All transcripts start from the point in the show where we head off into the meat and potatoes. They are the complete verbatim of Marcus and John’s discussion of the weekly plugins we have reviewed.
WordPress Plugins A to Z Podcast and Transcript for See complete show notes for Episode #347 here.
It’s Episode 347 and we’ve got plugins for Newsletters, Preloaded Widgets, Testing WordPress, Travel-based Categories, Memberships and Facebook Citywide Event Listings. It’s all coming up on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
Marcus: It’s Episode 347 and we’ve got plugins for Newsletters, Preloaded Widgets, Testing WordPress, Travel-based Categories, Memberships and Facebook Citywide Event Listings. It’s all coming up next on WordPress Plugins A-Z!
WordPress, it’s the most popular content management and website solution on the internet. And with over 60,000 plugins to choose from, how do you separate the junk from the gems? Join John Overall and Marcus Couch for this weekly unrehearsed conversation about the latest and greatest in WordPress plugins. This is WordPress Plugins A to Z.
John: Well good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, wherever you happen to be out there on the globe today. Coming to you direct from the Brewery Overlook in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, I’m John Overall.
Marcus: And from the Beachside Bunker in Laguna Beach, California, I’m Marcus Couch.
John: And we have the usual great show for you here today. But right off the top, don’t forget you can get all the show notes over at wppluginsatoz.com. And if you’ve got a few minutes, we’d greatly appreciate your time over on Stitcher Radio, Google Play, and in the iTunes Store, leaving us a review and subscribing to the show, which is as simple as hollering into your phone, “Hey, Siri! Subscribe me to WP Plugins A to Z.com Podcast.”
Marcus: It does work. I’ve tried it.
John: Oh, absolutely. We’ve done it several times on the show, but I didn’t want to put you through that again tonight.
Marcus: Hah! Hey, remember also you can check out our training videos, our screencasts, and watch us live every first Monday of the month at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on our YouTube channel. And remember that you can follow the show on Twitter @wppluginsatoz.
John: Absolutely, and don’t forget, stop into the website and subscribe to our newsletter. And with all that being out of the way, I think it’s time to dive right in to the meat and potatoes of the show.
Marcus: All right.
[Plugins lead-in music]
John: All right, we have the usual great lineup of six plugins in this episode and the first one I have in here was sent in to us by Yannick Chizzolini, and it’s a freemium plugin, and it’s called Jackmail Newsletters. And this one here is a little bit different than every other newsletter plugin that I’ve looked at in the past, and what it does for you is it allows you to create a newsletter within your WordPress dashboard; the same type of quality you get from say MailChimp or others. It’s got drag-n-drop interface, it allows you set out specific posts as an email – all sorts of features built into it.
But the best part about this one is it doesn’t try to send the emails using your hosting provider’s server, which can be problematic at times, because even the best hosting providers have troubles keeping their IP clean because so many people on the shared hosting create issues. What they do is you have to sign up for an account with them, so you do have to use them as a third-party system. But they offer up a premium service that is available for you where you can send out up to 100 emails a day, up to 3,000 emails a month, and send it out to your email list. For as little as $5 a month, you can get 2,000 emails a month and send out to your full email list in one big blast.
Very nice plugin, very sweet, works quite nicely. It’s one that I’m actually considering moving the WP Plugins A to Z newsletter to off of MailChimp, because MailChimp requires you to log into their site, create the newsletter, then connect up the RSS feed, and it’s just like it’s so much extra work. This saves a lot of time and effort. So we’re going to be experimenting with that over the next couple of months but so far it’s a great plugin. And also, go check out the interview I did with Yannick Chizzolini about this plugin. That’ll be up at wppluginsatoz.com and currently I give this plugin – it just rocked it right out of the world – a 5-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Wow! That must be nice. I might have to look at that one.
John: It’s very sweet. I was rather surprised and after doing the interview with him and talking to him about everything it can do and how the credits work and how the system works by paying for the credits and how they monitor for a while your newsletter list to make sure that you’re sending out good, clean emails until you earn a reputation with them where they then just let you go. But initially, they are very careful with what they allow being sent through their server, so they’ve got a really great system.
Marcus: Hm, interesting.
John: And it’s a relatively new plugin, too. It’s hasn’t been around all that long.
Marcus: I’ll have to check that out. All right, the first one that I’ve got here for you today is a nice, lazy plugin and it’s also kind of the other thing that we like here on the show, which is kind of a bundled plugin. This is exclusively for widgets. It’s called Widgets Bundle and it comes with nine pretty cool widgets to help power up your website. This I would only use on little, simple sites. I would not use this when you need advanced features or any of the like if you need to split these out individually.
But here’s what it does. It has an advertising widget so that you can load ads onto your site and have them display interspersed with your content, which is nice. A posts widget for displaying posts on your sidebar or widget area, whatever you would like, with thumbnails. It has a nice personal about me section for a widget that you can drop in. You can drop in an Instagram widget that ties right into your feed. It has a social widget that displays all your social media links with icons. It has a subscribe widget which hooks right into MailChimp if you wish. Video widget, which embeds YouTube, Vimeo, whatever. Quotes, kind of like Hello Dolly, but with your quotes, and you can put them right there in a widget. And then there’s another one that has just empty space between a widget widget – it’s just empty and it helps with design or, you know, if you don’t really want to tweak CSS for the entire website, you just want to throw a little spacer in there, you use the empty widget.
So those are nine pretty cool widgets and it all comes in one plugin called Widgets Bundle, and I rated it a 4 out of 5.
John: Now that’s pretty cool. That would take care of a lot of things for a lot of smaller websites.
Marcus: That’s what I’m saying.
John: I do like that. Save some for people that are building lighter and smaller websites.
Marcus: Yeah, that’s it.
John: All right, well perfect. And this show here brought to you by…
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There you go.
Marcus: Yeah. I’ll have a commercial soon.
John: Well, there you go.
Marcus: Don’t worry.
John: Eventually it saves time. It saves me having to reread those same lines over and over again. And of course, right now we do have a contest currently running on the WP Plugins A to Z website – and for some reason I can’t get that out tonight.
Marcus: Just say ‘zee.’ It’s easier.
John: It’s – it took me years to transition —
John: — and, you know, I moved to Canada. I said ‘zee’ for everything and then somewhere along the line, I lost it and started saying ‘zed,’ and now I’m just – I’m stuck and now I get caught between worlds. What can I say?
All right, anyway, I had moved the WP Plugins website to a new server and had separated it from the Multisite integration at the same time. And when I did that, I made some mistakes and I lost everything for the contest that was running at the time. We were running that contest back at the beginning of the year and everyone who’d entered the contest, it all got deleted and there wasn’t much I could do about it to retrieve it. So at any rate, once I got the site set back up on a new server, I reinstituted the contest and currently it is running until April 1st, and we are giving away a premium license for the Foliovision plugin – for the Foliovision, their FV Player Pro plugin, and you can check out the interview I did with Alec Kinnear, and talks a whole lot about that plugin and what it can do for you.
The value of the plugin: $75, and all you gotta do is go to wppluginsatoz.com/contests to enter the contest and just enter your email address in there then share it out on your social media, get a couple extra entries for every referral you give that enters the contest. Help yourself win a fantastic license for a fantastic plugin. And on April 2nd, our live show is when we will be announcing the winner of the plugin. So go check it out: wppluginsatoz.com/contents.
Marcus: We’re actually doing a show on April 1st?
John: No, no. April 2nd we’re doing the show.
John: April 1st is a Sunday. That’s why the contest ends the day before our live show.
Marcus: I thought we —
John: So we had time to get the winner announced.
Marcus: I don’t think we’ve ever done an April Fools show.
John: No, the calendar just hasn’t fallen correctly for us.
Marcus: Yeah, well good – wppluginsatoz.com/contests with an ‘s’ at the end. That’s a pretty cool plugin. I played around with it just a little bit. I still have to do some more with the pre-roll part of it. I think it’s really got something, and I’ll tell you what I thought of with this.
Marcus: Which is if you have a pre-roll and you can set the pre-roll to play at the beginning of something —
Marcus: — or the end, whatever. If you have a membership site, this is awesome because you can say if on any video in the entire site and you have this plugin going, I believe what you can do is say like, “Hey, remember next week we’ve got the mastermind call.” —
Marcus: — “So click here to make sure that you save your space in line and we’ll email you all the details and stuff.”
John: There you go.
Marcus: While they’re doing all that stuff – or prompt for a survey at the end of the video. You know, “I hope you liked that video. Click right here and give us your feedback real quick. Tell us how you liked it.” That’s what that stuff can be used for. It’s not just for running commercials. You can actually use it for company feedback and all kinds of stuff.
John: Oh, the uses are pretty never-ending, I’m sure.
Marcus: Mm-hm, absolutely.
John: All right, well that brings us to our next set of plugins and what I’ve got for you here today is a plugin that was sent in to us by Almin Valyani. It’s a premium plugin and it’s called ARMember – Membership Plugin. And this plugin here is a WordPress plugin which makes it easy to operate as well as have a wide range of features that go into – that are performance enhanced for creating a membership website.
It offers all types of membership plans, free plans, infinite, finite paid plans, subscriptions without a recurring payments, it has unique membership setup wizards to configure the selection of it, it also has built-in form builders to create the material style and spam-free forms for signup registration and login into it. All in all, this looks to be a really great membership site plugin, something you can use on your website to enhance it if you’re building out a membership plugin. It’s different from the way I see the functionality is different from some of the other membership plugins I have used. It looks like it might be a bit easier.
It is $39 for it, it is a premium plugin, and nowadays it might be a good idea to look at premium plugins over the freebies, especially when you’re dealing with something such as a membership system. So anyway, go check it out. I give this a 4-Dragon rating and it’s called ARMember – Membership Plugin.
Marcus: And I’m freaking out because I see that they have add-ons for things like Infusionsoft and they are only charging $10 for that, and plugins like Memberium actually charge like $199 a month —
Marcus: — for that. So I am very, very interested in checking it out.
John: Well, they’ve also got Zapier add-ons, WooCommerce add-ons…
Marcus: Yeah! And by the way, Wade, the founder of Zapier —
Marcus: — has told me a great way to remember how to say their name.
Marcus: “Zapier makes you happier.”
John: And I obvious got it wrong just there, but that’s okay.
Marcus: Yeah, yeah. But hey, I did too, and he corrected me. So…all right, well let’s dive into my second plugin here which is a pretty cool one. This one is called Wander. This is pretty deep, John, so I want you to kinda follow along with me here.
Marcus: This is for people who are travel bloggers or, you know, have different content that occurs in different geographic regions. So I installed this and I was playing around with it, and the first thing that you do when you install Wander is it comes up with this big list. And you might have seen these kinds of lists before. It’s like, “Where have you traveled to?” “Where have you lived?” And, “Where would you like to go?” Right? And so it like takes a world map and dynamically generates those things. And when you talk about them, you can actually type in where you are at the current position and it will show the world map and it’d show like little pin where you are.
Now, here’s the nice thing is when you set up these associations with the countries that you’ve lived in and been in, you can also associate what category – what post category – that goes with that country. So when they click on a country on the map, let’s say they’re clicking on China. You could have a category that’s China —
Marcus: — and you click on that and it shows all your China stuff.
Marcus: You know, your China posts. Or maybe you just want to make it Asia, right? In case you’re not going to go to 50 countries. Maybe just Asia so that you can, you know, document everything that you did there. But this what it allows it to do and it displays not only the map, but a list of countries with little emoji flags as kind of a big category list. It’s fully shortcode-driven and you can display a count of all the countries that you’ve been to and visited and lived in and all that stuff.
This is a really great idea and very, very well executed. It’s called Wander and I gave it a perfect 5 out of 5.
John: Whoa! I had the volume up too high. Cool, very nice.
John: All right, well that brings us up to the listener feedback, and this week here we’ve got a review that came in on iTunes, and it’s a 4-star review. It came from user elikqitie and USA, and it came in in February and they said, “I love this show for the plugins and how they rate the plugin. Lots of information about plugins. Only part that is not clear is the names of some plugins. Sometimes I’ll search for the name they give on WordPress and I can’t find it.” I find that a little odd actually, because we usually give the exact title of the plugin which is listed at WordPress.
Marcus: Well, there’s an easy way to fix that and that’s go to wppluginsatoz.com —
John: And click that link.
Marcus: — and click the link to the show that you hear. We always say the episode number at the beginning so you know and then look at the show notes because we always put the links into the plugins directly —
John: There you go.
Marcus: — from the show notes.
John: That, too. Always go directly from those.
John: But anyway, we thank you very much for the review. Much appreciated. That’s the first review we’ve had in quite a while. We do appreciate some more from folks out there. Let us know how we’re doing.
Marcus: Yeah, absolutely. We were due for a round of reviews here, so —
Marcus: — whether you use iTunes or anything like that, please leave us a review. Give us some feedback. We’d appreciate it.
John: Okay, and this show, value-for-value model, meaning you get any value out of it, please give some value back. And we’d like to acknowledge those that give value back. Anyone who donates $50 or more gets acknowledged in the show notes and in between the live shows, they get noted in the show notes itself and on the live shows, we recognize anyone who donates $50 or more, and we’d also like to give a big thank you out there to those of you who are giving small weekly donations or even monthly donations.
And those donations really help the show out. It helps support us with dealing with the costs of keeping the website online, the bandwidth for it, the transcripts that get done – and those are currently up-to-date on the website, which is kind of nice. We finally got that done – and all the little incidentals that come along with just running a business, so that’s where the money goes. It definitely doesn’t go into our pockets to buy beer.
Marcus: Nope, and I don’t even drink beer and the gas is too expensive in California, so…
John: Oh, no. You want expensive gas? Come here, man. We’re up to – we’re up to about $5.50 a gallon now.
Marcus: Yeah, but that’s Canadian. It’s like that’s only a dollar in US now.
John: [laughing] Yeah at the rate the Canadian dollar is falling, yes. But for us, that’s still quite high. I think —
John: — what? It jumped to $1.50 a liter last week.
John: So at four litres per gallon, that’s $6.00 a gallon.
Marcus: Well, don’t tell California people that people pay that, because otherwise they’ll —
John: They’ll raise the price there?
Marcus: — they’ll start to, yeah, yeah, yeah.
John: All right, and that’s all we’ve got there. So remember, support the show. Go to wppluginsatoz.com/donate.
And our final set of plugins we have for you tonight, the one I’ve got for you here is called WPAutoTests. And what’s interesting about this plugin – I didn’t get the author’s name in here – is I had found this plugin and was reviewing it, and then late this afternoon when I was checking my emails, the author had submitted it also into the submission form at wppluginsatoz.com. So I’ll have to add the author’s name to the notes, but it’s nice to know that it seems to be a good trend on new plugins going out there that the authors are starting to submit them to us to be reviewed. So keep it up, folks!
At any rate, this is a site monitoring plugin and what it does for you is it sets up some – a third-party site monitor. Not just another ping monitor; what happens is you install this plugin, activate it, and then you have to go to their website at WPAutoTest.com and set up an account and set up how often you want it checked, and then they will send you an email report telling you how much your site’s been online, and they actually check to make sure that real content is being delivered from your site, not just a ping.
Because if you know anything about pings, pings just check to see if the server is online. It doesn’t check to see if an actual web page is being delivered, and this is what they do for you. They check to see if an actual web page is being delivered from your website. So your server could be online but something could be broke in the CMS system or the database or anything and no content could be delivered, and you would just think, “Oh, well my website’s been up.” But reality is nobody is seeing anything. So this kind of helps you with that problem itself.
So anyway, it looks to be a really great plugin. Something that I checked out, I’ve set up, and I’m seeing how it works for monitoring the WP Plugins A to Z site and we’ll see how it goes over the next couple of weeks. Anyway, go check it out: WPAutoTests and I give it a 4-Dragon rating.
Marcus: Yes. And so how does it report back to you? Is that something —
John: Via email. They send you an email.
Marcus: Okay. Very nice. Okay, I’ve got something that’s kind of funny, actually, and probably useful in the right circumstances. It is called FB Events in City and what it does is it lets you have your visitors engage the events that people have – these are public events – from a specific city that you list, and it will pull the feed from Facebook and you can embed this on your site with just a shortcode. So you just change the city in the shortcode and it will show all the Facebook events in that area.
Now, if you want to SEO stuff a page, this is probably something pretty awesome to use, right? If you’re going to do a services page and you’re gonna have a million cities that’s in the website, that stuff still works, believe me. I still do it; it still works very, very well. Adding City Events though might prove a little embarrassing if you’re doing this for client work.
Marcus: Because you really don’t have a good filter on what’s being shown.
John: You could be showing the events for the local strip club.
Marcus: Y-yeah. I mean, that’s probably a bonus —
Marcus: But, you know, kids’ birthday parties, stuff like that. You know, I don’t know. Sometimes on how small of a town you live in, but if you live in New York City or Los Angeles or where I live, I don’t think that’s a good idea. But it depends on what you use it for, so if you live in a little small town and you’re making a nice, little small town website, probably something pretty cool to do.
John: It would be.
Marcus: So it’s called Facebook Events in City and I rated it a 4 out of 5.
John: Very nice! That could be quite useful. I’ll have to look into that one to see how it works for the events here, because I live in a relatively small city.
Marcus: Well, there you go.
John: All right, well that closes us out this episode. I covered up Jackmail Newsletters, which I gave a 5 to; ARMember – Membership Plugin, which I gave a 4 to; and then WPAutoTests, which I gave a 4 to.
Marcus: And I covered Widgets Bundle, which gets a 4 out of 5; Wander, which allows you to kind of geolocate your posts, gave that one a 5 out of 5; and FB Events in City gets a 4 out of 5.
John: All right, and just a couple of quick reminders. Drop into our YouTube channel and check out the training videos and other videos that get uploaded there. And a note to developers out there, if you want to support the show and you’d like to offer up a premium license to give away, please go to wppluginsatoz.com/plugin-contest, where you can submit all the necessary information. And that’s all we’ve got for you now, so take care. Bye-bye.
Thanks for listening to the show. This show is copyright by JohnOverall.com. So until next time, have yourselves a good morning, good afternoon, or a good evening, wherever you happen to be out there on the globe today.
John: All right, I’m gonna have to insert the other one at the —
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