Making a better website business with Beaver Builder.#3 – The Blueprint Plugins

In this third post I’m sharing the WordPress plugins we are using for our new web building service. Why we have chosen them and how we are handling licenses.

Plugin Licensing and Client freedoms

I talked about this subject recently in the podcast I do with Nathan Wrigley at WP Builds.  This episode was called What do clients need to know about web software licenses? . Here I only want to share the approach we are taking with this productized service:

Offering choice

Although our aim is to build a scalable recurring income through our Care/Hosting Plan I did not want to lock customers in. I didn’t want us to be another Wix, Weebly or Squarespace offering only a rental option.  Equally I knew that most clients are not well equipped to self manage.  This has become increasingly so since moving from the Genesis Framework (a tool that primarily helped me build sites) to Beaver Builder (a tool that significantly empowers clients). We needed an easy way to help a client make the right choice.

Setting off on the right foot

We decide the best way was to offer the client both a “Self Hosting” option and a “Care Plan” option right from the start. Presently this is an email following a first enquiry, but when we have our free course it will be covered there.

First we give the fixed cost of the 2 day build  and then the option of:

1. Self Hosting where they get the website files and take full responsibility for migrating, hosting and buying software licenses.  There’s a warranty for 30 days after which we can only offer support via the Care Plan. They have to buy an add on product from us if they can not get their hosting company to migrate the site.

We provide an estimated price for the build plus hosting and software for the first and following years. We advise this is best only for those who have technical support or knowledge and time for it. The list of software is given only on request.

2. Care Plan where they don’t have to worry about multiple vendors and migration. They get updated via our unlimited licences and we fix update issues for them. This is the present landing page for this.

We discount them on the build too as they will not need a warranty. Further discounting is available to care plan adopters who book within a month. It makes the Care plan the cheaper option and discourages multiple enquiries from those who can’t commit.

The hope is that when it comes to reviewing their Care Plan subscriptions they will remember we are saving them money not costing them it.

WordPressPlugins-customers

Thirty plus plugins – Really?

This section is prompted by a question I saw on the Beaver Builder Facebook Group yesterday about how plugins were being used.

This is always a fun question that produces some surprise answers, but it is a silly one. With WordPress functionality can equally be added to themes and plugins are not equal in the server resource they use.  There’s no ideal number. In fact, to reduce dependencies on themes, plugin is often the way to go. As Justin Busa (the lead developer at Beaver Builder) points out creating your own is easier than you think . Yep, even I managed it.

What  I wanted to say before moving to the list is I was conscious of plugin load and quality when choosing these plugins. That said I also have to balance business priorities. For example I use a resource heavy security plugin to give client reports (it raises the value of the Care Plan). Ideally I would like to tighten security with manual tweaks and a couple light plugins.

And now the Blueprint Plugins:

I expect this section will get updated over time.  I don’t claim any to be “the best”, but I hope putting their use in context it may help. In most cases, I have recently tried out the competition to see if I’m still happy with the choices.

( PS. this is an affiliate links minefield. The dream is that one day my content will pay for my software bill. I am a long way off, but many thanks to those who buy from them.)

Core Set

Beaver Builder (Agency) and Beaver Themer

Reason:  They’re intuitive, developer friendly and have a track record for problem free updates (essential to a profitable care plan).  For the best long-term integration we chose the Beaver Builder theme over many strong competitors.  It also has the added benefit of being one less vendor should a client need to self manage.

Beaver Themer is not essential, but as it is both powerful and lightweight we are going to include it in all builds. The agency version is not needed as we are proud to credit Beaver Builder, but we do rename part of our install to make it easy to understand.

Gravity Forms (premium – Developer License) 

Reason:  Even on simpler sites we typically need more than Beaver Builder Forms offers. After reviewing the options again we chose to stay with Gravity Forms.  We’ve had over 5 year of faultless updates and it is by far the most popular with the most 3rd party addon for it.  We also have training videos for Gravity Forms via Video User Manuals. To speed styling up we’re using Styler for Gravity Forms (this is by the team behind PowerPack).

Yoast SEO (free)

Reason: It’s popular, established and adds a sitemaps. Unlike some it allows us to add metadata to archive pages and Custom Post Types (CTP). To speed up SEO and make it easier for clients we are using Beaver Builder Toolbox which offers basic front end editing for Yoast. Again we have training videos for Yoast SEO via Video User Manuals.

Antispam Bee (free)

Reason: I’ve been using this for 5 years as a free alternative to Akismet. In all this time it has appeared to have caught all spam comments without blocking a single genuine commenters. I did not achieve this with Akismet.

WordFence (free)

Reason:  I am less certain on this as I am inclined to do manual fixes to secure WordPress, but using this plugin allows for good client reporting via MainWP for our Care Plan. The company is dedicated to security and as I follow their blog on wider security issues it seems a good match. I’m currently considering using WPS Hide Login to keep away bots.

WP Rocket (premium)

Reason:  With a couple of clicks it has speeded up sites that I spend days optimising. Now I have my default configuration it is only a matter of activating at the end of a project.

EWWW Image Optimizer (free)

Reason:  One of the most effective free plugin. It also prevent clients uploading images with extremely large dimensions. It’s possible I could swap to Imagify which has free allowances that would be enough for many client, but it could over complicate things.

Backup Buddy (premium) & WP Time Capsule (free)

Reason:  This was not an easy choice. BackupBuddy gets a lot of criticism for failing to backup. I experience this and added UpdraftPlus to send backups to Amazon S3.  Then I had a problem with it not restoring!  Now I am hosting almost all on Digital Ocean. BackupBuddy works fine and as it has always restored it has been my preferred way to migrate sites.

For extra protection WP Time Capsule is being added as it takes little server resources.  Followed a tip from my podcast buddy Nathan Wrigley. I have unlimited SpiderOak account and like him save copies on it via Google Drive.

WordPressPlugins-Performance

 

Added Functionality

SeedProd Coming Soon Page Pro

Reason:  I bought lifetime licence! The free version would be fine. One nice premium feature is we can grant the client a temporary URL that allows them to show the site to their colleagues without a login.  With our builds we only deal with one person. They must project lead their own side of it.

Advanced Custom Fields PRO

Reason:  It creates nice clean user friendly fields for clients and is what the Beaver Builder team use and first integrated with Beaver Themer. I’m not 100% consistent, but I have a preference for plugins that do one job well. The free version would cover most sites we do, but with a one off lifetime payment moving to the Pro version was not a hard decision.

Custom Post Type UI (free)

Reason:  This is for convenience. It’s not difficult with something like GenerateWP to create the code manually, but with this the Trainer/Designer working with the client would be able to create them.

Added Design

PowerPack for Beaver Builder
Ultimate Addons for Beaver Builder

I cover these two plugins in the second post in the series and these are pre-configured and activated depending on the project.

Envira Gallery
Soliloquy Slider

Reason:  I’ve had their life deal for many years (it is still available). Typically we avoid sliders for anything other that secondary content. This offers some options not found in Beaver Builder.  Envira Gallery is particularly useful for it’s addons. It is lighter weight (particularly on mobiles) than the Beaver Builder gallery module.

BNE Flyout (premium)

Reason:  In case an off canvas menus are requested.  I bought this from their own site where they generously offer unlimited use without subscription. I hope not too generous to be able to continue support.

TablePress (free)

Reason:  Recommended by the Beaver Builder team for tables.

WPD BB Additions (free)

Reason: Mainly for quickly loading pages when there is a video or Google map content. When providing hosting the saving on resources helps us to. There as a few other nifty modules which make it worth checking out.

Added for Conversion

Scriptless Social Sharing (free)

Reason:  It’s lightweight and simple.

Beaver Popups (freemium – probably)

This is still being developed by Doug Belchamber at WP Developers.  Previously I have used Popup Maker with Beaver Builder shortcodes and a Popups module is available in PowerPack and UABB, but I feel Beaver Popups will better suit clients needing to manage this content with Beaver Builder. You can see a video of it here.

Utility 

Admin Page Spider Pro Pack

Reason:  I covered this in a video here, but in short it speeds up working with Beaver Builder particularly with Beaver Themer incredibly. I could not be without it now.

Better Search Replace

Reason:  This is included ready for migration. We build the site on a development area with SSL on to see all is working OK. When we migrate via BackupBuddy it is to a http:// address initially. The plugin allows us to swap the http://’s in the database to https://.

Customizer Export/Import

Reason:  Uncertain. This free plugin was made by Justin Busa of the Beaver Builder team. It is possible we may wish to save some customizer setting to reuse.

Duplicate Post

Reason:  For sites with Post Types that have multiple fields where many do not need changing. WooCommerce allows the duplication of products for this reason.

WaspThemes – Yellow Pencil Pro

Reason:  Uncertain. We are building live with a client often present. The person taking the role of designer can with it make CSS changes easily, but we expect the developer to remove and convert in the cleaner code added to the Beaver Builder Themes stylesheet. I’m also trying out Microthemer version 5 which is presently in beta and is improved from when I reviewed it and others here.

Other

Video User Manuals

Reason:  These are included for those on our Care Plan and can be used as training while the build is going on.

MainWP Child
MainWP Child Reports

Reason:  These connect the site to MainWP which we use to manage client sites on the Care Plan. This is a post for a later date.

In the next posts I shall be looking at the pages and templates I’ve set up in the blueprint. I hope you will join me… and feel free to comment below.

 

DWcircle

I build websites at WP Corner Shop and travel. I also co-host a weekly WordPress podcast called WP Builds and make YouTube videos.

  1. Bill Barnes on 25th April 2017 at 10:45 am

    This is great! Thank you.

    I was unaware of a few of these plugins, so i’ll cite this article as one of my sources when I write about my favorite plugins later. GravityForms, SeedPod and that MainWP report extension had me really thinking. I find clients want concrete proof of my work, and it’s always kind of difficult figuring out how to write it all up. This may be the ticket.

    • David Waumsley on 25th April 2017 at 3:17 pm

      You’re great Bill. You have just made my day with this comment . Thank you.

  2. Torben on 27th April 2017 at 4:41 pm

    What an awesome post David, thanks!

    I know of WP Rocket but I’m not sure when/if it’s allowed to use it on client websites! WP Rocket both have their normal plans at https://wp-rocket.me/pricing/, but they also have a reseller solution at https://wp-rocket.me/become-a-reseller/.

    They say this about the reseller plan: “If you are a webhosting company, or if you want to offer WP Rocket to customers as part of a site optimization service (for example), our reseller program allows you to purchase Single licenses at 20% off to sell to your customers.”

    The thing I’m in doubt with is if it’s ok to install WP Rocket on a client site as part of a care plan if I have an infinite plan. Do you know something about that?

    I’m looking forward to the next post :-)

    • David Waumsley on 29th April 2017 at 8:59 pm

      Thank you and sorry for the delay Torben. The ultimate Ironically occurred. After saying Antispam Bee was good for not blocking false positives it held this comment. I think because of the two similar links. LOL!

      I remember this reseller offer coming out. SiteGround, I think, we’re one of the first they accepted. As I understand it unlimited licenses are for us freelancers and agencies. It came first.

      I suspect after they were very clear they were not doing affiliates they got told by big hosting players that there was nothing in for them to recommend them and made an exception.

      I think it is fine to put on as many clients site as you like. Certainly everyone I know is.

  3. Todd E Jones on 4th May 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Hey, David, I love that you include MainWP in your blueprint!

    • David Waumsley on 5th May 2017 at 2:01 am

      Hi Todd. Thanks for the comment. I really like MainWP. I have limited experience of the competition, but MainWP’s new ability to be able to deliver client reports to a client’s Woocommerce account is really exciting.

  4. John Martin on 15th May 2017 at 5:35 am

    David,
    I have just lost the best part of a day thanks to you.
    You see, I just hadd to review everything you said and investigsate some of the tips you gave.
    Well I may have lost a day but the knowledge and uderstanding I have gained from your insights and suggestions is INVALUABLE!
    You are indeed generous with your knowledge and in the 12 months I have been with the Beaver Community ( I can only do this part time unfortunately) I have learnt so much from you.
    From the bottom of my heart – Thank you.
    I wish there was some way to give back some of what I have received.
    Cheers Mate.

    • David Waumsley on 15th May 2017 at 6:09 am

      I take all major credit cards John. No seriously, I can’t thank you enough for this comment. I’m not a particularly confident or comfortable in the spotlight so this really makes it worthwhile. Stay in touch mate :-)

  5. Alex Calinov on 11th August 2017 at 8:25 pm

    This is gold. It’s great to see what tools are other developers using and why.

    – Beaver Builder Agency. I really wish they would include the Themer in the Agency Package.
    – Antispam Bee – I’ll definitely give it a try.. I need to give it a try. I though Akismet it’s the best.
    – WordFence. – I prefer iThemes Security
    – WP Rocket – I’m a big fan of this plugin as well. Definitely worth every penny.
    – EWWW Image Optimizer -> Go for Imagify, it’s better and the free plan it’s more than enough for clients.. Actually what I do, is use my own license when I build the website as I’m on a paid plan, and optimise everything. Once that’s done, I switch them to their own free license.
    – BackupBuddy – I’ve been using backupbuddy for awhile, but every day, I’m more and more inclined to switch to updraftplus. Altough I’m happy with the backups I get from ManageWP.
    – ACF – no love for Pods?
    – UABB & PP – I use both. Do you actually deactivate all the modules that you don’t use. Does it really make a difference in performance?
    – Scriptless Social Sharing (free) – I used this before but then switched to Social Warfare and never looked back.
    – Pop-ups – Any comments on the upcoming ConvertPro from BrainstormeForce?

    • David Waumsley on 20th August 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Sorry Alex for the delay. Great comment. Thanks for taking the time. Useful stuff.

      Akismet – yeah I could be the best. You are just supposed to pay when it is for commercial use. It’s probably me but I had more problems with false positives that with Antispam Bee. It seems to do the job for me.

      iThemes Security – I used to install it. I’d rather not have either, but hope to use some WordFence reporting in my client reports with Main WP. I got nothing for iThemes Security :-(

      Imagify – yeah it’s very good. It is possible some clients could need to pay so I have avoid the complication of that. Also, I ran it on it highest setting on a optimized site and it wrecked it (everything got badly pixilated). I might use it yet, but would need to guard against a client mishap.

      Pods – Ha ha, it’s now something I will used on more complex sites needing relational data. I did not understand it before. ACF still stays for making nice looking client fields. I going for simple site and easy to uses.

      Social Warfare – looks great. I think quite demanding on servers resources too. Probably too much for what I need, but definitely on the reserve list.

      ConvertPro – Yeah I have been looking at that too (you can get 25% off with this coupon “BETAUSER” or “COLIN” at the moment). Looks good but again more than I need right now. Later I will be adding marketing packages then I will be looking at it against the whole Thrive Themes package.

      Thanks again :-)

  6. Marie Cloete on 19th June 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Hello there ,
    Thank you for telling me about this WordPress plug-in to compress my pictures here: davidwaumsley.com/making-a-better-website-business-with-beaver-builder-3-the-blueprint-plugins/
    But then I discovered that adding plug-ins to my site itself causes the site speed to go down, which kinda ruins the purpose. So that is why I decided to look around for a free online tool.
    After some exploring,I wanted to suggest it as an alternative to the plug in.
    https://www.websiteplanet.com/webtools/imagecompressor/,
    This is a free online tool that allows you to compress pictures that are up to 50 MB in size both in jpeg and in png format! So maybe sharing it with your users can help them too.
    In hope I helped back.

Leave a Comment





Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!