register for the next Plugin Roundup webinar here.

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Tips To Optimize Your WordPress Blog

As we know that wordpress is mostly used as a content management system & the main reason of its popularity is that it is very user friendly. The person who is not a webmaster can also use this content management system. And moreover, wordpress is free & open source CMS. It includes all the CMS Web Development features. The main features of this CMS are its plug-ins & themes. More than 12% share among the biggest websites in the world on internet is having wordpress as CMS. As everything is nice about this CMS, but as we know the a good things is always has some problems also .The same is with wordpress. The main problem with wordpress is that, it is resource sucker. This is because when more & more plug-ins & complicated themes are added in this then there happens a problem of high CPU server load & memory usage. This can also be when there is high traffic in the website. Due to heavy load in server your account can be suspended & you may lost all visitors & this will be very bad for your website SEO. To overcome all these problems your wordpress developer should be very experienced.

If you are handling your wordpress blog by yourself then, it is very necessary to optimize your wordpress Blog. And for that you have to pay attention on the following tips.

1) Just minimize the plug-ins if you are using so many. And if you are using plug-ins then keep one thing in your mind that these plug-ins should be highly recommended. Highly recommended means highly rated & most downloaded plug-ins & also live plug-ins.

2) Always use the themes which are simple to use & easy to read and also related to your targeted niche .Otherwise having complicated themes there will be server load & it will create a big problem to your website.

3) If you are using any kind of unnecessary script then delete it. Never use unnecessary scripts.

4) Use cache mechanism to to keep your content safe. There are many plug-ins to do caching. Use those plug-ins. But again remember that there should be some recommended plug-ins only. Like Database caching, Page caching, Memory caching, Object caching. So, only recommended Plug-ins should be installed.

5) For your images take another host site that will also reduce the server CPU load. Otherwise having so many visitors and then images can do big loss to your site. Beside imagine,it is better to host CSS & Javascript files also.

6) Optimize your database regularly and also backup regularly when you have lots of data in your MySql database, because it is very necessary to optimize your database.

7)It will be better if you buy small or medium size VPS(virtual private server) to overcome the load on your server CPU. And later as website will grow then add more resources in it as required.

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About Psd To WordPress Conversion Service

People usually think about wordpress merely for blogging purposes, but now it has gone one step ahead from its natural use. Now a days many people are using psd to wordpress conversion service for the creation of their website. If you want to use the potentialities of wordpress and accordingly want to create wordpress theme then must acquire wordpress professionals. This will not only help your design to get a perfect website but also in screeching more and more visitors that can stay connected with your site for longer time.

It is very much important for people to acquire experienced professionals who are skilled in psd 2 wordpress conversion services, otherwise your desired design may go wasted if not followed industry standards. In the competitive market in order to stay you need to follow latest web design standards with great compatibility, and quality work. It offers excellent staff who can convert psd to wordpress with high quality standards. Once you have a look on our services then can very confidently send your psd 2 wordpress theme conversion requirements, and our staff will not let down your expectations. The most essential aspect of any website is its theme to stay longer in the search engine market, and wordpress offers you an open platform to customize them as per your requirement. Two basic things are highly important to know first psd of your choice, and a professional staff provider of psd to wordpress conversion service, that is much needed factors for long staying and running of the website in the competitive market.

Now wordpress is opening door for many services like blog, CMS, E-commerce, news website, and is quite simple and easy to use. Moreover its a open source software that enables you to upgrade versions and make improvements. So hire word press skilled conversion staff to convert psd to wordpress customized themes and stay ahead in trafficking market.

WooCommerce Insights From Justin Sainton

Just as WordPress has come to dominate the web, WooCommerce is dominating the e-commerce space. So we’re talking to WooCommerce experts to learn some new strategies and insights.

Justin SaintonJustin Sainton is the founder of the WordPress agency Zao, a company he launched in 2004 after quitting high school early to pursue web development. Skipping college seems to have paid off, as Zao is still going strong. Today, Justin is known as a WooCommerce expert.

In this post, we talk with Justin about increasing income, making improvements with data, and the future of e-commerce.

What makes for a healthy WooCommerce store? What do you look for?

Great question! There are probably a couple angles to look at this from, at least. What makes a healthy store technically? What makes for a healthy store for the business? And what makes for a healthy store for the customer?

  • From the technical angle: A healthy WooCommerce store is checking at least three boxes: solid hosting, a good theme, and the right (if any) plugins. Insufficient hosting, a poorly developed theme, or the wrong plugins can tank a site faster than you could imagine.
  • At the business level: We’d measure the success of a WooCommerce store in different ways for different businesses—but it usually comes down to friction. How much friction does a store owner feel from their WooCommerce site? Does it work well with their internal order management workflows? With their shipping and payment systems? Does it make their lives as business owners easier or harder?
  • Finally, for customers: WooCommerce sites that take a customer-first approach from the very beginning tend to be the healthiest. This is arguably the most important way to measure a healthy WooCommerce store. Are customers able to buy what they’re coming to buy? Are any customers coming to buy anything at all? Is the user experience conducive to reducing friction for the customer? How quickly are they able to check out? Does the checkout process confuse customers? Does it require more fields than it should to get through it?

What are some effective ways a WooCommerce store can increase its income?

There are myriad ways for a store to increase their income, but I’ll share three that I think are particularly effective:

  1. Flash sales. Scarcity wins, all day long. Assuming the store has already been growing a well-segmented email list (if you haven’t, start now!)—running a time-bound flash sale with healthy discounts is a great way to generate revenue from potential customers (or potential repeat buyers) who have been on the fence about purchasing again from you.
  2. Abandoned Cart Follow-ups. Depending on whose research you’re using, you can recover up to a third of your abandoned carts by following up with those users with a discount email. We love Jilt for this, but there are lots of great solutions for this type of follow-up.
  3. Build a Tribe. This doesn’t work for every business—but you’d be surprised at the number of businesses who have customers who are almost religious fanatics for their brand. These types of businesses with customers who adore them are ripe for a subscription/membership model. Charging a nominal monthly fee to be a part of an insider club that gets more value from your business than other customers can be a great way to add additional income streams, as well as develop more faithful brand ambassadors.

Can you give us an example of using data to improve a WooCommerce shop?

Absolutely! We recently worked with one of our favorite clients, Brooklyn Tweed, to improve the performance of their website.

Using data from New Relic, we were able to identify areas of their website that were causing undue stress on the server. In their case, we were able to identify that variations on the single product page—and the custom implementation with which they were rendered—were causing upwards of 700 uncached queries to the database on each page load!

By using some intelligent fragment caching here, based on the data we had available, we were able to improve the server performance, as well as the customer experience by speeding up the page load time.

What’s in store for the future of e-commerce? Are there things on the horizon—either mundane realities or cool tech—that excite you?

Telling the future is always much more difficult than creating it. I think there are endless possibilities in areas that are pretty obvious—augmented reality, virtual reality, etc. But in the world that a lot of our clients live in, the things that are on the horizon that excite me the most veer toward the more philosophical.

Seeing an open source project like WooCommerce completely dominate the e-commerce landscape actually gives me great cause for excitement for the future of e-commerce. It indicates that we’re moving toward a more open, collaborative ecosystem of e-commerce platforms, systems, and developers. Open source software radically alters every sphere it is able to influence, and I think we’ve just seen the beginning of how e-commerce at large will be affected by open source software.

Check out more from freelance WordPress developer Justin Sainton.

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4 WordPress Widgets You Must Have To Give Your Blog Maximum Flexibility

WordPress is a blogging/CMS (content management system) platform that allows you to not only create a blog on your website, but create the entire website using this flexible blogging platform. In order to get WordPress to look more like a static site, you will want to have the most flexibility you can when it comes to setting up the blog/CMS platform. This article gives you an overview of what widgets you should use on your blog that will give you the needed flexibility.

1. Widget Logic

Widget logic is a useful widget that allows you to control which pages your widgets appear on. It’s power resides in the fact that it can be implemented on a widget by widget basis. This gives you full reign over what kinds of content appears on what pages and you an further target your content to a much tighter topic. Widget logic can be found at wordpress.org/extend/plugins/widget-logic/ and is a free plugin. You will have to understand some simple WordPress conditional tag syntax, but it is very easy to pick up and once you have it, you are on your way to creating a truly unique website.

2. WordPress Signup Forms

WordPress signup forms are widgets that interface directly with your autoresponder, or mailing list software. The more popular emails list services each have their own WordPress widget, so the specific one that you would use will depend upon the service you have. Using these widgets makes it easy to add a signup box to all of the pages on your web site, which will help your mailing list grow more quickly.

WordPress signup form widgits include the following:

1shoppingcart – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/1shoppingcartcom-wordpress-signup-forms/
Aweber – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/aweber-integration/
Constant Contact – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/constant-contact-api/
IContact – wordpress.org/extend/plugins/icontact-widget/

3. RSS Feed

The RSS feed comes with the standard WordPress install and it allows you to bring in other feeds to place on your website. Using RSS feeds allows you to have content on your blog that is constantly changing. This feature will bring the search engines back to your site on a more regular basis, which will improve the speed in which your pages are indexed. When used in conjunction with Widget Logic, you can incorporate several different RSS feeds into your site based on the topic, thus making each page on your blog more tightly focused to the topic, which will help it rank better in the search engines.

4. Text Widget

This widget is gives you extreme flexibility because it allows you to place additional HTML code on your website. You can use this widget to place ads on your web site and used in conjunction with Widget Logic, you can highly target these ads as well. A cousin of this widget allows you to add PHP code instead of HTML code. For more highly advanced programmers, this will allow you to add an almost unlimited kind of functionality to your WordPress blog.

Using specific widgets will allow you to create a web site that will be just as effective and complete as many custom hand developed web sites, yet at a fraction of the cost. Using the different widgets discussed will give you the flexibility you need to build a website that is unique, functional and easy to customize.

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17 Returning Customer Tips for WooCommerce Stores

It’s a lot cheaper and easier to bring returning customers back to your WooCommerce store than to get new customers. In this post, we’ll cover 17 returning customer tips for WooCommerce stores.

returning customer tips

Studies show returning customers are more valuable than new ones: higher add to cart rate, a lower bounce rate, and a higher conversion rate. They also spend almost double the amount as new customers. Additionally, in these 8 important e-commerce stats, returning visitors also spend a lot more time browsing your store:

New visitors spend an average of 2 minutes 31 seconds on site compared with 5 minutes 31 seconds for returning visitors. This is a difference of over 100%. When looking at pages viewed per visit, we see that new visitors view an average of 3.88 pages per visit, but return visitors look at 5.55 pages per visit.

Everybody wants new customers, but you can really gauge the health of your WooCommerce shop by how many returning customers you have. If you don’t know what ratio of new vs. returning customers your store has, iThemes Sales Accelerator, our WooCommerce reports plugin can help you track those numbers.

So how do you get those customers to come back? We’ve got a few ideas:

17 Ways to Generate More Returning Customers

  • 1. Pricing: The simplest way to bring customers back is to have the best prices. Unfortunately, a race to be the cheapest is not always sustainable. It’s an option, but seriously consider your industry and competition.
  • 2. Sales & Discounts: A related way to get more returning customers is to lure them back with sales and discounts. This is a tried and true retail strategy, but again, it can be problematic. You risk training customers to wait for a sale, and if you lose money on those sales, you’ll be in trouble with or without returning customers. But sales do work, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • 3. Coupons: Another related approach is to send your customers a coupon to entice them to come back. Rather than a site-wide sale, this can target the customers you want to bring back. It’s also a good way to make customers feel like insiders and start building that relationship that creates returning customers. The WooCommerce Smart Coupons extension might help you create those deals.
  • 4. Loyalty rewards: You can bring customers back with a loyalty program. Dole out points for specific actions, such as referring friends, sharing products, reviewing items, etc., that can be cashed in for valuable rewards. The WooCommerce Points and Rewards extension can make this happen.
  • 5. Encourage reviews: You can prompt customers to review products and get them to make another purchase with the WooCommerce Review for Discount extension. You can add social proof to existing products and encourage a customer to come back, and they save some money: Everybody wins.
  • 6. Occasional treats: Reach out to your old customers and throw them something cool. A coupon or discount offer is probably the first thing that comes to mind, but it could be helpful content or something else: a free ebook, a video from a known personality in your industry, etc.
  • 7. Unique surprise: Wow your customers by including a unique surprise in their purchase. Maybe it’s a thank you note or a free goodie. Maybe your packaging is unique—lush colors and nice tissue paper instead of bland cardboard and that air cushion packaging. This approach helped the Universal Yums customer story stand out.
  • 8. Email newsletter: Start connecting with customers with a consistent email newsletter. But you can’t just churn out marketing pitches. You need to build relationships. Talk about your products, offer advice, speak to your fans. Give them value.
  • 9. Make it automatic: Start building that relationship with new customers immediately by sending them an automatic welcome email after their first purchase. Thank them for their purchase. Introduce them to your store’s culture and vibe. Offer valuable insight and content. Encourage them to join your email newsletter (if they haven’t already) for more. Offer a discount bribe if you need to make it more compelling.
  • 10. Follow up: A simple welcome email to new customers is a good start at follow up, but that’s for beginners. Use the WooCommerce Follow Up Emails extension to completely automate all kinds of customer follow up and reminders.
  • 11. I got receipts: The age-old receipt is a standard part of any transaction, but with e-commerce, it’s an opportunity to get more returning customers. Make your receipt more than boring: make it valuable and helpful. With custom email receipts for WooCommerce you can set yourself apart, reinforce your brand, and forge that vital connection with customers.
  • 12. Join the club: The ultimate way to create returning customers is membership. Create an exclusive club for your best fans and give them all kinds of goodies: discounts, early access, insider news, exclusive products, valuable advice, free shipping, etc.
  • 13. Create content: Don’t just sell your wares, blog about them. Become a resource for your industry, offering insights, reviews, and previews. You’ll find returning customers come back because you’re building trust.
  • 14. Identify your fans: This one would be time-consuming, but if you really want to generate more returning customers, get to know them. Figure out who your best customers are (iThemes Sales Accelerator can help) and pick their brains. You could send an impersonal survey or do a focus group (be sure to offer an incentive for participation). Get to know your fans and figure out how to reach more people like them.
  • 15. Remember they’re not new: Don’t treat returning customers like new customers. They’ve already bought from you once. There will be some overlap with what you offer new vs. returning customers, but you should also be able to dial back the pitch.
  • 16. Don’t forget social: Social media can be a helpful way to keep your store top of mind for customers. Post pics of new products, updates on sales, helpful content and industry news, etc.
  • 17. Incredible customer service: A great way to bring customers back is to take great care of them. Be prompt and helpful in your replies, always say thank you, follow up to make sure issues are resolved, go above and beyond what’s expected. Under-promise and over-deliver.

5 Ways to Make More Money with WooCommerce

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