No matter what product or service you have in mind, you can set up your WordPress website in a way that allows visitors to securely make a purchase and get access to what they paid for, without your manual intervention.
For example, you can use your WordPress website to sell monthly membership/subscriptions, digital products such as educational courses, ebooks, software, consultation appointments, physical products and more based on your business model. These can be either be affiliate products or services, or your own.
But turning your WordPress website to a selling machine can be a terrifying thought especially when you are not a techy. This comprehensive guide will help you tweak WordPress (step by step) in order to sell anything you want.
Adding SSL & HTTPS In WordPress
Every day we share our personal information with different websites whether it’s making a purchase or simply logging in. In order to protect the data transfer, a secure connection needs to be created. That’s when SSL and HTTPS come in.
If you are running an eCommerce website, then you absolutely need a SSL certificate specially if you are collecting payment information. Most payment providers like Stripe, PayPal Pro, Authorize.net, etc will require you to have a secure connection using SSL.
Using HTTPS and SSL will help improve your site’s SEO. The requirements for using SSL in WordPress is not very high. All you need to do is purchase a SSL certificate. Most hosting providers sell them around $50-$200. Once you have purchased a SSL Certificate, you would need to ask your web hosting provider to install it on your server. This is a fairly straight forward process.
After that, you need to update your site URL. If you are starting a new site and/or want to use HTTPS everywhere on your site, go to Settings » General and update your WordPress and site URL address fields.
Now if you’re adding SSL to your existing site, then you need to setup WordPress SSL redirect from HTTP to HTTPS. You can do this by adding the following code in your .htaccess file:
Don’t forget to replace yoursite.com with your site URL. By following these steps, you will avoid the WordPress HTTPS not working error because all your site URL and content will be on SSL.
If you want to add SSL and HTTPS on your WordPress multi-site admin area or login pages, then you need to configure SSL in wp-config.php file. Simply add the following code above the “That’s all, stop editing!” line in your wp-config.php file:
This wp-config.php SSL trick works for single sites as well as multi-sites.
Adding Essential Pages
Some of this information can be added to a single page, but one thing’s for sure: Many payment providers will not approve your website unless they see this information somewhere.
In addition to appeasing payment processors, you should actually give this content a close read and make sure you can deliver on your promises. Visitors will feel safer knowing they are protected by a privacy and refund policy. Other pages you need are:
Visitors to your website might want to reach you and would expect to be able to do so with the ease of a click, which is the exact purpose of the contact page.
You can use WP Forms to create a form and show your basic contact information. Many pages use Google Maps to indicate a location. This is available via a plugin such as Simple Google Maps Short Code, or you can use Google Maps’ embedding functionality.
You probably aren’t building the website for fun. Whether you’re selling a service or have a full-blown e-commerce website with merchandise ready to ship, the product page is essential to your revenue. Make it easy to see your offerings and as simple and quick as possible for users to find exactly what they’re looking for.
Portfolio & Testimonials
No matter what industry you belong to, you can add your most successful projects to your portfolio. This helps others quickly look at the things you have done, and it’s a great way to build trust.
Creating a portfolio is not just about adding images of your projects with description. Your portfolio should be visually appealing and easy to navigate.
Envira Gallery is a responsive WordPress gallery plugin which allows you to create beautiful image galleries and albums that look stunning on all devices and screen sizes.
After activation, visit Envira Gallery » Settings page and then click on the add-ons tab. Next, click on the Install button next to the Album and Standalone addons and then activate them.
Now you can go ahead and create a gallery of your portfolio items. You should treat each gallery as a collection or folder of similar portfolio items and name them accordingly.
After creating a few galleries, you need to create your portfolio album. Simply visit Envira Gallery » Albums and click on the ‘Add New’ button. Creating a new album is very much like creating a gallery. Instead of photos, you will be adding galleries that you created earlier. Simply drag and drop galleries into your album.
After adding your galleries to the album, you need to click on the config tab. This is where you will configure how your album will display the galleries.
Once you are done, simply click on the Publish button. Your portfolio album is now ready to be used on any page or post.
Other than a solid portfolio, you also need testimonials. Testimonials allow you to showcase your past clients and their feedback about your services of products.
This kind of social proof helps you establish authority and develop trust. You can add them to your site’s sidebar, or you can create a dedicated page for testimonials.
Thrive Ovation is an easy to use plugin that allows you to collect testimonials from your audience wisely, and currently with 37 templates, it lets you create stylish and versatile display.
Setting Up An Online Store
Once you’ve setup SSL on your WordPress site, the next step is to install and activate the WooCommerce plugin.
There are 3 popular shopping cart platforms: Shopify, WordPress + WooCommerce, & WordPress + Easy Digital Downloads.
Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce solution that starts at $29 / month. It’s a hassle-free solution where you just login and start selling. The downside to Shopify is that you have limited control and it gets quite expensive.
This is why most users choose WordPress + WooCommerce because of the flexibility it offers. It does require some setup, but it’s worth doing it for the long run. It has a large community of developers and users, lots of addons and themes, excellent support for multilingual websites, and best free and paid support options.
If you want maximum control, flexibility, and features, then WooCommerce is the best solution for you.
There are hundreds of extensions and themes available for WooCommerce, which makes it easy for you to add new features to your eCommerce site. With WooCommerce you can sell physical as well as digital downloads (such as ebooks, music, software, etc.). You can also add affiliate or external products to your site.
Note: WooCommerce works with any WordPress theme, but it is not always as easy to setup or good looking with all themes. You need a WooCommerce ready theme to take full advantage of its features without too much hassle.
You will be seeing a ‘Welcome to WooCommerce’ notification on your WordPress admin pages. Go ahead and click on the ‘Run setup wizard’ button in the notification. And follow the instructions.
WooCommerce needs few essential pages for cart, account, shop, and checkout. The setup wizard will automatically create these pages and set other options as per your needs.
WooCommerce can be used to sell both digital downloads and physical goods that need shipping. It can also help you automatically calculate and add taxes to your prices.
By default, WooCommerce comes with support for PayPal, PayPal Standard, and Stripe payment gateways. There are many other payment methods available for WooCommerce which you can install later if you need.
The easiest way to accept payment is using PayPal Standard and simply entering your PayPal email address. A lot of people use Stripe too because it allows users to enter their credit card information on the checkout page without having to leave your site.
After finishing the WooCommerce setup through the setup wizard, you are ready to add products to your online store. You need to visit Products » Add New page to add a new product.
Here you can provide a title for your product and detailed description. Click on the ‘+Add New Product Category’ to create a category for this product. This allows you and your customers to sort and browse products easily.
Scroll down a little and you will notice the Product Data box. This is where you will provide product related information like pricing, inventory, shipping etc.
Below product data box, you will see a box to add product short description. This short description will be used when users are viewing multiple products on a page.
Lastly, on your right hand column you will see boxes to add a main product image and a product gallery. Once you are satisfied with all the product information you have added, you can click on the Publish button to make it live on your website. Repeat the process to add more products as needed.
If you are just selling digital goods, then you should check out Easy Digital Downloads. Easy Digital Downloads is the easiest way to sell digital goods with WordPress. It comes with multiple payment gateways, recurring payments, discount codes, reports, and dozens of addons.
It is easy to set up, even for beginners, and strong enough for developers to customize easily. It is very easy to use and comes with powerful features to create beautiful and functional digital goods store.
Easy Digital Downloads is built from the ground up to sell digital downloads. Unlike eCommerce plugins that can be used to sell all kind of products, EDD provides a far better experience for selling digital goods.
There are hundreds of extensions available for Easy Digital Downloads. Addons for many payment gateways, platforms and services, and to add extra features. Easy Digital Downloads works with almost any WordPress theme, however if you have not chosen a theme yet, then Easy Digital Downloads has themes built specifically for the plugin.
Note: If you want to sell non-digital goods along with digital downloads then it will become quite complicated. If you want to add an external product or an affiliate product to your EDD store, then you will need to install a third-party add on for it.
Setting Up A Sales Funnel
In the previous part, we discussed how to integrate a list building system with your WordPress site. So that you can convert as many visitors as possible into email subscribers. But your work doesn’t end there.
Now you need to warm up those email subscribers through a series of 5-10 emails, shifting their mindset and bringing them closer to purchasing your product or service. In other words, you need to convert email leads to paying customers.
This journey that you take them through with the content and timing of your emails and website content is called a sales funnel.
This can easily be set up with the email marketing software that you chose in the previous part of this guide. With MailerLite for instance, you can set up an automatic delivery of emails (according to a schedule you define) to anyone who joins your email list.
For example, I can write a series of 5 emails and define how many days after joining a subscriber will get each email: the first email on day 1, 2nd email on day 5, … final email on day 10. While the first few emails will deliver pure value and build trust, and later emails will also focus on selling your product or service.
Building Forms In WordPress
As a business owner, allowing your customers to contact you should be your top priority. If you want to add a contact form or any sort of information-gathering form to your website, WPForms is the best solution.
WPForms is the most beginner friendly contact form plugin for WordPress. This drag & drop online form builder allows you to easily create contact forms, email subscription forms, order forms, payment forms, and other type of online forms with just a few clicks.
Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, click on the WPForms menu and go to Add New. This will open the WPForms drag & drop form builder. Start by giving your contact form a name and then select your contact form template.
For the sake of this example, we will go ahead and select Simple Contact Form. It will add the Name, Email, and Message fields.
You can click on the field to edit them. You can also use your mouse to drag & drop the field order. If you want to add new field, simply select from the available fields on the left. When you’re done click on the Save button.
Now that you have created your WordPress form, it’s important that you properly configure the form notification and form confirmation.
Form Confirmation is what your website visitor sees after they submit the form. It could be a thank you message or you can redirect them to a special page. Form Notification is the email you get after someone submits the contact form on your WordPress site.
You can customize both of those by going to the Settings tab inside the WPForms form builder. The best part about WPForms is that the default settings are ideal for beginners. When you go the notification settings, all fields will be pre-filled dynamically.
The notifications by default are sent to the Admin Email that you have setup on your site. If you want to send the notification to multiple emails, then just separate each email address by comma. The from name field is automatically populated with your username.
Now that you are done configuring your WordPress contact form, it’s time to embed it in a page. Once you’re in the page editor, simply click on the Add Form button at the top and select the form you want to add.
Creating the perfect website is not an easy task, nor is it a done deal. The perfect website requires time and continual work to keep it that way. There’s always something to optimize, trends to keep up with, security issues to worry about.
In this guide I have attempted to give you everything you need to get a high-quality WordPress website up and running in very little time. Of course, if you want someone else to take care of everything for you, there are companies that offer high-quality and affordable solutions.
Don’t worry if you don’t have everything in place to make your website perfect. Start out as best as you can. Above all else, a perfect website requires experience, which you can only get by giving things a go and sticking around.