So you want to start a WordPress Agency? Let’s do it all with Black Friday deals! (Or perhaps any other occasion you get your hands on these tools!)
Our Facebook group has been growing a hefty lot the past weeks and people are constantly asking what’s the best tool for what (the best security platform, best LMS, best WordPress theme, etc.).
I thought why not play a little game? What if we’re gonna start a WordPress agency but do it only with tools that we can get on sale for Black Friday?
Let’s tackle what we need to start out the WordPress agency. Then we continue with my favorite plugins and some extras or nice-to-haves.
First, we’re gonna need a domain name. Namecheap is my favorite place to buy domains.
Not only that, they make Black Friday super fun (and insane), where they have cool little games and surprise discounts.
Next, if you’re running a WordPress agency, you’ll need some good cloud hosting. GridPane provides a very easy-to-use interface for WordPress hosting. (It is an option to get away from a more complex, yet affordable and still fast WordPress hosting.)
If you’d go for something like Linode, Vultr, or DigitalOcean, you’d need to know some Linux, as well as install PHP and Apache. It gets a bit more complex for the average. Even if you’re good at WordPress, that’s still kind of a different skill set.
GridPane gives you a control panel to manage those stuff. They do it by basically letting you pay the cloud provider yourself.
The other option that I’ve used for well over a year now is Cloudways. Cloudways has a pretty similar process but they do it in a way that’s a bit different because they buy the cloud hosting for you and then charge you about a hundred percent markup.
So if you were to get a server from Vultr, it would cost you about five bucks but Cloudways will charge you $11. So obviously that’s where they’re making their profit – they do it on a per server basis. The more servers you have active, the more expensive the Cloudways service becomes.
Versus with GridPane, the more servers you have, the more value you’ll see in GridPane. Your fee is not going to increase – it’s kind of a flat fee across as it scales.
So that is why I would choose GridPane to start off. But don’t have that kind of funds to get going? Well, Cloudways is another good option.
Alright, so you’ve got your domain names, you’ve got your cloud hosting, what are we gonna do next? Obviously we need a WordPress theme.
Astra is the best theme in terms of building versatile websites. It can do anything from ecommerce to small brand type of sites, all the way to learning management systems (LMS).
To add on to that, Astra just released their SkillJet program. I was hired to participate in it, so I guess, technically, I was hired by Brainstorm Force. I need to disclose that to you while recommending Astra.
(I have a new course on schema markup found inside the new SkillJet platform. To get access to this course, you need to be a Brainstorm Force customer. There are a bunch of other courses here and they’re adding more every day, so definitely check that out. Even if you’re not going to launch your own WordPress agency, you still might benefit from it.)
We got our WordPress theme but of course we also want to make beautiful landing pages. Elementor is the key.
It is the best page builder around. I know Brizy is on LTD and has been for over a year now. But Elementor is cleaning up the market (the add-on packs, everything). The whole community is now building around Elementor.
So whether or not you think it’s the best, I’m not here to debate that. But you can’t deny it’s the most popular.
They don’t have a lifetime deal but they have special offers sometimes (like 30% off the first year on Black Friday).
Alright, we’ve designed some beautiful websites with Elementor, now we need to protect them. WebARX is on the AppSumo Black Friday list.
This is what I’d recommend in terms of having a web application firewall, as well as on-site hardening to prevent anyone from breaking into your website.
I’ve been using WebARX since it was originally on AppSumo. It’s been flawless and I’ve never had any issues. We’ve talked about that a little bit in AppSumo Black Friday deal, I won’t belabor it, but that would be my pick for security. Definitely go check it out.
SEOPress is my favorite SEO tool at the moment. I know there are fans of Rank Math, which is totally free, but SEOPress is the one that I go to.
It’s very easy to use and has a ton of built-in features. After sprucing up and securing our sites, we’d want to get them ranked in Google. So check out SEOPress – it’s definitely one of my favorite tools.
Next, you need to make sales. You’d probably need some marketing automation and that is where WP Fusion comes into play.
WP Fusion is the marketing automation plugin for WordPress. I don’t know if anything else out there even comes close to the feature set WP Fusion offers.
The way it works is it syncs up your WordPress database. That is, the data from your site visitors’ activities, etc. can automatically sync up to your email marketing solution.
You can automate email sending and response, tagging, cart recovery, membership protection, and I could go on and on about the features or possibilities it provides. But just the pure simplicity of linking all your WordPress users to your CRM or your email solution is absolutely invaluable.
Now, the problem is they’re not going to ever do an LTD. They’ve been pretty outspoken about that.
WP Fusion is not necessarily for everybody, as it’s not a cheap plug-in. But if you’re beginning to earn some money from your website, WP Fusion is definitely worth the investment.
Its current pricing is $247 for a single site. You can go up to their Plus plan, which will give you some add-ons and still for a single site. If you want to go up to their unlimited websites, it is $540.
Its Black Friday deal is the closest you’re going to get to an LTD, as it starts offering a lifetime discount this time – 30% off for its annual pay. It could still be available for the rest of the holidays (check it out before it disappears).
Of course, you’ll need backups for your website. Yes, your hosts will provide them but it’s best to have your own off-site backups. WP Time Capsule is still the most elegant solution that I’ve ever seen for backing up WordPress websites. They do have an LTD and you can get 15% off by using our code: LTDLIFE .
WP Time Capsule is an amazing plugin. Check our full review if you want to know more about it.
Now we’ll get into some of the extra plugins that I think everybody needs to have for their WordPress agency. But you might not need to get them right away
Let’s talk about forms first. There are a lot of form deals out there but WP Fluent Forms is my favorite when it comes to lifetime deals.
You get $199 (50% off price from the $399 price) per unlimited sites. It works with WP Fusion and is a really solid form builder. They have an amazing roadmap ahead and they are shipping features left and right.
So this is a newer plugin but definitely the one that I would recommend when it comes to WordPress forms now. They’re really giving companies like Gravity Forms or Ninja Forms a run for their money.
How about client feedback? You’ve built out beautiful sites for your clients and now they want some changes.
You could either do it the old-fashioned way as they take screenshots and type you a message OR you could do it the new way via a tool like ProjectHuddle.
I’ve been using ProjectHuddle for over a year now. It absolutely changed the way that we interacted with clients as well as designers. Here, you can zoom around the page and see a little graphic that pops up.
You just click the area of a webpage where you want something to change and leave your comment. Then it’ll be sent over to the person responsible for making the change. The client can review it and mark it as approved or leave another comment back.
ProjectHuddle is an amazing plugin but how it works is kind of different. You have to install this on a WordPress website and what I recommend doing is installing it on its own WordPress website.
So just spin up an instance of WordPress, plan to use it for nothing but ProjectHuddle, and add your users there. Kind of like MainWP – it has like a child plugin that you’ll install on every website you use it on.
Once done, whoever is logged in as an administrator can set the role level. So others can also make suggestions for changes on the website if allowed. The child plugin syncs back to the main installation and everybody can communicate easily with each other.
There’s also the ability to upload PDFs, PNGs, JPEGs and more so that you can do mock-ups and get comments on that. Overall, ProjectHuddle is a great deal.
They’re offering a 40% off on Black Friday. It’s $359 from the regular $599 for the Ultimate pack. But honestly, you don’t really need that because you’re just gonna install it on one website and then sync up to all of the other websites. You’re probably going to be fine with the Professional pack, which has the add-ons – the file uploads, the PDF support, and future add-ons.
That is, unless you find a great reason to have unlimited main sites (“central dashboards”) and get the Ultimate pack. For me, there’s never been a reason to go beyond the Professional pack’s accessibilities (like if my employees need to have separate dashboards so they can’t see each other’s work). I think that’s the case for most people.
We also need some upsells, bump offers, and the rest to get the machine going. CartFlows is the only way that I would trust WooCommerce to do something like this. CartFlows is on LTD this season and then it’s gone. I’m told it’s not coming back. There’s not gonna be any more private secret sale, so that’s it.
I have a whole review on CartFlows where I dressed up like WP Crafter, if you’d like to check it out.
This is one of the best WordPress plugins bar none that you can spend your money on. It says on its page that it will increase your conversions and maximize profits. Well, that’s what it’s designed to do and it does a really good job of it.
Alright, LMS time. We’re talking LearnDash versus Tutor LMS. I get this question day and night over on the Facebook group. Let’s put everything on the table here.
I use LearnDash. I actually scored an LTD on LearnDash, so I will probably be sticking with it almost exclusively for the future.
That said, Tutor LMS is excellent. LearnDash is the older, more developed one when it comes to an LMS on WordPress. It has the most add-ons and the most extensions (integrations with third-party tools). However, there is a lot to be said about Tutor LMS.
It’s actually a very powerful and capable learning platform for WordPress. I did a full review on this where I found several bugs but I could tell they were small enough. And you know what, they did fix those and now the platform’s great.
The thing about Tutor LMS is it’s currently 50% off and has LTDs. LearnDash doesn’t have LTDs anymore and won’t probably do another. You can get a single site in LearnDash for $159, 10 sites for $189, and 25 sites for $329. There’s a substantial discount running for Black Friday but this is an annual fee and next year you’re gonna be paying full price.
So just keep in mind that LearnDash is probably the more sophisticated platform at this point. However, Tutor LMS has the LTD’s and it has a really unique approach that kind of differentiates it from LearnDash.
I appreciate that they didn’t just copy LearnDash’ features. Tutor LMS set up this unique system where it’s very simple to set up your own course platform and basically create a marketplace. So you get your own version of Udemy where you could have several instructors selling on your site.
Another nice to have (but not everybody’s gonna need it right away) is Ninja Tables Pro. You might think: “Tables? That’s so boring. What do I possibly need tables for on a website?”
But here’s a great example – our Black Friday’s deal page. It is organized by rows and columns, listing the software tools with special offers on Black Friday. Each listed item has a corresponding button towards the deal page, as well as a plus icon to expand each row and show more information.
The details here are all set up in a spreadsheet on Google Sheets, that’s all. It is a live spreadsheet and if I add something to it, another deal will show up on this web page. I don’t even need to log into WordPress. Super cool, where I can find all sorts of uses for it.
You can get it for $199 (50% off) on Black Friday. Love Ninja Tables. Didn’t think I would say that.
If you are running websites for clients and they’re selling products (maybe some high ticket items or online courses), you’d need an affiliate system for them.
AffiliateWP is the industry standard for affiliate systems. It’s what all the major players use so I definitely recommend this. They’ve got a 25% off sale for Black Friday.
It’s pricey but if you were doing this for clients, that’s gonna be a worthwhile investment. You’ll be able to charge your clients more and they’ll appreciate you for setting up their affiliate program.
Ending this list with a bang is probably the most expensive one out of everything we’ve talked about. Well, except for GridPane because that’s astronomical.
Easy Digital Downloads is doing an LTD. I don’t know if they’ve ever done one. If they have, it’s been a long time. Easy Digital Downloads is a plugin that everybody uses to sell software online.
I’m talking everybody – it is the industry standard when it comes to selling digital products with WordPress. I don’t know that there’s another real competitor that holds a candle to what Easy Digital Downloads does (and for that, priced accordingly).
Their LTD is $1,500 for unlimited sites. We’re surely reaching the upper echelon of what is acceptable when it comes to spending money on LTD’s.
It is currently $499 for an all-access pass – annual bill, not LTD. That allows you to have access to all of their add-ons and everything Easy Digital Downloads does.
Now you might be saying to yourself, “Why in the world would I spend that kind of money on an LTD when I can use something like WooCommerce and sell digital products for free? Right, WooCommerce is free but there are too many things that Easy Digital Downloads does that WooCommerce does not.
The first one that springs to mind is licenses. It does a really good job securing software licenses, where people aren’t cracking any system they have for doling out the serial numbers. It’s reliable and that’s why people use it while it cost so much money.
So we’ve done building beautiful websites, protecting them, marketing them, and all the way up to selling expensive products with affiliate systems.
I hope this was somewhat fun or interesting!
I’d like to know, did I miss any product I ought to mention? What products would you have suggested and what are your favorite LTD’s right now?
You can leave your comments down below or head over to our Facebook group for more lively discussions.