Category Archives: Content Marketing

Setup Google Analytics in 3 Steps – The Beginner’s Guide

I remember the first site I ever worked on — a blog I built in college.

After getting the site live, I heard I needed Google Analytics so I set it up.

A few days went by. Nothing really happened.

Then… all of sudden… I received my first visitor! Holy cow, someone actually looked at something I built! A complete stranger!

Turns out, it was a false alarm. Google Analytics recorded one of the visits I made to my own site. I felt a little silly after I realized that.

But a few days later, I did start receiving real traffic. I’ll never forget the feeling that came from having built something other people cared about. I quickly started a daily ritual of checking Google Analytics every morning during breakfast.

Watching traffic come to your site is downright addicting.

Google Analytics tells you how many people are coming to your site, where they’re coming from, and what they look at while they’re on your site.

All for free.

That’s right, it’s completely free. Google built a ridiculously high-quality piece of software and makes it available to everyone. There aren’t any catches or downsides either.

Well, maybe there is one downside.

Google Analytics can get complicated. It has a ton of depth, countless reports, and a bunch of advanced features for expert marketers.

But we can skip all that.

Even if you never use the advanced stuff in Google Analytics, there’s a ton of value in a few basic reports. It’s also really easy to set up. Once you create your account and install Google Analytics on your site, you’ll get the majority of its value right out of the box without having to do any fancy customization.

There are three basic steps: getting your tracking code, installing that code on your site, and confirming that it’s all working. Let’s go through each.

Step 1: Get Your Google Analytics Tracking Code

Again, Google Analytics is completely free and anyone can set up an account.

I’m going to walk you through the process of creating your account, setting up a few basic things in Google Analytics, and show you where to find your Google Analytics tracking code (the Global Site Tag).

First, go to this URL.

Google will ask you to sign into a Google Account. If you have a Gmail or G Suite account, that’ll get you in. If not, you can create a Google Account easily.

Once you’ve started the Google Analytics sign up process, Google will ask for some basic info about your site.

Right after you finish creating your account, you’ll be taken to your Google Analytics tracking code:

The Global Site Tag is what you’re looking for. That’s the code that will run all the tracking stuff on your site as soon as it’s installed.

Also take note of the Tracking ID. Some website builders or WordPress plugins will send data to Google Analytics for you once they have your tracking ID. If you’re asked for the Tracking ID, you now know where to find it.

There’s nothing else you need to configure in your account at this point, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Install Your Google Analytics Tracking Code on Your Site

Now that you have your Google Analytics tracking code, it’s time to get it on your site.

At a high level, the install is simple. Your Google Analytics Global Site Tag needs to fire on every page of your website when the page loads. As the page loads, it records data from that visitor and then sends it to your Google Analytics account and appears in your reports.

There are a couple of ways to get installed on all your site pages. The way you’ll use depends on how your site is built.

WordPress Sites

For WordPress, there are a couple of ways to install Google Analytics.

The absolute easiest way is to install a Google Analytics plugin on your WordPress site. I’ve listed all of my favorite Google Analytics plugins here.

After you install the plugin, go to the plugin settings and look for the place to add your Tracking ID.

Another option is to check your WordPress theme settings. A lot of WordPress themes have the option to add header scripts. This is a place for you to copy and paste any code snippet into the header of your site. Those code snippet will load on every page. It’s in easy way to install marketing tools like Google Analytics on your site. If your WordPress theme has this option, copy and paste your Google Analytics Global Site Tag into that box. Then you’re done.

This is the way that I usually prefer to install Google Analytics. It’s super easy and it allows me to keep the total number of WordPress plugins down.

If you have trouble finding this setting or your theme doesn’t have it, the plugin option is still a great way to go.

Ecommerce Sites

If you are using an ecommerce tool to run your site, dig around in your site settings. Most of the ecommerce site tools have integrations with Google Analytics.

Usually, they just need to know your Tracking ID and you’ll start seeing data in your reports.

Shopify does ask that you copy and paste your tracking code into its settings. This article also breaks down a few more steps to verify that your Shopify theme is using Google Analytics. Shopify is our recommended ecommerce platform and you should switch to Shopify if you’re not on it already.

All Other Sites

Most site builders like Squarespace and Wix have Google Analytics integrations. Search your site settings for a way to add your Tracking ID or copy your Global Site Tag into your site.

If you’ve built your site by hand, you could install Google Analytics yourself. Your goal is to copy and paste your Global Site Tag into the <head> section on every page of your site. If you’re not sure how to do this, reach out to a developer to help you install it.

What about that Google Tag Manager thing? Should I use it?

Short answer: don’t worry about it. Install Google Analytics without it.

Tag managers became popular to help teams manage their websites. For a growing business, managing all the scripts on different website becomes a real headache. There are dozens of marketing and engineering scripts along with countless sites and subdomains to manage. It’s pretty easy for scripts to get out of hand.

Tag managers came around to manage… well… tags (scripts). Instead of installing scripts directly on your site, you install a single tag manager. Then you put all your scripts in your tag manager. Your tag manager loads the scripts every time someone comes to your site.

There are several major advantages to this:

  • You can control who has the ability to edit scripts at your company and who doesn’t. The user permissions are very advanced in these tools.
  • It’s a lot easier to keep all your scripts updated and current. Once a year, someone on your team can go through them all, update old scripts, and remove unnecessary ones.
  • It gives non-engineers the ability to make changes to your sites without having to bother the engineering team. Marketers don’t have to pester the engineering team to get a new marketing tool installed on the site.
  • A bunch of advanced features add a lot of extra control over your scripts that you don’t normally have, like being able to pick which pages the script fires on.

Google released its own Google Tag Manager a while back and it quickly became the industry standard.

If you’re part of a larger company, you should install all your marketing tool scripts with Google Tag Manager, including Google Analytics. It’ll prevent a bunch of fires later.

However, most site owners aren’t working at a large company. They’re building their own site or running a small business. If that’s you, I recommend you skip Google Tag Manager for several reasons:

  • When it’s you or a small team, there’s no need to manage user permissions super strictly.
  • You won’t be using that many marketing tools anyway.
  • It’s a whole other tool that you’d have to learn. You have enough on your plate.

So skip it and install Google Analytics directly on your site.

Step 3: Confirm Google Analytics Is Set Up Correctly

The majority of data in Google Analytics only appears in your reports 24 hours after it happens. This means that if you’re looking at data for today, it’s not accurate. It takes time for Google to process all the data coming in and get it ready for your reports.

So if you install Google Analytics, visit a bunch of pages on your site, then check your Google Analytics reports right away, you might not see anything in your reports. Give it 24 hours for the data to come in.

Google Analytics does have some Real-Time reports that show you data as it’s coming in. These reports don’t have nearly as much depth as the normal reports but you don’t have to wait 24 hours to see what’s happening.

The Real-Time reports are perfect for confirming that you’ve set up Google Analytics properly.

They’re under “Real-Time” in the left sidebar. The Overview report looks like this:

A great way to make sure your Google Analytics tracking code has been installed correctly is to open up the Real-Time Overview report in one browser tab and then click through a bunch of pages on your site in another tab. If the install was done correctly, you should be able to see the pages you’re visiting pop up in the report.

Once all the data is coming in, you’re good to go. You’ve finished setting up Google Analytics and can start checking it during breakfast every morning like I do.

Best Google Analytics Plugins for WordPress – (Review Updated for Winter of 2019)

How much do you know about your website?

It may sound like a simple question, but you’d be surprised how many people aren’t able to answer it. Sure, you probably know everything about the layout, design, content, and navigation on your site. But I’m referring to your website’s performance.

Here’s the thing: Unless you’re bombarded with sales, signups, or comments on a daily basis, it’s difficult to know what’s happening on your website. For those of you who have a new website, you’re probably wondering if your site is even working.

Now, let’s get back to the initial question about how much you know, though this time I’ll be more specific.

  • How much traffic does your website have?
  • Where are these visitors coming from?
  • How long do they stay on your site?
  • Which online campaigns drive the most traffic and conversions?
  • What’s your top performing content?
  • Which pages aren’t performing well?
  • What are people searching for on your website?
  • What’s stopping your customers from converting?

As you can see, these questions are a bit more in-depth. The knowledge required to answer these goes far beyond being able to regurgitate the titles of your last few blog posts.

But this isn’t something you can track or measure by hand. You’ll need to take advantage of online tools and resources. That’s why you need to set up a Google Analytics account.

If you’re using WordPress, you can integrate Google Analytics with your site to view all of these insights without having to leave your WordPress administrative dashboard. The solution? Plugins.

It doesn’t matter if you’re website is new or old. It doesn’t matter if you have an ecommerce site or blog. Every website can benefit from Google Analytics plugins. So check out my list to determine which plugin is best for your situation. I took the time to research and identify the best Google Analytics plugins for WordPress.

1. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Formally known as GADWP, the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics is definitely one of the most popular options. This plugin has more than one million active installations.

With the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP, you’ll be able to use the latest Google Analytics tracking code to monitor your WordPress site. This is great for those of you who don’t want to manually insert the tracking code. Once installed, you’ll be able to view all of your Google Analytics statistics from the WordPress dashboard. This makes things much easier for you.

You’ll be able to track key stats in real-time, such as:

  • Real-time visitors
  • Real-time acquisition channels
  • Real-time sources of traffic

The plugin also helps you track specific events on your site. Some of these include emails, downloads, page scrolling depth, and affiliate links. You can even create notated HTML elements that allow you to track custom events and actions.

One of the key features of this plugin is the front-end viewing option. As an administrator, you can set up your reports on the front-end of any page on your site. You can also allow these front-end viewing permissions for other people who work on the website like editors, authors, and contributors.

Some of the most popular reports you can view with the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP include:

  • Page views
  • Bounce rates
  • Traffic channels and mediums
  • Browers
  • Operating systems
  • Screen resolutions
  • Social networks
  • 404 errors
  • Keywords
  • Locations

Why is this information so important? The data allows you to learn more about the browsing behavior of people on your website. You can use these insights to create a customer persona that improves conversion rates.

Just like Google Analytics, the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin is also free. So it’s a great option for those of you are looking for a free Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. Overall, it’s a top option for any website.

2. MonsterInsights

More than two million WordPress websites are using the MonsterInsights plugin. I love this plugin because it’s so easy to install and use. You can get the plugin configured in just minutes.

This is much simpler than having to manually add your Google Analytics code, set up your event tracking, configure your ecommerce tracking (if applicable), and deal with the learning curve of Google Analytics.

MonsterInsights simplifies everything for you, directly from your WordPress dashboard. You can enable specific Google Analytics features with just one click. There is no coding required.

The plugin provides you with extensive reports about your website. I’ll go through each one briefly and list the benefits.

Audience Report

  • Gender
  • Age breakdown
  • Device (desktop, mobile, tablet)
  • Location
  • Categories

You could learn that the majority of your traffic is coming from men in the United States between the ages of 25 and 34. These users are browsing from mobile devices.

Behavior Report

  • Sessions
  • Pageviews
  • Average session duration
  • Bounce rate
  • Referrals
  • Search terms
  • Outbound links

If you identify specific outbound links on your website that are very popular, you can use that as a potential partnership opportunity. You’ll also be able to focus on referral channels that are driving the most traffic.

Content Report

The content report shows you the top performing landing pages. You’ll see the visits, average duration and bounce rate for each page. Based on these results, you can optimize those pages to drive conversions.

Ecommerce Report

Obviously, this report is specifically for ecommerce websites. It’s useful information that will help you increase conversions and revenue.

You can’t go wrong by installing the MonsterInsights plugin. The only catch is that it’s not free. Pricing starts at $99.50 per year. But if you have an ecommerce site, you’ll want to go with the pro version that’s $199.50 annually. MonsterInsights even has a plan for agencies and developers, which costs $499.50. That’s not bad considering you can use it on 25 sites.

3. Analytify

Like the other plugins we’ve seen, Analytify also eliminates the need for you to manually add your Google Analytics tracking code to your site. All you need to do is install the plugin and authenticate it with one click to automatically add the code. This is a relief for those of you who are hesitant to add code to your WordPress site. Without any coding experience, even a simple copy and paste can be a bit intimidating.

Analytify has all of the standard Google Analytics reports and statistics. You can view all of them from your WordPress dashboard. What makes this plugin stand apart from other options are the extras. They offer premium add-ons for things like WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads integrations.

Depending on the type of website you have, you may want to show website visitors your statistics as well. For example, let’s say you have a business directory site. The companies that are listed on your site would want to know certain metrics. So you can enable front-end viewing reports.

The Analytify WordPress plugin is great for ecommerce businesses. They have enhanced ecommerce tracking. You’ll know how many visitors added items to their shopping cart and also gain insights for when people are leaving the cart. This information will help you reduce shopping cart abandonment by optimizing your checkout process.

You’ll also see things like:

  • Transactions
  • Revenue
  • Average order value
  • Product checkouts
  • Unique purchases
  • Product clicks
  • Product detail views

Another reason why I recommend this plugin is because it provides you with automated email reports. You can gain deeper insights for specific campaigns, posts, and pages.

The shortcodes offered by Analytify allow you to integrate your data into custom templates.

Furthermore, you can manage your UTM campaigns with Analytify as well. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this or want to learn more, refer to my guide on how to track your leads with UTM parameters. It’s nice knowing that you can monitor those campaigns directly from this WordPress plugin.

Pricing for Analytify starts at $39 for one site. Add-ons are purchased separately. Those all fall within the $19 to $49 range. Analytify also offers an all-in-one bundle for $129 per year that includes your Analytify install and every add-on. This is the most cost-effective deal if you’re planning to purchase add-ons.

4. WP Google Analytics Events

Google Analytics already offers insights for event tracking that allow you to monitor specific user interactions with content on your website. Think: clicks, downloads, flash element or AJAX embedded element interactions, video plays, and gadgets. Events are made to help you monitor custom metrics that aren’t based on something simple, like page views. Just because someone navigated to your homepage, it doesn’t tell you if they scrolled to view your pricing table.

Neat, right?

The only problem is these events can be tough to manually set up and configure with Google Analytics.

Without a plugin, you’ll have to some extra work based on the type of event that you want to track:

Then you’ll have to write commands. When it’s done, it will look something like this:

Here’s another example:

Again, it’s complicated. Even the Google Analytics developer page with these instructions says, “tracking outbound links and forms can be tricky.”

The WP Google Analytics Events plugin simplifies this process. You can do all of this without having to worry about any coding.

So if you want more detailed information with how users are interacting with specific pages on your website, you’ll want to install this plugin. It’s much easier and less complex than the standard coding process for event tracking. You can download and install the WP Google Analytics Events plugin to your WordPress site for free.

5. Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics Plugin for WooCommerce

In case the name didn’t give it away, the Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics Plugin for WooCommerce is designed specifically for ecommerce sites. Google Analytics recently launched a new feature for enhanced ecommerce statistics. That’s what this plugin focuses on.

I like this plugin because it’s so fast and easy to install. Once you install it, you’ll be able to track the behavior of your website visitors across your entire ecommerce site. You’ll learn about everything they do from the home page to the product views, all the way to the thank you pages.

These are some of the detailed reports you’ll get:

  • Shopping behavior report
  • Checkout behavior report
  • Product performance report
  • Sales performance report

The plugin tracks product impresses, clicks, and add-to-cart rates on every page. If you don’t want to bounce back and forth between your WordPress dashboard and Google Analytics dashboard, this plugin will let you view everything from one place.

Conclusion

Every website can benefit from Google Analytics. (You’ve already installed, right? If not, do it now. Right now. Go. Install it now.)

But you can simplify your insights by getting all of your reports and information directly from your WordPress dashboard. All you need to do is install a plugin. So what’s the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress?

For those of you who want a free all in one plugin, you should consider Google Analytics Dashboard for WP. If you’re a developer, have an agency, or want added reports for an annual premium, you should look into MonsterInsights.

Ecommerce websites would benefit from plugins like Analytify or the Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics Plugin for WooCommerce.

Maybe you don’t want all of these features, and you’d rather focus on something specific, like event tracking. If that’s the case, WP Google Analytics Events will be your best bet.

No matter what type of website you have, I know there’s a Google Analytics plugin for you on this list.

How to Create a Website in 120 Minutes — Step-by-Step

Creating a website used to be a massive project.

And expensive too.

Everything had to be built by hand and businesses needed to work with an online marketing agency that would charge them tens of thousands of dollars to build the site. If you wanted a professional-looking site, that was your only option.

Things have gotten a lot cheaper over the years.

Now it’s possible to get a polished site for less than $100. About $10 to buy the domain, $30–60 for a good template, and $5–10/month to host it. It’ll look so good that people won’t even realize that you built it yourself. It’ll look like some high-flying marketing agency built it for you.

Not only has it gotten cheaper, it’s also gotten a lot easier.

I’ve broken down the 9 simple steps to create your website from scratch. You’ll easily be able to run through these steps over the next 120 minutes.

Step 1: Pick a Name and Find a Domain

These are not two separate steps, unfortunately.

I really wish I could sit down, pick any name that I want for my business, and be able to create the site that I want around that name. Now that the internet is a couple of decades old, we all have to face the reality that most of the good domains have been taken.

Here’s how a naming session always seems to go for me:

  1. In a moment of inspiration, we think of an amazing name.
  2. We hold on to this name for months, maybe even years.
  3. It’s time to start the business, so we go to purchase the domain.
  4. The domain is taken.
  5. We try a dozen small variations of our original idea, all taken.
  6. No biggie, we thought of one brilliant name, we’ll think of another one.
  7. Backup idea #2 = taken.
  8. Backup idea #3 = taken.
  9. Backup idea #4 = taken.
  10. Despair sets in.
  11. We start considering names that we don’t actually like, hoping that anything is available.
  12. We come up with 2 or 3 options that we don’t like at all.
  13. Then we spend a week trying to come up with a name that’s both available and a name that we can live with.
  14. Finally, we find one.

Websites have also become so embedded in our day-to-day lives that it’s better to change the name of the business to match an available domain than it is to pick a poor quality domain. Through this process, I almost always end up with a completely different name than I originally intended.

This is why I consider the “naming my business” and “buying the domain” steps for creating a business to be the same step. I try to only lock myself into a name once I have the domain.

We put together an in-depth guide on buying domains here.

The good news is that the rest of these steps are a breeze once you have your domain purchased. It’s the first and hardest step.

Step 2: Register Your Domain

Real quick, let’s sort out the difference between a domain registrar and a web host.

A domain registrar is a company that specializes in buying (registering) domains.

A web host, on the other hand, specializes in running servers that host websites.

Every web host will desperately try to get you to also registrar a domain through them. The reason is that it’s a great upsell for them. They’ve spent most of their resources building out a hosting service, then they offer domain registration as a convenience, increase the price a bit, and collect a nice chunk of extra profit from you.

My philosophy is to buy things from businesses that specialize in that exact thing. Prices will be better and so will quality. That’s why I also use a domain registrar for buying domains and a web host for hosting. I never mix up the two.

We put together a detailed review of domain registrars here.

Step 3: Decide What Kind of Site You Want

Most guides on creating a website will push you into using WordPress. It’s the most popular and flexible website builder. And that’s usually a good recommendation.

But there are a few situations where I recommend different options.

Simple Portfolio or “Business Card” Sites

Many businesses need a simple website that tells people a few things:

  • Who the business is for
  • What the business does
  • Sometimes a portfolio that shows off some work
  • Contact info

This kind of site gives the basic info for the business, nothing more. If this is what you need, Squarespace is your best option for creating your website. It’s incredibly simple to use and will give you a professional site at a very low price. It’s perfect for small businesses.

Squarespace will try to convince you that they can handle everything. That’s not true.

They’ve created the simplest and easiest website builder out there. Truly, it’s a joy to use.

However, they completely lack all the advanced features that an online business needs. The ecommerce functionality is extremely limited, and I don’t know any serious online marketer that uses Squarespace for a content site. If your business an online business, Squarespace isn’t a legitimate option. You’ll hit the limits of its features too fast.

If you know that you want an ecommerce store from the beginning, start on Shopify and skip Squarespace. And if you know you want a blog or are planning on doing lots of content, start on WordPress.

Squarespace makes the most sense when you just need a clean, professional-looking site that gives some basic info on your business. It’s perfect for small businesses, freelancers, and artists.

Here’s another way to think about it: If you’re building a business that doesn’t live and die on its website, it just needs a website in case anyone looks for it, like a business card, then go with Squarespace. But if you’re website is your business, use one of the more tailored platforms.

Ecommerce Sites

If you’re planning on building an ecommerce store for your site, don’t use WordPress. We have an entire post here on when to use WordPress for ecommerce and when not to. The short story: it rarely makes sense to use WordPress for ecommerce.

The best option, by far, is Shopify. There used to be more competition in the ecommerce tool space but Shopify got too far ahead. Now they’re really the only option and they have an incredible reputation. You won’t regret using them for an ecommerce site.

If you’re going this route, we have a 9-step guide on how to create an ecommerce website. We also have a guide on how to start a store that drives real sales. Both of those guides will get you pointed in the right direction.

Blog Sites

If you want to create a blog with a bunch of content, you need to use WordPress. We have a detailed guide on starting blogs here.

WordPress powers over 30% of the entire internet. So it’s the only real option for starting a blog these days.

What about Joomla or Drupal? Or Typepad?

WordPress left all those other platforms in the dust about a decade ago. They’re not even legitimate options at this point. Pick WordPress — there isn’t a single situation where you’ll regret it.

When I originally started with this online thing, Drupal sites were still pretty common. I partnered up with an engineer friend of mine and we did a lot of freelance work migrating sites from Drupal to WordPress. Even back then, WordPress was a clear winner.

Now when I come across a site on any of these other tools, it’s kind of exciting. It’s like finding an ancient artifact. “This still exists!? How fascinating!”

Don’t use any of these other tools, stick to WordPress.

Everything Else

If you’re not sure or have another vision for your site outside the categories above, use WordPress. It’s the most flexible platform out there. It will do ecommerce, it’ll do simple portfolios, it’ll do massive content sites, it’ll do Fortune 500 marketing sites, it’ll do it all.

You might have to customize it more than other platforms in some situations but you can make WordPress do whatever you want it to. And just about anyone in online marketing knows their way around WordPress so you’ll be able to find plenty of people to help you when the time comes.

Whether you want to build your site by hand or you have an online marketing agency to do it for you, you should still build on top of WordPress. It’ll shortcut a lot of the programming work and give you the ability to edit basic items on your site without having to edit any code. I’ve managed marketing sites of venture-backed tech startups that employed dozens of engineers — we still had our marketing site built on top of WordPress. It’s the standard choice.

Step 4: Get a Host for Your Website

For the rest of this guide, I’m going to assume that you’ve picked WordPress to build your site. If you want an ecommerce site, skip the rest of this guide and follow our guide on creating an ecommerce site.

WordPress is the tool that you’ll use to build your website. But you also need a host that will store your site and make it available to anyone who visits.

We have an entire guide here that goes through all the best web hosts.

Hosting plans usually start around $5/month.

Step 5: Install WordPress

Just about every website host has a 1-click install of WordPress. It’s usually under a section called Tools, Website, Software, or Content Management Systems (CMS). It’ll look something like this:

If you have trouble finding it, contact support at your host and they’ll be able to walk you through it.

Step 6: Point Your Domain to Your Host

Let’s do a quick recap.

  • You bought your domain using a domain registrar.
  • You signed up for a hosting plan.
  • You installed WordPress on your host.

Now you’re going to connect all that stuff together by pointing your domain to your host. Then when people go to your domain, they’ll end up on your site.

There are a few technical settings you need to apply. This involves configuring a few nameserver settings on your domain registrar for your domain. Your host will give you the correct settings; you’re looking for their nameserver settings.

If you get stuck, contact your host and they’ll give you all the info you need.

Once you have the nameserver info from your host, go into your domain registrar and configure those settings for the domain that you want to point at your site. Once you’re done, it’ll look something like this:

Step 7: Install a WordPress Theme

Think of WordPress as the guts of your site, it’s all the pumping that makes your site work.

WordPress uses themes to determine how your site looks. This makes it really easy to change how your site looks without having to rebuild your site from scratch. Swap out your old theme for a new one and ta-da! Your site will look completely different.

These days, I purchase all my themes from StudioPress.

Heads up, WP Engine bought StudioPress and now includes all the StudioPress themes in its hosting plans. WP Engine is more expensive but it’s perfect for serious bloggers. It’s a great way to save money on your theme if you are planning on building a large site to begin with. WP Engine is our recommended host if you’re looking for the best. The downside is that WP Engine tends to be more expensive than other hosts.

Back to themes, are there other options?

You betcha. ThemeForest has a marketplace of WordPress themes. There are literally tens of thousands of themes to pick from. They’re usually in the $30–60 price range. When looking for theme, I rank them by the most popular or the highest rating. Then I pick one I personally like.

After you’ve purchased a theme, go to the WordPress Theme settings and upload your theme. The Theme settings are under Appearance in the WordPress sidebar menu. You’ll have to click through “Add new” and “Upload Theme” in order to see this option to upload:

Go ahead and upload the .zip file you received when you purchased your theme.

After it’s uploaded, you’ll also have to click “activate” on the theme in WordPress to make it go live.

Step 8: Add Content

Now the fun part — it’s time to create the individual pages of your site.

You’ll do this within WordPress.

WordPress has two types of content: pages and posts.

Think of posts as blog posts that are published under a “blog” section of a site. If you’re not planning on having a blog, then you can skip posts entirely.

Pages are the more permanent pages on your website. Like your About or Contact Us pages. When you’re first creating your site, you want to get a batch of pages live so your site feels real.

Every website has a few standard pages you should create:

  • Homepage – Your WordPress theme usually has settings for this page.
  • Contact Page – Create a new page and install a WordPress form plugin so you can add a form to the page.
  • About page – Tell your story and why you’ve started your business.
  • Product or services pages – For the main services or products that you’re offering, it’s a good idea to create a dedicated page for each.
  • Blog – If you’re building a blog, make sure all your posts get listed here.

This list will get you started. You can always add more later.

Step 9: You’re Done!

At this point, you have a fully functioning site that looks great.

I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot of extra configuration you can do to your site: you can add WordPress plugins that upgrade your site, build out a blog, add an email list, grow traffic, the list is endless.

You don’t have to do any of this extra stuff — it’s all optional. It depends on your priorities and goals.

When you’re ready, these guides will walk you through the extra stuff that’s worth considering:

Best WordPress Calendar Plugin – (Review Updated for Winter of 2019)

WordPress is the most popular content management system. Period. If you have a WordPress site — which you should if your site is a content site — you know how many plugins are available on this platform. There are thousands, literally thousands. I did a search today to see how many WordPress plugins there are. The number? 54,681. It can be a bit overwhelming. With so many plugins to choose from, how can you know which ones are the best?

What you do know is that you want to add a calendar feature to your website. Being able to simply add dates and times is crucial for some businesses. Not every calendar plugin is the same. Some of you will need more advanced calendar features than others. You may need a calendar to keep track of tasks — pretty basic. Or, you may need a more advanced calendar for managing events, bookings, and integrating with ecommerce platforms.

I took the time to find the best WordPress calendar plugins available. So regardless of your situation, you can use this guide to find the one that best suits your needs.

1. The Events Calendar

As the name implies, The Events Calendar WordPress plugin is ideal for any site that’s managing events. There are so many different uses for this feature.

It’s great for musicians who want to showcase their upcoming performances, as well as venue owners who need to display shows coming to their location. If you have a restaurant, church, or nonprofit organization, this plugin is perfect for you. If you’re an author and traveling to promote your book, or speaking at any seminars and conferences, you can benefit from the events calendar. As you can see from these examples, the possibilities are nearly limitless.

Here’s how the plugin looks once you implement it:

In addition to this month view option, you can also organize the calendar by day or list of events.

The microformats will help boost your SEO, and the plugin offers caching support as well as debug mode. It’s compatible with Google Maps, Google Calendar, and iCal as well. So events can be exported and added to other platforms.

Users who are looking at the calendar even have the option to browse for certain events. They won’t have to scroll to find something specific.

The design is fully responsive no matter what device the calendar is being used on. So you won’t have to worry if visitors are browsing from desktops, smartphones, or tablets. This is extremely important since accommodating the needs of mobile users can boost sales.

One of the reasons why The Events Calendar is so popular is because it’s easy to use right out of the box. You’ll be able to figure out how to navigate and use everything in minutes.

You can install this plugin for free, but it does have a few paid options as well. The premium upgrades are very affordable — they cost $89, $149, and $299 per year for personal, business, and agency use, respectively.

2. Booking Calendar

The Booking Calendar is one of the first booking systems ever developed for WordPress. It was originally released back in 2009. Over the last decade, it’s been installed on WordPress sites more than one million times.

It’s safe to say that this plugin has gone through its fair share of updates and changes over the past ten years, which has helped it keep its spot as one of the best WordPress calendar plugins in 2019.

This plugin makes it easy for website visitors to view the availability of something, such as an apartment, hotel, or service, and book directly from the calendar.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you own a carpet cleaning business. Rather than taking appointments over the phone, which can be inefficient, it’s easy for you to add a user-friendly calendar to your WordPress site. Website visitors can select the day and time for an appointment and fill out form fields to book the cleaning. This is much more user-friendly than requiring them to pick up the phone and going back and forth about possible dates. I know I’d much rather book online. If you make me pick up a phone, I’m a lot less likely to follow through with the booking.

As you can see, the functionality of this plugin can be applied to so many different websites and businesses. From the backend, it’s easy for the admin to view, manage, and customize all of the bookings. Booking Calendar lets you set limits to avoid double bookings. Dates and times will automatically become unavailable once your limits have been reached. This calendar plugin can manage an entire year in advance.

The administrative features give you the option to approve or deny bookings as well. You can set it up so you receive email notifications when something gets added to your calendar. That way you can plan your schedule accordingly, and won’t have to keep manually checking WordPress to see if anything has been changed.

3. Simple Calendar – Google Calendar Plugin

I don’t mean to be redundant, but the Simple Calendar – Google Calendar Plugin is as simple as it gets. The reason why it made my list is because it’s so easy for anyone to use, even if you don’t have any technical experience.

This plugin has more limited features compared to other calendars, but sometimes too many elements add unnecessary complexity. For those of you who don’t need all of the extras and frills, the Simple Calendar – Google Calendar Plugin is perfect.

Once you install the plugin, you’ll be able to display any event from a Google Calendar, which means you won’t need to re-create any events manually in WordPress.

You can use tags to customize your events without having to do any coding.

It’s easy to integrate this plugin with other tools to turn your calendar into a format that’s easy to distribute as a newsletter. This feature allows you to share the calendar with your email subscribers without requiring them to to visit your website.

Like most options, this plugin lets you view calendars in a monthly grid or a list view. The advanced settings will automatically adjust for time zones, as well as the date and time formats, depending on where your site visitors are located.

I’d recommend this plugin to anyone who doesn’t needed too many advanced features in a WordPress calendar. For lack of a better word, I’d describe this plugin the same way it does — simple.

4. EventON

As you probably guessed, the EventON WordPress plugin is made for managing events.

The design of this calendar is what makes this plugin stand apart from other options. If you want a sleek and beautifully designed calendar that fits with your pages and themes, this will be a top choice for you to consider. With this plugin you can customize the look to match with the trending color schemes on your website.

There’s a lot to like about it as well. It’s easy for users to search for events or navigate from month to month. It readily handles events lasting for multiple days, months at a time, or even all year. And, you can highlight featured events that you want to promote more and jump off of the page. Each event has a title, date, time, address, and photo. You can also add a description of the event, as well as an additional image showing the location.

People can even get directions to the location directly from the event listing on your website. All they need to do is type their address into Google Maps, which is integrated on the screen.

EventON lets users buy tickets to events with Woocommerce support. But you’ll need to pay extra for that add on.

EventON is arguably the best WordPress calendar plugin for managing and promoting events on your website. It’s not free, but there is a demo for you to try if you’re interested. All of the premium features are purchased separately, so you can customize the plugin to meet your needs.

5. All-in-One Event Calendar

All-in-One Event Calendar is another one of my favorite WordPress plugins. I like it because it’s so easy to use within WordPress. Just look at how simple this new event page is to configure.

Everything is so straightforward. All you need to do is fill out the form fields, add the dates and times, and you’re good to go. There are settings for the location details, contact information, as well as a section for purchasing tickets. The plugin automatically helps optimize your events for SEO purposes. You can embed Google Maps into each event as well, so it’s one less step for people who need directions. They can do this directly from your website.

You can sync All-in-One Event Calendar with other platforms, including:

  • Google Calendar
  • iCalendar
  • MS Outlook

Site visitors can view the calendar by month, week, day, or poster board and it’s easy to filter events. I especially like the color coding feature for grouping events in certain categories. For example, let’s say you own a restaurant. You can add different colors for things like karaoke, trivia, or happy hour, so it’s easy for people to find what they’re looking for. (For me, that’d be a hard no on karaoke, and a hearty yes on trivia and happy hour.)

The basic version of All-in-One Event Calendar is free. The pro version starts at $9 per month, but there are more advanced options for $29 and $99. But I think the majority of sites will have their needs met with the free version or the $9 pro version at most.

6. My Calendar

My Calendar is likely the best option for adding multiple calendars on your WordPress website, or if you have multiple sites that need to display the same calendar. My Calendar is multi-site friendly, so you can add calendars to a network of sites that you’re managing directly from a single WordPress install. So you can essentially share events within the network by fetching them from a remote database. Unlike other plugins that we’ve seen so far, My Calendar has a mini-calendar view, which is ideal for a compact display on your site or sites.

Once an event has been created, you can automatically have it posted to Twitter, set up email notifications whenever a new event is scheduled, and you can easily schedule and manage recurring events.

You’ll also have the option to create custom templates for your calendars. If you’re a designer or developer, this plugin will give you lots of flexibility to create custom calendars for your WordPress site.

Conclusion

There you have it. These are the top six WordPress calendar plugins of 2019.

Use this guide to determine which plugin is the best for your website. Not all of these plugins offer the same options and functionality. So you’ll want to make sure that you find one that covers your needs.

At the same time, you don’t want to get a WordPress calendar plugin that’s too complex. If you need something that’s simple, you can find an option that’s more on the basic side. Like I said earlier, one of my business mantras is: No unnecessary complications. Keep it simple. Whizbang features you don’t need can slow you down, instead of speeding you up.

There are tons of other WordPress calendar plugins, but in my experience, these are the best ones.

Best WordPress Security Plugin – (Review Updated for Winter of 2019)

You wouldn’t buy a brick and mortar business without getting a lock for the front door, right? I imagine you’d probably even get an alarm system and install some cameras.

These security measures are taken to prevent break-ins, from losing money, sustaining property damage, or putting sensitive information at risk.

Your internet business is at risk for these very same things. It may even be at greater risk — the Internet makes it possible for cybercriminals to break into your website without having to leave their couch: On average, 18.5 million websites are infected with malware at any given time. The average website gets attacked 44 times per day. Of the roughly 90,000 websites that get hacked each day, 83% of them are using WordPress.

That’s why you need to take as many precautions as possible when it comes to properly securing your website.

Don’t have the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. Nobody is immune to vicious attacks. Even retail giants like Target have had data breaches that affected more than 41 million customers. That one security breach cost the company over $18 million in settlements. Something like this can be extremely damaging to your company’s online reputation.

I could go on and on all day about why your website needs to be secure, but I think I’ve made my point.

So how can you do install the security you need?

To start, WordPress has some built-in security features. It’s also crucial for you to choose a secure web hosting company — with a host like WP Engine a lot of the security features are built into your hosting plan. Beyond these steps, you can take additional measures to beef up your protections with a WordPress security plugin.

There are so many different security plugins available for your website. How can you know which one is the best WordPress security plugin?

Rather than taking weeks to go through and research all of them, you can just review the ones that I’ve listed in this guide. I’ve identified the top five WordPress security plugins of 2019. Use this information to increase your WordPress security and add credibility to your website.

1. Wordfence Security — Firewall & Malware Scan

With over two million active installs, Wordfence Security — Firewall & Malware Scan is one of the most popular WordPress security plugins available. It fights spam, malware, and other threats in real time. Unlike other plugins, Wordfence Security offers a dashboard that’s extremely user friendly. You don’t have to be a tech wizard, have a background in IT, or study cybersecurity to use this plugin.

One of my favorite parts of this plugin is the ability to see data about your overall website traffic trends. These reports will show you any attempted hacks on your site. You’ll be able to tell if traffic is coming from humans, Google crawlers, or potentially malicious bots.

Another great feature of this plugin is the country blocking option. You can block attacks that come from specific geographic regions known for high rates of cybercrime.

The free version of Wordfence Security offers plenty of features that will keep your website safe. They definitely give you more out of the box than other free security plugins. You’ll get firewall blocks and brute force attack protection.

Premium pricing starts at $99 per year. The premium version comes with added features like two-factor authentication, direct customer support assistance, and real-time IP blacklisting. The real-time IP blacklist feature blocks requests from any IP address that has attacked another WordPress website that is also using Wordfence Security. When it comes to the safety and security of your website, that’s a pretty good deal in my opinion.

2. Sucuri Security — Auditing, Malware Scanner and Security Hardening

The name of this plugin alone shows all of the extensive security features it offers. When you install Sucuri Security, you’ll benefit from things like:

  • Firewall integrity monitoring
  • Malware scanning
  • Blacklist monitoring
  • Security audits
  • Security hardening
  • Notifications
  • Post-hack security procedures
  • Website firewall

All of these features, except for the website firewall, come with the free version of Sucuri Security. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to protect your WordPress website, Sucuri Security is a top choice. For most sites, you don’t necessarily need the website firewall offered in the premium version.

In the event of a hack or attack, Sucuri Security offers actionable steps to help you proceed with repairing any damage. Now, some of you might not love the idea of hearing something like this. But in all reality, it’s nearly impossible for any website to be 100% impenetrable. There is always the chance of something going wrong. When something goes wrong, you’ll instantly receive a notification about it so you can act immediately.

Sucuri Security is upfront about that. They aren’t going to sit there and promise that the plugin is 100% effective. Rather than making false promises, this plugin has added a feature to assist you if your site is compromised in any way. I really like that.

The security hardening provided by Sucuri Security is exceptional. It’s easy to go through and check the status of the different elements of your website to add additional security.

If you have questions, problems, or run into any trouble when you’re using the Sucuri Security plugin, you can reach the customer service team via live chat or email.

3. iThemes Security

Formerly known as Better WP Security, the iThemes Security plugin is another popular choice for WordPress users. Unlike the other plugins we’ve looked at so far, iThemes Security doesn’t offer as many free benefits, so it’s in your best interest to upgrade to the pro version if you’re going to install this plugin. The free version comes with basic security, but you won’t have access to the pro features, such as:

  • Two-factor authentication
  • Scheduled malware scans
  • Google reCAPTCHA
  • User action logs
  • WordPress security keys
  • Importing and exporting capabilities
  • Dashboard widgets
  • File comparisons
  • Password security and expiration

As you can see from this list, it’s definitely worth upgrading to iThemes Security Pro, which starts at $52 per year.

With iThemes Security, users will automatically be banned after attempting too many invalid logins, which will help prevent a brute force attack on your site.

There is also a scanning feature that will identify any potential vulnerabilities for an attack. Once those areas have been identified, the plugin shows you how to repair the problems in a matter of seconds. iThemes Security even helps strengthen the security of your server. The plugin forces SSL for admin pages, posts, and other pages on supporting servers. The plugin will hide the most common WordPress security vulnerabilities that are usually targeted by hackers. You’ll receive a notification via email anytime there is a problem or potential security threat on your WordPress site.

This plugin fully integrates with your WordPress dashboard as well, which is a nice touch. It doesn’t feel like it’s intrusive, and you don’t need to navigate to any third-party platforms to add security to your site. iThemes Security also offers extensive video tutorials, which I found to be extremely helpful.

4. All In One WP Security & Firewall

All In One WP Security & Firewall is packed with free features. The interface is extremely easy to use, and you don’t need to be a technology or security expert to figure things out.

One of the reasons why this plugin made my list is because of the visual elements on the dashboard. You can get reports with graphs that explain all of the metrics related to your website’s security. Furthermore, the plugin tells you which actions you can take to improve the security of your WordPress website.

Each security feature is segmented into three categories:

  • Basic
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

You have the ability to apply certain firewall rules progressively in a way that won’t hinder the functionality of your website. As a result, the speed of your website won’t be slowed at all.

The plugin scans your WordPress website for vulnerabilities. After these vulnerabilities have been checked, the plugin will assist you in implementing changes to enhance your security. Everything is measured by a grading system. The grades are based on different levels of security for each element on your website.

Another top feature offered by All In One WP Security & Firewall is spam security for your comments section. Getting lots of comments on your blog posts or other website pages can be extremely beneficial for SEO purposes, but not if those comments are spam. Instead of manually checking all of your comments and deleting spam on your own, this plugin can do the work for you. It automatically detects IP addresses that are known for producing spam and blocks them from commenting. If certain addresses have exceeded a specific number of spam comments, they will even be blocked from accessing your site altogether.

I haven’t even mentioned the best part of all. This plugin is free. That’s right, 100% free. Unlike free versions of other plugins, All In One WP Security & Firewall doesn’t withhold top features and pitch upsells. It’s completely free to all WordPress users.

5. BulletProof Security

The BulletProof Security WordPress plugin isn’t necessarily as popular as some of the other plugins out there, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it as a top choice for your website.

It claims that in the last seven years, none of the 45,000 websites that installed BulletProof Security Pro have been hacked. Impressive, though this number has some contingencies and doesn’t account for things like server hacks.

This plugin is extremely easy to install and get up and running in just a couple of clicks. The free version of BulletProof Security gives you access to features like:

  • Security logs
  • Security monitoring
  • Malware scans
  • Database backups
  • Database restores
  • Anti-spam tools
  • Anti-hacking tools

I really like BulletProof Security’s maintenance mode. It will keep your site secure while you’re going through front-end as well as back-end updates and maintenance, times when your site would normally be more vulnerable to hacks or breaches.

While the installation and setup wizard is easy for anyone to do, overall I’d say this security plugin is geared more toward advanced WordPress developers. BulletProof Security allows you to customize so many different security settings. So, I’d say start with that version before you decide if you want to upgrade. That will at least give you a feel of the interface and navigation. If you go with the paid version, BulletProof Security offers a 30-day guarantee, so there’s no risk there either.

Conclusion

What’s the best WordPress security plugin?

It’s tough to name one as the definitive best, but I’ve been able to narrow down the top five for you to consider in 2019. It all depends on what you’re looking for.

Some of these plugins have more advanced features than others, which aren’t always necessary for all websites. Some plugins are easier for beginners, while others are better for advanced developers.

Do you want a free WordPress security plugin? Or do you want a pro version with annual charges?

All of this needs to be taken into consideration when you’re picking the best security plugin for your website. I’m confident you’ll find what you need on the list above.

The 5 Best WordPress Cache Plugins – (Winter 2019 Review)

How fast is your website?

You might think your website is fast — but how fast is fast enough? You may be surprised that 47% of Internet users expect web pages to load in two seconds or less and they mean it: 40% of people will abandon websites that don’t load within three seconds.

That’s right. A second could cost you 40% of your website traffic.

To put that number into perspective, we’ll go through a hypothetical example. Let’s say your website has 1,000 unique visitors per week. You have a 5% conversion rate (which is generous, considering the average global conversion rate for an ecommerce website is 2.86%), and your average order value is $100.

This translates to $5,000 per week and $260,000 per year. Not bad, right?

But if your website took longer than 3 seconds to load, you’d lose 40% of that traffic, and you’d actually earn $104,000 less than that.

Let’s look at the other way. Imagine you have that same website: 1,000 unique visitors per week, a 5% conversion rate, but your load time is 3 seconds. If you improved your load time, you might capture 40% more visitors. If everything stayed the same, you’d suddenly have 1,667 visitors (since you’d originally had that many but 40% jumped ship when they didn’t want to wait). If they still convert at 5%, then that means you’re making an additional $3,335 in sales per week, or $173,420 a year in sales you were losing because your load time was too slow.

Depending on your volume, slow loading times could be costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Here’s something else to consider: of the 40% of visitors who abandon your site, 80% of those people won’t return.

Fortunately, there’s a way for you to speed up your website loading times. What’s the solution? Caching.

What is caching?

Let’s start with the basics. A request to your server is required each time someone visits a page on your site. The server sends those results to the user’s web browser.

On the user’s end, they see your website as the final product. Your website is complete with things like headers, menus, images, videos, blog content, and everything else that makes your site unique.

The server needs to process each request before delivering the final page to the user. Depending on the complexity of your website, sometimes this can take a long time.

That’s where caching comes into the equation. Caching stores recently viewed content, such as a web page, so server requests won’t be as in depth.

Here’s a visual representation of what caching looks like.

Simply put, caching means less work is required for pages to be viewed on your website. As a result, your site will load much faster.

Why do you need a WordPress caching plugin?

Without a WordPress caching plugin, requests for every element of your website need to be made to the server each time someone visits your site, even if they’ve seen the content before.

A caching plugin will:

  • Speed up your website
  • Increase the user experience
  • Reduce the strain on your server
  • Improve SEO
  • Lower your TTFB (time to first byte)

Caching plugins will generate a static HTML page of your site, which will be saved on your server. Whenever someone visits your site, the plugin will display the lighter HTML version as opposed to the heavy PHP scripts.

There are tons of caching plugins out there that claim to speed up your website. How can you possibly know which one to install? Truthfully, it’s nearly impossible to determine which plugin is the fastest. Depending on the website content, what works for one site may not work as well for another. With that said, there are definitely certain caching plugins that stand above the rest. I took the time to identify the best WordPress cache plugins for you to consider.

1. W3 Total Cache

With more than one million active installs, W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular WordPress cache plugins on the market.

W3 Total Cache is an open-source plugin, which is completely free to use. A free install gives you access to all of the features, and you won’t be pitched any upsells after the fact.

I included this on my list of best WordPress cache plugins because it offers minifications that save bandwidth, HTTP compression, as well as feed optimization.

This plugin works for both mobile and desktop versions of your website. W3 Total Cache integrates with your website’s CDN. It’s also helpful for sites with SSL certificates, making it a top choice for ecommerce websites.

You should keep in mind that W3 Total Cache can be a bit complex to use. Even though it’s a popular choice, it may not be the best option for WordPress beginners. There are 16 pages in the settings section of this plugin, for example. However, you won’t have to manually configure all of these options. The default settings work well right out of the box. So unless you’re a developer who has lots of experience with these options, I’d recommend sticking to the defaults.

If you want that type of added customization, there is a separate setting for each type of caching. You can have different settings for things like:

  • Object caching
  • Page caching
  • Browser caching
  • Database caching

The list goes on and on. It’s tough to find this type of in-depth customization for free on other WordPress cache plugins.

2. WP Rocket

WP Rocket has the simplest design of all cache plugins for WordPress. You won’t have any problems installing this plugin and getting it set up quickly. The overall simplicity of WP Rocket is what makes it one of the best WordPress cache plugins, which is why it’s great for beginners.

With that said, WP Rocket also has advanced settings that can be customized by developers or site owners who have a bit more technical knowledge.

Pricing starts at $49 per year for one website. WP Rocket also has a developer plan that’s $249 annually for unlimited sites.

I know what some of you are thinking, Why should I pay for this when there are so many free WordPress cache plugins available?

Simply put, you get what you pay for. For $50 per year, I’d rather have a plugin with an easy setup and smooth interface. Plus, WP Rocket comes with extra features that you won’t find in free cache plugins. It indexes your website on search engines to help improve your SEO ranking and all JavaScript, HTML, and CSS files get minified to boost page loading speed. Another benefit of this plugin is the “images on request” feature. This means that images only get loaded when they are visible on the screen. So if you have pages with lots of images deeper in the scroll, they won’t be loaded initially. This dramatically improves your loading time. This plugin also helps optimize your Google Fonts, which is something that’s not offered by most cache plugins I’ve used.

Overall, WP Rocket is one of the best WordPress cache plugins for beginners and experienced developers alike.

3. WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache has more than two million active installations. I’m not saying you should always follow what other people are doing, but numbers this high are usually a pretty good indication of quality.

This plugin is completely free as well. So it’s a great option if you’re hesitant about spending money on a WordPress plugin.

WP Super Cache creates static HTML files and displays them instead of heavier PHP scripts. The plugin offers three different modes of caching:

  • Simple
  • Expert
  • WP-cache caching

Most of you can get away with using simple mode. You’ll need a custom permalink, but this option is much easier to configure and doesn’t require you to change your .htaccess file. The majority of web pages will still be dynamic in simple caching mode.

As you might have guessed, expert mode is a bit more complex. Unless you’re experienced with coding and web development, I would not recommend this setting to you. It requires an Apache mod_rewrite module as well as modifications to your .htaccess file. If you don’t know what you’re doing, improper modifications of these files can be detrimental to your website.

WP-cache caching mode is used to cache content for known website visitors. This is ideal for those of you who have users who are logged in, leave comments, or need to be shown custom content.

If you don’t want to things to get too complicated, you can always just stick with simple mode, but the fact that WP Super Cache has so many other options makes it one of the best WordPress caching plugins.

4. Hyper Cache

Hyper Cache was designed with WordPress blogs in mind. It will work on every blog, without any complex configurations. Hyper Cache optimizes your bandwidth and ultimately boosts the page loading speed of your WordPress blog.

You can install Hyper Cache with ease and the process is very fast. I’d say this is one of the best WordPress cache plugins for users who are beginners and don’t want to manage tons of different cache settings. With this plugin, you can implement the “set it and forget it” mentality. So once you have it installed, you don’t have to do much of anything after the initial configuration.

You’ll notice that some of the settings may have some odd names that you’re unfamiliar with but Hyper Cache comes provides recommendations and detailed information about which should be activated and how each setting impacts your website.

Like some of the other options on our list, Hyper Cache is free. It offers CDN support and has mobile-friendly caching as well. It’s a great tool to have for those of you who have blogs with lots of comments.

Something that I found interesting about Hyper Cache is the way that this plugin completes website backups. The cache folders aren’t included in your backups, meaning the backup files will be smaller and save you space.

While this plugin should be a top consideration for WordPress bloggers, I wouldn’t recommend it for more complex sites, such as ecommerce platforms. If you fall into that category, you’d be better off with a more advanced plugin from this list.

5. Comet Cache

Comet Cache has a quick and easy installation process. Once installed, you’ll find that the navigation on the dashboard is extremely user friendly.

I like this plugin because it’s so informative. You’ll find tons of resources that will tell you everything there is to know about caching. This will help you configure the settings to optimize the performance of your own WordPress site.

You’ll have plenty of different options for caching with Comet Cache:

  • Pages
  • Posts
  • Tags
  • Categories

If you’re looking for simple customization, this plugin is definitely one that you should consider. The ability to cache users who are logged in makes Comet Cache a top option for membership websites.

Comet Cache has both free and paid versions. Most of you can probably get away with the free WordPress plugin, but the paid upgrades offer better features. If you upgrade your plugin, you’ll have the option for automatic and intelligent cache clearing. Basically, this feature allows you to configure all of your settings from the beginning, and then have a “hands-free” approach moving forward.

Conclusion

Installing a WordPress cache plugin will boost your website speed and improve the user experience. Now that we’ve established why caching plugins are important, the question becomes, Which is the best WordPress cache plugin?

It depends what you’re looking for. Some plugins are designed for ecommerce websites, while others are intended for WordPress blogs. Some cache plugins are made for beginners, while others have more complex settings for advanced developers.

Do you want a free WordPress cache plugin? Or are you looking for a paid version?

Based on all of this information, I narrowed down my list to the top five options to consider. There is something for everyone on this list, based on the type of website you have, your technical experience, and the type of settings you want to apply. Use this guide as a reference to help you find the best WordPress cache plugin for your website.

Best Form Plugin WordPress – (Review Updated For Winter of 2019)

How can your website visitors contact you?

It’s a simple question, yet I see so many sites with complex solutions.

Take a moment to put yourself into the shoes of a user navigating your website. For one reason or another, they have decided they want to reach you. This person shouldn’t be forced to find your phone number, dial, wait on hold, and potentially get a voicemail depending on your business hours. That’s just too many steps and not very efficient.

Here’s another scenario. The visitor has to look up your email address, navigate to their email platform, then copy and paste your email address before typing a message.

I’ll give you one more example, just for good measure. In order to contact you, the website visitor has to search you on social media, and then send a direct message or leave a comment on your page.

Should you have options for people to contact you via phone, email, and social media? Absolutely.

But you can simplify this process by allowing people to contact you directly from your website. The solution: contact forms.

A simple contact form can help you increase conversions and improve your customer experience. Each additional step a visitor has to take to perform an action reduces the chances that they’ll complete that action.

By setting up a contact form on your website, people can reach you without having to take extra steps or navigating to third-party platforms. There’s a high likelihood that they won’t finish a multi-step process. They might get distracted, or give up — it’s not worth all that work to them.

Adding a form plugin to your WordPress site will make it much easier for visitors to get in contact with you. You can also use these plugins for other forms.

So what’s the best form plugin for WordPress? I’ve identified the top options worth consideration.

1. Ninja Forms

When it comes to simplicity, the Ninja Forms plugin is definitely toward the top of the rankings. Unlike other plugins on the market, Ninja Forms integrates nicely into your WordPress dashboard and makes it easy for you to create a form in minutes.

Ninja Forms is great for beginners but has enough add-on options for advanced WordPress users as well. That’s why more than one million sites are actively using this plugin.

You can sync the forms up with your email marketing software. So all of the responses can be managed through services that you’re already using. Ninja Forms supports the majority of the most popular email tools:

  • Constant Contact
  • MailChimp
  • Aweber
  • Campaign Monitor
  • iContact
  • GetResponse

Ninja Forms even has features that allow you to collect payments through Stripe, PayPal Express, and Elavon.

Another reason why this is one of the best form plugins for WordPress is the ability to collect, export, and analyze any data submitted in the forms. Ninja Forms integrates with CRM software such as Salesforce, Zoho, and Batchbook. You can also send data to productivity and team tools like Trello, Slack, and Zapier.

The basic version of Ninja Forms is free, but add-ons can be purchased separately. They also have plans starting at $99 per year.

2. WPForms

WPForms is arguably one of the most beginner-friendly form plugins available for WordPress. That’s because it offers a drag and drop form builder that’s as straightforward as it gets.

The simplicity behind the drag and drop builder makes it easy for anyone, regardless of their technical background, to create a form in just a few minutes. WPForms also has plenty of pre-built templates to get you started in the right direction.

You can create forms with conditional logic. This means that certain elements of the form (such as fields, sections or buttons) will be changed based on options a user selects.

For example, a website visitor who is filling out a form about a previous purchase could have different form options than someone who has a question about one of your products that hasn’t been purchased yet.

WPForms also lets website visitors submit files. Let’s say someone has a problem with something they bought from you. You can give them an option to upload a picture to improve the communication about the issue.

This plugin can also integrate with email marketing software as well as productivity tools.

WPForms can be embedded anywhere on your website.

Pricing for WPForms starts at just $39 per year, which is pretty affordable considering all of the benefits you’ll get.

3. Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms offers a clean navigation for building and managing forms on WordPress. You can consider using this plugin if you’re a beginner, but Gravity Forms offers lots of options for advanced WordPress users as well.

Other form plugins require you to add on the conditional logic feature, but that option comes standard with Gravity Forms.

Another feature I like is the ability for visitors to save and continue a form for later. This is great for those of you who plan on adding longer or more complex forms to your website. Sometimes those won’t be completed in one sitting, and you don’t want to force people to re-submit information or abandon the process altogether.

Gravity Forms lets you limit the number of submissions through one particular form. They also give you the ability to schedule forms.

Something else that sets this plugin apart from the competition is its calculations feature. Gravity Forms can automatically perform advanced calculations based on the form fields submitted by a visitor. So if you had a real estate website, you could set this up to calculate an estimated mortgage payment based on things like the purchase price, down payment, interest rate, and mortgage period.

Gravity Forms starts at just $59 per year for a basic license. If you’re a developer or have an agency, you can purchase an elite license for just $259 annually, which is valid for an unlimited number of sites.

4. HappyForms

A reason why HappyForms is considered one of the best form plugins for WordPress is because it’s 100% free.

According to its website, the average cost of a WordPress form plugin is $186 per year. So for those of you who are looking for a free form plugin, this will be a top choice for you to consider.

HappyForms lets you completely customize your forms with different types of form fields.

  • Short text
  • Long text
  • Email
  • Website links
  • Multiple choice options
  • Single choice
  • Dropdown menus
  • Numeric fields
  • Phone numbers

All of these can be added to one form. The drop-down menus and multiple choice options are very user-friendly. It’s easier for someone to make a selection from a list as opposed to manually typing a response. This will also help you stay organized when you’re sorting through data and submissions from these fields.

It’s easy for you to manage all of your messages from one place. HappyForms lets you filter the messages based on your preferences, so you can respond in a logical way. For example, you may prioritize a certain type of request over another, as opposed to responding in the order the forms were submitted in.

HappyForms also has ReCaptcha and Honeypot built-in, so you won’t have to worry about getting spam messages.

Overall, this is one of the best free form plugins for WordPress on the market.

5. Caldera Forms

Caldera Forms also has a free option. If you want to upgrade to a pro version, pricing starts at $15 per month. They also have individual add-ons available for purchase.

With that said, if you’re just looking for a basic form plugin, you can probably get away with the free version.

This plugin is another option that includes a drag and drop builder, which is great for those of you who aren’t too tech-savvy and want to create forms as fast as possible.

Caldera Forms has advanced calculations, drop down menus, and conditional logic. There’s also a built-in spam filtering tool, so you won’t have to waste your time reviewing spam submissions.

I dig the auto-responders, which ensures that your website visitors always get a quick reply.

For those of you who run a blog and accept guest posts, users can submit posts directly through the form fields with Caldera Forms, too.

6. FormCraft

FormCraft is unique because it specializes in designs. We’ve all been to websites that have generic forms that just aren’t very appealing. You don’t want your website visitors to have that feeling when they’re on your site.

This WordPress plugin also has a drag and drop builder, making it easier for anyone to create a from as fast as possible.

FormCraft also has a wide range of templates based on the type of form that you’re trying to build. This is very helpful for those of you who will be embedding multiple forms on your WordPress site. For example, a form to sign up for your email newsletter should be distinguishable from your contact form.

Another top benefit from FormCraft is its popup forms. A user action can trigger a form to appear on the page, as opposed to embedding it somewhere on a landing page that might be overlooked.

You can create multi-page forms with FormCraft as well, although this is one of the many paid add-on features. The basic package starts at $49 per year. Add-ons range from $19 to $29 each.

7. Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is another WordPress plugin that’s completely free. They won’t try to upsell you with any premium features or add-ons. With over 5 million active installations, this is one of the most popular free WordPress plugins you’ll find.

What I found interesting about Contact Form 7 is that they have exceptional customer support for a free plugin. You’ll have access to an extensive FAQ page, support forums, and documents explaining how to do things.

Some of the top features of Contact Form 7 include:

  • CAPTCHA fields
  • Radio buttons
  • Drop down menus
  • Checkboxes
  • Quizzes
  • File submission fields

You’ll be able to embed the forms anywhere on your website. It’s a top option for anyone who doesn’t want to buy a form plugin.

8. weForms

I like weForms because it’s extremely sleek and responsive. It has a drag and drop builder, which makes it easy for beginners to create a form. There are also tons of pre-built templates that will save you time compared to creating a form from scratch.

The shortcode allows you to embed forms within your posts, as well as anywhere else on your site. With weForms, you can build forms that have entry and time restrictions and over 33 types of form fields for you to choose.

The versatility of weForms makes it one of the best form plugins for WordPress.

It syncs with some of the most popular email marketing solutions on the market. It provides anti-spam protection, and let you create forms with conditional logic. In addition to contact forms, it’s great for:

  • Volunteer application forms
  • Event registration forms
  • Error reporting forms
  • Applications
  • Referrals
  • Internal company requests
  • Patient intake forms

9. Quform

At just $29 per year, Quform is an affordable WordPress form plugin. This plugin is extremely responsive and mobile-friendly.

You’ll have the option to create multi-page forms, with complex layouts, and reCAPTCHA with the drag and drop builder.

The plugin comes with lots of different form themes as well. You can set up conditions that will automatically display elements for specific replies through your website forms. With Quform, users can attach files to their submission.

For those of who you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a plugin, but want to upgrade from a free WordPress form plugin, you’ll definitely want to checkout Quform.

10. Formidable Forms

Last, but certainly not least on our list is Formidable Forms.

This plugin is unique because it lets you create forms that are GDPR compliant. So for those of you who have lots of European visitors navigating to your website, you’ll want to consider Formidable Forms.

You can create simple contact forms as well as complex multi-page forms with this plugin. It comes standard with top features like advanced calculations, file uploads, and conditional logic.

Formidable Forms is also one of my favorite plugins for analyzing data that’s been submitted in your website forms. You can view information in graphs, which is always helpful for identifying trends.

This plugin lets you take the information that you collect through forms and use it to build directories, listings, or any other data-driven application.

The drag-and-drop builder paired with front-end WordPress editing makes Formidable Forms impressive. Pricing ranges from $49 to $399 per year, depending on your needs. But I’d say the majority of you won’t need one of the higher-cost plans.

Conclusion

Traditionally, website forms are used as a contact method. It’s a great way for your website visitors to reach you directly without having to leave or site or go through extra steps.

But as you can see, these forms can be used for so much more. That’s why it’s crucial for you to have a WordPress plugin that can help you create the forms you need.

So what’s the best form plugin for WordPress?

It depends on what you’re looking for. Some websites need to build complex, multi-page forms, with conditional logic and file submissions. Other sites may just need a simple form with a few fields.

How do you want to create your forms? If you want something that’s easy and user-friendly, you’ll want to look for a plugin that has drag and drop builders.

Price is also something that you need to keep in mind when you’re searching for a form plugin. Some are free, while others vary in price range depending on features, plans, and add-ons.

Based on all of this information, I’m sure you can find what you’re looking for on the list that I’ve come up with above. These are the best form plugins for WordPress, and I made sure to include something for everyone.

Best WordPress Backup Plugin – (Review Updated For Winter of 2019)

Imagine waking up one morning only to discover an error with your WordPress administrative dashboard.

You contact your web hosting company, and they inform you that the website crashed — the handiwork of a hacker.

In addition to missing out on website traffic and sales, you also lost your databases and website content.

Now what?

You start scrambling through your Google Drive and folders on your computer to salvage anything you can find. Then you have to manually rebuild your website from scratch.

This hypothetical example might be a bit on the extreme side, but it’s not completely implausible. Things happen. Your website could become the victim of user errors, vicious attacks, or malware.

In the event of an issue like this, regardless of the scale, you need to make sure you get your site back up and running as soon as possible. Failure to do so will crush your SEO ranking, and damage your relationship with customers and website visitors. On top of rebuilding your website, you’ll also need to run campaigns to improve your online reputation.

But there’s a way for you to avoid this catastrophic scenario in the first place — backup plugins.

While a backup plugin won’t prevent an attack or crash, it can restore all of your WordPress website content if you ever have any problems.

So what’s the best WordPress backup plugin?

There are tons of options to choose from. The last thing you want is to install a backup plugin as a fail-safe and have it cause more problems. That’s why I narrowed down the list to the five best WordPress backup plugins for you to consider. Use this guide as a reference to help you find the right one for your website.

1. VaultPress


For those of you who are looking for backups, migrations, and security features all in one plugin, VaultPress will likely be your best bet. It’s built by the same team that builds WordPress itself, Autommatic.

We use VaultPress on Quick Sprout and have since 2011.

Once you install this plugin, you can easily set up automated backups. Everything is stored in a digital off-site vault. In addition to backups, you can use VaultPress for site migrations, file repairs, and restores.

VaultPress also has a calendar view option, making it easy to locate, view, and restore content from previous backups. But the dashboard of VaultPress is different from what you’re used to with other WordPress plugins. This minor navigation flaw doesn’t affect the performance and usage of the plugin itself.

I also like the built-in security features. The file scanning and spam defense will help you identify and eliminate malware, spammers, viruses, and other security vulnerabilities. The added security reduces the chances that you’ll actually have to use the restore functions due to an outside threat, but it’s nice to have the backups available just to be safe.

Pricing plans for VaultPress start at $39 per year, so it’s a cost-effective way to back up your WordPress website.

2. BackupBuddy


The BackupBuddy WordPress plugin has been around for nearly a decade. Other backup plugins on the market only backup your database, but BackupBuddy covers the entire WordPress installation.

  • Website pages
  • Posts
  • Comments
  • Widgets
  • Users
  • Database
  • Core files
  • Custom posts
  • Categories
  • Tags
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Plugin files
  • Settings
  • Themes

All of these components will be backed up with this plugin. The files are backed up and stored off-site in a location that’s safe and secure. Each time a backup is completed, you can download a zip file to have another copy on your hard drive. You can also send backups to remote storage locations such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and BackupBuddy Stash.

If you ever have a problem and need to recover content, BackupBuddy makes it easy to quickly restore your entire WordPress site.

While this plugin can back up nearly every element of your WordPress site, that doesn’t mean you have to do so. For one reason or another, you may only want to backup certain components, like a database or specific files. You can completely customize the backups to fit your needs.

Another reason why BackupBuddy is a top choice is because you can schedule automatic backups, so you won’t have to remember to do this manually.

BackupBuddy is extremely helpful when it comes to user error as well. If you accidentally delete a post, you can restore the content in just a few clicks.

If you ever need to change domains or hosts for your WordPress site, the BackupBuddy plugin will help you do so with ease. The WordPress migration tool makes this plugin a popular choice for developers who create custom websites for clients on a temporary domain before moving the site over to a domain that’s live.

BackupBuddy also runs malware scans, which can potentially identify any problems before they happen.

All of these features make BackupBuddy one of the best WordPress backup plugins available.

3. UpdraftPlus


Over two million active websites have installed UpdraftPlus as a WordPress backup.

UpdraftPlus gets my vote of confidence because it’s so easy to use. Even if you don’t have much technical experience, the interface is very straightforward. The simplicity allows you to backup and restore content in just a click or two.

The free version of UpdraftPlus lets you run full backups, manual backups, and scheduled backups. You can also back up and restore your plugins, themes, and database with the free version.

Automatic backup options range anywhere from hourly to monthly. If you want to manually manage UpdraftPlus, you’ll clearly see the restore, clone, and migrate options in addition to the backup buttons. You can access all of your current backups directly from the dashboard. It’s easy for you to restore or delete older versions that you no longer need.

Like other backup plugins, UpdraftPlus gives you remote storage options to places such as Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and many more.

UpdraftPlus is fast. So it uses up fewer server resources. This is a great feature for those of you who are using shared web hosting services.

It’s comforting knowing that there are free WordPress backup plugins out there with so much functionality. With that said, you can upgrade to a premium plan that’s extremely affordable, starting at $42 per year to get these additional features and reports:

  • Incremental backups
  • Migrator
  • Multisite/multi-network compatible
  • Backs up non WP files and databases to multiple remote destinations
  • OneDrive, BackBlaze, Azure, SFTP storage destinations
  • Database encryption
  • Advanced reporting
  • Dedicated expert support

The incremental backup feature is one of the best reasons to upgrade this plugin. Instead of having to back up your entire site when you make a change, such as adding an image, this option only backs up those new files.

If you have any issues with this plugin, the customer support team is exceptional.

You can tell that UpdraftPlus is a reliable plugin just by the sheer number of active installs on other websites. The plugin wouldn’t be so popular if all of those people had problems.

4. Duplicator

With over one million active installations, Duplicator is another popular choice. As the name implies, the primary function of this plugin is to migrate, move, or clone a WordPress website between domains. This can be accomplished without any downtime, which can’t be said for other plugins out there. You can also use Duplicator to transfer your WordPress website between hosts.

This plugin lets you duplicate a live website to a staging area, or duplicate your staging area to a live site. Duplicator allows you to execute a full migration in WordPress without having to import and export SQL scripts.

This plugin is a great option, but I can’t say I’d recommend it to beginners. It’s definitely better for those of you who have some technical knowledge. Don’t get me wrong; you don’t need to be a coding expert, but you should have a basic understanding of how things work before you attempt to use the Duplicator plugin on your website.

It’s great for developers who are tired of manually configuring themes and sets of plugins each time they build a new site. You can just do this once and bundle it with Duplicator, then just use that as your template by migrating it over to different locations for each client.

Here’s how it works: All of your website content, plugins, themes, and database get bundled into a zip file, which is referred to as a “package” by Duplicator.

In addition to these features, you can also benefit from scheduled backups by upgrading to Duplicator Pro. The pricing is pretty affordable; it starts at $79 per year.

Backups can be stored locally, or in remote locations. You can also set up email notifications for updates on the status of your backups.

I’d say this WordPress plugin is more suitable for developers who have the need for migrations and things of that nature. So if that’s what you’re looking for, Duplicator can fulfill the requirements. It’s great for developers who are tired of manually configuring themes and sets of plugins each time they build a new site. You can do this once and bundle it with Duplicator, then just use that as your template by migrating it over to a different locations for each client.

But if you just want a basic backup plugin, you’ll probably be better off with one of the other choices on our list.

5. WP Time Capsule


WP Time Capsule seamlessly integrates with your cloud storage applications. This WordPress backup plugin is definitely one of the easiest options available. So unlike other options that we’ve seen, even a novice user can handle all of the features. Once the plugin is installed and set up, it’s pretty hands-off moving forward.

After you install this plugin, the first thing you’ll need to do is connect it with one of the cloud storage locations:

  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Amazon S3
  • Wasabi

Once that happens, the plugin will automatically start creating your first backup.

Next, you just simply have to set your backup schedule and the WP Time Capsule plugin will take care of the rest.

Another great feature of the WP Time Capsule is the calendar view option. This is extremely helpful if you want to restore content from a specific date.

As you can see, this is very straightforward. All you have to do is click on the date, and decide if you want to view or restore files from your selection.

Since WP Time Capsule backs up your site incrementally, you won’t have multiple copies of files. This means less disk space will be used. WP Time Capsule doesn’t create zip files either, so fewer server resources are used compared to other backup methods.

If you want a backup plugin that’s simple, straightforward, user-friendly, and easy to use, WP Time Capsule is a top choice to consider.

Conclusion

What’s the best WordPress backup plugin?

I narrowed down the top five options for you to consider. Each of these plugins is slightly different from the others, so what’s best for your site will depend on what you’re looking for.

For those of you who want to go with a popular choice for WordPress backups, then you should take a closer look at BackupBuddy and UpdraftPlus.

If you’re a developer, a bit more tech-savvy, and plan to use a backup plugin for cloning, migrations, and moving content between servers, you’ll want to consider Duplicator.

Maybe you just want a simple backup plugin that’s easy to use, has automatic backups, and stores content in your personal remote storage accounts. In this case, you’ll want to go with WP Time Capsule.

If you want added security functionality in addition to WordPress backups, VaultPress has what you’re looking for.

How to Make Money Blogging in 2019

I have a major disclaimer before we begin.

A good part of my career has been working for some of the folks in this list.

In fact, I was personally responsible for setting annual revenue goals and hitting those goals while I was the Senior Director of Growth and Product at I Will Teach You To Be Rich. In that case specifically, I’m extremely familiar with revenue totals and what drove that revenue.

Not to mention the affiliate commissions that were paid out to some of the people on this list, numbers that were shared in confidence after a few too many drinks, and second-hand rumors that I picked up along the way.

Unfortunately, I’ve got sad news.

I’m not going to share any of that insider knowledge. Sorry.

Some folks don’t mind publishing their revenue numbers but others keep it extremely private. If I shared that kind of info on how their blogs make money, I’d shatter the trust they placed in me. I take that trust very seriously.

For this post, I’m only going to be sharing revenue numbers that have been shared publicly.

Now here’s what I can do for you.

With the background that I have in this space, there are some common rules of thumb for figuring out revenue. They’re not perfect rules but they do tend to get the right number of digits. And after a while, you get a general sense for people’s revenue based on the size of their audience.

For most folks on this list, I’ll give a guess based on their public audience size and any hints that they’ve released publicly about their revenue. I’ll clearly label at is as a guess and you should take it with a grain of salt.

Ramit Sethi – I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Revenue = I can’t tell you

If you poke around the site a bit, it’s pretty obvious that the blog makes most of its money from infoproducts.

Ramit is absolutely at the top of his game when it comes to infoproducts and I consider this site one of the best to learn from if you’re considering monetizing your own blog with infoproducts. Make sure to sign up for his email list — you’ll start getting the launch funnels and you’ll be able to see how it all works.

There are also a few products available for purchase from the products page. That’s a great source for inspiration to see what an amazing infoproduct sales page looks like.

Marie Forleo – marieforleo.com

Revenue = My guess is several million per year

Marie has been blogging for a while now. She also put in a lot of work into her YouTube channel.

He content has a great reputation and her copy is world class. I assume most of her revenue comes from infoproducts, particularly her flagship program B-School. It’s been a while since I followed Marie closely but for a period, she launched B-School once per year.

She’s an amazing person to study if you want to learn how to produce high-quality positive content. She’s also brilliant at balancing valuable content with going for the sale in an authentic way.

Steve Kamb – Nerd Fitness

Revenue = Over $1 million per year

According to this post, Steve’s doing over seven figures with his business. It’s a mix of infoproducts, coaching, and bootcamps. He also wrote a book called Level Up Your Life.

What I love most about Steve’s business is how he’s chosen a specific segment of the market and differentiated himself from other fitness blogs. The fitness space is crazy competitive but by branding his entire business around fitness for nerds, he clearly separates himself from that competition. Even in the most competitive categories, there are still opportunities to target a niche with your blog and make real money with it.

Amy Porterfield – amyporterfield.com

Revenue = At least $2–3 million per year, maybe more

Amy’s About page states that she’s built a multi-million dollar business, something that I absolutely believe based on her audience size.

I’m assuming that the vast majority of her revenue is from her infoproducts, but it looks like she does some affiliate promotion too. Her affiliate page is pretty classy and well done. It’s a great example of how to promote products in an authentic and non-pushy way.

Jon Morrow – Smart Blogger

Revenue = Over $1.2 million per year

In this post, Jon states that he’s doing over $100K per month in affiliate revenue which is pretty impressive.

He also has several of infoproducts available for purchase on his site. I bet these do about $30–50K per year on their own. I’m not sure what Jon’s email funnels look like but if he’s pushing launch funnels aggressively, he could easily have another few million in revenue from infoproducts on top of his affiliate revenue.

Darren Rowse – Problogger

Revenue = My guess is about $10 million per year

Problogger has been around since 2004. That’s an eternity in online marketing. It’s one of the original “how to blog” blogs. Darren also owns Digital Photography School which has 8X as much traffic and revenue as Problogger.

Darren did do a income report on the first half of 2016. At that time, 46% of his revenue from both sites came from affiliates, 31% came from infoproducts, and the rest from a smattering of different categories.

Seth Godin – seths.blog

Revenue = My guess is over $2 million per year

Seth Godin had plenty of success before his blog: he’s written 18 books, built and sold a company to Yahoo, and then was a VP at Yahoo. And his blog has cemented him as the leading marketing thought leader. If you were trying to come up with an ideal example of a thought leader, you’d have a hard time finding a better example than Seth Godin.

Seth’s blog is the original, longest running, and possibly highest value blog in marketing. He’s posted every day for like 20 years or something.

For a long time, he never montized it. Unless you consider featuring his books occasionally to count as monetization. Recently, he has done a few infoproducts including the altMBA and The Marketing Seminar. I went through The Marketing Seminar myself and quite a few people were in the community, so it sold well. Seth’s site says that over 5,000 people took the course in total. At $800 per sale, that’s about $4 million in total spread over several years. Plus all the revenue from altMBA.

Neil Patel – neilpatel.com

Revenue = I’m not even going to guess

I worked for Neil when he was a co-founder of KISSmetrics. He’s the one that originally hired me. Also worked with him on some other projects after that. I’m not going to even hazard a revenue guess here since I don’t want to reveal anything that Neil would prefer to keep private.

He has stated publicly that his main site, neilpatel.com, generates over 2.5 million visitors per month. I’ll let you figure out the revenue from there.

Selena Soo – selenasoo.com

Revenue = Over $1.6 million per year

In this article, Selena reported that she made $1.6 million in 2017. I assume the majority of her revenue comes from infoproducts that she launches to her email list periodically. Considering the stage of her business, she’s built out a pretty impressive infoproduct portfolio along with some higher ticket mastermind offers.

Sam Dogen – Financial Samurai

Revenue = My guess is about $1 million per year

Sam gives a few hints on what he makes with his site. First, he does give the revenue of his infoproduct ebook which is $36,000 per year.

Funny enough, he chooses not to include his Adsense revenue or affiliate revenue as “passive” income within any of his passive income reports. Most folks in the industry would consider these revenue sources to be passive.

Sam does break down some hypothetical revenue amounts of blogs of different sizes here. One example includes a personal finance blog that’s generating about one million visitors per month. I remember Sam stating somewhere along the line that he has about that much traffic. The traffic estimation tools like Ahrefs also put his site in the range. So, the example that he gives should be close to his actuals. Using his projections as a guide and knowing that he has plenty of affiliate links along with Adsense on his site, a $1 million per year estimate should be close.

Brian Dean – Backlinko

Revenue = Over $1 million per year

He launches infoproducts to his email list a couple of times per year. I believe he has a course on SEO and one on YouTube. With his traffic volume, each of these launches should be doing upper six figures, possibly $1 million per launch.

He has stated in a few interviews like this one that he’s doing seven figures per year.

This is a great example of a business that’s focused really heavily on generating traffic, turning that traffic into email subscribers, then monetizing via a few infoproduct launches per year. It can seem magical to have a business with ridiculous profit margins at this stage. Most of us would love to have a $1 million per year business with a super small team and a handful of moving pieces.

James Dahle – White Coat Investor

Revenue = Over $1 million per year

James used to publish his annual revenue in his annual state of the blog posts but stopped as his blog became more well known. Here’s his 2019 state of the blog. His last reported income was $187,862 in 2014. He does mention multiple times that he’s now running a seven-figure business, so his current revenue is at least $1 million per year.

He does have a book by the same name. Looking through his site, the majority of his revenue comes from affiliates, ads, and sponsorships.

His email list is extremely small for the size of his blog — it’s only 21,725 subscribers. And with a small email list, any infoproduct launch is going to be limited to five figures. He does have an infoproduct on creating your own financial plan for $499. If he focused on conversion to email and got good at infoproducts, he could add another $1–2 million in revenue to his business.

Tim Ferriss – tim.blog

Revenue = My guess is about $10 million per year

Tim has a massive blog that’s been around for a long time. He started it before he even launched his first book, The 4 Hour Workweek.

Currently, I assume that the majority of Tim’s income comes from his podcast sponsorships. I have seen ads on his blog in the past but it doesn’t look like there are any right now. I don’t think he’s ever done an infoproduct or pursued affiliate ads aggressively.

According to this form, his podcast sponsorships go for $36K per slot. At 4–5 slots per episode, that’s $144,000 per episode at least. Tim averages about six podcasts per month, which would produce $864,000 per month or $10,368,000 per year.

The reason I’m not going to even guess is that I don’t have any experience buying or selling podcast sponsorships which I assume are his main source of income right now. Also, sites with Tim’s reach tend to start breaking standard revenue rules. Having one of the largest and highest rated podcasts can give you a lot of leverage, allowing you to charge more than normal on each sponsorship slot.

Otherwise, Tim has used his blog to promote his books heavily over the years. They include The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, The 4-Hour Chef, Tools of Titans, and Tribe of Mentors.

Timothy Sykes – timothysykes.com

Revenue = Over $25 million per year

Timothy has been around for a while now, predominantly selling infoproducts on how to invest in penny stocks. According to this interview with Nathan Latka, Timothy was on track to do $25–27 million in revenue in 2016, $20 million of which came from infoproducts.

Timothy is a great person to follow if you want to see how an infoproduct business looks at scale.

Josh Axe – Dr. Axe

Revenue = Did $11 million per year in 2015, could be as high as $50–70 million per year now

Dr. Axe is a massive site with a huge audience. According to this press release, it has 17 million visitors per month, which is insane. They also push products pretty hard via their email list. It’s obvious that they know what their doing. Their revenue is a mix of infoproducts, affiliates, and supplements.

Supplements are a great category with nice margins. I only have a little experience in the health and fitness category but the advice I always get from the health and fitness experts is to go hard on supplements.

I did hear that they have a solid paid marketing engine going for their funnels. If that’s true, they could be doing easily $50–70 million per year by now.

I consider Dr. Axe to be a great example of what a health and fitness blog looks like when taken to its absolute height. If you’re considering a health and fitness blog, I’d study Dr. Axe closely

Peter Adeney – Mr. Money Mustache

Revenue = About $400,000 per year

According to this article from the New Yorker, Peter pulled in about $400,000 per year as of 2016. Ahrefs reports that Peter’s traffic has been static since the 2016 period. If that’s true, I would expect his current revenue to be around $400,000. Sounds like the majority of the revenue, possibly even all of it, comes from affiliates.

AJ Harbinger and Johnny Dzubak – Art of Charm

Revenue = My guess is $5–10 million per year

Jordan Harbinger didn’t reveal exact revenue but did say that it’s multiple seven figures per year. Based on the fact that the revenue is mostly infoproducts and the overall size of the audience, my guess is that Art of Charm does $5–10 million per year in revenue.

In 2018, Jordan Harbinger split from the Art of Charm and started his own podcast.

Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income

Revenue = $2,171,652 per year

Pat Flynn posts all his income reports here, going back all the way to 2008.

Not sure if Pat decided to stop but it doesn’t look like he’s posted any new income reports since 2017. Regardless, I highly recommend reading through the first few years of income reports from Pat. That’ll give you a strong sense for what it takes to start making money with a blog.

The majority of Pat’s revenue comes from affiliate offers and his own infoproducts, about 50/50 between the two. He also has a few books published, How to Be Better at Almost Everything and Will it Fly? Other than the months he received the advance from the publisher, I bet these books have a negligible direct impact on revenue.

John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneur on Fire

Revenue = $2,029,744 per year

No one really needs to guess at John Lee Dumas’ revenue, he posts monthly income reports directly to his site.


He also put together a nifty revenue breakdown by source:

Sponsorships are slightly larger than everything else. Otherwise a pretty even split between infoproducts, affiliates, and his journals (The Freedom Journal, The Mastery Journal, and The Podcast Journal).

To get a sense for how blogs really make money, I highly recommend you read through the monthly income reports from the last 12 months for Entrepreneur on Fire. You’ll get an excellent feel for what a seven-figure blog looks like. I also recommend you read through the income reports from 2012 and 2013, which will show you what revenue looks like at the beginning and how it changes over time on the path to $1 million per year.

Navid Moazzez – navidmoazzez.com

Revenue = My guess is $300–500K per year

Navid is in the online marketing space and offers infoproducts on virtual summits. According to his About page, he’s earned over a $1 million dollars in “a few years.” Safe to say he’s easily doing six figures off his blog. Hence my guess above.

Tim Urban – Wait But Why

Revenue = At least $100,000, possibly $1+ million per year

Tim Urban got crazy popular and his blog posts were being shared all over the place for a while.

This is probably an example of what most people dream of when they start a blog. They plan to write a bunch of stuff, a rabid fan base will appear out of nowhere, they’ll offer some t-shirts, posters, and a Patreon account to make tons of passive income. They’ll finish by riding into the sunset of eternal blogging glory.

For Tim Urban, that’s basically what happened. And he absolutely deserves it. His content is phenomenal. It’s so good that people have been angry because he hasn’t posted in a while. Very few of us can write content that good. I can promise you no one gets upset when I stop blogging. So for us mortals, we should look to some of the other examples on this list for how to monetize our blogs.

I know that I gave a really broad range on the revenue here. Blogs like this are really tough to guess. Tim clearly has a massive, adoring audience. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s swimming in gold. Although he might be. Blogs with massive audiences like this sometimes make a ton of money, and sometimes they make very little. It also looks like his main source of revenue is his ecommerce store. Unlike consulting, speaking, infoproducts, or affiliates, the margins on ecommerce products are much smaller. It’s entirely possible that he’s making a ton of top-line revenue but only enough profit to live a decent lifestyle.

That’s pretty common with ecommerce entrepreneurs. They claim that they’re making millions of dollars with their business but only take home $50–100K per year. Once you factor in costs of goods sold and overhead, there isn’t a ton left over. I have no idea if Tim Urban falls into this bucket. I simply don’t know.

Ready to build you own blog?

I know the list above is full of people making serious money.

Here’s the crazy part.

For every blogger making a million dollars, there are thousands that make enough money to quit their job and work on their blog full time.

The list is too long to keep track of — I wouldn’t be able to put it together.

It is absolutely reasonable to start a blog with the goal of quitting your job and being your own boss. So many people have already done it you’d be walking a well-traveled path at this point.

I also believe that there’s still a ton of opportunity to be made blogging. I see new up-and-coming bloggers every year. It’s still possible to start a blog today and have it support you. I put together a 12-step guide on how to start a blog here. It’ll walk you through the whole process.

How to Start a Blog That Makes Money in 12 Easy Steps — The Complete Beginner’s Guide

I started my first blog to avoid getting a job.

I’m completely serious.

I was coming to the end of my undergraduate degree in international affairs and the thought of getting a job at the state department or in journalism sounded like a horrible idea.

So I learned how to start a blog and built one on international affairs with the hopes of eventually monetizing it and supporting myself.

That didn’t really work out as planned. Hah.

But it did lead to a career in online marketing and now I do work on blogs to avoid having a real job.

Whether you’re trying to avoid a job entirely or trying to quit your current job, starting a blog is a reliable path to supporting yourself and your family. It takes a lot of work and some time but it is a well-traveled path at this point. It’s not nearly as crazy as it was when I started.

I’m going to walk you through the 12 steps to start a blog, which are particularly useful for beginners who have never done this before.

Before we begin, let’s cover how website technology works. There are a few things you’ll need to sign up for so it’s good to see how they all connect before starting.

First, there’s the domain. This is the URL of the website. Think of it as the address for your business. You’ll need to buy your domain.

Second, the domain registrar. This is the company that you’ll use to buy your domain and hold it for you. They don’t host your site or anything — they just store your domain and point web traffic to your site which will be on your web host.

Third, the web host. This is the company that hosts your site. Your site will be on its servers.

Fourth, the tool to build your site. Very few sites are built by hand using raw HTML and CSS these days. Almost all of them are built using a tool. The tool handles a lot of heavy lifting and makes building a site substantially easier, especially if you have no idea how to code. This is how you’ll configure your site and publish your blog posts. For blogging, these tools are called content management systems (CMS) and the only real option is WordPress. Once you’ve installed WordPress on your host, you’ll be able to start building your site.

To recap, you’ll buy a domain using a domain registrar, install WordPress on your host, then start building your site.

Now let’s dive into the step-by-step process.

Step 1: Pick a Category

The most important decision to make when starting a blog is which category you’re going to write about.

Why pick a category at all? Why not write about anything that interests you?

When it comes to building an audience, increasing traffic, and monetizing your blog, you’ll get a lot further a lot faster if you stick to a specific category.

Think of it like this: Let’s say you stumble on a blog of mine. You find an amazing post about how to turn email subscribers into fully passive income. You love it and subscribe to my email list. Then I send you an email about how to organize your closet. How would you react? Maybe you’d love it if you also really love organization. But most people would be turned off. They want more content about email lists and making passive income.

Jumping categories can be really jarring for any audience. Google also greatly prefers blogs that are focused on a single topic, which will help you with SEO a lot.

Whatever you do, pick a category and stick to it. If you want to try another category, start a new blog.

Here are a few popular categories that always do well:

  • Personal finance
  • Fitness
  • Online business
  • Investing
  • Productivity
  • Real estate
  • Careers
  • Test prep
  • Freelancing

My recommendation is to pick one of the categories above and niche it down one more time. Personal finance for people making over $100,000 per year is a good example. Or fitness for people over 60 is another.

Categories get tough when they’re super consumer focused and have extremely large audiences. Celebrity blogs are a great example. There’s tons of competition in this space but also very limited money compared to other blogging categories. It’s a brutal combo. All the work without any of the payoff. Recipe blogs are another example of a brutal category. World-class competition and very few ways to monetize. Try to avoid categories like these.

One of my favorite category types is B2B. This includes categories like how to do marketing, build products, HR, customer service, manage a team, or improve your sales skills. The volume in these categories is always lower than the popular categories that I listed above. But the quality of traffic is always incredible. Businesses are always willing to spend more than consumers to solve their problems; they have access to a lot more cash. The downside is that you need to have experience and skills in these areas before being able to blog about them. They’re not nearly as easy to break into.

Hobbies can also do okay, but they’re typically more difficult to monetize. That said, I’ve come across entrepreneurs who have built six and even seven figure businesses in hobby spaces like horse riding or learning the guitar. It’s doable. It’s just more difficult because people aren’t willing to spend as much on their hobbies.

Step 2: Find a Domain

Find a domain that’s somewhat related to the category you picked and is also available for purchase.

I highly recommend you keep searching until you find a domain that’s available. While it is possible to buy a domain from someone who already has it, that’s an advanced option and can get expensive fast.

Low quality domains will usually go for a few thousand dollars. Highly quality domains that are two words can easily go for $10,000 to $50,000. I’ve even been in discussions to purchase domains for over $100,000 and the really hot ones can break seven figures. Not to mention all the hassle that comes from finding the person who owns the domain, negotiating with them, and transferring the domain if you can get an agreement.

Your best bet is to keep going until you find a domain that you like and can purchase directly from a domain registrar for about $10.

We go into lots of detail on which domain registrar to use here. The short answer, use Namecheap. It’s awesome, it’s the best, it’s what I personally use.

We’ve also got some more tips on buying a domain here.

Should you use your personal name as your domain?

If this is your first blog and you’re not completely sure what you want to blog about, I recommend that you use your personal name.

The reason is that changing your domain later will mean that you have to start over from scratch. There are a lot of mistakes in blogging that can be corrected later; having the wrong domain isn’t one of them.

Let’s say you pick a domain like fitnessfordoctors.com. Then after six months, you realize you’d rather be doing personal finance blogging for doctors. You’d need to get a new domain and start over from scratch.

Personal domains are much more flexible — it’s just a name after all. So if you jump categories after a few months, it’s not a big deal. Take down any old content that’s not relevant with your new direction, start posting new content, and you’re good to go.

That said, personal domains have two major downsides:

  1. Scalability – It’s much more difficult to recruit other writers or grow your blog beyond your personal identity later on.
  2. Sellability – Personal blogs, even if they’re generating serious cash, are much harder to sell. Prospective buyers want a site that isn’t dependent on a single person.

These are pretty advanced problems to have though. So if this is your first blog, the benefits of using your name as the domain greatly outweigh the costs that only show up down the road.

Step 3: Get a host for your blog

Every site needs a web host. This is the company that stores your site on its servers and makes it available for anyone who visits your site.

We went through all the main hosts for WordPress sites (by far the best tool for blogging) and put together our recommendations here.

While there are a few other choices it really comes down to two options:

Best WordPress Host for Beginners = SiteGround

For your first blog, you want a host that is popular, trusted, easy to use, reliable, and reasonably priced. No need for anything fancy.

SiteGround fits this need perfectly. The best part is that its plans start at $4/month. That’s a steal considering how many positive reviews it gets.

For the vast majority of folks starting blogs, SiteGround is going to be the best bet for hosting their blog.

Best WordPress Host for Advanced Bloggers = WP Engine

In my last few jobs, I managed blogs with hundreds of thousands or millions of visitors per month. They had thousands of posts on them. We always used WP Engine for sites of that size.

WP Engine comes with a lot of extra hosting features for security and scalability. For sites of that size, you end up having to do a lot more maintenance in order to keep the site healthy. WP Engine handles all that stuff for you. Their support team is also world-class. They do a great job.

But there’s a major downside: it’s more expensive. The lowest plans start at $35/month. This is 7X the price of other hosts.

If this is your first blog, I wouldn’t go with WP Engine.

Step 4: Point your domain to your host

Now you have a domain and a host for your site.

The next step is to point your domain to your host so that people end up at your site when they go to the URL of your domain.

Every host has slightly different settings you’ll need to configure at your domain registrar. They definitely have a support doc on with the details on what to do.

Here are the details for our recommended hosts:

If you have any trouble with this, contact the support team for your host and they’ll walk you through the exact steps.

Step 5: Install WordPress

You’ll need a content management system (CMS) to build your site and manage your blog posts.

There’s only one option for this: WordPress.

Seriously, it’s not even a decision. Use WordPress.

Years ago, there were a few competitors to WordPress like Joomla, Typepad, or Blogger.

No one uses those anymore.

This is going to sound kind of bad but whenever I hear of someone using one of those old WordPress competitors, I just laugh. It’s hard to take them seriously.

WordPress powers 30% of ALL websites. That’s how popular it is.

Use WordPress for your blog, end of story.

Because of how popular WordPress is, most web hosts offer a one-click install for WordPress. It’s super easy. Log into your web host, find the install WordPress opton, click it, then follow the instructions. This is what you’ll need to do if you signed up for SiteGround.

And if you’ve decided to go with WP Engine, it comes pre-installed since WP Engine is a hosting company for WordPress specifically.

Step 6: Pick a WordPress Theme

WordPress is the foundation of your site. There’s an easy way to change how WordPress looks without having to code anything yourself.

WordPress uses “themes,” little packages of code that can be swapped in and out. Whenever you change your theme, your site will also change. The best part is that your blog post content won’t change. This makes it very easy to evolve your site over time without having to rebuild your entire site from scratch.

For now, you’ll need to pick your first WordPress theme.

The number of themes out there make me dizzy. There are… a lot.

When picking a theme for any of my sites, I go straight to StudioPress. The themes are a bit more expensive at $130. (Most themes go for $20–50.) In my opinion, the higher price is well worth it. StudioPress was purchased by WP Engine and WP Engine now includes all the StudioPress themes as part of its hosting package. It’s a nice freebie if you are already planning on hosting your site with WP Engine.

If you want a wider selection of WordPress themes at standard prices, Themeforest is the most popular WordPress theme marketplace. You’ll find just about anything you want in its selection.

After you purchase your theme, log into your WordPress site, go to the Theme section which is under Appearance in the WordPress sidebar menu. Then follow the instructions for adding the theme. You’ll have to upload the theme files to WordPress and activate the theme from within WordPress. You can find the upload option by going to Themes > Add New, a button towards the top. Then you’ll see this option to upload:

You’ll be able to manage any themes you’ve uploaded to your WordPress site from your Themes section:

Step 7: Install Your WordPress Plugins

Once of the best parts about WordPress is that it’s infinitely customizable. Since it’s open-source, you can change it to do whatever you want.

WordPress plugins are little batches of software you can install within WordPress to get extra functionality. This is how you’ll add a bunch of extra features to your site without having to code anything yourself.

Be careful here and try not to go overboard.

Some bloggers will install dozens or even hundreds of plugins on their site. That can cause a bunch of problems later on. Not only can plugins cause unexpected conflicts with each other, they become a security liability since it’s unlikely that every plugin owner will maintain the plugin over time. They also become a huge headache to manage. When you have that many plugins, you’re never sure which plugin is causing a particular problem.

I like to keep my plugins limited to 5–10 amazing plugins. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Akismet – Required for every blog, it automatically filters a ton of comment spam which is a problem for every blogger. This is one of the few plugins that I happily pay to upgrade.
  • Yoast SEO – The most highly recommended SEO plugin, it handles a bunch of SEO tasks automatically for you and also makes on-page SEO tasks a lot easier.
  • Contact Form 7 – The most popular contact form out there. Set up a contact page on your site and then use this plugin to create a contact form that will email you any time someone fills out the form. Super easy.
  • TinyMCE Advanced – A bunch of improvements to the WordPress editor that makes writing in WordPress a lot easier. These days, I usually skip this one. I write all my posts in Google Docs and then format them in WordPress using its default HTML editor.
  • WP Super Cache – A good plugin to speed up your site.
  • MailChimp for WordPress – More on this below. It’s easiest way to connect your WordPress site to a MailChimp account, create an email sign up form, and start collecting email subscribers.
  • WordPress Popular Posts – Easiest way to add a list of your most popular posts to your blog sidebar. The list will update automatically.

There is a plugin for just about anything you could want to do with your WordPress site. Use the plugin page within your WordPress site to search for anything that you need.

When you’ve found a plugin you want, install and activate it from within WordPress.

Step 8: Install Google Analytics

Google analytics is a free website analytics tool from Google. Even though it’s free, it’s still the best analytics tool out there.

Analytics is just a fancy word for website data.

Yes, analytics can get pretty complicated and overwhelming.

Which is why we’re going to ignore the majority of what’s in Google Analytics for now.

All you need to do is create a Google Analytics account and install it on your blog. There are two reasons for this.

First, Google Analytics stores your data over time. When you’re ready to dive in later, you’ll be thankful that you’ve been collecting data since the beginning.

Second, it’s exhilarating to watch people visit your site in the beginning. I remember the first time Google Analytics recorded a visitor on my first blog. I thought it was a mistake. “Someone visited my site? Really? Why would they do that? Who are they? Did they like it?”

Seeing those first visitors come in will give you a huge motivation boost. Even if you only check Google Analytics to see your total traffic, it’s well worth the time it takes to set up.

It’s also pretty easy to set up.

Go to Google Analytics and set up your account. Once your account is created, you’ll have a unique JavaScript tracking code for your site. When you copy and paste that snippet of code into your site, Google Analytics will start collecting data for you.

Step 9: Set up your email list

Sooner or later, you’ll hear a stat like this:

“Email marketing has 22X the ROI of any other marketing channel!”

Technically, this is true.

The response from email will always dominate any other channel that you try pushing a campaign to. But you have to acquire those emails in the first — they’ve already been filtered for the most receptive people. In other words, email by its nature is more responsive, so the comparison ROI stats are kind of dumb. They’re stating the obvious.

It’s kind of like going to a strawberry field, picking the best strawberries in the entire field, putting them in a gift basket, then declaring the the gift basket strawberries are 12 times as delicious as normal strawberries. Of course they’re more delicious — you picked the best ones already!

That’s how email lists work. They’re a gift basket of the best strawberries.

Every marketing engine I’ve built for companies has relied on emails at its core.

Think of your email list as a giant laser ray you can focus on any offer you want. Selling consulting? Pitch your list. Publishing a new blog post? Pitch your list. A podcast just interviewed you? Pitch your list.

Of all the marketing channels that have come and gone over the years, nothing compares to the power of a high quality email list.

Even if you’re not sure what to send your email subscribers, that’s okay!

Using MailChimp, you can start collecting emails on your blog so that the list is ready for you as soon as you need. It takes time to build a decent size list so your future self will be extremely grateful if you set it up now.

You only need two things:

  • A MailChimp account
  • An opt-in to sign up on your sidebar

MailChimp has a free account for up to 2,000 email subscribers, which will cover your blog for awhile.

There’s also a super easy WordPress plugin for MailChimp. Once you install it on your WordPress blog, it’ll connect to your MailChimp account and give you an easy way to add an email signup form to your blog sidebar.

Even a super basic opt-in in your blog sidebar like this is enough to get you started:

Don’t even worry about sending any emails yet unless you want to. The main thing is that you’re collecting email subscribers from the beginning. Email lists can be a gold mine once you have a few thousand subscribers, and the money really rolls in once you have 10,000 subscribers and above.

Step 10: Get into your posting groove

Writing blog posts isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. More like a multi-day backpacking trip.

The best bloggers settle into a consistent writing pace they can maintain for a few years. That’s right, years.

Here are a few posting frequency rules of thumb:

  • At the bare minimum, find a way to post once per week. This needs to be a substantial post, too: 2,000 words at least. I recommend you start here.
  • Serious bloggers will post 2–3 times per week.
  • Larger sites quickly get to 5–7 posts per week. This requires multiple authors.
  • The heavy hitters who push things to the limit will do 25–50 posts per week. No joke, this is for large businesses using content marketing as their primary customer acquisition channel. HubSpot is a classic example of this.

I know writing isn’t easy. After writing blog posts full-time for three months, I always want to throw my MacBook out the window. It’s a grind for all of us. This is why I recommend one post per week. That still gives you the majority of the week to focus on other aspects of your site while also giving you a break from writing blog posts all the time.

A really great post should take you two days to complete. The first day is for research and outlining, along with as much writing as you can complete. The second day is for finishing the writing, proofreading, and publishing the post in WordPress.

Also, push quality as hard as you can. The key to building a site and traffic over time is to write posts that are more valuable than what other people have already published in your category.

Step 11: Build an audience

There’s a super famous article in blogging circles: 1,000 True Fans.

Basically, getting 1,000 true fans means you can fully support yourself. You can quit your job, work from wherever you like, and be in complete control of your life. All from hitting a very reasonable goal of 1,000 true fans.

With blogging, you’ll build your audience of 1,000 true fans slowly and consistently.

As long as you keep it at, you will get there. Typically, it takes a few years.

Here’s what to focus on in order to get there faster:

  • Always post at least once per week. Never skip a week.
  • Start posting 2–3 times per week if you can.
  • On every post, push on quality as hard as you can. Google the topic and see what other people have done, then ask yourself how you can write something even better.
  • Write stuff that hasn’t been written to death already. Find a new take or perspective on your topics that other people haven’t already covered.
  • Find your voice and be authentic so people can get to know you. This builds connections with your audience faster. A quick hack for this is to pretend that you’re writing your posts to a close friend.
  • To push even harder, get active in other online communities. Post in Facebook groups, subreddits, on Twitter, do podcast interviews, get speaking engagements when you can — anything and everything. Be as helpful as you can be in these communities.
  • For all of your content, constantly ask yourself, “How can I make this as valuable as possible?”

As your blog audience matures you will want to change your traffic strategies as you grow.

Step 12: Monetize your blog

There are really only two ways to monetize a serious blog.

Yup, only two.

Bloggers try a ton of different ideas, maybe about a dozen.

Out of those dozen, only two work at scale.

So what are they?

Affiliates and infoproducts.

Check out this list of of 21 bloggers making money.

Out of the entire list, all but three or four of them make the majority of their revenue from infoproducts, affiliates, or a combination of the two.

How Infoproducts Work

I could write a book on this. For now, we’ll keep it simple. Here’s the model:

  1. Get people to visit your site.
  2. On your site, give them a reason to subscribe to your email list.
  3. Once they’re an email subscriber, run them through a launch funnel. These are email funnels specifically designed to sell infoproducts. Usually, these are courses that include a bunch of video lessons.
  4. Depending on your volume and target market, you’ll convert about 0.5% to 1% of new email subscribers into a customer at a price of $500–$2,000 for your course. At volume, that adds up fast.

Now this sounds too good to be true. While there are a few catches, it’s mostly true. What are the catches?

First, you’ll need to get extremely good at direct-response copy.

Second, it helps to be in the right category. People want money, status, and relationships.

How Affiliates Work

It’s pretty simple: You go about creating as large of an audience as possible. Then, throughout the your content, you recommend products that are helpful to that audience. When your audience clicks through the link of that recommendation, they get a special tracking code. If they end up purchasing, you get a cut of the sale.

The main downside is that only a small percentage of people will ever click through and an even smaller percentage of people will purchase. So it really helps to have a massive amount of traffic in order to make enough money from your blog.

Monetizing a Blog for Beginners

Those are really only the two options? Is there anything else for beginners?

Yes, there is.

While infoproducts and affiliates are the main ways to make serious money, you also need serious traffic in order to make them work. At least if you want them to work well enough to make six figures per year…

And to get that much traffic, you’ll need a lot of time on your blog. As much as I love blogging, getting a new blog off the ground doesn’t rain dollar bills right away.

There is one way to make a lot of money fast. It also will change your life.

Instead of trying to turn your blog into a completely passive money-making machine, go the other direction. Ditch passive and get active.

Start freelancing and consulting.

To make money quickly, this is by far your best option. It’s also the easiest to do.

When I worked at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, our freelancing programs taught thousands of people how to get started freelancing. What always blew me away was how life-changing those first few freelancing gigs are.

I went through that exact change myself. Years ago, I started my personal blog larslofgren.com and got a few freelancing clients doing it. I’ll never forget that first $100 payment sent via PayPal. The amount sounds so small now, but the real impact was knowing that I personally produced that income myself.

Guess how much traffic that personal blog of mine has? Only a few thousand visitors per month, spread across about 20 blog posts.

Anyone can create a blog that size and use it for freelancing lead generation. It’s enough to build a client base that pays you $3,000 to $5,000 per month. That’s enough to quit your job. That’s life-changing.

And it’s a much easier goal to hit than a full-ramped affiliates or infoproducts marketing machine. You always have the option to build that stuff later anyway.

What about all those other monetization methods?

Most of them are a waste of time. The impact on revenue is marginal, it’s a complete distraction. A few are worth doing for marketing and branding. The rest should be ignored entirely. Here’s the list that bloggers always try at some point:

  • Books – Great for marketing. Adds a ton of credibility to your brand. But you won’t feel the impact on revenue at all.
  • Events – I loathe events with every fiber of my being. All the risk is front-loaded, all contracts get locked up ahead of time, they’re a pain to sell, and you don’t even know if you’ll make any money until right before the event. Even if you do make money, the margins are terrible. For me, these are complete distractions and a huge opportunity cost for the business.
  • Banner ads (Google Ads, formally Adsense, for example) – The last time these made any decent money was around 2003. These days, I’m not even sure it’s possible to get banner ads to cover your hosting bill. I’m only partially joking.
  • Speaking – Done the right way, occasional speaking can be a great brand builder. And while it sounds amazing to get paid $20,000 per speaking gig, it’s not nearly as amazing once you learn most speakers never get paid, it’s takes months worth of work to create a talk that commands that kind of fee, you really need a New York Times Bestseller in order to charge real fees, and you’ll get so sick of hotel rooms after the first year that you’ll never want to travel again. Do speaking gigs when good opportunities come up; don’t build a business on them.