When you’re first starting as a WordPress freelancer, life feels good. You have more freedom and control, as well as the ability to make more money than ever before. But there are limits to what you can achieve and how much money you can make if you don’t innovate.
In last week's post, I talked about the tools that you need to lay a solid foundation for your freelance business. But if you've stagnated and you're ready to take your WordPress business to the next level - then the following tools and apps are for you.
9 Best Tools & Apps to Grow Your Revenue
This is one of the most common topics of conversation I have when coaching WordPress consultants:
How do you use your toolbox and processes to close more business with less effort?
And the answer? Start with the following:
1. Managed Web Hosting: WP Engine, Flywheel, Cloudways (Premium)
There are going to be certain things your clients are accountable for, like delivering content to you and providing helpful feedback in a timely fashion. But what are your thoughts on web hosting?
Should your clients be responsible for buying their hosting and web domain or is this something you should help with?
There are a few things to think about here.
First, does it matter what kind of hosting their website lives on? If so, then you should at least provide input on which hosting companies are best.
Secondly, do you want to be saddled with the burden of purchasing their web hosting? If you’re fine with that, do you have a process in place to charge them monthly for it?
Finally, would you like to leverage a web hosting partner who can manage the hosting piece, so you can focus on design, development and building awesome relationships with your clients?
It’s this last point that’s the perfect example of how to use tools to accomplish more, do less and make more money in the process. Now, you just need to find the right managed hosting tools to do it.
My favourites are WP Engine:
Flywheel (which is now owned by WP Engine):
All three provide you and your clients with secure and speedy web hosting while keeping you from getting bogged down with managing it. If you set your services up correctly, you could continue to “manage” your clients’ web hosting account, and get paid to do so, long after their website is built and launched.
2. ManageWP (Freemium)
It’s probably not often that you see people enter the WordPress space as full-time maintenance pros. Usually, to a point where you realise:
“Wow. These clients could really use my help with stuff besides web design.”
And that’s when you start to look at everything surrounding WordPress websites you could potentially turn into a product. Managing web hosting is one of them. Running SEO audits is another. And one of the most popular and lucrative options is WordPress maintenance.
WordPress maintenance is a great way to make money with WordPress. For starters, it positions you as an end-to-end partner instead of “that developer that built our website last year”.
Think about it like this:
You pay for a monthly ManageWP membership, so you can offer your clients premium maintenance services like SEO checks and link monitoring. At most, it’s going to cost you $150.
Client A pays $199 a month for you to manage their website, including updates, security monitoring, performance optimisation, backup & restore services and more. With ManageWP, you schedule and automate a lot of these tasks, so you don’t have to do much to keep their website running in tip-top form.
With just one client, you’re making money off of your investment in ManageWP.
But, then, Client B comes along and buys the same plan. With ManageWP, you manage all of your clients’ websites from one dashboard. Plus, all it takes is one click to manage updates for each of them, saving you the hassle of doing them one-by-one.
Now, you have even less to do, but even more money coming in.
3. Local by Flywheel (Free)
You know how delicate a WordPress site is. Sometimes it feels like someone breathing too closely to the screen could take it offline.
While you do as much as you can to secure your websites and to prevent clients and other users from potentially “breaking” them, there are other ways your website can experience the white screen of death.
Cowboy coding is a common culprit. So, if you’re in the habit of reaching for the “Update” button in a live installation of a client’s website, it’s time to move to a local server.
Local by Flywheel is a great tool for this. What’s more, the desktop app is free to use.
When you use Local by Flywheel, you duplicate your website and its exact configuration on a local server. Only when you’ve confirmed that your changes will cause no harm do you implement them site-side.
This way, you no longer have to worry about edits you’ve pushed to the live site breaking something or WordPress updates taking the site offline altogether.
You can also use Local by Flywheel to build websites from scratch. Only when a website is ready to move to the live WordPress installation will you migrate it over. What’s better, if you use Flywheel managed hosting, migration is a breeze.
4. Customer Support Software: Help Scout and Freshdesk (Freemium)
The only problem with adding more services like managed web hosting and maintenance to your business is that it means you’re going to have to get really good about managing support requests. Emails, text messages and phone calls are not an acceptable way to handle support.
To provide your clients with top-notch customer service and ensure that requests never slip through the cracks, you’re going to need a robust help desk solution.
Two of the best tools for this are Help Scout:
These tools become especially important as you start to add employees to your team who will collaborate on managing your support inbox.
What’s nice, too, is that a customer service tool isn’t just a place to collect support tickets. You can automate the more tedious tasks of customer support (like moving tickets from one stage to the next or sending reminders about open tickets). You can also create self-help tutorials for clients, share email templates with your team and analyse your customer service as a whole.
5. Calendly (Premium)
One of the keys to taking your revenue to the next level is to stop being so cavalier with your time. If you want to be more productive, you have to automate when it makes sense to.
If you’re not using Calendly already, you’re going to quickly fall in love with this tool because it’s going to relieve you of one of the most annoying tasks:
At its root, Calendly is an appointment scheduling tool. However, it integrates with a lot of tools, to the point where it becomes a scheduling powerhouse. Take this workflow, for instance:
- You create a calendar for prospects wanting a discovery call.
- You create rules about what days and times you’re available.
- You connect Calendly to your main calendar (like Gmail) so it can show your true availability.
- You connect it to your Zoom account so a meeting room is automatically created and attached to the appointment on both your calendars.
- You write automated responses and instructions so prospects are fully prepared to go into the call.
- You embed the calendar on your WordPress website’s Contact page.
- You also embed the link in the signature of your emails.
- When an appointment is made, your Google Calendar automatically accepts the appointment and forwards you the details.
You only have to set this up once and then you never have to bother with scheduling again. Even if a client or prospect messages or calls to ask for a meeting, all you have to do is point them to the Calendly link and let them do the rest.
6. Xtensio (Premium)
Xtensio is a simple tool that makes your marketing material and templates look professional. It allows you to create anything you need – pitches, sales sheets, reports, case studies and agendas. You can add images, videos, tables and other interactive modules. It's super easy to use!
7. Buffer (Freemium)
When your business is brand new, you’re probably not thinking much about which social media marketing tools you’re going to use. After all, you need to nail down your WordPress development processes first, so you have a website and brand worth promoting on social media.
But once you pass that checkpoint, it’s time to get serious about social media. It’s one of the fastest and most effective ways to build an audience.
Similar to how a tool like ManageWP enables you to handle a lot of different websites from one platform, social media management tool Buffer does the same for your social media accounts. It’s the same tool that WP Elevation uses to manage its social media and it’s worked out really well.
That’s because Buffer isn’t just a social posting tool. With it, you can plan your content in advance, schedule ahead of time and collaborate with various contributors to ensure your social media posts are searchable, engaging and click-worthy.
8. Headspace (Freemium)
Tools and apps aren’t just useful for upping your productivity and reducing your workload. They’re also helpful for managing your mental and physical well-being.
Now, I know how hard it can be to get yourself away from the desk in those early days of freelancing. That’s why I recommended an app called Runkeeper in last week's post to motivate you to get up and get moving during that professional stage.
However, with your business moving along a bit more smoothly, it’s important to focus on your mental health. There’s going to be a lot more to stress as you work on growing your revenue, so making time to meditate with the Headspace app. Trust me, it's going to help a ton.
It's important to incorporate some physical activity into your week to get the energy to power through your day. And meditation is going to give you the ability to slow down the mind and shut off at bedtime. This is something you’ll absolutely need so you can think clearly and make smart business decisions every single day.
9. Fabulous (Freemium)
One last app that I think is essential for WordPress business owners is called The Fabulous.
It’s more than just a habit-tracking tool. Think of it as your accountability partner — one that prioritises your healthy practices to keep your body and mind running in peak form. What’s more, it’ll remind you that it’s okay to make time for yourself, that a work-life balance is necessary if you want to maintain your professional success.
Make this app part of your daily routine now, so that these habits become second-nature when your business is bustling.
Taking Your Revenue to the Next Level with Tools & Apps
It might not seem like much — nine tools — but they’re going to make a huge difference in your business and your bottom line when you add them to your toolbox.
With these tools on your side, your business is going to experience fast growth. But it's important to note that they will help you grow only for a time. Each new phase of your business will require you to expand that toolbox so you can accomplish more while doing less.
With that said, there’s one more article left in this series to take you to the next level. In Part 3, I talk about how to sustain all of this growth while running a full-scale agency.
And if you'd like to get your hands on more tips to take your revenue to the next level, then you won’t want to miss this free webinar. You’ll learn how to attract better quality clients and charge higher fees. Sounds like a dream come true, right?