29 May 2019

Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms of 2019

Affiliate marketing is hugely popular, especially for those looking to kickstart their online business revenue. The world of affiliate marketing has grown massively within the blogging industry, making it a key source of income for many.

Bloggers often struggle to make money during the first few months and sometimes years of their ventures. Passive income streams are available in many shapes and sizes which is why I wanted to investigate.

Whilst some people do make big money through their online business and blogging, I don’t suggest quitting your job until you become more established. Learning how to monetise your blog is essential in taking your first steps towards working for yourself.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing doesn’t have to be too complicated. You essentially partner your website with an affiliate marketing program or platform. They then connect you to someone that can sell your product or service. For example, you write an article or review about a new mobile app. The affiliate marketer would connect you to someone that owns or sells said app, and if purchased, a small cut off the profits comes to you. Other examples include clicking on marketing links or signing up to useful services like BlueHost’s web hosting.

Where to get started

Depending on your blog or market, certain affiliate marketing programs or platforms may be more suited to you. I’m going to cover a wide variety of the best affiliate marketing platforms of 2019 to make your life easier! Regardless of what type of blogger you are, there should be something for you in this list.

1. Amazon Associates

Amazon is one of the most well known brands in the world. For this reason, people place a lot of trust in them and will happily purchase from their online store again and again. From sweet hampers to drones, homeware to digital goods, Amazon has it all. Regardless of your niche, you’re likely to find it on Amazon which is what makes it the perfect affiliate marketing platform.

Sign up to Amazon Associates here.

Pros:

  • Up to 10% commission on a qualifying product purchase
  • All purchases will count towards your commission (even if it wasn’t the product that was clicked on from)
  • Huge selection of products likely to appeal to most people and niches

Cons:

  • Affiliate cookie expires after 24 hours
  • Payout options are limited to cheque, bank transfer or Amazon gift cards

2. eBay Partners

You may be wondering why such a large marketplace like eBay wants you to help them sell products. Well, companies like this are big and well known for a reason. They make money; a lot of it, and will continue to do so with your help. Using eBay’s Partner Network tools, you can help promote listings and get paid for doing so.

Sign up to eBay Partners here.

Pros:

  • eBay sells an insanely large range of products. Because products are listed by everyone and anyone, there’s not many products that aren’t for sale (legally)
  • There aren’t any complex rules around their affiliate platform. Simply share your listing link and if someone purchases from it, you’ve made some money
  • You’ll earn double commission for the first 3 months of signing up

Cons:

  • Sales get split 3 ways between you, the seller and eBay
  • You don’t get any commission if the auction takes longer than 10 days to end

3. Shopify Affiliate Program

Shopify is amongst the leading eCommerce platforms worldwide. The hugely popular software is used by bloggers and online retailers to sell products through an online store. Plenty of companies use Shopify so finding one that sells products or services related to your niche shouldn’t be too difficult.

Sign up to Shopify Affiliate Program here.

Pros:

  • There’s lots of money to be made. You’ll get the first two months of your referrals subscription fee
  • Shopify presents lots of opportunity and is the best eCommerce platform, making it trusted and worth referring to

Cons:

  • Your audience is limited to people who want to use Shopify to sell things online

4. Rakuten Marketing Affiliates

You may well of heard of Rakuten before. They are a leading online store who sell a wide range of goods including electronics, pet supplies, clothes and Lego. If you can think of something to buy, Rakuten probably stocks and sells it. Rakuten will happily pay you for referring people to purchase anything from them.

Sign up to Rakuten Marketing Affiliates here.

Pros:

  • Rakuten is very well known, therefore promotes trust in its consumers. Getting people to purchase from them shouldn’t be difficult at all
  • They offer a wide range of products from pet food to drones

Cons:

  • If you want to promote a variety of brands on Rakuten, you’ll have to sign up to them all individually

5. Leadpages Partner Program

Leadpages is a marketing tool that offers unique and powerful features. The tool allows pretty much anyone to create professional landing pages for any website. Regardless of expertise, skill or knowledge, it’s really easy to use Leadpages to your full advantage. If you have a digital audience that could do with creating or enhancing their landing pages, this is a great opportunity.

Sign up to Leadpages Partner Program here.

Pros:

  • Because of its popularity and unique tool it offers, Leadpages kind of sells itself so you don’t have to. Anyone with a website can make use of their tool
  • Their tool is genuinely really powerful so it makes promoting it really easy
  • 30% commission on each sale regardless of referral spend

Cons:

  • Because it’s only useful for those with websites, it means it’s only available to a niche market

6. StudioPress Affiliate Website

If your audience base has a large digital prescence, you may want to consider StudioPress’s Affiliate Website. Like Leadpages, it is a niche, but one that’s worth pursuing if you can. StudioPress creates professional, responsive, and darn right beautiful and customisable WordPress themes. Anyone looking for a WordPress theme or template will be astounded at what StudioPress can offer.

Sign up to StudioPress Affiliate Website here.

Pros:

  • StudioPress sells itself, making the task a lot easier for you. Encouraging WordPress users to look at StudioPress won’t be difficult as most fall in love with it instantly
  • The payouts on StudioPress’s affiliate program are quite nice. You’ll get a tasty 35% from each theme sale plus $75 on any site sale which can amount to quite a lot

Cons:

  • StudioPress is a niche product, so unless your audience are WordPress users, you may not be able to take advantage of the rewards

7. BlueHost Affiliate Program

BlueHost’s reputation is unrivaled; it’s number 2 in my best web hosting reviews. BlueHost’s web hosting (especially for WordPress) is incredibly affordable and flexible. They offer stable web hosting with unlimited bandwidth and storage for the price of a sandwich. Their WordPress installation is quick and easy, but if you do run into any trouble, their support is second to none.

Sign up to BlueHost Affiliate Program here.

Pros:

  • BlueHost’s affiliate program has a really simple process. All you need to do is sign up and share your referral link. There’s no complications to it and you can create your own campaigns with different banners should you wish
  • BlueHost is actually recommended by WordPress, so you can’t compete on quality and trust

Cons:

  • Again, another niche product. Unless your website visitors want web hosting, it’s not going to be much use
  • You’ll need to make a minimum of $100 in the first 12 months for a payout. However, they’re offering $65 for each referral so this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve

8. ConvertKit Affiliate Program

If you’re looking for one of the market leaders in the email marketing industry, ConvertKit is definitely one of them. I guess you could say it’s a niche in some ways, but if your audience has a website or blog of their own, they’re sure to make use of ConverKit’s tools. They focus on being entirely customisable, offering a unique product to every user.

Sign up to ConvertKit Affiliate Program here.

Pros:

  • If your visitors require email marketing, ConverKit is an amazing tool that they can use. It won’t be hard selling ConvertKit to anyone that needs it because they do rock the socks off their competition
  • ConvertKit’s affiliate program doesn’t have a cut off point, so you can earn revenue from them forever

Cons:

  • It’s a niche product, but maybe not as niche as some of the other ones I’ve mentioned
  • They offer customers a 30-day money-back refund policy so all referrals need to pass the 30-day period before being validated

9. HubSpot

HubSpot helps companies grow on a daily basis. Their award winning platform provides a wealth of tools to businesses looking to kick start or enhance their sales and marketing techniques and lots more. They are an extremely well known platform and offer a generous affiliate marketing program. You can earn up to $1000 for each product that is purchased ($250 starter, $500 professional/CMS, and $1000 enterprise)

Sign up to HubSpot Affiliate Marketing here.

Pros:

  • Affiliate payout is very generous and can earn you up to $1000 per product purchased
  • Attracts a wide range of customers who are looking to start up a business or who already have a business. Not as niche as some other affiliate marketing programs

Cons:

  • There is a cookie life on all referral links of 90 days (though in all honesty, 3 months is a long time)
  • Pricing is expensive for those wanting to purchase, so although the payout is generous, you have to find people willing to spend a fair amount each month on their products

10. Google AdSense

Although not strictly an affiliate marketing program or platform, Google AdSense does provide the means to earn money. You can monetise your blog quite easily and quickly with Google AdSense. This tool allows you to insert adverts into your blog and earn money for every click your users make on each ad. This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme but it does provide the means for you to advertise on your blog.

Sign up to Google AdSense here.

Pros:

  • You won’t need a specific market or niche to make money with Google AdSense. They do the hard work for you and find the ads to display on your blog
  • Google is known by almost everyone worldwide (and anyone using the internet) so they’re a safe bet
  • You have the ability to disable adverts on your blog that aren’t suitable or appropriate for your audience

Cons:

  • Unless you have a lot of users visiting your blog, you won’t make that much money to start with

11. MaxBounty Affiliate Network

You may not have heard of MaxBounty, but their affiliate network is certainly up and coming. They work with some pretty well known brands including Norton, T-Mobile and McAfee (which is always reassuring). Their aim is to connect affiliate marketers with advertisers who pay well. So far they seem to know what they’re doing and people are flocking to their site to see what the fuss is about.

Sign up to MaxBounty Affiliate Network here.

Pros:

  • If you can earn a minimum of $1000 per month through MaxBounty for the first 3 months, they’ll give you a bonus of $1000
  • MaxBounty pay their affiliates weekly so there’s no waiting around like some other affiliate programs
  • You can choose multiple payout options with MaxBounty including digital payment methods

Cons:

  • They aren’t as well established as other affiliate marketing programs which may put some people off

12. ShareASale Affiliates

ShareASale is a well established company with over 17 years in the business. They offer a marketplace which has a ton of merchants selling pretty much anything and everything. You won’t have trouble trying to promote any of their products or finding relevance to your audience as there’s something for everyone.

Sign up to ShareASale Affiliates here.

Pros:

  • ShareASale has both digital and traditional payout options. It’s quite rare to find affiliate marketing platforms that offer digital payouts so when you find one, it’s worth holding onto
  • There’s plenty of choice in terms of merchants and products so you’ll be able to find something to fit your niche

Cons:

  • It can be quite complicated to set up the referral process with ShareASale. A small amount of technical know-how would be useful
Share this
23 May 2019

16 Examples of Successful Blogs in 2019

Starting a blog sounds like a great idea (and it is)! But knowing where to start is often the difficulty according to what people tell me. I often find inspiration from other great and already successful blogs can spur on some creativity!

There are absolutely millions of blogs that exist on the internet. Many have been created and have dwindled off the radar due to bloggers becoming disinterested. However, there are plenty of very successful blogs that are still growing and making money for their owners.

Blogging is about creating content that makes people want to keep coming back. If you can create a blog that offers relevant content, shareable content, and provides useful resources for others, you’re going to be successful. Bloggers that make the effort to keep their blog updated whilst providing a good user experience (like keeping your WordPress up to speed) are the ones that are still alive.

I’m going to show you 21 examples of successful blogs that all provide something different to their users. Some blogs can make literally thousands of pounds/dollars a month and provide their owners with a steady income. I hope this list can provide you with some inspiration to start your own blog, or continuing to work hard on your existing blog.

1 | Tuts+

Tuts+ was founded in 2006 and provides useful tutorials and content for web designers. If you’re looking into how to learn coding, this is a very valuable resource and helps designers worldwide. Their marketplace currently servers over 2,000,000 customers buying web templates and tutorials.

This blog is successful because they provide relevant content to their target market. Their income mainly comes through their memberships and the commission the receive from sales. Of course, when they first started, Tuts+ wouldn’t have just had cash handed to them on a plate. They’ve continued to work hard and provide insanely digital goods across their platforms.

2 | Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine was also founded in 2006 (like Tuts+). Founders Sven Lennartz and Vitaly Friedman created the blog to help those interested in web design and web development. They provide content that’s relevant and useful to those looking to learn more in these fields with articles, books, events, and even jobs.

In 2012 Smashing Magazine started hosting web development conferences. These take place worldwide and offer material from big sponsors in the tech industry. Smashing Magazine’s primary income comes from their memberships. Users can sign up to their subscription and have access to a wealth of tutorials from just $3 per month.

3 | Gizmodo

Gizmodo launched in 2002, mainly focusing on design and technology. Gizmodo became popular very quickly, and it’s for this reason that they decided to make their blog multi-lingual. It offers translated versions of its content in a variety of languages including French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Gizmodo’s fortune mainly comes from advertising. Their homepage isn’t packed full of adverts but you will find they tend to repeat themselves in smaller formats. Advertising is often based on your search or purchase history, aiming adverts at customers that are relevant and don’t appear ‘spammy’.

4 | Perez Hilton

Perez Hilton is well known for his controversial gossip, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree on this blog. The blog is run by Mario Armando Lavanderia Jr who had dreams of becoming an actor. Unfortunately that didn’t work out for him, but blogging definitely did!

Lavanderia earns most of his income through advertising on his blog. Popularity continues to grow as he makes regular appearances on TV as a celebrity gossip commentator. It’s estimated that he earns over half a million dollars per month through his blog alone!

5 | Mashable

Mashable was started in 2005 by Pete Cashmore. Cashmore was dedicated to producing consistently great content on a regular basis. The blog offers entertainment, technology, science and cultural news. There’s also sections on lifestyle, parenting, science, deals, and a shop page.

Mashable continues to grow by reaching out to its readers. They have a large presence not only on the Internet but also through social media. Mashable’s fortune comes from its advertisements on its blog, making over $2,000,000 per month.

6 | Moz

For those of you that have never heard of Moz, it’s probably the most popular and valuable blog about SEO. Rand Fishkin started his venture out as a family-run business focusing on design. It soon turned into an SEO shop, but the blog was what gained it’s massive audience that still stands strong today.

Moz’s income comes primarily from website memberships. As a member of Moz, you’ll have access to professional tools to help you with your own website’s SEO journey. There’s a wealth of material and resources accessible to ensure that you know everything there is to know about search engine optimisation, how to increase your reach, and much more.

7 | Huffington Post

Launched back in 2005, Huffington Post (known as HuffPost or HuffPo) provides a unique view on news and politics. Arriana Huffington sold the blog in 2011 for a whopping $315 million to AOL. HuffPost is an American news blog, edited from a Liberal perspective and covers topics including politics, entertainment, technology, lifestyle, comedy, and local news.

HuffPost makes it’s millions from sponsored advertising; you’ll notice on their website they have banners and digital ads. Huffington Post is probably the most successful blog of it’s kind and time. It’s value to date is over $1 billion which is incredibly impressive compared to other news blogs that exist.

8 | Engadget

Started by the same guy that setup Gizmodo, Engadget has proven to be wildly successful. Engadget provides it’s users with technology advice and reviews on tech and electronics. The blog was sold to AOL in 2005 and has been run by them ever since. Engadget covers the likes of technology gear, games, entertainment, videos and reviews.

As do many other blogs of it’s kind, Engadget makes a large profit from it’s advertising. Because of this, it can employ content writers and editors that are able to write about about everything technology related. They can research the latest gadgets and provide daily news and reviews to keep their users interested.

9 | CSS Tricks

Chris Coyier created his design blog called CSS Tricks. He’s one of the most well-known designers on the internet to date. CSS Tricks was started in 2007; at the time it was solely focused on CSS (hence it’s name). Today, CSS Tricks is a library of resources for web design and web development. It’s really easy to visit the blog and copy lines of code to use in your own website.

There’s plenty of resources to make use of, including CSS, Sass, HTML, JavaScript, JQuery, and PHP. CSS Tricks uses it’s existing user base and audience to launch new products, blogs, and companies. One of their websites, CodePen, has over 1 million users. In fact, CodePen has double the amount of traffic compared to CSS Tricks.

10 | CoinDesk

CoinDesk is one of the leading Cryptocurrency blogs around, in fact it’s probably the most successful one. CoinDesk receives a whopping 10 million visitors per month which is what makes them a leader in the industry. The blog was started by Shakil Kha in 2003; it was bought by Digital Currency Group in 2016 for around half a million dollars.

CoinDesk makes it’s millions by being the main source of Cryptocurrency news and updates. Their income mainly comes from advertising on their website and paid reports. They also sell tickets to the conferences that they hold, which of course makes quite a nice sum.

11 | Smart Passive Income

Pat Flynn, owner of Smart Passive Income, has been blogging for almost 10 years. The aim of the blog is to provide people with easy techniques to running a business online in order to earn passive income. If you’re looking to run a blog as passive income, this is the place to learn and make use of proven techniques.

Most of Pat’s earnings come from being a BlueHost affiliate, as well as using other email marketing tools. His advertising income comes from his Podcast, as well as Google ads on the website and blog.

12 | Making Sense of Cents

The blog Making Sense of Cents is aimed at teaching you how to save money effectively. Michelle Gardner focuses on how to be frugal in order to lead a better life, showing people that managing your finances can actually change your life. Initially, the blog was set up because Michelle herself wanted to improve her own financial situation.

It’s reported that she paid off her student loan of almost $40k by less than a year of online business. Her articles cover how to earn extra income and how to be in control of money, including emotional spending (which I’m sure we all do). The blog earns it’s income from advertising and affiliate accounts.

13 | Pinch of Yum

Pinch of Yum is primarily a food blog, showing images of delicious food alongside recipes. Food blogs tend to be fairly popular as they have a large reach and most people can relate to them. Lindsay Ostrom (owner of Pinch of Yum) has already made six figures from her blog through her love of food photography.

Lots of Lindsay’s traffic comes from social media sources like Pinterest and Instagram, both of which are image heavy. She has over half a million Instagram followers which is incredibly impressive. Pinch of Yum uses both advertising on it’s blog as well as affiliate marketing with the likes of BlueHost and Amazon.

14 | Just A Girl And Her Blog

Abby, who owns Just A Girl And Her Blog, writes about all things DIY, home decor, and home organisation. In recent years, this topic has become quite popular, as I’m sure you’re aware if you caught Netflix’s Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Abby pushes a focus on the things that we easily miss in our everyday lives at home, showing visitors how they can improve their homes whilst enjoying making it so.

Abby posts regularly on her blog, keeping her readers entertained. She makes an enormous $35k per month, just a few years after the blog started. What makes her blog so popular is that she puts things in simple terms, allowing the likes of anyone to be able to understand her point of view.

15 | Single Mom’s Income

Back in 2012, Alexa started a blog called Single Mom’s Income. The purpose of the blog was to give others a view into the life of a single mother living from paycheck-to-paycheck, and how to break the cycle. After Alexa got divorced, it spurred her on to get out of her daily rut and inspire others. She now receives over 150k monthly visitors.

Alexa talks about her life experiences and how people like her can make money without the usual 9 to 5 full-time job. There’s plenty of opportunity out there, including part-time jobs, side jobs, and freelancing. The blog’s main income comes from advertising and freelancing products/services.

16 | True Valhalla

True Valhalla creates and sells HTML5 video games. Matthew designs all of his games from scratch; in order to make money, he sells the right to the games to other gaming portals. True Valhalla truly shows you that anyone can make money online if you set your mind to it. Finding your own niche is a good starting point!

The income from the blog can be quite up and down; some months Matthew can earn up to $30k per month. Matthew earns a small amount of income from advertising on his website, but the majority of his revenue comes from selling his products and services.

Share this
15 Apr 2019

Wix Vs Weebly – 7 Differences You Need to Know in 2019

Wix and Weebly are very close contenders in the website builder market. In the top 1 million websites, Wix holds 0.34% of the share, and Weebly holds 0.31% of the share, according to Built With. Both companies offer a drag and drop type builder, making it really easy to build a website without any coding knowledge.

Both website builders offer a free website builder option. There are limitations to the free plans, but it’s a good place to start! Wix and Weebly are very similar in terms of the features they offer. With a wide range of modern and professional templates, you could have your site up and running within minutes.

Because Wix and Weebly are so closely matched, I wanted to compare them in depth. I hope this will allow you to decide for yourselves which website builder suits your needs. I’ll be looking at their ease of use, features, customer support, pricing, and pros and cons. Let’s take a look at Wix vs Weebly and get started!

Pricing

The price of a website builder may sway it’s users to buy (or not to buy). As previously mentioned, both Wix and Weebly offer a free plan. But, they both offer premium plans too. When deciding the winner of this category, I’ll be taking into account what’s on offer for the price. A lower price doesn’t always been it’s a better option, and vice versa.

Wix:

Connect Domain (£3 per month) – 1GB bandwidth, 500MB storage, connect your domain

Combo (£6 per month) – 2GB bandwidth, 3GB storage, connect your domain, 30 mins video, remove Wix ads, free domain, £75 ad vouchers

Unlimited (£8.50 per month) – Unlimited bandwidth, 10GB storage, connect your domain, 1 hour video, remove Wix ads, free domain, £75 ad vouchers, Site Booster and Form Builder apps

VIP (£18 per month) – Unlimited bandwidth, 20GB storage, connect your domain, 2 hour video, remove Wix ads, free domain, £75 ad vouchers, Site Booster, Form Builder, and Professional Logo apps, social media logos, priority response, VIP support

These Wix plans are included in their ‘website’ plans options. They also have business and eCommerce specific plans which I’ll touch on later. All premium plans include free web hosting, Google Analytics, a customised Favicon, and the ability to increase storage as/when you need it. What I love about Wix (apart from them being very affordable), is how easy it is to upgrade. If your needs are exceeding what’s on offer, there’s always more you can enjoy!

Weebly:

Starter (£5 per month) – Free domain, $100 Google Ads, No Weebly ads, unlimited storage, connect your domain, SSL certificate, advanced site stats

Pro (£8 per month) – Free domain, $100 Google Ads, No Weebly ads, unlimited storage, connect your domain, SSL certificate, advanced site stats, site search, password protection, video backgrounds, HD video and audio, up to 100 members

Business (£17 per month) – Free domain, $100 Google Ads, No Weebly ads, unlimited storage, connect your domain, SSL certificate, advanced site stats, site search, password protection, video backgrounds, HD video and audio, unlimited members, membership registration

At this point, it’s worth noting that Weebly plans also include the above eCommerce features. Similarly to Wix though, they have separate eCommerce plans that are more tailored to business needs. All of Weebly’s premium plans include SEO tools, and lead capture. You’ll also be able to access their community forums and contact support via email and chat. If you want phone support though, you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro or Business plan to unlock this feature.

And the winner is… Wix!

Although both website builders offer some very versatile pricing plans, Wix is the clear winner for me. Their prices are slightly more affordable than Weebly, and you get more for your money. There are more plans available, making Wix more accessible by a wider audience. They might not offer as much storage on their lower tier plans compared to Weebly, but the other features outweigh this limitation.

Ease of Use

When choosing a website builder, it’s important that you find one that’s easy to use. After all, website builders are meant to be easy to use! Both Wix and Weebly offer drag and drop functionality, making them very easy to pick up and learn. However, both website builders offer small differences and their approaches aren’t always the same.

Wix:

Wix’s drag and drop feature makes it easy to edit an existing template or design. It’s simple to drag site elements from one place to another. It’s also really easy to duplicate existing elements or content, as you may want to relocate them. Text boxes, images, videos, etc. are all easily moved onto any page of your website.

Wix focuses on creativity, and the freedom to experiment. If you don’t know any code like HTML or CSS, you can create a professional website with the same capabilities as someone with coding knowledge. Literally over 100 million people use Wix, which shows you that it can be used by pretty much anyone!

If you’re not keen on dealing with the design of your website, you can let Wix ADI handle it for you. Simply select some options and answer some questions to allow Wix ADI to create your perfect site. It will use it’s intelligence to not only create a template for you, but also the actual layout too.

Weebly:

Similar to Wix, Weebly also offers a drag and drop tool with it’s website builder. However, in my opinion, it’s a little less flexible compared to Wix. Weebly’s templates are professional and offer great design, but are a little more rigid. Unfortunately it’s not possible to drag elements wherever you like, there’s a bit more structure meaning you’ll be more restrictive.

On the flip side, if you prefer more structure and don’t want the creative freedom that Wix offers, Weebly could be a better option. You may even decide to use Weebly as a starting point to follow their guidelines, and move onto a more creative builder later down the line.

Weebly is most definitely aimed at beginners; creating a website is very easy! One of the benefits that Weebly offers that some other website builders don’t is the ability to change your template after your website has gone live. Often when you start off, you’ll make decisions that you’ll later regret or want to change later down the line.

And the winner is… Wix!

There’s really no denying how easy Wix is to use. I’m not saying Weebly isn’t easy to use, because it is, but Wix just has the edge. The choice of drag and drop functionality as well as Wix ADI is a real head turner. From signing up to designing your website, everything is simple. If at any point you get stuck during your website creation journey, there’s helpful hints and a brilliant help center to make use of.

Features

What features are on offer can sometimes be the deciding point for website builder users. I mean, you’re paying money, so surely you’d want a good selection of features, plugins, and apps to give your website the edge. I’ve taken a look at what features are provided by Wix and Weebly to give you an idea of what might suit you.

Wix:

Templates – Wix offers over 500 templates to get you started on your website journey. I don’t think I’ve come across a template that isn’t spectacularly modern and professional. All of their templates are responsive, meaning your website will look great on any device. But, if you wanted to edit your template separately for mobile, this feature is available too.

Fonts – This may be a strange feature to mention, but I love it! You can use any of the fonts that Wix provides on your website. You can also upload any of your own fonts too, so personalising your website has never been easier!

SEO – Wix’s SEO tools are so easy to use. Even if you’re not entirely sure what SEO is or how to optimise it, Wix will walk you through the process. Updating meta tags and descriptions, enabling Google Analytics, etc.

App Market – Wix’s app market has hundreds of apps you can use on your website. Apps are useful to enhance what you’ve already got, or install new features that the website builder doesn’t offer as standard.

Advanced Code – If you do know a coding language, you can make use of this skill with Wix. Although Wix is great for beginners, it gives experts a chance to show their flare too.

Weebly:

Mobile App – Not only can you create and edit your website on your desktop, you can on your mobile too. Weebly’s app allows you to access your website at any time. This is great if you notice an issues, want to add content, or are managing your business online. With almost everyone using mobile in 2019, accessibility anywhere is key.

Templates – Weebly’s templates are professional, modern, and simply divine. All of them are responsive, so you don’t need to worry about being mobile ready. Weebly’s templates can be edited to your own needs, using their simple drag and drop builder.

App Center – The app center allow third parties to offer apps that can be installed. These can be installed on your website, blog, or online store. Third party apps are a great way to tailor make your site to make it absolutely perfect. More often than not, these apps can actually help to drive traffic to your website – a bonus if you ask me!

Blogs – Weebly’s blogging tool is very similar to their website builder. It uses drag and drop features, making it super easy to create a blog. There’s plenty of blog templates to choose from, and you can even ensure that your blog has SEO too.

And the winner is… Wix!

There’s no denying that both website builders offer plenty of features. Weebly presents some interesting features and tools to get your website started. However, I feel that Wix once again has the edge. Their features are that little bit more powerful, and lean more on the professional side.

Pros & Cons

Wix:

+ Monthly subscriptions

+ Easy to use

+ Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI)

+ Plenty of professional templates

+ Loads of features and apps

 

– Unable to change template once you’re site has gone live

– Mobile site editor can be a little unreliable

 

Weebly:

+ Simple designs

+ Great for beginners

+ Drag and drop editor

+ Ability to change template once site has gone live

 

– Less flexible than Wix

– Pricing is based on annual payment

– Not as many plans to upgrade to

Conclusion

Both Wix and Weebly are undoubtedly impressive website builders. They compete well with each other, offering similar features to create the perfect website. They are both very affordable, and offer multiple pricing plans to ensure you can choose the right one for you. However, Wix on all accounts simply offers more!

Wix’s pricing is versatile, meaning you can upgrade whenever and wherever. If you feel like you’re ready to move to the next level, Wix makes this really easy to do. They offer both a drag and drop builder and Wix ADI, at the same price as Weebly who offer a simple drag and drop builder.

Wix’s features allow any user to create a professional website or online store. The best part, everything is included, meaning you can market your website as well as increase visitor traffic, and you don’t need to know anything about it! Creating a modern website won’t be simpler with any other website builder – Wix is my clear winner and they certainly deserve the recognition!

Visit Wix.com

Share this
25 Feb 2019

7 Shopify Competitors: A Comparison of Alternative Options

Online shopping is quickly becoming one of the most popular online activities. Currently, there are almost 800,000 websites using Shopify as their chosen eCommerce platform. 590,000 of those websites are based in the U.S.A., followed by the U.K. and Australia.

There’s no denying that Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms when creating an online store.

 

When it comes to creating and managing online stores, there are quite a few options available. Although I find it hard to outline many faults with Shopify, some users may prefer an alternative.

 

Whether you’re looking for a cheaper option, different set of features, or are simply curious, I’ve reviewed 10 Shopify competitors (so you don’t have to)!

1. Wix (£22.00/Month)

There are almost 3.5 million sites powered by Wix (as of May 2019). Wix is an incredibly powerful alternative to Shopify, allowing people to create stunning websites and online stores in a matter of minutes. Wix’s market share shows that users truly love their platform.

What features does Wix have?

Wix ADI

Wix’s ADI is just one of my favourite features that Wix offers. When I mentioned you could create a website or store within minutes, I wasn’t joking. Wix ADI asks a few simple questions to gauge what your site is about and generates an awesome template based on your answers. If you like what you see, all you’ll need to do is fill in your content and you’re good to go!

Your website will be designed and created with mobile in mind. All of Wix’s templates, including their ADI design are mobile-friendly and responsive. You can edit a separate mobile version of your site if you wish too (though it can be a little fiddly).

Wix Stores

Although Wix isn’t solely an eCommerce platform, you can create your own online store. Just like it’s website’s templates, you can create beautiful online store fronts and product pages in no time at all. Once you’ve created your store, you’ll be able to manage everything, track products and orders, all from your desktop and mobile.

There’s plenty of payment methods you can use for your customers. Whether it’s PayPal, credit card, etc. it’s simple to integrate payment gateways to your store. What’s more, payments are commission free too (so you won’t lose a penny).

Wix Blog

It’s important to have a blog if you mean business in the online market. Not only is it good for your brand, it helps with SEO too. Wix’s blog feature makes it super simple to integrate a blog into your website or online store.

If you’re feeling inspired on the go or need to make quick changes, you can use Wix’s mobile app to access your blog. And if you require some help or invite guest writers, you can add blog contributors who can write and manage their own posts – fab!

Pros:

  • Monthly subscriptions mean you don’t have to pay out an annual fee all in one go
  • Wix is incredibly intuitive and easy to use
  • Wix’s ADI tool makes creating a website or online store a breeze
  • All of Wix’s templates are beautifully designed and professional-looking
  • There’s an absolute ton of features and tools available to use

Cons:

  • Once your website has gone live you can’t change your template (unless you start afresh)
  • Their mobile site editor can be temperamental at times

 

Visit Wix.com

2. BigCommerce ($29.95/Month)

There are 49,000 live sites currently on the internet using BigCommerce. This Shopify alternative offers many features, and a pricing plan to suit many users. Their essentials plan starts at $29.95 per month and boasts 0% transaction fees, unlimited products, a responsive website, blog, and up to $50k per year on sales.

What Features does BigCommerce have?

Store Templates 

Of course, when it comes to online stores, you may be interested in the features they have to offer. BigCommerce has a wealth of features that you don’t have to pay extra for. Their eCommerce website templates are a great starting point (they’re all responsive). As well as looking modern and professional, you also have the option of choosing a template that’s fast.

When I say fast, I mean fast in terms of loading speeds. BigCommerce have optimised templates to ensure that your online store loads within an acceptable time frame. This is perfect for your customers as well as your SEO if you want to generate more traffic and visitors to your site.

Server Speed 

It’s often easy to forget that when you use a eCommerce builder or website builder that they are your web host. BigCommerce guarantee a 99.99% uptime, as well as ensuring your site is PCI compliant. These little details allow you to focus on the content of your store, rather than having to worry about the back end.

Site Migration 

If you do decide to move your online store from another competitor to BigCommerce, it’s super easy. BigCommerce claim they have migrated over 20,000 stores to their platform. There’s an easy to use tool to make this happen, or you can contact BigCommerce’s expert team for help.

Pros:

  • No transaction fees, even with third party gateways
  • Extensive feature set even on lowest pricing plan
  • Plenty of SEO tools
  • Built-in blog
  • Ability to sell with companies like Amazon, eBay, and Facebook

Cons:

  • Limits on annual online sales
  • Pricing is high compared to competitors
  • No mobile app to manage online store

 

Visit BigCommerce.com

 

3. SquareSpace

SquareSpace not only provides eCommerce solutions, you can build websites for many professions. Whether you’re a budding artist, musician, or setting up a new shop, SquareSpace can provide the right tools. SquareSpace currently hosts over 1 million live sites, which gives an indication of it’s popularity.

What Features does SquareSpace have?

Product Catalog 

SquareSpace doesn’t put any limits on the number of products you can sell. As well as items, you can sell services, making it very versatile. When you list your products or services, you can do so with different variations, SKUs, etc. SquareSpace makes it really easy to setup an online store, regardless of your size. If you own a small business or large scale corporation, you can display all your items in one place.

Subscriptions 

It’s becoming a lot more common for online stores to offer subscriptions. Products like food boxes, postal services, etc. all require a subscription. SquareSpace allow you to create monthly subscriptions, annual product deliveries, or seasonal and one-time subscriptions. Users will find it easy to setup recurring subscriptions via your online store, and may even entice more traffic to your site.

Abandoned Checkout

The average abandoned checkout rate is almost 80%, which is a shockingly high figure. With SquareSpace, you can automatically setup rules so that your business will send out reminders to customers. When reminded, customers may revisit their cart on your online store and complete their purchase. This is a must have feature for any online business.

Pros:

  • Beautiful templates in terms of design
  • Plenty of eCommerce focused features
  • Easy to use
  • Customisable without the need to code

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to other competitors
  • Although easy to use, may not be very beginner friendly
  • Could do with more payment gateways

 

Visit SquareSpace.com

 

4. WooCommerce

If you have a WordPress site, you may want to consider WooCommerce. It’s an open-source eCommerce platform for WordPress customers (with over 61 million downloads).

The plugin is free and easy to install to any WordPress account. WooCommerce, like other online stores, doesn’t charge card transaction fees, and offers multiple payment gateways. In addition to the fresh install of WooCommerce, there’s plenty of add-ons available to customise the plugin to your liking.

What Features does WooCommerce have?

Sell anything 

You can pretty much sell anything using WooCommerce. Whether it’s digital or physical (or even both), it’s all possible to fill your online store with. If your business is affiliated with another site, you can provide affiliation links too, keeping everything in one place. When you put a product or item up for sale, you can offer an unlimited amount of variations, e.g. colours, sizes, etc.

Shipping Options 

WooCommerce gives you the ability to offer a multitude of shipping options for your online store. You can choose local pickup, delivery, or worldwide shipping. Or, if you only want to ship to certain locations, you can do this too. As well as location-based options, you can also set your own shipping rates.

Whether you want a flat rate, variable depending on size, location, etc. WooCommerce can calculate your preferences and provide the output to your customers.

Optimisation 

It’s important once you have your online store up and running that you optimise it. WooCommerce tools ensure you’ll get the most out of your business (and so will your customers).

You can add features like coupons to entice customers (and their friends) to purchase more. You can also make recommendations to customers as their shopping, taking them on an extended journey of your online store.

Pros:

  • Plenty of advanced features
  • Ideal for small or large online stores
  • Customer and admin accounts
  • Free and paid designs available

Cons:

  • Can be quite difficult to use
  • No direct support

 

Visit WooCommerce.com

5. LemonStand

LemonStand provides the usual eCommerce platform features. However, it also provides a large amount of flexibility, customisation, and automation to make your life easier.

Their pricing plan makes choosing the best option for you really easy. All of their plans include their main features, with the difference being the amount of orders you can take. LemonStand also offer a free 14 day trial, so it’s worth giving it a go (even just for the trial).

What Features does LemonStand have?

Flexibility 

As I mentioned, LemonStand provide lots of flexibility. You can setup and sell your products exactly the way you want to. As well as adding products in the ‘standard’ way, you can add custom fields to ensure that regardless of your needs, your products will still sell. You can sell any number of products with unlimited variants, add group-based pricing, discounts, and more.

Blogging

As with many websites now, you can add a blog to your online store. Customers like businesses who inject a little more personality into their websites, and this gives your the opportunity to reach out even further to them. LemonStand’s CMS allows you to create a professional designed website, online store, and blog. You’ll have full control over your content, posts, announcements, and even link products from your store to your blog.

Management 

When businesses create an online store, the last thing they’ll want to do is manage the back-end of their website. LemonStand ensure that they manage support, infrastructure, and maintenance. This means you can focus entirely on your business, without any additional stresses.

Pros:

  • Great support
  • Fixed pricing
  • Wealth of features
  • Highly customisable

Cons:

  • None of the plans offer unlimited products
  • Missing features compared to other competitors

 

Visit LemondStand.com

6. 3dCart

3dCart is a cloud based shopping cart, offering plenty of features for most businesses. Their plans all come with standard features including unlimited bandwidth, orders, 24/7 support, and more. eCommerce stores won’t incur any transaction fees and can be linked to existing blogs and social media stores like Facebook. Plans start from $14.25 per month, including unlimited products, which I think is pretty competitive in the market.

Features:

Responsive Themes 

3dCart will provide you access to over 60 free themes. All of these are mobile ready, meaning you won’t have to worry about optimising your online store for smart device users.

With so many internet users now accessing the world wide web via their smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc. it’s essential your site is optimised. If your eCommerce store isn’t mobile ready, you could be jeopardizing your user base, traffic, and SEO score.

Sales Channels 

Selling products solely from your online store is now a thing of the past. Customers want to interact in multiple ways, whether that’s through social media (Facebook Store), Amazon, Google, etc.

If you don’t connect with other channels, you could be losing out on a lot of your market. 3dCart connects your online store with the likes of eBay, Facebook, Amazon and Shopzilla with ease.

Secure Payments 

eCommerce providers offer multiple payment gateways. 3dCart has over 100 payment options for you to choose from. It’s really easy to accept payments from your customers with a wide range of providers. Popular choices include PayPal, Visa Checkout, Google Pay, etc.

The more payment methods available, the more customers you could potentially be gaining. All payment gateways are completely secure, too, so you’ll never need to worry about that.

Pros:

  • Plenty of free (mobile ready) themes
  • No setup or transaction fees
  • Unlimited products on all pricing plans

Cons:

  • Not as customisable as other shopping carts
  • Some user interface issues

7. BigCartel

BigCartel is my recommended choice for beginners into the eCommerce market. They offer affordable pricing plans, and even provide a free plan if you want to sell a limited amount of products. They may not offer as many features as other eCommerce stores, but they provide the market with an alternative that many users could make use of.

What Features does BigCartel have?

Custom Store 

Many website builders and online stores allow you to customise aspects of the themes and templates available. BigCartel allows you to customise your store to exactly how you want it. If you want to use their editor to add products, move content, etc. then it’s really easy to do.

But, if you’re feeling experimental, you can access the back-end code of each template and switch and change whatever you like.

Analytical Tools 

Once you’ve established a customer base, or even if you’re building one, it’s key to learn where they’re coming from, how they shop, etc. BigCartel’s analytical tools allow you to check stats on your products and run promotions based on data. You can setup marketing, edit your products, and change anything you like. Best of all, you can do all of this from your mobile device!

Niche Market 

Although this isn’t necessarily a feature, BigCartel really focus on getting small businesses up and running. Their pricing reflects this, making it easy and accessible for start-ups and individuals to start spreading their wings in the eCommerce market.

With BigCartel you can sell anything you like; paintings, music, t-shirts, you name it. BigCartel are 100% independent which means their focus is really on you.

Pros:

  • Free plan available
  • Very easy to use
  • Ideal for beginners and start-ups

Cons:

  • Basic themes
  • Limited features

 

Visit BigCartel.com

Share this
12 Feb 2019

Wix Vs WordPress – 8 Important Differences That You Should Know

WordPress may be the most popular website builder on the market, but there are other options to consider. In 2018, Wix held over 22% of the website builder market share. When it comes to designing a website, it’s important to choose the right tool for the job at hand! Depending on your needs, one website builder may trump another, so you should take your time to consider which is best.

Both Wix and WordPress are incredible website builders (that’s why I’m mentioning them). However, each has their own pros and cons, different sets of features, and affordability. So you can decide which is the best website builder, I’ve put together a Wix Vs WordPress comparison to save you the hard work!

Pricing

Luckily, we now live in a world where it’s become very affordable to build a website. However, the cost of each website builder does differ, and could be a deciding factor for some users. The cost can often depend on your requirements, so I’ve done some research as to which website builder is more cost effective.

Wix:

Wix offers it’s customers a free plan, which comes with basic website builder features. However, there are several downsides to it, because it is free. It includes branded adverts on your website in the header and footer, and you can’t use a custom domain. If you did decide to create a website using their free plan, your domain would look something like user.wix.com/websitename

There’s also a lack of features, so you wouldn’t be able to use Google Analytics, eCommerce tools, and Favicons. If you do want more advanced features, you’ll need to upgrade to one of their premium plans.

 

Premium plans start from £3 per month and allow you to connect your own domain name. However, your website will still be limited, and will contain Wix advertisements. If you’re willing to bump up to £6 per month, adverts will get removed and more features will become available. In terms of value for money, I’d suggest the unlimited plan at £8.50 per month. You get a lot more for your buck, and will be able to create a professional looking website at an affordable cost.

WordPress:

WordPress is actually free for anyone on the internet to use. I suppose you’re wondering why it’s free – well, I’ll tell you! If you want to use WordPress to create a website, you’ll need to purchase your own domain name and web hosting. Most web hosts will come with the 1-click installation software which means WordPress can be installed with the click of a button.

There are plenty of WordPress web hosting packages to choose from. If you choose a web host like iPage, you can get web hosting for just £1.50 per month, and you can start to explore your WordPress options. Of course, the more money you’re willing to spend, the options start to open up. For example, you can pay more for a web host to manage your WordPress website, taking the pressure of you, allowing you to concentrate more on your business.

WordPress does offer lots of free themes and templates to get you started. However, if you want something a little more professional, you can pay for a premium WordPress theme, as well as plugins, and more. These features allow you to customise your website to your liking, and there’s literally thousands to choose from.

Verdict:

Both WordPress and Wix offer free options for customers. WordPress is entirely free, but you will need to pay for your own domain name and web hosting to get started. On the other hand, Wix is it’s own web host, but does come with limitations unless you’re willing to pay for a premium plan to unlock more features.

Both has it’s pros and cons in the pricing category. However, when you weigh up the cost versus the features and flexibility, my money is on Wix.

Usability

When it comes to website builders, most people won’t want to learn a new skill to get their website live. The beauty of website builders is that the majority of them don’t require you to know or learn any code to get started. Both Wix and WordPress come with their own features and tools. The main thing is, neither of them are difficult to get used to, even for beginners.

Wix:

Wix is a classic drag and drop website builder. It’s interface allows you to select any section of your website and edit it with the tools they offer. This is called a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) interface.

You can literally drag and drop items on to your website from your device. Simply select an element and update it’s content, add images, videos, etc. This is a great choice for beginners as everything is obvious, and there’s even tooltips should you need them.

WordPress:

WordPress doesn’t use a drag and drop facility, which is a little unfortunate. It uses something called a visual editor which lets you edit your website and theme in a similar WYSIWYG environment. You can customise all themes and templates and choose where you want each element to live.

Personally, I’m not a massive fan of the WordPress interface. It’s difficult to use, especially for beginners, and isn’t obvious where things are. However, once you do get the hang of it, it’s extremely powerful and very flexible. The trouble is, getting to that point in the first place!

Verdict:

I think the winner is pretty clear here. If you’re a beginner, Wix offers an easy to use interface, which is a pleasure to use. Even if you’re a more advanced user, Wix has plenty of features to keep you occupied and allow you to edit your website the way you like it. WordPress is a powerful tool, but in terms of usability, it takes to long to get the hang of.

Customer Support

Support is important when considering a website builder. If you’re a beginner and think you may need assistance, support should be accessible. Even if you’ve designed a website before, resources, forums, FAQs, etc. could still be very useful. Support comes in many forms, including tutorials, live chat, and ticket systems.

Wix:

Wix has a dedicated and focused support area (namely their ‘Help Center’). Support categories are broken down into different sections, making it really easy to locate useful information. They provide a trending topics section which will display the most popular topics being talked about at the moment.

Wix’s social media accounts are very active, making it easy to engage with them, and others. They have scheduled email and telephone support, as well as forums, video tutorials, and more.

WordPress:

WordPress offers thousands (literally) of tutorials and articles. The problem is, because the community is so large, it can be difficult to determine what’s good, bad, and down right ugly! There’s almost too much information to trawl through.

Admittedly, it’s great to have a community of actual users to talk to. People can report their own experiences and share their own stories on how to get things working, to fix things, etc.

Verdict:

Although both Wix and WordPress offer a large support network, Wix is much more focused. Wix caters more towards the wider market, making their support center accessible to beginners and experts alike.

Maintenance

Websites require maintenance to ensure that they continue to be safe and secure. Software updates will need to take place, and add-ons, plugins, etc. will need to be consistent so as not to cause conflicts. Sometimes you can pay for someone to maintain your website, saving you the hassle. I took a look at how Wix and WordPress deal with their updates and how this effects it’s users.

Wix:

There’s not an awful lot to say on this topic for Wix. All Wix updates are carried out automatically by their technical teams. Updates are deployed to your website and you don’t need to get involve at all. In honesty, you won’t even know an update has taken place unless you are monitoring their deployment schedule.

Wix is incredibly easy to use, and this is displayed with their automatic updates. As you don’t need to be involved, you won’t need to worry about anything going wrong.

WordPress:

Being open source, WordPress is constantly updating it’s security, platform, and offering issue fixes. When WordPress deploys an update, it’s users will need to manually update their WordPress website. However, this gets a little tricky when you’re using a custom theme/template, multiple plugins, etc.

Some theme and plugin developers will update their products, ensuring that anything you have installed is automatically updated. However, this isn’t always the case, leaving your website potentially vulnerable. Unless you are constantly monitoring your website, you are open to malicious attacks.

With WordPress, you are required to do your own website maintenance (unless you choose managed WordPress hosting). You’ll need to ensure your website is always updated, and any plugins you have are updated too, otherwise this could cause conflicts.

Conclusion (The Winner is Wix!)

Both Wix and WordPress are very capable and professional website builders. Depending on your needs, each one may be more suitable to your own requirements. WordPress is extremely powerful and offers a lot of customisation, if you’re willing to put in the work. Wix is very user friendly; it’s drag and drop functionality means you can build a professional looking website within a matter of hours.

If you’re not looking to spend too much money, both are good options. However, Wix may be a better place to start as you can upgrade your plan over time, as your needs become greater. With WordPress, you’ll really need to choose the best web host from the outset, as migrating can sometimes be a bit of a pain longer down the line.

Both Wix and WordPress offer some amazing tools to create your website. If you have the money to spend on a WordPress developer, you’ll probably get a better website overall. However, as many people won’t be able to fund such a thing, Wix offers some cracking features that any level of ability can get their hands on.

Overall, Wix is the winner in my eyes. You don’t need to be a techy to get your website on the go. What’s more, once it’s live, there’s a wide range of tools to enhance it even more. You can deal with your SEO all in one place, generating more traffic to your website, and pushing it up the search engine ranks. Creating meta descriptions, meta tags, favicons, etc. is all really easy to do. Wix will take you through the whole process from start to finish, and if you want to understand it, you can read more into it.

If you have any trouble figuring things out (which I doubt you will), there’s a wealth of knowledge in their Help Center. Their support team are available on-hand so you can speak to someone there and then. There’s also plenty of tutorials, FAQs, and help topics if you want to dive a little deeper.

If you’re not convinced by this point, why don’t you take a look at the type of websites you can create with Wix. Personally, I wouldn’t have known these were created with a website builder. The features behind website builders are so powerful nowadays, it makes you wonder why you’d pay for a web designer!

Visit Wix.com

Share this
02 Nov 2018

5 Best Drag & Drop Website Builders in 2019

Using the modern technology we have available today, this list of best drag and drop website builders in 2018 will show you how easy it is to create a website. The magic really sits behind how quickly this can be achieved; from blogs to portfolios, business websites to eCommerce stores.

Most drag and drop site builders don’t require any coding knowledge, making them a great source for absolutely anyone. We’ve certainly moved along in time from the days where HTML and CSS is a requirement to create a website!

1. Wix

First on our list (which should tell you a lot already) is Wix’s website builder. When you compare Wix to other drag and drop builders on the market, it really does excel. Whether you’re creating a new business, personal, portfolio, or blog site, it’s quick and easy to achieve with Wix.

There’s a great selection of templates to choose from before you get started. Simply filter by category to find the perfect design to suit your needs! The beauty of this drag and drop website builder is that you can tailor each template to your website or business. If you like the design but don’t like the colour, it’s a simple and quick method to change it.

One of the main selling points of Wix is just how simple and easy to use it is. Whether you’re creating a blog, forum, website, or eCommerce shop, the process is very self explanatory. Simply drag and drop existing or new components onto your web page, and within a matter of hours you can achieve the perfect website.

 

Pros:

• Easy to use drag and drop functionality
• Templates sorted by category so you can find your perfect design
• Ability to switch between desktop and mobile views to ensure your site is mobile friendly
• Affordable pricing and scalability dependent on needs

Cons:

• If you want adverts to be removed, you’ll need to pay a higher price
• Once you’ve selected a template and gone live, you can’t change your selection

 

2. Shopify

Shopify is a versatile eCommerce drag and drop website builder. No matter what type of online store you’re looking to run, Shopify will give you the tools to achieve it. Shopify is designed to integrate with lots of other apps, including your social media channels. It’s drag and drop functionality makes it really simple to create the perfect online shop.

One of the main features that stands out for me is Shopify’s analytics. You can monitor your sales, shipping, customer information, etc. allowing you to monitor every aspect of your website. Handy easy to use graphs are available so you can have an instant overview of how your eCommerce website is performing.

You can even add a blog section to your website to engage your customers. That’s right, it doesn’t just have to be a shop, there’s so much more you can do with Shopify, and that’s why I love it.

 

Pros:

• Tonnes of analytics to monitor website and eCommerce performance
• User friendly UI even if you’ve never created an online shop before
• Plenty of templates and designs to choose from for inspiration
• Easy to integrate with other apps and social media platforms

Cons:

• Can be quite pricey dependent on the plan you choose
• Transaction fees apply on sales

 

3. Squarespace

Squarespace is insanely easy to use, which is why it makes it’s way comfortably into our best drag and drop website builders. Because of how user friendly it is, Squarespace is a popular website builder among users all over the world (including celebrities)! No matter whether your website is a portfolio, blog, eCommerce store, or anything else, you can achieve it with Squarespace.

There are lots of professionally designed templates from you to choose from. Creating a wedding website, online food shop, or showing off your musical talents? It’s all really simple to do with this drag and drop builder. You can quite easily get a website live over the space of a couple of hours – I told you it was easy!

The beauty of Squarespace is that it’s not limited – you can fully customise any template to achieve the perfect design. What’s more, it’s an all-in-one package if you want it to be, offering a domain name, SSL certificate, and more.

 

Pros:

• Exquisite and professional templates
• Mobile responsive approach
• Style Editor gives you full drag and drop customisable control

Cons:

• Pricier than other comparative drag and drop builders
• No separate mobile builder

 

4. Ukit

Russian based Ukit prides itself on it’s drag and drop technology. The beauty of this website builder is that you don’t need to know or understand an ounce of code to build your perfect website. There’s several hundreds of templates to choose from, so you won’t be lost for inspiration – that’s for sure!

Once you’ve created an account, you’ll get to select a domain name and input your business details. Ukit is designed for businesses, so if you’re looking for a personal website, this wouldn’t be our recommended choice. Once you’ve got past the initial stages, your basic web pages will be setup for you (home, about, blog, and contact pages).

The only thing you really need to add is your own content, and you’re good to go! There’s easy to use widgets and blocks that you can drag and drop onto your site, placing things exactly where you want them. In my experience, you can get a website live with Ukit in just a couple of hours.

 

Pros:

• Free 14-day trial giving you premium access
• Stunning templates that rival the likes of Squarespace
• Your business and website will automatically be connected to Google Maps, Google Console and Google Analytics

Cons:

• Weekly-based backups as opposed to daily
• Domain names do not include WHOIS protection

 

5. Weebly

Weebly is a long-standing and professional drag and drop website builder. You can create any type of website with Weebly, whether it be for personal or business reasons. You’ll get to choose the type of style you want for your Weebly website straight away, where it’s technology will take over and do most of the work for you.

Weebly’s drag and drop editor is very intuitive, so if you’ve never used one before, it won’t be a scary experience. Getting a website live doesn’t take much time or effort, so you’ll be able to see your website on the internet in no time at all. There’s lots of templates to choose from, so if you’re not feeling creative, there will be something for you.

What excites me the most about Weebly is it’s mobile app. So, if you’re not at the computer and you need to make some changes on the go, you can! Plus, you’ll get to see your website in mobile view which is a bonus too!

 

Pros:

• Mobile app to access your website builder and make changes on the go
• Intuitive drag and drop software
• No experience required to get your website live the same day

Cons:

• Advanced marketing tools are hard or impossible to get working
• Migration to another CMS platform is very difficult

Share this
06 Apr 2016

How to Setup & Install Yoast SEO on WordPress

Search Engine Optimization is vital for any website to get better rankings on search engines, or, at least, get a chance to reach those higher positions. WordPress comes optimized for SEO norms, but they aren’t good enough alone.

For years, webmaster’s have been taking help from third-party plugins and there have been two very old plugins. The first one was the All in One SEO, and the second one was Yoast SEO. 

Trust me, I’ve been using these plugins for years, and I can tell you that the decision of going with Yoast SEO plugin is only going to bring results. All you need to do is to get its setup in a right way.

Install and Setup Yoast SEO on WordPress Blog

Since there aren’t many features of tweaking options available inside this plugin, you can easily get started with it. Still, a newbie might need help and that’s exactly what I’m going to bring down here.

All you need to do is to follow the simple steps as below mentioned and if you need an explanation on any individual part, it will be either available with the same or you can fire up the issues in the discussion section below.

Step 1 – Login into the Dashboard area of your WordPress website and scroll down to the Plugin option. Click on the Add New button.

Setup-Yoast-SEO-on-WordPress

Step 2 – Now, use the search tool available to find Yoast SEO plugin and once you do, click on the Install option. The moment it gets installed successfully, you need to click on the Activate option ahead. Congratulations, you’ve completed installing the plugin which brings down one step from our overall task.

Setup-Yoast-SEO-on-WordPress2

Step 3 – In the Dashboard area on the left sidebar, you’ll have a new option available labeled “SEO.” Click on the same and let the tool package loaded up.

Step 4 – Then click on Your Info tab and enter your website’s name, and select Person in the next drop down option. 

Setup-Yoast-SEO-on-WordPress3

Step 5 – Now leave other options untouched and click on Titles & Metas option, which is our next one.

Step 6 – Select the Title Separator of your choice, and hit Save Changes button. Do not touch the first option i.e., Force rewrite titles.

Step 7 – Click on the Homepage tab, where you can modify the Title template section and add a custom Meta description for your homepage. Make sure you add a worthy description as it will appear in the search engines. Click on Save Changes button and move ahead to Post Types section.

Setup-Yoast-SEO-on-WordPress4

Step 8 – Then you can put a no follow (noindex) request for individual Post or Page or Media files. I’d recommend you to keep everything as it is and do not change anything at all.

Step 9 – Moving next to Taxonomies option, you’ll find same noindex options for Categories, Tags, and Format. Personally, I prefer indexing categories of my website but not the tags and format. So, I keep it that way. You can pick according to your site’s structure. FYI, noindex clearly means that those individual pages of your websites will not be indexed in search engine, which further helps to keep the duplicate content issue from occurring. As usual, click on Save Changes button and move ahead.

Step 10 – You come to the Archives section where you need to leave first two options untouched and Enable the two options below it, i.e., putting a noindex request for the author and date-based archives which both prevent the duplicate content issue from occurring. If you want, set a custom template for Search and 404 pages or leave the default ones. Don’t forget to click on Save Changes button.

Step 11 – Now in the Other tab, I prefer keeping the first option Enabled while keeping rest of the options untouched. It is again a safety measure from staying away from the duplicate content issue.

Step 12 – Moving next are the Social settings, which if you understand correctly and wish to use, can go ahead with the on-screen options and set things up. Having a better social profile helps in achieving better search engine rankings, so do not ignore this step completely.

Step 13 – Moving onto the next XML Sitemaps option, click on the very first checkbox which enables this option. It creates a sitemap file on automation which is required to help search engine bots to get a maximum of your webpages indexed.

Setup-Yoast-SEO-on-WordPress5

Step 14 – Under the User sitemap, you can keep that option disabled, as showcasing sitemap for posts and pages are enough for search engines. Under Post Types section, you can exclude a particular type like I’ve excluded Media ones. And, finally under Taxonomies, you can keep Tags and Format away from showing up in Sitemap file. Hit the Save Changes option and move ahead.

Step 15 – Under the Advanced settings, you can enable Breadcrumbs if the native theme doesn’t provide this functionality. And, you can control Permalinks and RSS settings, and tweak them according to your usage. If you don’t understand any of these advanced options, I’ll like to keep them untouched or explain what you’re trying to achieve in the comment section below.

Step 16 – Finally, you can opt for the Premium version of Yoast SEO plugin and get more advanced and premium features. You can even connect the Search Console (Google Webmaster) tool.

That’s all guys! As I said, if you need help on any related matter, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll come up with an explanation and required help. 

Share this
05 Apr 2016

How to Setup W3 Total Cache on WordPress

Better WordPress performance is something most site owners strive for at some time or another. After all, the faster your sites load, the more likely you are to keep visitors on there and have them check out what you have to offer.

As with just about everything on the world’s most popular CMS, there’s a wealth of plugins to help you do just that with limited technical know-how. Remember that no matter what web hosting you have, it’s key to optimise your site as much as you can. Tracking performance (site loading times) has always been an important aspect so once you’ve found the perfect host you can continue optimising by using a caching plugin. 

Among the best of the bunch are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.

Both of these include tools and features designed to reduce loading speeds and deliver better all round performance. Yet whilst the latter is a simple, no-frills plugin which covers the basics, those looking for a fully comprehensive approach to improving their sites are often better suited with W3 Total Cache, a tool which -I’ll be honest- can take some getting used to.

I use W3 Total Cache on all my WordPress websites as I personally prefer this plugin over its competitors, having spent a lot of time configuring the different options available and seeing positive results. To help you do the same, I’ve put together this step-by-step guide to installing and configuring W3 Total Cache.

Setup W3 Total Cache for Better Performance

The setup procedure goes through both simple and advanced set of tools, so you need to follow each and every step with precision.

Before we go any further, it’s a good idea at this point to use a website testing tool like Pingdom or Google PageSpeed to see how your website is currently performing. Once we’re done, you can go back and run the tests again to see the difference in real time. 

Step 1

 The first obvious step is to install W3 Total Cache plugin. You can either download its package from the WordPress Plugins Directory, or search it inside the Dashboard itself. Either way, get it installed and activated.

Find W3 Total Cache Plugin on WordPress

Step 2

Now in the left-hand side list inside Dashboard, you’ll see a new column added, named Performance. You need to click on this and select the General settings first.

Setup and Install W3 Total Cache on Your Website

Step 3

You need to leave the General tab untouched and scroll down to the Page Cache section. Under this, Enable the Page Cache option and select Disk: Enhanced option from the drop down list ahead of the method.

Wordpress W3 Total Cache Disk Enhanced

Step 4

Up next is the Minify section, which again needs to be Enabled.  From there, select Auto option from the mode. Select Disk as the method and leave rest of the options as Default. In the case of using MaxCDN, you need to keep the Minify mode to Manual.

Setup WordPress Minify Options on W3 Total Cache

Step 5

Keep the Database Cache Enabled and select Disk as the method for it.

W3 Database Cache on WordPress

Step 6

Next, keep the Object cache Enabled and again keep the Disk as the method for it.

Step 7

With that done, keep the Browser cache Enabled and hit Save all settings button. The General setting section ends here and whatever is left underneath or above, is required to stay Default. 

W3 Total Cache

Step 8

Now, after making the General settings happy, we need to dive into individual ones. Starting with the Page Cache, you need to enable first, second, and second-from-last options. You can leave the remaining options untouched.

W3 Individual Cache Settings

Step 9

Scrolling down, you’ll find Cache Preload option, where you need to enable Automatically prime the page cache option and make sure to click on Save all settings button.

Step 10

Keeping the Minify, Database Cache, and Object Cache options as default, click on the Browser Cache option from the left sliding menu. Over here, Enable the first Six options and leave the rest on default.

W3 Total Cache Settings

Step 11 

Click on the Save all settings button underneath and you are good to go.

Checking your performance

Now after getting over with all these settings and tweaking, I’ll recommend to check out the current grades of your website using FTP tool of Pingdom and also using Google Page Speed insight. I’m sure you’ll find improvement in each of them.

The key thing to note here is that I never went into the details of any individual option. That’s because a lot of these things are technical in nature, and to be honest,  what’s important isn’t so much how they work as much as it is that they get the job done. If you do want to look further into how each option helps you to achieve better WordPress performance, a good technical web developer or Search Engine Optimisation blog should provide everything you need to know.

Also, if you’re still not satisfied with the performance improvements, I’d recommend using a CDN network. You can start with CloudFlare which is free to begin, offering limited options, or you can opt for much advanced MaxCDN which offers tons of features and a guaranteed improvement. This is included in most of the hosting companies that we have reviewed. The second one is paid and comes with a premium support team, always ready to help you out in any situation.

Share this
01 Apr 2016

Self-Hosted WordPress vs WordPress.com

Introduction

Let’s be honest, in this day and age, not many of us have the time to deal with all the technical ins-and-outs of setting up a new website. So when it comes to choosing WordPress as your CMS, the difference between self-hosted and a site at WordPress.com often means all the difference between getting set up quickly, albeit sacrificing some level of control in the process.

If you do want want full control of your website and plenty of advanced features to go along with it, then picking up the self-hosted WordPress will be a wise choice, otherwise going with the WordPress.com option will get the job done.

By “job” I mean, sharing your content with rest of the world.

 

About Self Hosted WordPress vs WordPress.com

First, it’s worth pointing out  that there is huge confusion between these two options, and the moment we sign up for a WordPress account, the confusion increases further.

This happens as the core WordPress team asks us to create our first website, and we do it as it is extremely simple. If you still haven’t signed up for an account, then go ahead and do it.

The moment you setup the first website after getting a free account, you’ll get behind that blog and will have access to its Dashboard area.

This is where we first start to see some big differences. To explain them, let me provide a clear definition of both the options.


WordPress.com option

Have you used Blogger platform in past? It’s a Google-owned platform, allowing users to quickly setup an online blog and start sharing their thoughts. If you’ve used it or even seen it in action, then WordPress.com is almost a replica of that idea.

Wordpress.com post editor

It offers a free platform to setup a blog within half an hour (or even less, depends on how far you wish to play with the customizations) and start sharing your thoughts. It works like a normal website and can get tons of organic traffic too.

There is an inclusion of social media integration to help your thoughts share quickly, and a built-in Like system, so that other bloggers on the platform can appreciate your work.

For the record, there is also a premium option if you pick a custom domain and enjoy a few other enhanced features, though you’re still fairly limited when compared to the all-consuming web building prowess of a self-hosted WordPress site.


Self Hosted WordPress option

In this option, you need to buy a hosting server and a domain name separately, and then using some software tools (like SimpleScript), WordPress script is installed on your hosting account. This is the first and prime difference as you’ve to do the installation, manually.

Self-Hosted WordPress Dashboard

The moment that installation is complete, you gain access to the Dashboard area behind the newly created website. Go ahead, login into the system with the credentials (either you chose or using the WordPress’s default).

Now the second difference will appear,  with the WordPress dashboard presenting many more options than its .com counterpart. It can let you pick your own theme, change every possible setting, customize the way you like it, and even add third-party functionalities, better known as Plugins.

About Plugins

When we talk about plugins, we’re essentially referring to a tool which uses code to add a particular functionality to your site which isn’t offered by the core WordPress platform.

Self Hosted WordPress Plugins Page

Now, because of this Plugin option, you can use most types of software or script into the system, which is compatible with the WordPress core inside. For example, you’re allowed to use Google Analytics to keep a track of every visitor arriving on the website and noticing its activities. Like this, there are lots of powerful tools available online which makes the web way faster, way more functional and way more enjoyable.

And, all this is possible because of Plugins.

Themes

Plugins aren’t the only thing which can add a functionality, a powerful Theme can also be a big help in adding user interaction and visual attraction to your new site.

Wordpress themes

Assuming you’ve picked the Self Hosted option, you can install and use any sort of compatible theme available online. There are many premium and free themes available to pick and trust me, the more you spend, more functionality you can get.

Usually, the Premium theme these days come up with their own Options Panel available in the Dashboard area, which offers a GUI tool to bring possible changes into the visual and functional part of the website.

Again, this isn’t possible in the WordPress.com option. Even if you find few options to bring customizations, still they will be limited to a certain level.

So, in other words, WordPress.com is an option where the core WordPress team picks what’s best for you, and in the Self Hosted WordPress, you’re allowed to pick whatever you think is best for the website.

Making the decision

If you wish to customize, develop, and manage a website which is truly according to your taste and requirements, then go ahead with the self-hosted WordPress option, as the other one doesn’t have any such options. All it can promise you is a base platform to quickly share your content of multiple types like videos, and images.

Which one are you picking?

So, now you’re aware of the exact differences between these two methods of starting a website (just a blog in WordPress.com case). I personally picked the self-hosted option as I’ve to learn everything about WordPress, how it works and how I can make a living out of it. If my plan was just to start a blog, I would have definitely picked the WordPress.com option.

Did I leave anything uncleared? Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll try my best to clear up the confusion.

Share this

UKWebHostReview.com - Best Web Hosting Comparison