Designing My Website
Because I update content regularly, I knew I needed to be on WordPress. I needed a theme that reflected the Copy Hackers personality – and I didn’t want to pay anyone to create a custom theme. (Lean startup mindset!) Plus, this had to be an ecommerce site that allowed the delivery of digital products, which not every ecommerce site does.
- It looks professional and is very customizable, with simple shortcodes
- Because it’s on WordPress, it’s great for SEO – with plugin options galore
- I can easily add coupons and sale prices
- Content in the cart is customizable
- The page layout options can be adjusted on a page-by-page basis, so not every blog post needs a right sidebar
My only caveats are that the home page is not quite as customizable as I’d like, and the calls to action for products are hard-coded as “Add to Cart”, so I can’t optimize those buttons. Other than that, I’m super-happy with WooThemes – as the Copy Hackers case study on the WooThemes site details.
Luvin’ tons right now: Dropbox! I even use it to share my video courses
In May 2012, Lance switched us from BlueHost to WP Engine. We’d been having trouble with the site being down quite randomly – and with no warning – and slow load times… so when Lance heard about WP Engine on a TechZing podcast (which you should be listening to), he convinced me that it was time to make the switch.
We pay more for WP Engine than we did for BlueHost, but it’s worth it. Here are the highlights:
- Smart, fast support
- Way faster page loads
- When we faced struggles while moving the site, WP Engine was there to help
Building My Email List
In addition to the subscription form in the Coquette theme, I use 2 different WordPress plugins to generate interest in and signups for my email list:
- ViperBar / ViperChill – A nice, clean bar at the top of the page, which can contain either sales messaging or email signup fields
- Optin Crusher – A less attractive but admittedly effective pop-up at the bottom of the screen – where it stays out of the way of visitors
Both integrate with MailChimp, which I use for my emails. And both are 100% free right now.
If you’re on my list, you know I send lots of content and almost no sales pitches, direct or indirect. So I need a newsletter template that is easy to read and easy to make visually interesting – not to mention one that simplifies unsubscribes, simplifies HTML versions and offers full email analytics. MailChimp does all of that, plus:
- It lets me choose from dozens of designs
- It uses a very simple WYSIWYG editor
- Its pop-up previews, test emails and subject-line testing are awesome
- It makes it easy to segment lists, which is important as your list grows
- Autoresponders and scheduled emails are super-easy to create, schedule and track
- Account upgrades – and downgrades (which I hope never to need) – are automatic
Then there’s the whole “a chimp is showing me YouTube videos of cats” side of MailChimp, which is icing on the cake.
I know a lot of people recommend Aweber, and maybe it’s a great tool… But I’m all about MailChimp.
First things first: I no longer prepare proposals in the traditional sense. Why not? ‘Cos I put hours and hours and hours into several proposals… only to find out that the dudes were Lookie Lous. Browsers. Window shoppers.
That ain’t good when you’re a small biz with limited time. So now I treat a proposal — which is really a professional assessment with recommendations — as the high-value deliverable that it is… and charge for it.
That said, when it comes time to prepare those proposals, I use BidSketch. Here’s why:
- BidSketch works with FreshBooks and RightSignature, both of which I depend on
- It’s run by Ruben Gamez, whom I’ve had the pleasure of consulting for – he’s an awesome guy
- It makes it easy to repurpose content… so I don’t have to create proposals from scratch
I use RightSignature! It’s so fantastic, I can’t help but rave about it. You get 5 documents in your free trial, and this is all you have to do to use it:
- Create a document, like a contract
- Upload the doc
- Drag-and-drop signature and initial boxes to where you’d like them
- Send to the client to sign off
- Sign it online, using your mouse to draw (or on your iPad)
Doesn’t sound like much maybe… but it’s so easy that I actually look forward to having documents that need to be signed.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of what RightSignature can do. (Hello online forms!) But I plan to.
Freshbooks all the way. Although I think Freshbooks has some room to improve — like in the time-tracking area, which is not flexible enough — I absolutely love how easy it is to:
- Create invoices
- Send invoices (via email or snail mail, straight from the tool)
- Accept payments via PayPal
- Follow up on overdue invoices – if you tell Freshbooks to send reminders, it does… automatically
Truth be told, I use Freshbooks for invoicing and some estimating… but not at all for expense-tracking. I should probably start doing that…
(BTW, since Freshbooks‘s time-tracking isn’t rockin’ my boat, I use Excel for that.)
What do you use?
Send me an email if you have a recommendation for how I can run my business more efficiently… and happily.