Category Archives: Other Stuff

A Guide to WordPress as a Web Application Platform

Wait, what?  WordPress as a SaaS (Software as a service) platform?  “But WordPress is just for blogging” they say.  It turns out, WordPress can do so much more.  Plus, Matt Mullenweg recently announced the focus of WordPress 3.7 will be modifications that make WordPress even better as a software platform.

WordPress already comes with many of the key functions needed for a SaaS web application.  It has a robust user management system, a secure administrative back end, and a scalable framework that can grow with your service.

The new WordPress will include some features that make it even better for SaaS.  This includes improved security and a full Application Programming Interface (API).  The latter will allow web apps to directly manipulate WordPress.  This will open up a whole world of WordPress-based SaaS.  I’m very excited to see what comes of this.

From what we know about the upcoming WordPress 3.7 and the existing features of WordPress 3.6, we can examine the opportunities for web apps built on WordPress.  The following is a guide and resource list for building web apps using WordPress as a platform.

Some light reading

  • A three part series from the folks that built HelloBar on a WordPress platform.  Start with Part 1.  The second part is particularly helpful for building a fast and scalable application.
  • The main Tut on using WordPress as a web application framework.

And a little watching

Some examples of WordPress as SaaS

  • A prime example as I mentioned above is HelloBar.  This is a great one to look at since you can read a companion series on how they built it with WordPress.
  • HappyTables is a service for restaurants.  They make websites at a free and paid membership tier.  It’s likely they are using the multi-site feature of WordPress (formerly WPMU) but I’m not sure.
  • ClickBank Powered is another example of websites as a service (WaaS).  Did I just make up a new phrase? #claimedit
  • It turns out, Automattic has seen this trend coming.  They’ve created some applications for folks who use WordPress.com.  They include a Portfolio and Restaurant website service.

happy tables

Discussion

So what exactly is the difference between WordPress as a blog, WordPress as a software platform, and just plain software?

WordPress as a blog is what we all picture when we think of WordPress.  Well, maybe not all of us.  But WordPress got it’s start as an easy and free tool for people to disseminate information.

WordPress as a software platform can best be described as a WordPress is the foundation.  The service being provided is built as added functionality.  As the above examples and readings describe, this usually combines existing plugins, custom themes and some custom coding.  The high end services include all three of these in order to create a seamless experience.  In the words of Digital Telepathy (the HelloBar people), in part due to security and in part due to user experience “we didn’t want users to even realize it was WordPress they were using, nor did we want to expose any administration interfaces that would take them out of the application’s simple and streamlined experience”.

Just plain software is almost a thing of the past.  With the exception of big bulky and robust software like Microsoft Office, most software applications are making the transition into the cloud.  Software CD sales are way way down and software as a service (cloud based SaaS) is way way up.  Generally, software has been installed on a local machine.  As I write this, it sound really antiquated, but I realized it was just 5 years ago this was the absolute gold standard and the norm.

The summary: get ready WordPress World.  You are about to see a whole slew of new applications built on the WordPress framework.  I’m excited to see what creativity the developer community brings forth.

Using WordPress to Fundraise

WordPress is a powerful community building tool, in addition to a blogging and public relations tool.  But did you know nonprofits/not-for-profits and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) use WordPress to cultivate millions in donations every year?  In fact, the amount of money raised by nonprofits in the U.S. alone is staggering.  Just online, nonprofits raised around $22 Billion in 2010.  That number is 3 years old and still huge.

Although there are many many ways to raise money online, WordPress makes it super easy.  Especially when a nonprofit is using WordPress to power their website, using these themes.  Integrating with a payment gateway is simple, secure and professional.  Some of the third party fundraising sites work well too, but since we are all about WordPress at Pingable, this post focuses on the different ways to integrate fundraising with WordPress.

1. Cash in on your existing network

If you already have a large network of supporters and website visitors, this is the fastest way to cash in.  But be warned, visitors do not always equal stakeholders.  You can’t buy useless traffic using ads if the visitors don’t convert to active participants in your cause.  However, nonprofits with an engaged following that care about the mission and relate to the personal stories you tell on the website can turn into a source of consistent financial support.  Consider this tutorial that covers creating a donate form on your website.  The aforementioned tutorial covers adding a pretty complex and native donate form using a premium forms plugin and Paypal integration.  For the more novice user, you can use a simple Paypal donate widget.

2. Go pro with a crowdsourcing plugin

Crowdsourcing is all the rage.  From Kickstarter to IndieGoGo, there are a million project-funding sites.  What they promise is the ability to raise funds quickly.  What they don’t say is that 90% of funds come from friends and family unless your project goes viral.  Crowdsourcing is primarily for non-business or individual projects.  However nonprofits can get in the game too.  Using the same platforms, nonprofits can raise funds and generate income tax deductions for their donors.

Using a premium plugin like IgnitionDeck is a great way to stand above the fray and raise money for your nonprofit.  A premium WordPress plugin, IgnitionDeck is a very smart crowdfunding tool.  In addition to accepting donations easily, you can set a smart target which automatically moves to the next tier when a goal has been reached.  For example, a nonprofit that uses it’s WordPress website to fund a community center might set a goal for a pool table, a goal for the renovations and a goal for purchasing the property.  When the community has contributed enough for the pool table, the renovations become the next goal.  Cool huh?  Never make success the barrier to more success!

Bonus: there are some premium themes available on ThemeForest (our fave) that seamlessly integrate IgnitionDeck.  Our personal favorite: FundingPress:

fundingpress

3. Get the community involved

Crowdfunding, by definition, is micro-donations or contributions that reach toward a larger goal.  Rather than seeking a large donor or investor, crowdfunded projects get lots of little support.  So in a way, this method is also crowdfunding like all of the above, however this one really leverages relationships and community.  Using a plugin called Personal Fundraiser, your nonprofit can allow stakeholders to create their own fundraising pages.  This way, they are encouraged through many different calls-to-action to get their own network involved.

By leveraging other people’s networks, you have the potential to not only raise more funds, but reach more people which can turn into other opportunities.  Never turn down a chance to discuss your mission with someone, you never know who they are.

Creative Uses for WordPress

WordPress is most known as the world’s most influential and popular blogging framework.  However, it can be used in some really creative ways.  Ways that stretch conventional uses and, at times, push the WordPress core to it’s limits.  So why use WordPress to create something really creative?  It’s a blogging engine, not a blank slate for your wildest dreams.  I’ve found, it actually IS a blank slate.  Although it comes pre-packaged with lots of features as a powerful blogging tool, it is quite simple and versatile out of the box.

I have started multiple web projects that had very little need for a blogging feature, but I’ve chosen to build the application on WordPress because it makes creating and managing dynamic content very easy.  The following are examples of some creative and innovative uses for WordPress.  Have an example I missed?  Leave a comment below.

WordPress as a Wiki

Wikis were made famous by sites like Wikipedia, the community-managed encyclopedia.  They are essentially user-moderated content pages that can be used for any collaborative project.

Popular URL Aggregator

Some of the famous examples include PopURL and AllTop.  These are just RSS feeds essentially, aggregated and moderated for quality content.

alltop

WordPress as an Image Sharing site

A popular example of this includes ffffound, an open image sharing site that no longer accepts new registrations.

WordPress as a Contact Manager

There are lots of reasons to manage contacts with a WordPress site.  It can also act as a CRM.  I once built a contact manager for an agency with about 100 employees that wanted help keeping track of them.

contact manager

As a membership Directory

Similar to a contact manager, a membership directory offers some features designed to interact with members.  Such as signing up and managing one’s own profile.  This opens up a world of pay-for-membership opportunities.

WordPress as a Twitter clone

I don’t quite see the utility of creating a twitter clone.  But I suppose this could be useful for busy tech support departments or other situations in which contacts must be made quickly and publicly.

twitter clone

WordPress as a Forum

One of the most ubiquitous features of a web site is a forum.  A forum provides an organized way to discuss or ask questions while allowing others to see the content.  Forums were made popular with support services because they reduced call/email volume by allowing people to see the solution to their problems immediately.

As a News Aggregator

Be careful with news aggregators.  Some sites just compile content from other people’s sites and it makes for lame, useless content.  When done well, and tastefully, people can compile interesting news from their niche of interest.

news

WordPress as an Invoicing System

Run a freelancing business from your WordPress site?  Why not integrate your billing as well?  There are plugins that allow you to bill customers, accept payment and track outstanding invoices easily within WordPress.

WordPress as a Job Board

WordPress can do one thing exceptionally well: build community.  With that community you can disseminate information, gather information, or even publish job listings.  This works best if your website already has authority related to an issue.

wpjobboard

As a social bookmarking service

WordPress can be used like Digg, Reddit, or other similar social bookmarking services through which people can share interesting content and vote it up or down.  Again, hard to break into this service unless your site already has authority and ranking.

WordPress as an Auction Site

Yea, it can do that.  Some plugins let you turn WordPress into an eBay clone, or at least the major features.  Find your niche and become the vertical market auction site of your choice.

wpauctions

What did I miss?  I’d like to hear about other wild and crazy ways people are using WordPress to break the mold.

 

 

20 Great WordPress AJAX Plugins

WordPress is without question, the #1 blogging platform and content management system (CMS) available.  For obvious reasons like simplicity, speed, flexibility.  But what about all those subtle differences that you notice, but can’t quite put your finger on?  It has a lot to do with AJAX or asynchronous JavaScript and XML.  From saving changes to editing content and post tags, AJAX makes it all easier and faster.

In addition to making the admin’s life easier, there are a number of WordPress AJAX Plugins that will help the user experience as well.  Here are 20 of our favorites.

  1. Google AJAX Search – A live search plugin
  2. Tagboard Widget
  3. Gregarious – Social bookmarking plugin
  4. AJAX Shoutbox
  5. Google Pagerank
  6. AJAX Comments No longer available.
  7. Inline AJAX Page Very Cool! – No longer available.
  8. WP-Post Ratings
  9. Google AJAX Translation
  10. AJAX’d WordPress – AJAX site navigation
  11. AJAXed Twitter for WordPress
  12. Formidable – A drag and drop form builder
  13. Contact Form 7 – Super easy contact/other form builder
  14. FAQ Builder
  15. Business Directory – A link directory plugin
  16. Link Library – Another link directory plugin
  17. Comment Rating
  18. Mingle – a complete social networking plugin (profile pages, profile activities, etc.)
  19. AJAX Comment Posting
  20. Pretty Link – Convert affiliate or advertising links to links of your choosing.

Additional Resources

WordPress VS Blogger

Blogger and WordPress are two of the most popular blogging platforms. Blogger and WordPress are often compared to one another and the supporters of each of them try to prove that their beloved blogging platform is the best. While in many aspects this comparison is subjective, for many people WordPress is the more advanced blogging platform.

History and Ownership of Blogger and WordPress

When Blogger and WordPress are compared, it is fair to start with their history. Blogger is much older than WordPress. In fact, Blogger is one of the first blogging services and it was launched in August 1999. Its creator was Pyra Labs and a couple of years later (in 2003) it was acquired by Google, which is its present owner.

Google is a top company but the fact that Google owns Blogger is not necessarily all good news for bloggers because Google can close your account whenever they want to. Well, they don’t have the habit of closing accounts at a whim but if you want to be the real owner of your blog, this possibility should ring a warning bell in your head.

WordPress came much later to the blogging scene – in 2003, but it quickly managed to gain millions of users. WordPress is one of the most popular open source applications and it is the worldwide open source community that powers its development.

Why WordPress is Better than Blogger as a Blogging Platform

There is no doubt that both WordPress and Blogger are popular as blogging platforms and both of them do a good job but if you want a dedicated blog on your own –  i.e. a blog with its own domain name rather than a blog, the URL of which is a subdomain, you’d better go with WordPress and look for a webhosting company which offers WordPress hosting. There are many such companies and in the next section we’ll briefly mention three of the top WordPress hosting companies you might want to consider.

It might be easier if you can create a blog hosted on blogger.com or on wordpress.com but having your dedicated site beats it in almost any other aspect. You can install both the Blogger script and WordPress on your site but if you use Blogger as a standalone script, you will soon discover that it lags much behind WordPress.

Nobody says that Blogger is unfit as a blogging platform but when you compare the number of features each of them offers, WordPress is the clear winner. What is more, if you compare vital features, such as plugin/extensions availability, themes, import functionalities, or tracking, WordPress is light years ahead. Yes, there might be a couple of features where Blogger beats WordPress but this is more of an exception than a rule.

Top 3 WordPress Hosting Companies to Consider

There are tons of webhosting companies, which offer WordPress hosting and the choice is not an easy one. Still, as with any other type of webhosting, if you pick an unprofessional webhosting provider, trouble is around the corner. This is why you need to carefully choose your WordPress hosting provider. Here are three companies, which are known for their 1-click WordPress installation and for their reliability as a whole:

  1. iPage. iPage is an excellent webhosting company and its WordPress hosting is not an exception. Many users are extremely pleased with the WordPress hosting service offered by iPage and this is why we recommend it.
  2. JustHost. JustHost is also a great webhosting company and its WordPress hosting service is also top-notch. You might want to try JustHost as your WordPress host.
  3. BlueHost. BlueHost is another webhosting provider we can recommend. BlueHost also offers WordPress hosting and you might want to give it a try.

WordPress hosting isn’t a very special type of hosting but if you are a newbie, the installation of WordPress could be a bit hard for you. To make your life easier, find a good WordPress hosting company and go with them. Alternatively, you can host your blog with WordPress or Blogger but this limits you in many ways.

 

Make Extra Money with Adsense

This is a basic Adsense tutorial for beginners. I have added it as a video on Youtube. The full text from the video is below.

So you’re only making a few cents a day from Adsense and you don’t know why?

What are the biggest mistakes?

    1. Not having a defined niche

Adsense clicks pay out based on keywords relating to your content – if it isn’t clear what keywords relate – you won’t make money.

    1. The wrong traffic

Visitors from social sites don’t click ads. Visitors from search engines do.

    1. Not researching your keywords

You must research keywords if you don’t want to leave your search engine traffic up to luck.

    1. Not having unique content on your sites.
    2. Poor ad positioning

Get your Adsense ads in front of your readers’ eyes if you want to make money.

What can you do to get more search traffic?

    1. Pick higher traffic, lower competition keywords in higher paying niches.

Yes…yes, it’s easier said than done…but research!

  1. Get anchored backlinks to your content .i.e links that have your keywords in the hyperlink.
  2. Write content optimized for those keywords .i.e. have your keyword in the title.

www.pingable.org

15 Cool Web Services Which You May Not have Used Yet

With new Web 2.0 sites and services popping up every day, it’s hard work just keeping track of the cool stuff you can do online – let alone having the time to browse use any of them. So what you need a someone to do the hard work for you, and waste their free time checking this sort of stuff out.

sociagami

  1. Sociagami –  Allows you to monitor and update most of your social networking accounts from one spot.
  2. Startupping–  A community for Internet entrepreneurs.
  3. Sproutbuilder– Create your own widgets for your blog or Facebook to add viral marketing to your arsenal.
  4. Ask 500 People– Make questions – and find out what people think.
  5. Reshade– Make Small Images large.
  6. Tipit – Create great content and post this button to your site. It allows people to “tip” you.
  7. Dipity– Create and share interactive timelines to inject life into your older blog posts and more.
  8. Social Marker – Semi Automatic social bookmarking tool is easy to use and ensures you actually get your sites submitted. Use Do follow option – sign up accounts at each – go to school getting backlinks. postit Continue reading 15 Cool Web Services Which You May Not have Used Yet

How To Improve Adsense Earnings On Your Blog

In certain niches including the niche this blog falls within you can run into problems when using Adsense.

1) Your readers may be savvy and recognise Adsense blocks, and they don’t click on them.
2) None of the terms which relate to your topic/ niche are very competitive, and so even if readers click them, they only pay very little.
3) A large percentage of your traffic comes from social media sites which lowers your CTR (see smart pricing).
4) You don’t want to alienate your readers by placing large Adsense blocks at the top of your articles.

So what do you do? How can you make good money from Adsense on these types of blogs?

Basic concepts:

  • Adsense performs very well when you use the large rectangle format, and place the ad blocks in your content, normally at the top, so it is in front of every person who views the page.
  • Visitors who arrive at your pages from search engines (particularly Google) are those who are most likely to click on Adsense ads.
  • Your regular readers probably don’t deserve to look at Adsense, and they probably don’t click Adsense ads anyway.

After considering this information it makes sense not to put Adsense on every page of your blog, but just on those articles that are getting a lot of visitors from search engines. For this you need to look at the stats for your blog. I use Google Analytics. Look at old posts and select those that are getting traffic from Google or other search engines. Place a large rectangle ad block at the top of the content on these pages, probably beneath the title.

Problems and Solutions:

The first problem you might have is that even with only having ads on old posts, none of the clicks are paying well, because your topics are in a niche where there is no competition for keywords.

The second problem you may have is that you don’t get a lot of search engine traffic.

Both of these issues can be addressed by doing a little keyword research before you write your article.

Since this article is about Adsense, I will use this as an example. For the information below I used a tool called Niche Inspector, but you can use : This Free Wordtracker page for basic keyword research.

The “Searches” heading gives an estimate of the average amount of searches for that term each day. So the more searches, the more potential. However some terms will obviously have much more competition than others.

Google and MSN Pages gives you an estimate of pages out there that relate to the term, which shows how much competition there is for the term.

CPC (Cost Per Click) gives you an estimate of how much a click will pay out for that term.

Keyword

Searches

Google Pages

MSN Pages

CPC

adsense 110,459 48,800,000 3,260,000

$20.01 – $27.93

google adsense 29,176 22,300,000 10,800,000

$18.27 – $24.18

adsense publisher 10,980 224,000 137,000

$4.87 – $6.08

adsense ad 4,863 171,000 140,000

$3.75 – $4.69

google adsense publisher 705 171,000 66,900

$3.41 – $4.27

template adsense 439 3,530 5,950

$5.85 – $7.30

adsense tool 370 26,900 9,360

$5.85 – $7.31

adsense format 259 18,500 33,700

$6.55 – $8.19

adsense alternative 227 61,000 41,300

$1.56 – $1.95

adsense earnings 191 385,000 176,000

$7.43 – $9.29

adsense tip 189 23,700 14,600

$9.07 – $11.34

adsense ready 156 219,000 224,000

$2.30 – $2.87

adsense program 126 359,000 366,000

$9.68 – $12.10

google adsense alternative 125 13,100 6,770

$3.41 – $4.27

adsense keyword 123 65,300 28,900

$2.37 – $2.96

adsense web site 108 45,100 10,500

$3.75 – $4.69

adsense site 106 192,000 90,900

$1.72 – $2.15

adsense secret 103 112,000 14,900

$0.95 – $1.18

google adsense program 90 198,000 198,000

$12.62 – $15.78

msn adsense 90 5,630 1,040

$3.07 – $3.84

adwords and adsense 88 94,300 72,700

$8.02 – $10.02

how to make money with google adsense 88 98,600 21,700

$3.24 – $4.05

how to make money with adsense 86 81,700 18,100

$2.19 – $2.74

adsense income 85 313,000 125,000

$2.81 – $3.51

adsense google 84 711,000 1,110,000

$21.02 – $27.45

make money with adsense 79 308,000 78,200

$1.71 – $2.14

adsense template 77 35,700 9,510

$1.27 – $1.59

adsense tracker 74 79,900 54,600

$1.00 – $1.26

google com adsense 72 280,000 175,000

$18.74 – $23.43

adsense forum 71 163,000 163,000

$6.65 – $8.31

adsense money 71 241,000 81,900

$2.08 – $2.60

adsense revenue 70 630,000 343,000

$6.52 – $8.15

adsense adwords google 68 37,500 129,000

$15.13 – $18.91

making money with adsense 67 205,000 53,700

$1.81 – $2.26

adsense ready site 66 8,220 1,670

$0.95 – $1.19

adwords adsense 64 171,000 225,000

$4.05 – $5.06

google adsense keyword 60 39,400 9,040

$3.06 – $3.82

google adsense secret 58 86,400 1,570

$4.21 – $5.27

adsense make money 58 71,500 27,000

$1.59 – $1.98

yahoo adsense 54 18,900 16,700

$2.97 – $3.71

adsense profit 53 35,900 12,100

$2.65 – $3.32

adsense exchange 53 3,010 456

$1.71 – $2.13

 

In an ideal world you would rank in Google for all the main terms, and you would make bucket loads of cash. However this isn’t realistic. It makes sense to target keywords that still payout well, but have less competition i.e fewer pages that relate to that term. There is a point where the phrase doesn’t get enough people searching for it, so it isn’t worth targeting. But it is worth considering, if a term has 50 people a day searching for it, but no competition, it will be so much easier to rank for. If you find yourself ranking first you will get many of those visitors hitting your site each day, something like 90% of people click the first result in a Search Engine Result Page (SERP), and as low as 3% click the result at the bottom of the first page.

Once you have selected some appropriate keywords and phrases, make sure you use them as much as possible with out spoiling your reader experience. You should also use your main keyword in the title of your article, or if it sounds ugly, use a post slug to get it the URL. I also recommend WordPress users using the plugin Headspace, and adding the keywords into your posts meta data.

I hope this article helps you improve your Adsense earnings. I have found that most people a not so happy to share how they earn using Adsense.

www.pingable.org

Can’t Remember The Last Time An Adsense Click Paid Well?

Are you one of those Adsense users who gets 4-5 clicks a day and only makes 21 cents?

Courtney Tuttle writes about Adsense smart pricing.  If you are displaying Adsense on a site that doesn’t have a higher click through rate (CTR) than 3%, you are at risk of having Smart Pricing applied to your Adsense commission. Smart Pricing is a system that Google use to ensure good value for their advertisers. It is estimated that your Adsense commission can be reduced by up to 90% if you are in the smart pricing category, so if a click paid out 40c to a normal user, it will pay out 4c to a user who has been smart priced.

I had been using Google Adsense on Pingable for a few months with very little success. I had read about how hard it was to get clicks on ads in blogs that are about blogging, but I had no idea how much I was actually sabotaging my Adsense account. And yes, it affects all sites in your Adsense account not just those that have a low CTR. Apparently it’s easy enough to get removed from the Smart Pricing category, you just need to either improve your CTR, by optimising your ad placement, or remove Adsense from those sites all together.

So what can we take from Courtney’s article:

  • If you have a blog about blogging, social media, SEO, don’t use Adsense, the CTR will most likely be very poor. People who read these sorts of blogs, don’t click ads.
  • If you are displaying Adsense on a site that has a lower CTR than 3%, remove Adsense from those sites.
  • If a large portion of your traffic comes from social media sites like Digg and StumbleUpon, displaying Adsense is a bad idea, not only will these users not click your ads, so many of them won’t, and it will lower your CTR to the stage that if you do get a click it won’t pay well. You could also control who gets ads with different plugins to only show your ads to search engine visitors.
  • Place Adsense on sites that typically get a lot of search engine traffic, this traffic is most likely to click ads.

Optimising Adsense Placement

If you decide to use Adsense on your site, it is worth considering optimising your ad format options. Many publishers like the big rectangle, mainly because it works! It gets very good CTR. The 250X250 square, has almost the exact same look as the big rectangle, but it shows three ads instead of four. This means that you give your visitors fewer options to choose from (but not too few) and they may decide to click more easily. You also eliminate the 4th ad which would be, on average, the lowest paying of the four.

If that doesn’t work out for you, you can try using two 234X60 ads stacked on top of each other. If you use background colours that blend together, it will give a similar appearance of a 250X250 box, however, it will only display two ads in the spot. You want to be mainly displaying the higher paying ads, so if your users do click them you get a decent payout, yet you still want to give readers enough options, if you have too few ads, there are no options, and they will be less likely to get clicked. If you have too many options you are more likely to be displaying ads that pay out less.

Once you are sure that your site has not been smart priced you can optimise performance by lowering the amount of ads (using the above technique) that are being displayed if you find that some of your clicks are still paying poorly.

www.pingable.org