How to Establish Your Own Voice – BLOGGING TIPS

My advice for bloggers trying to establish their own “voice”:

One of the best ways I’ve developed my own voice is to forget about grammar. Just talk out loud, and write down your words exactly the way you talk. Forget about that punctuation crap. You don’t need it. As long as people understand you and can hear a voice speaking to them when they read your writing, that’s all that matters. You’re trying to SPEAK to your readers, not write them an essay.

This isn’t to say I think you should ignore grammar. In fact, that’s easy once you’ve found your voice but perhaps tricky for new bloggers who are so busy trying to structure proper sentences and aren’t aware that they don’t write the same way they speak. Your natural speech is so full of personality. Put that down on paper and then come back around later and take care of grammar afterwards.

WordPress Backup Plugin Review – BackupWordPress vs Updraft

I made a long explanation about it a long time ago but can’t remember everything I said. Basically, BackupWordpress has all the features I need for free and doesn’t nag me at all like UpDraft.
Off the top of my head, Updraft: 1) doesn’t back up the entire root directory unless you pay for premium (so it misses my secret directories or files that I or clients may have placed in unconventional locations), 2) leaves orphan data in database when you uninstall it (probably trying to preserve settings, etc), 3) just annoying GUI that isn’t as easy to use as BWP in my opinion, 4) feels bloated to me 5) nags me to pay for premium.
I absolutely hate it, but am fully aware and respect many developers who swear by UpDraft and trash BackupWordPress for “just doesn’t work, keeps spinning forever”. I feel BackupWordPress can be finicky especially on shared hosts where it sometimes runs out of memory but when it works, man I love it so much more.
I also feel Updraft is great if you like to back things up in bits and pieces and restore them bits and pieces. It’s great for modular backups and granular control, but horrible for if you just want a simple ‘back everything up’ option.

Managed VPS vs Unmanaged VPS

What managed VPS does is give you a pre-tuned hosting environment that fits most sites out there (with varying levels of aggressive caching enabled). If you’re coming from shared hosting, any VPS will be a noticeable performance gain to you. But where managed VPS can be a turn-off is the price. You might pay upwards of $30-500/month for a server that you could have leased yourself for a quarter of that.

Think of it this way, $80/managed gets you either: 6-core server unmanaged VPS and you have to set everything up yourself, or 2-core VPS with everything pre-configured. Most techies will choose the 1st option and set-up the server themselves or hire a cheap sys admin somewhere around the world to provision it for them.

The route of going unmanaged is indeed much cheaper and potentially offers superior service/functionality in the long run since you have full control (but also full responsibility) of everything. Being that you don’t plan to learn any bit of server management, it’s not a bad idea to always have a programmer and sys admin you can hire from time to time to manage this for you. You’ll only need them a couple times a year and you save more money paying them only when needed rather than to pay a managed VPS company a ton of money upfront.

However, some folks really do prefer the convenience. It’s like choosing to build your ow PC vs buying a Dell/Apple and it comes with warranty.

MemberPress vs MemberMouse vs DAP – WordPress Membership Plugins Review 2017

I’ve studied, read up and compared many different membership plugins. I have personally tried MemberPress, MemberMouse, and DAP. Here is a basic summary of why I think MemberPress is best.

For those wondering about my membership site. I basically sell access to 3rd-party hosted videos, downloadable videos & ebooks, and a members-only forum.


MemberPress Review

MemberPress is coded the best, makes the most sense, very clean and easy to use. You can figure things out without even reading the manual very much. The pricing is very fair and affordable at only $100/year no matter how many members you have! Some people may complain that it’s ugly but it isn’t. It’s simply un-styled which means you need a designer to assign some CSS styling to make it beautiful…and even then…it’s just fine even out of the box. I found it to be an absolute pleasure to use and so glad I gave it a try.

It’s fast, coded beautifully, gives you almost all the features anybody could need, and a pleasure to use.

It installs easily, and you can almost guess on your own where to look to find certain options or settings. The tutorials are short and you can get up and running very quickly. It has all the features you need and none of the ones that you never use (but will distract you). You will have fun making money with this plugin. The others will leave you in development phase forever, I feel.

My affiliate link:


MemberMouse Review

MemberMouse is pretty much considered the industry standard. And 2 years ago, it became the ultimate premium membership plugin for Wordpress sites. If you had the money and wanted a really polished product, you would simply get MemberMouse and that was that. The only reason why anybody else would want to try another plugin was simply to save money. MemberMouse isn’t cheap, it starts at $20/month and quickly becomes $40/month and it keeps going up depending on the number of subscribers you have. This can be costly if you’re taking on many FREE-level or TRIAL-level subscribers.

But as time passed, MemberMouse started to show it’s inflexibility. It’s advantages in being extremely full-featured and polished made it large and cumbersome to work with. The backend panel is full of a billion features and not easy to setup if you all want is to offer a few simple options. MemberMouse is great if you want to offer many different memberships at varying price-points for varying customer segments. But if you’re trying to start out simple, MemberMouse feels like total overkill.

But what’s the biggest problem? MemberMouse is bulky, I would say. Even though everything looked polished, the CSS didn’t fit nicely with my theme and I had to override it anyway. I had a javascript conflict with my theme and after going nowhere in trying to edit and customize simple things (MemberMouse does not let you edit their code!!!), I decide to take a risk and give MemberPress a shot. I have to say now that the competition has definitely caught up and many other premium plugins offer almost nearly the same things as MemberPress does, with much easier setup, and even lower cost!


DigitalAccessPass (DAP) Review

DAP is what I’ve been using to sell e-products for the last 5 years and I have to say that I’ve outgrown it. It performs very well and functions very quickly but is really terribly designed. The backend interface is not intuitive and setting things up and searching for where you have to go to make changes or edit settings can be a pain in the butt. Sure, you get used to it after a while and 5 years ago, it was the best option for me. Today, this is no longer the case. I find it to be somewhat expensive, lacking in features, comes with a small number of bugs, ugly in appearance, and with lackluster support and documentation.

I was very happy with it for the past 5 years but I’m glad to have moved on to much better plugins out there. If I could complain about where DAP annoys me the most, I would say that it isn’t intuitive to use. You have to LEARN how to use it and REMEMBER how to use it. I also feel it’s not coded well and not coded in the “WordPress way”.

It didn’t play nicely with CloudFlare, some transactions did not fully process because the user’s last name had an accent letter or space or other “special character”, protected content items still showed up in search results (possibly search plugin’s fault), some coupons just didn’t work for some reason. I also got hacked through my DAP plugin, and learned from my programmer that it wasn’t coded optimally to prevent this. DAP may claim to have all the features but the bottom line is that it seems dated in comparison to the competition.

To be fair to DAP, it still does one thing well…which is it allows you to checkout super-fast without redirecting you to checkout pages. If you use their cart plugin, you can even have the creditcard form right on your sales page. So this way you can have a very minimal appearance in the front-end but still a full-featured system in the back-end.


What about the others?

There’s WooCommerce Memberships/Subscriptions. There’s PaidMembershipsPRO, RCP, EDD, aMember, Zippy, and many others. I would say many of them are either poorly coded or not as full-featured, or a bit clunky to use. Part of this has to do with that they they were originally written as a content paywall system, or download management system, or as an email dripping sales system. Nowadays, all these features are combined into what is called in the modern day as a “membership plugin”.

I think a big problem was that many of them were written a long time ago and kept adding to the existing code rather than rewriting from scratch. It felt like an old car hauling today’s features instead of having it built inside. These other options can be very good if they offer only what you need and you don’t actually want a bigger, more complicated, costlier option. But for me, MemberPress simply wins in it’s overall functionality, ease-of-use, and scalability.

The FASTEST Lightweight WordPress Themes Review – UPDATED 2017

Why do we want a lightweight theme? Besides getting rid of unnecessary visual clutter, they help your website load super fast which is especially important in today’s ADD society and especially important in today’s rising mobile-browsing trend. Fortunately, this trend has forced all themes today to be written with cleaner and lighter code.

NOTE: I’ve tried over 100 themes from well-known established companies to unknown developers. Ultimately, I would say a theme isn’t useful in the long run without a big community to support it. You’re bound to run into issues without any solutions and won’t be as inspired to evolve your theme regularly.

I feature my favorite 5 lightweight WordPress themes, from fastest and lightest to most “full-featured” (but still light): Continue reading The FASTEST Lightweight WordPress Themes Review – UPDATED 2017

99designs Graphics Design Contest Review

99designs is a company that’s been around for many years now. They were toted as a cheap way to get many design ideas for your business and to get up and running with a unique/creative logo relatively fast. Some people saw it as a PRO for all since clients get a good design for cheap and new graphics designers get to practice their talent. Other folks saw it as a CON for all since clients were getting a rushed concept (design contests only lasted 7 days) and designers doing such a low-pay/no-pay job were undermining the market for existing professional graphic designers.

I can see and do agree with both sides of the debate. As of today, the prices have corrected closer to market rate. Gone are the days of getting an entire website designed for only $500. I would say the prices are still pretty cheap. Most countries around the world have a lower cost of living, so they can afford to do higher quality work at a lesser rate than designers in expensive Western countries. With all the desktop/mobile variations, and demands for better/cleaner logos…the level of contest designers have improved but the prices have gone up as well. It’s still great deal, btw!

I would say if you know absolutely nothing about design, 99designs is a great way to get good concepts fast and cheap. And if you ARE design-savvy, it’ll be much easier for you to get a GREAT DESIGN…since you can help refine each design by giving feedback. The best advantage of all IMO is that the contests help you find a great designer for your business, one that not only has the style you want but also understands your feedback. Once you’ve found a great designer, it’s better to work with them 1-on-1 to give them more time to produce better concepts.

The best advantage of design contests is to find great designers, more so than great designs.


Never Give Discounts! (Pricing Strategy)

Discounts wreck your price integrity in consumers eyes as they start to lose respect/value for your prices over time. The negative effects impact you less if you:

  • have tons of products (and only discounting some),
  • regularly change your products (and discount “older” ones),
  • or you discount products during launch but increase them after launch.

This is why it works when big retailers with many products or often-changing products can discount….but absolutely horrible and not recommended for a company with few products that stay the same (like APPLE).

As for throwing in more and more bonuses, I don’t like that idea too much either but it can work and still retain your premium pricing if the added value is just enough to feel like added value but not so much that it feels like you’re throwing products away to get sales (desperation).

Discounting to increase sales might work the first couple times but soon afterwards customers stop buying (losing respect for regular prices) and just wait for the next sale. If you’re gonna promote, promote features and value, not discounts!

Make Money with Wordpress