If You’re Looking to Generate More Leads in 2019, Make the Most of Jetpack’s New Form Block

When people visit your website, they should do more than just browse a page or two and move along to another site. You should give them the opportunity to become a customer or a fan.

That first glimpse of your website is just the beginning of your relationship with a site visitor. The goal is to encourage them to keep coming back, buy your products, or use your services while becoming an advocate for your brand.

With a new year mere hours away, let’s focus on how to generate leads — potential future customers — by allowing visitors to subscribe to your mailing list and website, and share tips for incentivizing them to do so in 2019 and beyond.

Generate leads to build a loyal fanbase

It’s tempting to assume that your website will become a selling powerhouse all on its own — that if you run an eCommerce store, people will browse through your products and services and make purchases right away.

Things don’t always work that way. People are unlikely to make a purchase the very first time they come into contact with an online business. According to Pew Research Center, 86% of American shoppers believe that it’s important to be able to compare prices from different sellers before making a purchase. Therefore, depending on the nature and price of your product or service, it could take a number of interactions before a shopper is convinced to buy something from your site.

To maintain a relationship with a potential customer after they navigate away from your site, you’ll want to request their contact details so that you can follow up and address any concerns or questions they might have. Alternatively, you might want to tell them about other products or services they might not have seen the first time they’d visited your site.

If you gather leads and use them effectively, you can gradually develop relationships with prospective customers. In turn, these relationships can lead to sales. You can also nurture these relationships over time, encouraging shoppers to return to your site for repeat visits while recommending your products and services to their friends.

Using forms to gather leads

One of the most effective ways to gather leads from your website is by using a contact form. Contact forms let you collect site visitor information (like email addresses), so that you can contact prospective customers to answer any questions or let them know about your services. With the new Form block — available to anyone with the latest version of Jetpack — creating a contact form on any post or page has never been easier. You can customize it to your needs, and even include a checkbox so visitors can confirm that they agree to receive emails from your business. Once they’ve opted in, send emails about your offerings, specials, or promotions.

Curious to see how a form might look on your site? Here’s how you will see it in the WordPress Editor:

Once you publish a page or post containing the Form block above, this is what visitors will see on your site:

Adding a form to a widget

You don’t need to limit your contact forms to posts and pages. To add your form to a widget (so that you can display it in your footer, sidebar, or any other widget area in your theme), follow the instructions on creating a simple Contact Form Shortcode and enter the resulting code into a Text Widget.

Adding contact form to widget

Gathering leads through subscriptions

Another popular method for gathering leads is encouraging visitors to subscribe to your site. This way, they’ll receive notifications whenever you post new content. Users can subscribe through the Subscriptions Widget.

The Jetpack subscribe widget

This ensures that your site visitors won’t miss your latest posts. When they receive notifications that you’ve published new content, they’ll be more likely to keep you top-of-mind when they’re ready to make purchases.

Incentivize your leads to become customers

Some lead forms are more effective than others. How do you encourage as many people as possible to complete yours? Here are some tips:

  • Offer leads something in return for filling out a form or subscribing to your site. This might take the form of a discount, a free download, or exclusive content. Whatever you choose, follow up and deliver it immediately.
  • Keep the number of form fields to a minimum. People may scoff at a form that takes a long time to complete. If all you really need is an email address and a checkbox, include only these items.
  • Ensure that your form is mobile-friendly. Your theme is most likely responsive, but it never hurts to check how your form appears on a mobile device.
  • Play by the rules. When someone submits a form, they will either be redirected to a custom page within your site, or will receive a confirmation message (depending on which option you choose). On your site page or within the message, tell subscribers what they’ll be receiving, how often you’ll be contacting them, and remind them that they can unsubscribe at any time.

Communicating with new leads

After you secure new leads, don’t forget to follow up with them. The moments following a signup or subscription are among those when your new leads are most receptive to hearing from you.

Linking Jetpack to an automated email service like Mailchimp will position you to send subscribers friendly emails right away, including information about your products and details around the freebie or discount code that you initially offered as an incentive.

If a user subscribed to your site content, make sure you’re publishing regularly so they don’t forget about you.

Gather leads to boost sales

Website lead generation enables you to build a loyal following of customers and fans. Gathering leads and effectively following up on them will help you win over more customers in, increase repeat site visits, and acquire a loyal fanbase. If you follow the tips above, 2019 can be the year your website can become the powerful selling tool that it’s always had the potential to be.


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Three Website Design Considerations for Tattoo Shop Owners

If you own a tattoo shop, it’s important to make it easy for clients to find you, learn about your craft and experience, and get in touch with you.

Here’s how Jetpack can help simplify a few of your most important website design considerations when building an online presence for your tattoo shop.

1. Pick a theme that aligns with your brand

One of the most fundamental goals of website design is effectively communicating your brand to site visitors. With Jetpack, you’ll have access to more than 100 professional themes to choose from, and additional 200 premium themes if you’re on a Jetpack Professional plan.

Jetpack themes

With a basic understanding of WordPress and the Customizer, you can configure themes to your liking and communicate your brand whether or not you decide to work with a web designer. Empowered with access to hundreds of customizable designs with Jetpack, your fully-functional website will soon attract potential clients.

In addition to a visually stunning theme, incorporate photo elements into your site. Display photos of your clients’ finished tattoos. Feature each of your shop’s artists, with their own respective galleries of work. Prospective clients can browse through these examples to choose an artist who excels in a particular kind of design, like shading or line work.

2. Make appointments easy to schedule

If your site visitors aren’t sure how to get in touch with you, it can prove difficult to convert them into paying clients. With this in mind, the best websites make it convenient for people to connect with the businesses they represent.

The easiest way to drive people to your business? Make it simple for customers to book or request appointments. A call to action with a generic company email address isn’t enough. It’s better to create a Contact Form that collects all the information you need.

With Jetpack’s new Form block, the process of adding contact forms has become even quicker and smoother than before.

Jetpack form block

With Jetpack’s Form block, you can add forms to any post or page on your website — not just the Contact page.

While you’re at it, why not add and configure a Contact Info Widget? This tool displays relevant business information like your address, hours of operation, phone number, and an interactive Google Map. Putting all of this information in one place can make it that much easier for prospective clients to schedule a time to visit your shop.

3. Use descriptive menus for smooth site navigation

If you’re thinking about improving a future client’s experience on your site, you’ll also want to consider your site navigation. Be sure to label your menus based on words that customers can easily understand.

For example, instead of “News,” you may want to use the “Blog” to label your section of up-to-date information and relevant articles that cover tattoo industry trends. “News” isn’t technically incorrect, but it might just be a term that people associate less frequently with a tattoo shop.

Similarly, if you want to direct people to make inquiries, it might be more appropriate to label a section of your website as “Contact Us,” as opposed to “Inquiries.” If your business is casual and friendly, make sure the language you use on your site matches it.

Your designs can be intricate, but keep your website simple

A simple website with a great user experience can outperform a gorgeous but confusing website. These three website design considerations can help to streamline your efforts and improve your clients’ online experiences with your tattoo business.


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Improve Site Navigation for a Superior User Experience

If you regularly publish relevant content, but visitors leave your site once they finish reading an article, you might want to consider your user experience.

Your readers likely want to learn more about the topic at hand, but if your site is missing a structured navigation menu, they might find it hard to locate the content they’re looking for. This might confuse them, prompting visitors to find an alternative site to use in the future. Ultimately, this can result in a higher bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave a site after viewing only one page) and could negatively impact your search rankings — and your business’s bottom line.

It’s a vicious cycle, and the best way to break it is by improving your site navigation to create a better user experience (UX). Positive experiences convince site visitors to stay longer and eventually return to read more of your content.

Let’s review how having intuitive site navigation can help to improve your user experience and decrease your bounce rate.

Site navigation matters

Site navigation helps to structure your website and serves as a high-level index for your content. Through your navigation menus, visitors can quickly locate the content they’re looking for. This encourages them to explore your site for longer periods of time, all the while building familiarity and trust with your brand.

A great navigation menu can also help first-time site visitors understand what your website is about, all within seconds of landing on your page. Adding post categories and drop-down subcategories to your navigation menu also helps your audience understand how your content is grouped.

On top of making your website more accessible to readers, transparent site navigation can also give you an advantage over competitors in terms of search engine optimization (SEO). Navigation considerations are among Google’s most important ranking factors.

Improving your site navigation for a better UX

Below are a few bases you’ll want to cover to provide visitors and search engines alike with a way to swiftly navigate your site and content.

1. Only display the most relevant categories

Even if your site features hundreds of well-written posts that are meticulously filed under dozens of different categories, don’t display every single one within your menu. Those extra categories will clutter your menus, overpopulating your site navigation. This might diminish your user experience by overwhelming readers with too many options, defeating the purpose of navigation menus altogether.

Jetpack's navigation menu includes the categories: Product Tour, Pricing, Support, and Blog

Instead, display only the categories that are the most important to your readers and use descriptive keywords that are in line with your SEO strategy. For example, a website for avid hikers might display the following categories: “Hiking News,” “Trail Maps,” and “Connect with Other Hikers.”

2. Limit your menu items

Having too many menu items within your navigation menu doesn’t help your user experience either. According to cognitive psychologist George A. Miller, most people can only retain about seven items within their short-term memories at any given time. So, try to limit your navigation menu to a maximum of seven items.

3. Test your menus for accessibility across devices

Make sure your menu is clear, intuitive, and visible across any device that a visitor might be using to view your content. Due to the various design elements that make up a website, side navigation menu icons can disappear into the background, or become unclickable when viewed on a mobile device. This increases the likelihood that visitors leave your website without getting what they came for.

To ensure that your website doesn’t fall victim to this design flaw, test it out using a tool such as Google’s Material Design Resizer so that you can get ahead of the problem before it impacts your bounce rate. You can also make use of Jetpack’s mobile friendly theme that optimizes sites for use across various screen sizes — or simply use a newer theme, as virtually all modern themes are responsive.

4. Create primary and secondary menus

In addition to displaying too many menu items, another common mistake is adding too many menus to your website. It’s advisable to create up to two menus — having more than two might confuse site visitors. Nowadays, many site owners use primary navigation menus for the more popular areas of their websites (such as “Blog” pages or product categories), and secondary menus for important but less-frequently referenced information (such as “About” pages or contact information).

5. Incorporate design elements

Many site owners will link their logo back to their homepage, place menus in locations where readers expect to see them (such as a header or sidebar), organize menu items according to their site structures and content hierarchies, and add search boxes near their navigation menus.

Jetpack gives you the advantage of being able to round out your navigation system with Site Breadcrumbs to streamline the structure of your navigation system, and a Social Menu to display links to social media profiles to further refine your user experience and increase engagement across various channels.

Social Menu allows site owners to create a new menu location, used to display links to Social Media Profiles

Improve your site navigation to give visitors what they want

It’s important to align your site navigation with what your visitors are looking for. It also plays a role in how you want readers to interact with your website.

If this is your first time creating a navigation menu, or you’re reworking existing menus, implement these techniques to refine the process, supporting visitors as they engage with your content.


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Support Your Airbnb Listing with a Property Rental Website

Furniture and towels are in place, the cleaning is done, and your A‌i‌r‌b‌n‌b‌ profile is complete. Your rental property is ready to accept reservations — but you’re limited to whatever information the rental service allows you to share with prospective guests.

When you list a property to attract guests, you’re selling an experience. You want to convey a feeling that is often hard to channel within the confines of an application or third-party service.

Let’s review how keeping a property rental website to complement an Airbnb listing can support your vacation home by providing more images and information that set you apart as a host. Your website can play a significant role in convincing prospective guests to rule out competing listings and book their stays with you.

Receive more views with a property rental website

You may be thinking, “If I’m already listed on Airbnb, why is creating a separate property rental website necessary?”

Having a website to share your rental property with prospective renters can add to (or even replace) those services by empowering you to provide more detailed information about your place, including maps, additional images, and resources that your guests might find extremely useful, like a contact form that allows them to reach out directly if they have specific questions or concerns.

Helpful hosts get favorable reviews

The best way to get and maintain five-star ratings on rental websites is to be a reliable host. Being attentive and keeping your property in good shape is just the beginning. Be proactive by providing any information that your temporary tenants might need. When you do that, you show that you’re an approachable host who is there to answer questions and support guests.

A website is a great place to house and manage all of this information. While many rental properties share instructions and house rules via email prior to guests’ arrival, the very best hosts also share website URLs for their properties. By providing guests with a website full of resources, they can address the most frequently asked questions and supply far more than a list of rules. Going above and beyond with a website will set the tone for your guests’ experience, and might reflect even better on you once it’s time for them to leave reviews.

Build out your listing with thoughtful details

Besides house rules and the always-crucial Wi-Fi password, consider building out the character of your listing by adding a few extra touches.

  • Are you renting out a historic or interesting property? Include an “About Our House” page that explains what makes your property unique.
  • Guests might be interested in learning about your story as well — so introduce yourself and provide some fun facts about your background. This is where you can go beyond the two-line introduction that a third-party rental service allows.
  • Add a guestbook plugin to let guests share experiences and tell stories about the good times they had at your property. This simultaneously provides you with useful testimonials to feature on your site down the road (with permission from the authors) and convinces future prospective guests to make reservations.
  • Share additional photos so your listing stands out. The orange sunset falling below the mountains, a historic hiking route, or even the cocktail lounge a few blocks away — many properties’ biggest selling point is their proximity to other attractions. Rental services prefer that you only share photos of your listing, but with your own website, you can share as many additional photos as you want. When you show them to visitors through a powerful content delivery network like Jetpack’s, your site will stay lightning-fast.
  • Share exciting local events with prospective renters. The farmer’s market held every Thursday afternoon might not be news to you, but it’ll be a first for your guests — so be sure to tell them about it. You can display any local events worth sharing with the Upcoming Events Widget.
  • Showcase popular local destinations — list your favorite hangouts, the best cafe in town, or a legendary brunch spot. Is there a scenic beach nearby that nobody knows about? Use a map block so your guests can plan their trips.

Websites are the perfect platforms to organize and present this wealth of information. As an added bonus, your posts can double as advertisements if you share them to your social media channels with Publicize.

Better ratings, more reservations, increased revenue

At the end of the day, having your own property rental website positions you to achieve one very important thing: providing superior guest experiences. Better experiences lead to positive ratings for your property, which bring in more reservations. If every weekend is booked months in advance, you earn that much more income.

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Build a Bar Website With Great Themes and Jetpack Features

If you own a bar, it’s important to have a strong online presence that can showcase your establishment to potential patrons. Researching WordPress bar themes is a great first step. To ensure that your bar website stands out from the rest, you’ll also need a clear vision of what you want to present to visitors, and how best to present it.

Let’s review some key elements to consider when planning your bar website, beginning with how to choose from the many WordPress bar themes. Then, we’ll take a look at some of the functionalities that a bar website should have.

Before getting started

It’s always a good idea to begin with a dash of inspiration, which can come from almost anywhere. One great way to get inspired is by browsing the websites of other businesses within your industry.

While researching other websites, think about the information they present to visitors. For a bar or lounge website, you’ll likely see the different drinks available, the food menu, and options for event hosting. They might also try to channel the bar’s atmosphere. Once you’ve done some research, prepare a list of the items that you want to showcase on your site. Once you choose a theme, you’ll be able to display them in an appealing way specific to your own establishment.

Hiring a professional to photograph your bar and menu items isn’t a bad idea if it fits within your budget. This will help to shape the design of your website and inform your theme selection process.

Finding the right theme

You already have a multitude of themes to choose from (including commercial theme options); Jetpack users also have access to additional starter themes (and even more options with a paid plan).

Jetpack themes

When browsing through themes, it’s important to consider the ambiance of your bar. Is it formal, or laid-back and relaxed? Understanding your customer base and their preferences plays a big role in customizing your website’s appearance. If you use a formal tone online, but your bar is usually frequented by patrons looking to relax and unwind after a hard day at work, you’re going to be targeting the wrong audience with your website. This could lead to disappointed, misled, or confused customers.

Finding the right theme to convey your bar’s style and brand doesn’t always happen on the first try. To find a theme that meets your needs, try looking for one that was designed with similar businesses in mind. Searching for restaurant, cafe, or hotel themes might yield the result you’re looking for.

Put customers first by prioritizing functionality

When building a website, many business owners only focus on aesthetics. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t always take user experience into account. Great user experiences play a major role in turning an online visitor into a paying customer. If your website is difficult to navigate or use, you risk seeing your visitors leave your pages with no intention of returning. It’s important, then, to prioritize what your visitors will see and do on your website. To that end, here are a few features to include on your bar’s site to better serve future patrons.

Social sharing

Social media platforms help small businesses advertise on a budget. Word-of-mouth comes in the form of online reviews and recommendations, so you’ll want to make your site content shareable across different social networks.

Publicize automatically shares your content on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. Not only can you post new content straight from your WordPress site, you can also enable sharing buttons that allow visitors to introduce your content, your website, and your business to their own followers. Since bars are great places to meet up with friends, it makes sense to maintain a presence on the platforms where your customers and their friends connect.

Search engine optimization

Regardless of the size of your business, you can ensure your content is search-engine optimized (SEO) to help it rank well on relevant queries. Plugins like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack allow site owners to apply solid SEO practices that make their businesses easier to discover.

For information about combining these plugins, check out Moz’s “Beginner Guide to SEO” to ensure that you’re covering every base.

Event management

When you host beer festivals, wine tastings, and other bar-friendly events you give customers reasons to step into your establishment. One of the best places to advertise events is on your website.

Upcoming Events is a Jetpack widget that provides a quick way to display forthcoming events on your site. To power this feature, you just need a calendar application that supports an iCalendar URL, like Google Calendar. Once you sync your calendar to the Upcoming Events widget, you can display events across your website.

Alternatively, if you aren’t a Google Calendar user, you can choose to display events using a plugin like The Events Calendar. This tool allows users to create and manage events from within the WordPress dashboard.

Contact information

The physical location of your bar is an extremely important detail to feature on your website. How else will customers find you? To assist, Jetpack offers a Contact Info widget that will display your location, hours of operation, contact information, and an optional Google Map view so that first-time visitors can quickly locate your bar while out and about.

Cheers! You’re almost done

Once you decide on your site’s functionality and settle on a theme, it will be time to build your bar’s website. While it may seem like a daunting task at first, with the right theme, plugins, and knowledge, the possibilities are endless.



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Create Online Courses With Jetpack to Share Your Expertise

Jetpack is a popular pick for WordPress users because it offers enhanced functionalities and can be used for most purposes, ranging from blogging to e-commerce. One thing that you may not have considered, however, is creating and offering online courses through your site.

Let’s explore how to offer online courses through your Jetpack site so that you can share valuable lessons while profiting from your expertise.

What to consider before getting started

At bare minimum, you’ll need a few hours of video content to get started with creating an online course. If you’re camera shy, don’t worry, you can use lecture slides as well.

It’s also important to consider the layout of your course. How many parts will you offer? Will you include written content to supplement your videos? How will you grade your students on course completion?

After you’ve given the logistics behind your course some thought, consider going a step further by integrating a forum where students can answer each other’s questions and give each other feedback. This can save you from having to address each issue personally. Other helpful features to include are a “FAQ” page and a “Contact” page complete with a form so that students can contact you directly.

Plugins to support your online course

What’s a teacher without resources? Here are a few tools that can help you deliver a curriculum.

Learning management: Sensei

Plugins are what gives WordPress its amazing versatility, as you can download tools that will enable you to add virtually any feature to your site. There are a few plugins that are specifically designed to help you create an online course. These are called learning management systems (LMS), and they make laying out your content much easier. One LMS that’s gotten a lot of attention is Sensei.

Sensei logo and heading

Sensei helps to make your courses attractive, easy to navigate, and user-friendly. Once installed, you can create online courses, write detailed lessons, and add quizzes. Its reporting feature lets you see how many people are enrolled in your course, and you can recognize those who complete your curriculum with personalized certificates.

The features don’t stop there, though. If you offer multiple courses and you’re looking for more advanced functionalities, Sensei even allows you to set lesson and course pre-requisites. This means that users will need to take and pass a certain lesson or course in order to advance to the next one.

Tuition: WooCommerce

Sensei is an extension of the WooCommerce plugin, a popular e-commerce option that’s known for being well-supported and easy to use. If you decide to charge a fee for your course, you can create a paid membership option with WooCommerce to integrate popular payment gateways, like PayPal.

Video lectures: Jetpack’s Video Storage

Screenshot of Jetpack video player

You’ll need a way to manage and organize your videos, especially if your course features many hours of content. Use Jetpack’s video storage functionality to upload videos from your computer directly to Jetpack’s servers, instead of storing the videos on your host’s server. This saves you storage space, and allows your site to load a lot faster. Those with Premium or Professional plans can upload an unlimited amount of video content and deliver it quickly and seamlessly to viewers with Jetpack’s video content delivery network (CDN).

Attract long-time learners

Once your course is live and ready to be taken, you’ll need to attract students. It’s important to promote your course so that it reaches a wide audience. Send out an email reminder (if you have a mailing list), and post about it on social media. If you have a budget, consider using paid ads, as they’re impactful ways to bring in the exact type of traffic you’re looking for.

You should also consider providing written transcripts of your videos, as an alternative content type may improve your search engine optimization and will certainly add to the quality of your curriculum. Additionally, it offers an alternative to an audio course. Those who are hearing-impaired, or prefer to read lesson plans instead of viewing video content, might use this content type instead.

Offer courses with ease

You don’t need to become a WordPress expert to sell your expertise — all you need is Sensei, WooCommerce, and Jetpack to help you create online courses that will deliver your passion and knowledge to the world.

Do you offer online courses through your website? How do you promote them? Share with our readers in the comments below!

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How Jetpack Empowers DIY Site Owners

“Do it yourself” is a wonderful, empowering phrase.

But, it also doesn’t mean much without context; because, while hiring a professional website or theme developer can be expensive, doing it yourself can end up costing a lot as well — especially if you do it incorrectly.

For those on a budget, Jetpack’s many features are here to help. Since its launch, WordPress site owners have been using Jetpack to add a diverse range of crucial capabilities to their sites.

Let’s review four Jetpack features that can help you develop your site on your own, so that you don’t need to pay someone else to do it for you.

1. Theme options

One popular reason why people hire developers is because they want custom theme development. However, even Jetpack’s free plan comes with more than 100 professionally-designed themes.

For example, Argent comes with the tools you would need to highlight your photography portfolio.

Argent theme from Jetpack

Additionally, Dyad 2 is a great option to feature images from your restaurant, cafe, bakery, or bar.

Dyad 2 theme

For website owners who notice a lot of mobile site traffic, Professional plans come with more than 200 premium, mobile-friendly WordPress themes. These themes will make your website look great to those who browse your site on their phones.

Radiate is just one example.

Radiate premium WordPress theme

Designed especially for blogs, it features a content slider and page templates that make it well-suited for personal or business use.

You can browse through, implement, customize, and change Jetpack themes at your discretion. What else could a DIY site owner ask for?

2. PayPal payments

Monetization is a primary goal for many WordPress website owners. If this includes you, then you’ll eventually want to integrate PayPal into your site so that you can accept online payments.

PayPal integration can be tricky, depending on the options that you want to have available. You definitely cannot afford to make mistakes when processing transactions that contain sensitive user information, like names, addresses, and credit card numbers. This will eliminate all trust that customers put into your hands.

Jetpack Premium will manage all aspects of Simple Payments for you. In fact, it’s as simple as clicking an option within your WordPress admin dashboard.

3. Enhanced site search

As your site evolves, giving your audience easy and intuitive access to the posts in your archive will become more important. Once you acquire a loyal fanbase, they may want to go back and look at your past posts, in addition to your recent ones.

Delivering an optimized site search experience is another feature that you could pay a website developer to add, but it also comes bundled into a Jetpack Professional plan.

What distinguishes Jetpack’s Elasticsearch-powered search? It delivers instant, more relevant results to your users, and indexing is completed in real-time, meaning that your site’s search index will update within minutes of any site changes. It’s important to note that this tool is only available with Professional plan subscriptions.

4. Priority Support

Approaching your website with a DIY mindset comes with a lot of benefits, but there can also be drawbacks, such as feeling helpless or overwhelmed if you can’t figure out how to resolve an issue.

Access to timely, one-on-one technical support is one of the most important, underrated benefits of hiring a website developer. But, what if you could get that kind of support without paying those kinds of prices? This is another way that Jetpack can potentially save you thousands of dollars.

With Jetpack’s Priority Support features, Personal plan users will have access to the help they need, including support for the theme options, PayPal payments, and enhanced site search features mentioned above. If you want even more robust support, consider Jetpack Premium or Professional plans, which both include one-on-one concierge setup services.

Everything you need to DIY

The four features included above are just the tip of the iceberg. With Jetpack, both novice and experienced site owners are equipped to create beautiful, functional websites without relying on a third party.

As a DIY site owner, are there other Jetpack features that you’ve found useful? Comment below and let us know!

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Why Bloggers Should Use the Markdown Online Editor

Do you write content in the WordPress editor? Many content creators start new blog posts outside of WordPress (using programs like Microsoft Word), attempt to move them over, then spend a lot of time scouring for formatting issues and discrepancies that result from this cross-platform translation.

What if you could create a better writing process within the WordPress editor itself? It all starts by adopting a slightly different way to write.

Today, we’ll learn how the Markdown online editor can support you in creating a streamlined writing and editing process all within the WordPress enterprise.

Markdown is like a translator

Markdown can be thought of as its own language, but that makes things sound more complicated than they really are.

There’s no need to take years of Markdown classes to become proficient in it, you just need to familiarize yourself with the formatting syntax that makes it tick. In fact, coder, author, and web developer, Brett Terpstra, says, “the syntax is so simple that you can barely call it ‘syntax.’ If you can use an emoticon, you can write Markdown.”

The inventor of Markdown, John Gruber, describes it as, “a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers.”

Here’s how Markdown works:

  1. A writer or blogger like yourself inputs plain text using Markdown syntax.
  2. The Markdown online editor converts the plain text into structurally correct HTML.

How to learn Markdown

The easiest way to pick up any new skill is to practice. Go through the Markdown Tutorial to learn about popular syntax formatting tricks, and to see how they work in real-time. CommonMark also offers its own interactive learning tutorial, as well as a quick reference guide for the Markdown online editor.

Markdown online editor example

WordPress.com offers yet another, even more comprehensive Markdown reference.

Markdown offers more ease with WordPress

Markdown unlocks greater usability within the WordPress visual editor.

Some bloggers begin writing posts using another editor (such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word) because they haven’t noticed great writing experiences within WordPress out-of-the-box. The problem with moving your writing from an outside editor over to WordPress is that a lot can get lost in translation.

Have you ever noticed some extra code when switching between the visual editor and the text editor after copying and pasting text from outside of the WordPress environment? Oftentimes, these discrepancies take the form of unnecessary tags that become tedious to manually remove. If you opt not to remove these extra code characters, it can actually hurt your ability to rank well in relevant search engine inquiries because of the “code bloat.”

Another usability problem that some bloggers run into is having to interrupt their typing to reach for the mouse and highlight text that needs special formatting. With Markdown, you won’t need to do this until you’re done writing, as it’s a completely portable syntax that you can use without having to draft your content within the WordPress editor.

So, if you write better while using a different platform, you can use Typora (a free Mac Markdown editor) or MarkPad (a free, open-source Windows Markdown editor) to draft your content using Markdown and then paste it into WordPress without breaking any code or adding unnecessary characters and formatting.

On that note, manually coding HTML can be extremely time-consuming. It’s also ripe with the potential for errors. Forgetting to close a tag or accidentally adding an extra character can cause a lot of problems. Markdown creates structurally sound HTML formatting while preserving syntax in the visual editor, so you can make changes to either type of code at any time.

Jetpack and the Markdown online editor

Jetpack uses Markdown Extra, which adds more functionality and introduces an ease in formatting with regards to inline HTML, tables, and ordered lists.

To enable Markdown functionality, navigate to Jetpack in the WordPress dashboard, then go to Settings > Writing > Composing, and toggle the “Write posts or pages in plain-text Markdown syntax” option, as such:

Markdown online editor on Jetpack

If you want to use Markdown for comments, you can also do so under the Discussion area of the dashboard. You can even enable Markdown for use with custom fields and custom post types.

Spend a little time learning Markdown to save a lot of time in the future

Like anything truly great in life, you won’t reap the benefits until you put in the work. The same can definitely be said about learning Markdown. Increasing productivity usually begins with a time investment to learn (or create) systems that run efficiently.

Luckily, learning Markdown is straightforward once you put forth the effort. With a minor time investment, Markdown can improve your blogging process, adding efficiencies that you might not have known were possible.

Are you excited to give Markdown a try? Leave any unanswered questions in the comments and our experts will help you get acquainted with this new skill!

Posted in Grow | 12 Comments

Building a Community Through Comment Management

Many successful blogs attract vibrant, engaged communities of followers who are excited to read the author’s latest content. There are lots of ways to engage with your readers, but responding to and leaving comments is especially effective, as it gives you an outlet to share thoughts and promote discussions.

Today, you’ll learn about the benefits of comments, some best practices for comment management, and what tools you can use to make comments work for you.

A blog is more than its posts

A blog is more than just the content within your posts. A great blog that influences readers, reaches out to a wide community, and sparks a dialogue, will also promote interactions between its readers. These interactions won’t be limited to just you and your readers. Your readers will likely interact with each other as well. Followers who connect with each other is how a community is built in the first place.

You can build a following and community through social media. Take a look at the successful blogs that you follow. They likely have presences on Twitter and Facebook, and many will also be active on other platforms like Instagram, Reddit, or Pinterest. It makes sense to expand your community as far as possible; that way, people will visit your blog for the quality content that you post and to interact with others through the comments section.

Good comment management takes this even further. By encouraging visitors to leave and reply to comments while replying to them yourself, you can build a lively, engaged community of readers who keep coming back time and time again, and not just when you post new content.

Getting started with comment management

To get the most out of the comments on your content, you’ll need to do some basic comment management, including:

  • Verifying that the comments feature is activated
  • Ensuring that comments are configured to look great with your chosen theme, both on desktop computers and mobile devices
  • Actively asking readers to leave comments at the end of each post, either by posing a question or asking for people’s opinions or experiences
  • Replying to and answering questions
  • Inviting your readers to reply to each other’s comments

Covering these initial bases can encourage your readers to take part in the conversations that your posts prompt.

Improving your comment forms

People don’t always want to sign into your site just to post a comment on one of your posts. They’ll also be less likely to leave a comment if a form is difficult to use.

Comments setting in Jetpack

Activating Jetpack comments adds a user-friendly interface to your comments section. It also allows people to sign in through WordPress.com, Facebook, Twitter, or Google in order to leave comments. This means that people who don’t want to create an account on your site can still leave comments on your content.

The Jetpack comments form

Once you activate this feature (via your Jetpack settings), your readers will be given access to a comment form. This offers more flexibility than the default WordPress comment form.

Receive comment notifications

To reply to comments, you’ll need to be alerted whenever a new one is posted. Jetpack sends you comment notifications as soon as they’re posted, so you can reply immediately if you want to.

The WordPress app is the best way to receive details about every new comment. If you enable notifications, you’ll be alerted immediately. All you need to do is download the mobile app, and link your Jetpack-enabled site to it. This app also lets you post new content and monitor your site stats, making it a great companion for your WordPress site.

Comments in the WordPress app

Encourage engagement and build a community

Great posts tend to encourage in-depth, thoughtful responses in the comment sections. This may include people posting questions that you reply to, along with discussions between readers that don’t involve you at all. It can be very rewarding to observe readers sharing their views on something that you originally posted.

Get your readers to partake in discussions by creating content that inspires conversations, like the following:

  • Ask readers to leave comments at the end of every post. Pose a question, ask readers for their experiences, or have them share expertise or recommendations.
  • Don’t shy away from stating opinions within your own posts, even if not everyone will agree. A bit of disagreement can generate heated discussions.
  • Don’t reply to every comment or answer every question immediately. If a member of your community answers instead, it might lead to even more community member engagement.
A post from the Jetpack blog

Comments can take your blog from good to great

Effective comment management can make readers more loyal to your blog. Loyalty is partly what drives readers to visit your site more often, as they will want to connect with other people who share similar interests. It can help you build a community, which makes your blog greater than the sum of its parts. It might also legitimize you as an expert in your field, as you’ll become someone who readers can go to when they have questions or need advice.

How do you use comments in your content, and what method works best for you? Share your thoughts, we’d love to hear them!

Posted in Learn | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Building a Community Through Comment Management
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