22: Need A One-Stop Shop To Run Your Entire Web Design Business? This is for you
Today I’m sharing every single tool I use to run my agency. I’m talking about my business tools and what I use for content creation.
Buy Your Next Domain > https://www.keeganlanier.com/getdomain
Project Management > Basecamp
Audio Editing Platform > Audacity ®
SEO plug in > SmartCrawl WordPress SEO checker
Site Security > Defender Pro WordPress Security Protection
Check out WPMU Dev’s Products > https://www.keeganlanier.com/wpmudev
Thank you for listening! We hope you enjoy this podcast and if you would like to be a guest on the Side Hustle to Full Time Web Designer go to > https://www.keeganlanier.com/podcast-guest/
Welcome in. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. Today’s episode number 22. And we’re talking about a one stop shop to run your entire web design business. And so this episode is one that’s special to me, I’ve talked about my stack in the past, I want to take you through every single aspect of what I do, what I use, and how it impacts running my web design business. And so you know, the foundation of it all is you’ve got to be able to create some content. And as a soloprenuer, a solo freelancer, you know, when it’s a one person shop, you’ve got to wear a lot of hats.
And so early on, I invested in the Adobe Creative Cloud, not the whole thing, because I don’t do, I didn’t do at that time, video editing and things like that. So I really just needed Photoshop. So they have a photography bundle, I guess is what it is. And it’s like 10 bucks a month or something. It’s something around there. It’s very affordable, it gives you access to Photoshop, and there’s tons of great resources on YouTube. So I taught myself Photoshop over the years, really not just the last few, but over the last probably 15 years in Photoshop. So one great thing, and it’s a tool in your belt that you really need to have, if you’re going to do any of that stuff yourself, create thumbnails, for YouTube channels, create graphics, for your website, all those things. And so that’s definitely one of the main pieces.
The other is I use IOnos for web domain. So I buy up a bunch of web domains. And that’s the other sure that’s your street address, right, you’ve got to have a place where you have domains, and what I see a lot of people do is that the whole, they’ll buy domains from different places, like we’ll have a couple of domains on GoDaddy, they’ll have a couple of domains over at Name Cheap, they’ll have a couple somewhere else. And they don’t know where they are, they don’t know how to update them, they don’t really know the purpose and all this so it becomes a jumbled mess. So I’ve I have since day one always used I Oh no. So it was one in one back in the day.
But all of the domains that I own are inside that one account on that one service. And that’s it. So I’ve done that since day one. Now moving into more of the business side of things, I use Basecamp for project management and for outlining this show that you’re listening to right now. So I’ll put a rough outline inside of Basecamp and outline the podcast to do’s so that my VA can go in, she’ll take the she’ll take the notes from the episode, she’ll put them together a show notes, we’ll schedule everything out inside of anchor. And we’ll put the show notes there.
And then from there, I have this I have this really cool plugin. It’s a free plugin in the WordPress repo, I believe it’s called second line, podcast importer. But what it does is you put in your RSS feed from your podcast. And then as soon as a new episode goes live or a new entry in that RSS feed exists, it will pull it into WordPress. And so for me, it pulls it in, it assigns it the podcast post type, and it assigns a category to it as well. And then it sets it as a draft and it pulls all the information in. So all we’ve got to go in is it all we got to do is go in and make some small tweaks. I have advanced custom fields set up inside of my podcast post type, so that the template is already there, my VA can go in, she completely kicks ass by the way. And she’ll just take a few little bits of information, plug them in where they need to be, hit publish, and we’re good to go. And she will also transcribe each one of these episodes, drop that into the website. And then our work is pretty much done as far as podcast publishing.
The one of the prereqs for me doing a podcast was that it really just needed to be really easy. I wanted to be able to get in here and just talk and then have a template, a front a back and then just let it roll. And to edit the podcast I am using Audacity running on Windows, it’s super easy to use. If you’re familiar with audio editing at all, and it’s really easy to learn. I mean it’s not a very complex program. But I use it. I love it. It served me well for many, many episodes.
You know, originally I was doing the podcast with a with a crappy lav mic, or I was recording it on my phone. And it didn’t turn out, the audio quality was not very good. So you know, since then I’ve got an XLR mic. I’m using audacity to record this right now I’ve got a few processes to where I double up the the audio track and have the EQ set, right. So hopefully, what you’re hearing on the other end sounds pretty good. But that’s, that’s really it when it comes to the podcast. So that’s part of the branding. And it’s part of it’s part of the overall business and awareness.
When it comes to building websites, I do use Basecamp. Like I mentioned, I use that for project management, I have my templates built inside of Basecamp. That way, when a new project comes in, I’ve already got the process outlined, all I have to do is change the name, bring in the clients who are going to be working inside of that project, and then just start checking the boxes running through the process. So that part’s really, really, really easy. And then I go into website builds.
You all know if you’ve listened to the podcast before, I love flywheel hosting, have you used it for a very long time now. And I use it mainly because it provides like the security that I need for websites. And by that I just mean like the mental security. I mean, there are server server security that’s built in server level, I provides a SSL, I’ve got site staging, it, I actually delivers a CDN as well. So I’ve got a content delivery network. And it backs up my sites every single day and holds those backups for 30 days.
Now, when I first started, flywheel would have been a little bit expensive, a little bit out of my range, at least from my own mind, right. And you know, it’s like I can’t, I can’t afford to pay 10 or $15 per site per month. And there’s there’s economies of scale, as you put more websites on your on your package. Each website’s cost does go down. But you know, like a great alternative. And an alternative that delivers on pretty much everything that flywheel does, but does it in a different way is siteground. You’ve heard me talk about them as well. As far as the entry level like perceived value. I’m doing air quotes right now.
But the value hosting siteground just hits it out of the park, they do an incredible job. And I’m gonna link up both of those in the show notes below. That way you can check them out. There’s whatever good deals I might have going on right now with the affiliate program, they do throw out some really good deals periodically. All you got to do is click the link, and you’ll be able to get the benefit of some of those deals. And then, you know, really taking it to the next level moving on beyond hosting. You know, if you’ve been around for a really long time, this was the Divi Addicts podcast. And it was the Addicted to WordPress podcast.
So I think you know what platform I use to build websites. Number one, WordPress is the foundation, it’s free. And I try and go well, I make it a point to use services that are dedicated to WordPress that are focused on WordPress. flywheel is one of those, they only host WordPress websites and nothing else they specialize in that. And so I trust it to operate well to run well to be efficient, and to be secure. Because it’s you know, anything that happens as a vulnerability in WordPress, they’re going to know about it really fast, and they’re going to fix it.
So the next part of the puzzle is the theme that I use whenever I’ve got this hosting and WordPress installed. And that’s Divi and Divi’s truly been a game changer and a godsend in my business. I spent $249. And if you wait till Black Friday, which is just around the corner, you’ll be able to get an even better deal. I believe last year, they put it up for $189 for the lifetime. That means unlimited websites, all updates, everything that they offer forever. It’s an incredible deal when most themes that you buy on themeforest are going to cost you $59 per site.
There’s things like Elementor the values not as good. And I’ll say that haven’t used Elementor. The only other builder I think brings close value. And I haven’t played with like Brizzy builder or beaver that much. But the other one I think brings tremendous value is an oxygen builder, which I have used and actually Keegan Linear.com is built on oxygen. I love it. It’s very quick, but it’s also coder friendly. Like it’s if you want to put it in, in the world of cell phones. Oxygen builder is Android at least Android a few years ago androids getting really polished but it’s more you can tinker with it. It’s customizable and it’s also more of like the tech friendly person. platform because you can you You got to know code a little bit to kind of work around it, and you don’t have to, but it definitely helps.
Divi on the other hand is the page builder for WordPress that Apple would build, it’s very polished, it’s very methodically thought out, and it just works well. And there’s not much you can’t do with it. In fact, I recently put out a video all about one of the new features that Divi put out, and that’s over on my YouTube channel, which we’ll link up below as well. It was all about the new condition logic and condition options that Elegant Themes just introduced to Divi. And that’s just like, it’s incredible because it gives you so many options. So just for example, one of the options is you can select which day of the week you want a certain section to show up or a certain module or anything really because of the way Divi is built.
And so you can have a banner that pops up on a Monday, if you have a special for your restaurant or a special for your gym, or a special for anything, you know, Black Friday we just mentioned, maybe you want to do a sell on that day, on the days leading up to it. So you can put I want to run this after a certain date so that it starts after that date and then before another date so that it only runs in between those dates. And that just kind of it’s it’s awesome. Like it’s powerful. And there’s so many other conditions that you can put. I won’t get into it here. But if you’re interested, we’ll link the video below.
And then the final piece and when I alluded to in last week’s episode is WPMUDev, we talked about the importance of optimizing your images, well, wpm you dev not doesn’t just have smoosh Pro, which we talked about at length, and I won’t, I won’t really go back through that one again. But it’s a great tool to optimize your images. And if you’re interested in hearing more about that, check out last week’s episode Episode 21 where you can find it at KeeganLanier.com/e21. The other things that they have the other platforms or plugins and tools that they have are incredible as well. And they’re they’re just getting better.
So a few years ago, I’ll give you a quick rundown at WP mu dev they are WP mu stands for WordPress, multi, multi site or multi. I don’t even know what the U stands for. But it was multi site. Basically what they did is they became the experts in the industry for WordPress multi site. And they had a ton of plugins like a ton of plugins. And all of them were geared towards running via a multi site. So smoosh and all of those were designed to be able to run in a multi site setup, which is cool. If you want to do like web site as a service, you can spin them up really fast. And you can use those knowing that they’re going to work across an entire multi site network.
Well, a few years ago wpm, you dev really shifted. They they came out and said we are going to change the trajectory of our company, we’re going to go in a different direction. And we want to be like a tool for web designers for website freelancers. And rather than just making the multi multi site products, they wanted to be the company that web designers wanted to work with. And they had a great foundation because they had a lot of really good products. What was cool is that they started shifting, they introduced the hub. And the hub. If you’re familiar with manage WP, their hub is is very similar in that it allows you to connect all your websites, and it allows you to install their plugins on those websites from the admin area of the website. And that was it in its infancy.
But what it’s grown into is a place where you can do plugin updates place where you can do WordPress updates. place where you can look at analytics, you can create custom reports for your clients that show the activity on their website over a timeframe that you choose. You can look at SEO recordings in the back end, you can backup your site using snapshot in the hub. And they’ve recently introduced client billing where you can set up subscriptions through stripe, pull them into the hub and build clients looking at stats from your clients. You can see lifetime value of your clients. Just a ton of really, really cool things. And it’s only just begun. That roadmap is really, really exciting.
They’ve got so much coming up and just one of them that I’m really excited about is this sort of software or website as a service to where you can fire up someone’s hosting, they can purchase a domain through you and you can set up the recurring subscription almost automatically so when someone signs up, it’s going to fire up a new site for him. You can have the work Flow completely there, you can bet your ass I’m going to be taking advantage of that from our website business for the agency. There’s no question about that. And so that really gives you the rundown of the hub. And you are we already talked about smart smoosh Pro.
But let’s move into a couple of other things that round out the offerings of what they have. Branda is one that allows you to completely brand the backend admin area of WordPress. So you can put your own branding inside of WPMUs plugin. So it looks like you’re the one who’s got this software package that’s white labeled specifically for you, for your clients. It’s really cool. You can build the menu, you can hide things, you can show things depending on what you want to give access to. And it’s just all around really cool. You can brand the login area of WordPress, and it works extremely well. That’s just a nice professional touch that you can add to your client sites that takes things over the edge, right? It just, it’s just really impressive.
Another one that they offer is Smart Crawl Pro, and smart crawl Pro. I’ve done videos over on YouTube as well. And smart crawl is is an alternative to Yoast or rankmath. It’s a great, great plugin silly easy to use the interface just like all of the plugins wpm you dev does, is designed really well. It’s very, very simple, very easy to use, but also extremely powerful. You can set up your keywords, you can edit the titles and metadata, you’ve got Open Graph, you can go in and do the social sharing, you can do so many different things, check whether or not you want this link to be on this page to be a nofollow whether you want to index it, but the options are limitless. I mean, they really are you can do so much with this plugin, build your sitemap you can do redirects through it. It’s just it’s just really well done.
And then the final one that I wanted to talk about here is Defender Pro. And defender Pro is one of those that really goes and builds a wall around your website. It does such a great job of building that security by masking the login page, which is one of the pages that bots and anyone trying to do harm to your website’s going to go to because every WordPress website defaults to WP forward slash admin as a login page. If you lock down the file editor, it can do all kinds of other things. I mean it really it’ll it’ll lock people out, it’ll blacklist IPS, it’ll do a lot of things to secure your website and on top of that, it will send out emails that give you updates. So if someone is doing something malicious is going to let you know.
And so it really is a one stop shop and wpm you Dev. If you look at their their sales page, it is a tremendous value. Because if you do a one to one comparison, you know between like products, you’re going to pay more if you go on a cart and go to these individual services. You’re going to pay a lot more if you go WP rocket you go to shortpixel or magnify image of fi however you say that there’s a lot of options out there and they’re great options. And definitely I’m not crapping on those things. They’re great tools. In fact, I use WP rocket over Hummingbird that comes included in wpm you dev mainly because fly will just suggest not to use Hummingbird because of the way their servers are set or set up. They use a different type of server than wpm you dev is hosting, which that’s something I didn’t even mention in this in this episode is that wpm you dev also does offer hosting and it’s incredible the value you get for it $10 for their entry level site, and it has some really good specs to it, you know, it’s it’s a really, really, really good deal.
Plus, you know, you’re going to get some of the other options. If you sign up for wpm you Dev. And if you do go with their agency plan, you get three free web sites that you can host as well. I think I paid 400 bucks a year for wpm you Dev, you know, call it Black Friday deals year over year, and got it to where my recurring cost is just not much because I’ve been with them for so long. But even at the current price, it is absolutely worth every single penny for that WP mu dev membership.
And then the one last piece, once I jump off of the wpm you dev story. The last piece that I do use to run my business is Google workplace. And I love Google workplace because it’s something that we’re most of us are familiar with, right? I do the the second tier, I believe it’s 12 bucks a month and I The reason I do that is because it gives me a whole lot more Google Drive storage, which is tied into snapshot, which gives me a secondary backup. So I mentioned that I have daily backups with hosting. I’ll also do a secondary backup with snapshot, which is part of WP mu Dev. And that gets uploaded to the Google Drive into my client folders. And that’s, that’s a really important piece for me, because it really is security and peace of mind, I want to make sure that there’s there’s two backups that way, nothing can go wrong.
But included with that Google workplace subscription is Gmail, it’s the entire suite of Docs, Sheets, all of those things, plus Google meet, which gives me video conferencing and the ability to record those conferences as well. So I can do pretty much anything I need business wise, between those few things. And that, you know, really kind of wraps up the stack of what I use.
This is probably the longest podcast I think I’ve ever done. We’re over 21 minutes. I really wanted to take my time, walk through this walk you through the stack, just talk freely about what I use. And you know, if you’re still around here, and you’re still listening, if there’s anything I can do to support you personally, in your professional journey, feel free to reach out seriously, email me, Keegan@redefinedcreative.com. it’s going to come directly to my inbox. Let’s chat. Like I want to help you. And I want to have conversations with awesome, awesome people. So if we can learn from each other, if I can help you get your business going, find the right text that and avoid some of the some of the headaches that I had in my journey. I am so happy to do so. We can set up a Google meet plug for Google workplace, we can set up a Google meet, you know we get we can sit there and chat and get a 30 minute conversation and just really talk about strategy business, and some of the challenges you might be facing and maybe I can help you get through some of those.
So I can’t tell you enough how much I truly, truly appreciate you listening to this podcast. It’s been an incredible run. It always is a lot of fun. And I can’t thank you enough for being here and coming back and hanging out with me every week. So that’s gonna be the end of this. I hope you have an awesome week. Go out there and just just be an awesome human.