A modern writing date.
Many people who use WordPress for their websites are not the only writers on the site. In fact, many may not write anything at all. Instead, they’ll hire others to produce the content for them.
Having multiple writers on one WordPress site can be tricky business, especially if you have some users overseeing others and acting as editors. And if you have a complex editorial workflow system for your content, then it can get even trickier.
Out of the box, there are WordPress multiple authors features built right into the software for handling a multiple author environment. Of course the most powerful tool is the roles function. The default roles in WordPress, from top to bottom, are the following:
So, for example, a Subscriber cannot write or manage posts. A Contributor can write and manage posts, but he/she cannot publish them. So when a Contributor writes a post, by default, he/she can only save the post as a draft or submit it to be reviewed by an Editor or an Administrator. (You can see a full list of roles and their capabilities here.)
Extending WordPress for Multiple Authors
This works well, but some need more than what WordPress offers out of the box. And so below we’ll go over four plugins that many have found useful in multiple-author environments.
The Advanced Access Manager plugin lets you take the idea of roles to another level. Instead of being stuck with the default roles and capabilities that WordPress gives, you can change things up with this plugin. You can assign new capabilities and even create new roles.
For example, say you have an editor you really trust, and you want to give this person more power to change things on the site than the default roles allow for. You can. One way would be to create a completely new role, maybe an Executive Editor, for example. This way you can still reserve the default Editor role for others if needed.
But this plugin goes beyond that. It also lets you control who sees content on the frontend of your site too (i.e. the public part of your site). It even manages access to posts, pages, and custom post types.
Here’s a quick look at some of the settings for controlling capabilities.
The Editorial Calendar plugin gives you an easy way to track your future posts and even your ideas for posts.
The graphic style of it really helps you get a perspective that simply looking at lines of text doesn’t. You can look at a week’s worth of posts at one time, two weeks or even a month.
In addition, you can drag posts around and shift their publish dates automatically. On top of this, you also have options to edit, delete, and view right from the calendar itself. You can even add a new post right from the calendar interface.
Here’s a shot of the calendar in action:
And this nicely done video overview will show you exactly how it works:
The WordPress Editorial Calendar Screen Cast from Zack Grossbart
The WP Status Notifier plugin is handy plugin for busy authors and editors. This plugin notifies the correct person when the status of a post has changed.
For example, when a Contributor submits a post for review, you can set it up so that an Editor gets an email. When that Editor accepts or rejects the post, the Contributor can automatically be notified.
As some of you may already be thinking, this would be very handy for user-submitted content. Maybe you have a site where you open up submissions. When they come rolling in, the whole process can go even smoother when people on both ends are being notified.
And finally we have Co-Authors Plus. This plugin lets you assign multiple bylines to one post. If two people did significant work on one post, then both should get the credit. You see this all the time in major newspapers, for example. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do it in WordPress as well.
A Little More WordPress Multiple Authors Functionality Coming Soon
As someone who works with multiple authors on a regular basis, I can tell you that there’s a slight blind spot in WordPress that crops up on a regular basis. If an Author finishes a post and submits it for review, but the Author leaves the WP editor screen open in the browser window, then it limits the ability of an Editor or Administrator to edit it the way they want.
This happens a lot. Probably more than you may imagine. I’ve had writers finish a post on a Friday and then technically stay “active” in the editor for the entire weekend.
In the coming 3.6 version of WordPress, this little annoyance is addressed, and the ability to kick lower level users out of the editor will be implemented.
While this new improvement may seem like a small thing, it emphasizes once again that WordPress has grown from a lone blogger’s publishing software into a more comprehensive Content Management System. More improvements like this are still needed, but the good news is they definitely seem to be popping up on a regular basis.
Photo credit: C.G.P. Grey
Finding a good WordPress theme takes time!
When choosing a new theme for your WordPress site, you’re obviously going to go with the look that you think suits your site best. But there’s more than looks to consider when choosing a theme. Below we’ll go over a few the most important things you should give a second thought to before choosing one theme over another.
Free versus Paid
A lot of what we’ll go over below will be the same whether you’re talking about a free theme or a paid theme. That said, of course you often get a lot more with a paid theme, and you should expect more. If you’re set on going with a free theme, however, then you should just know you may have to lower your expectations somewhat in some of these area, and might uncover some bugs along the way.
It’s important to note that, when it comes to WordPress theme features, more isn’t necessarily better.
Although many themes add a lot of nice functionality, you’ll want to be careful about getting your content stuck in a theme that can only really work in that theme. For example, let’s say you get a nice real estate theme. It has spots for all the info you want: images, cost, number of rooms, property taxes, school district, etc. Fantastic!
But what happens if you ever want to change out of that theme? All your information is set up for that particular theme to display it. If you get a new theme, it’s not going to use the same system as the old theme. And so even though that info is your database, it’s not easily usable by a different theme. It would take some special coding of the new theme, and quite a bit of time, to pull it out.
For this reason, you need to think about when to let the theme handle content and when you should get a plugin to handle it. With a plugin, you can simply add it to a new theme and have it show up. Don’t always be swayed by fancy presentations. Look at them closely and think hard about whether you’ll want the flexibility to switch to a different theme down the road, as your needs change.
These days you really should look for a theme that’s mobile-ready. In WordPress-speak this is usually referred to as a “responsive” theme (i.e. it responds to the device that the viewer is using, resizing accordingly).
According to a Google survey, 72% of mobile users said that having a mobile-friendly site was important to them. Sixty-seven percent of those users said that having a mobile-friendly site would make them more likely to buy. And we all know how important mobile users are these days.
Page Templates and Layouts
Page templates or different available layouts can give your site a lot of pop and a lot of power where you need it. For example, some themes may let you choose from four or five existing homepage designs. And some themes may even let you drag and drop containers in the backend to create your own page layouts. Another useful feature is customer header implementation, which will save you hours of aggravation when you need to modify your site’s basic look.
It’s important to note, however, that this is where it gets easy to leave your content stuck into a theme in a way that it won’t transfer nicely to another theme. That said, different page templates or different layouts will often be OK on that front. It’s not that your content will get stuck in the database (as it might with a real estate theme, as we mentioned), it’s just that it might not display as nicely on a different theme. While you can probably deal with that witha quick site-wide review, it’s worth keeping in mind.
The Theme Developer Reputation
Like everywhere else on the web, reputations are very important: a WordPress theme developer’s reputation is no different. There are a number of well-known developers, such as WooThemes, Elegant Themes, and StudioPress to name a few. While some may have their detractors (as any company does), their reputations are solid.
Therefore, if you’re going with a lesser-known developer, you’ll probably want to try to check them out. Search for their name along with other keywords that might indicate problems, such as “problem”, or “sucks”, or “doesn’t work”, or “exploit”, or “malware”.
Of course you’ll have to keep a few things in mind when you do this. One is that almost every theme is going to have issues, especially in its initial release. In fact, it may not be the theme’s fault, but someone is blaming it on the theme. It could be the hosting environment or a plugin or even user error. Still, themes may have issues. The main thing to look for is the response to the issues. Does the theme developer correct legitimate issues? Do they do it quickly?
It’s always worth taking criticism of someone else’s work with a grain of salt.
Look out for spammy links
All that said, one thing you definitely DON’T want to see in a theme is spammy links. There are a number of sites out there that have very nice looking themes – and all for free! The problem is those themes come with spammy links that you can’t remove. Some themes may even come with malware.
First, I would NOT advise getting a free theme from anywhere other than the WordPress Theme Directory, or a reputable premium theme developer. But if you decide to do it anyway, then you’ll want to check for potentially dangerous aspects of the theme with a plugin like Theme Check or TAC.
Of course you’ll also want to check on what kind of support is offered. This, of course, is one area where you can’t expect nearly as much if you’re going with a free theme vs. a premium theme. And more support is often a very good reason to go with a premium theme.
Whether they *should* or not, things go wrong. If you don’t have the support to get through the issues you’re having, then your whole business could suffer.
At the very least, the theme developer should have a forum you can post in to get answers. They should have documents that help explain the different parts of the theme. The ability to submit support tickets and email is generally reserved for the higher end of a support package (some developers let you choose different levels).
Premium Theme Developers
As mentioned above, there are a number of well-established theme developers out there. At WPMU.org, we’ve put together a comparison of their theme offerings. If you’re thinking of going with a premium theme, visit us and take a look at what they have to offer.
Do you have a go-to WordPress theme for your sites, or do you prefer choosing a new theme for each site? Let us know in the comments!
Photo credit: Mike Kline
Plugins make WordPress great. They let you build and bend and twist your site into just what you want it to be.
But your site might be very different from my site, of course. And we will naturally choose different plugins. You may need a shopping cart. I may need a YouTube gallery. You might want an events calendar, whereas I might want slick-looking pricing tables.
No matter how different our sites, however, there are still some things that most all WordPress sites have in common. Unless you happen to be one of the exceptions, your site will most probably need good SEO, rock solid security, easy-to-use social sharing buttons, bullet-proof spam protection, and a dependable backup solution.
We’re going to run through some of most popular plugins for each of these areas. And while you can find premium plugins to do these things, all of the plugins below are free.
1. SEO Plugins
Yoast SEO (formerly WordPress SEO) – This is perhaps one of the most popular free SEO plugins on the market today, and for good reason. It does a lot. Some think maybe too much. It can get a little overwhelming. (More on a simpler solution later.)
Here’s a quick look at the features for Yoast SEO. Keep in mind that each of these is but a large category with a number of details to dig into.
- Control Titles and Meta Tags
- Integrate Social Data
- Generate XML Sitemaps
- Gain More Control Over Permalinks
- Control Internal Links
- Add Content to Your RSS Feed
All In One SEO Pack – This plugin was perhaps the biggest boy on the block until Yoast SEO came onto the scene. This plugin will help you to cover the basics of SEO, but it’s not quite as involved as Yoast SEO. For that reason, some prefer it.
Google Sitemap Generator – Sitemaps are specially generated files that help the search engines find all the pages on your site better. Essentially, it’s a list of links to the pages on your, but it’s not made for humans. The WordPress SEO plugin above actually incorporates a sitemap function, but if you don’t use that, or you have problems with that function (sitemaps can sometimes get hung up and not generate as they’re supposed to), then this is another option for you.
Cache Plugins for Speed
We’re going to halfway cheat a little bit here and include these two caching plugins in the SEO section. These plugins will help speed up your site. Caching plugins typically do that by creating static files of pages on your site. They then deliver those pages to your visitor instead of making a lot of database calls every time a new visitor visits a page.
Of course a faster site is good for your visitors. But it’s also good for SEO. Search engines know that fast sites are good for visitors, and so they include speed as one of the factors they judge your site by.
Both of these plugins have been around for a while, and they both have their fans.
2. Security Plugins
Photo Credit: Fristle on Flickr
Making sure you have absolute maximum security for your site is a very big and very complicated topic. The technical details involved can be mind-numbing. That said, if you take normal precautions, such as ALWAYS updating your WordPress core when a new version comes out and ONLY using plugins and themes from trusted sources, then that’s usually enough.
But it’s not always enough. And so the least you should do is install a plugin that will warn you if you have malware on your site. Otherwise, some malware will simply run in the background, sucking your site’s authority, visitors, or both away from you undetected.
These two malware alert plugins are some of the most popular:
3. Social Sharing
The web today has become even webbier due to the popularity of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, G+, and countless others. In addition to being a great place to interface with current and potential fans, how your site fares on social media sites also plays into the SEO score search engines give your site.
In short: social media matters for a number of reasons.
The plugins below will help you to encourage the sharing of and the interaction with your content out on the social web.
And a different type of plugin: Add Link to Facebook isn’t a set of social buttons. Rather, it automatically adds links in your Facebook account when you publish a new post.
4. Spam Protection
Photo Credit: freezelight on Flickr
Anyone who has run a website with comments knows the need for anti-spam plugins. WordPress, of course, comes with the anti-spam Akismet plugin already installed by default. The problem with Akismet is that it’s not free if you have a commercial site.
If you’re in business, as most Flippa users are, then this plugin is a no-go (unless you want to pay for it). Fortunately, there are some other good free options we’ll list below.
(Note: With anti-spam plugins, you may need to sign up for a free service and enter a special “Key” they give you. This service is what houses their spam data and algorithms .)
Nobody thinks they need a backup … until they need it. It could happen to you. The best thing to do is to not get caught out. These options can help you
BackWPUp – This is a good solution if you want to back your site up to a online storage solutions such as Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc.
BackupToDropbox – This plugin is made specifically for automatic backing up to Dropbox.
BackUpWordpress – This is a good solution for those who need simplicity. Backups are stored on your server
And so that’s it. One or two of the cases above may not pertain to your situation (say you don’t allow comments, for example), but these five types of plugins can help most sites. If you don’t have all these areas covered, now’s a good time to fill those gaps.
If we break it down, there are typically four main ways people to make money directly with a website:
- Selling your own products
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling a service
Of course there may be other ways people make money with websites, but even if you have to stretch the idea a little, you could probably fit it into one of these four categories.
Today we’ll look at how you might help a WordPress site make money in each of these four areas.
Selling Your Own Products
Selling your own products can mean selling either physical or digital products. It can also mean selling access to content.
Physical Products: Of course selling a physical product can mean selling anything from baby strollers to sports equipment to heavy duty machinery. In order to do this with WordPress, the main piece of the puzzle you’ll need will be some type of shopping cart, and so you’ll need to look for a WordPress e-commerce plugin like MarketPress from WPMU DEV (this plugin also lets you sell digital products).
- Marketpress Plugin
Digital Products: Selling digital products would include selling ebooks, audios, videos, images, etc. If you are not going through some third-party service that will handle your downloads for you, then you’ll want to pick up a digital download plugin like Easy Digital Downloads to help you do that right through your site.
Access to Content: Selling access could encompasses membership sites, training seminars, webinars, plain news or information, etc. The easiest way to do this with WordPress is to pick up a membership plugin.
Affiliate marketing (i.e. getting a commission when selling another’s products or services) is one of the most popular ways to make money online. While some sites do run their own private affiliate programs, most people end up selling through the larger players such as Amazon, Commission Junction, LinkShare, ShareASale, Clickbank, etc.
While there are different types of plugins out there to help with affiliate marketing, many of the top affiliate marketers often say that what works best is good, solid content and a good ol’ simple link.
But no matter what you’re linking, the one tool that should be in any affiliate marketer’s toolbox is a redirection plugin such as Pretty Link Lite or Simple URLs.
What these plugins do is turn long, ugly URLs into clean, short URLs that look like they are going to another section of your site. They also track those links for you.
So, for example, if you link to Amazon with a URL that looks like this:
You can turn it into a link that looks like this:
The prettier link will likely be less of a turnoff to those who look at where the link is going by mousing over it first. But even more importantly, it will track those clicks for you. That means you can do things like set up mysite.com/xyz-water-bottle-1/ for one link and mysite.com/xyz-water-bottle-2/ for a different link (both going to same Amazon page), and then compare which link is getting more clicks. Once you have some stats, you can start analyzing and tweaking. No more guessing involved.
Selling a Service
Selling a service could involve all sorts of things, from selling SEO services to selling cleaning services. Different niches may require different approaches, but no matter your market, when you’re selling a service, you have to make getting in to contact with you easy.
Believe it or not, WordPress does not come with a built-in contact form. Not to worry, however, there are plenty of plugins that will do the job for you, and do it well. One of the more popular (but also simple) contact forms is the Contact Form 7 plugin.
If you want to take getting in touch even further, you could include a chat plugin like Quick Chat. Or you could even add a Skype widget to your site like Skype Online Status. This plugin will let your visitors click a button and call you on Skype right from your website.
Selling a service can also get into many other areas, such as using the Multisite function available in WordPress in order to run a site like WordPress.com, where you let users sign up for free and then place ads on their sites, or let them upgrade to premium services and then charge for them. Or you could do both, of course.
Other options that fall under the “services” banner include running a classified ads site or running a directory. In either of these cases, you can get both plugins or themes (with functionality built in) to help you do that. Also in either case, you could open up free to the public and then run advertising, or you could run a premium service and charge users per listing. Or, once again, you could do both.
And finally we come to advertising. Advertising comes in many forms. Some of the most common are:
- CPC – Cost Per Click (like Google’s Adsense)
- CPM – Cost Per Thousand Impressions (M in this case is for the Roman numeral for 1,000)
- Time Based Ads – Ads that stay up for an agreed upon time
- Sponsor Ads – Things such as paid reviews or just general sponsorship of content
- Text Link – Selling links in content
Advertising is like real estate in that location is one of the most important aspects. If your running Google Adsense, for example, then you want those ads to be in front of people so they’ll click on them. If you’re selling banner ads directly, then the advertiser is going to want the ads to be in front of people, or they aren’t going to buy from you.
All that makes sense, but it’s not quite as simple as it seems. If you rely on search engine traffic from places like Google, then you can’t just cram the top half of your site with ads so people will see them and click on them.
Well, you can, but you’ll likely lose your search traffic if you do that. You see, places like Google have page layout algorithms. And so what that means in the real world is that search engines don’t want to send visitors to sites that are nothing but ads. They want to send visitors to sites where the content is up front and easy to find.
Because of that, advertising plugins can be especially handy. They can help you do things such as inject ads into the middle of content, show ads to some visitors but not others, automatically randomize ads, and more.
Here are a few you may want to check out:
- AdRotate – Show random banners, use Google Adsense, get stats, get email notifications, and much more.
- WP-Insert – Lets you insert ads in all sorts of way: before you content, after your content, in the middle of your content, to the side of your content.
- Google Adsense Plugin – Control parameters of your Google Adsense ads right from your blog – size, color, type, positioning, etc.
While there are obviously lots other types of plugins that may help your site, it’s always important to keep in mind how your site makes money. With the loads of plugins available for WordPress, you should be able to optimize that approach, no matter which it is.
Joe Foley is a writer and editor for WPMU.org (http://wpmu.org) and WPMU DEV (http://premium.wpmudev.org). He specializes in helping WordPress users learn how to better manage their sites, as well as keep up with the latest in themes, plugins, and WordPress related services.
Photo Credit: Images_Of_Money