5 Ways to Add Automation Into Your Web Design Business


  1. Website Maintenance Tasks (Backups, Reports)
  2. AutomatorWP / Uncanny Automator 
  3. Zapier / IFTTT 
  4. Text Expander / Paste (to streamline common replies)
  5. Client Invoicing 

Read the full episode transcript below:

00:28 David Blackmon: Welcome to another episode of WP The Podcast, my name is David Blackmon.

00:35 Tim Strifler: And i’m Tim Strifler

00:38 David Blackmon: Today in episode 808 we’re going to talk about five ways to add automation into your web design business. Now a couple of episodes ago in episode 806 we talked about the importance of adding automation into your business. Why you might want to do that. So if you want to take a listen there, you can today we’re going to talk about some specific things that you can automate in your WordPress-based business that’s going to save you time and ultimately end up saving you money. And in the long run could make you a substantial amount of money. So a little back story before we dive off into these five topics. When i first started building websites for clients years ago, i really wanted to get away from um you know the the day-to-day grind of having to find a new client to bring revenue into my business. So i wanted to you know start learning how to generate recurring revenue and by automating certain aspects of my business. I found out that there were ways that i could do that and stuff, so that’s hugely valuable and then time time is money my most valued asset. If i can automate some things then it’s going to free me up to do even more things that i’m better at as opposed to being bogged down with these, you know tedious tasks that i’m having to do over and over and over again. So i’m going to get us started off today the first thing that we’re going to talk about or recommend that you may wanna add an automation into your WordPress website business is it may seem like super logical, but we’re gonna say it anyways. Are your backups and your reports for your website so um you know backups are hugely important you know. Having backups of of all websites is is important because you just never know what’s going to happen. A server could go down, there could could be you could get hacked, there can be things that are completely out of your control, and your website could go down well having a backup for it. Is huge, lets you get your site back really quick. Well there are numerous ways that allow you to you know automate that process and stuff. One of them is Updraft Plus. A couple of episodes ago we talked about um you know how to how to up back up your WordPress website to Google Drive for example, totally free totally easy but hugely valuable and important. Another thing that you may want to automate might be reports. You may have a list of clients that you need to generate reports to on a monthly basis they may want to whether it’s analytics whether it’s uh you know if you’re doing inbound marketing for these customers and stuff. And you need to generate reports to show you how they’re doing, how you’re doing how the what what roi they have on the investment that they’re making with you. So those are just a couple of ways on the website maintenance tasks that you may want to consider audit adding automations to.

03:45 Tim Strifler: Yeah absolutely. So the the next way that you can add automation into your web design business is by using automation plugins. So for example there’s two there’s several but there’s two uh big ones uh that are really popular. Automator WP and Uncanny Automator, and they have a lot of the same features and the same integrations, but basically what it does is it will allow you to link certain plugins on your website together to do certain things and to automate. So for example this is just kind of a rough example but say you had a lead form using Gravity Forms on your website, and when you have a potential client land on your site, you have them fill out a lead form if they’re interested in booking a call, and then what you can do is using Automator WP. You can link Gravity Forms to other tools that you’re already using. So for example if you wanted the the lead to go into your CRM so you use Fluent CRM for example where you can have that lead go into Fluent CRM, you could have it automatically send them an email with a link to fill out a client questionnaire, and then you can have it go to a scheduling app, to then actually schedule it in your um on your calendar. And then send them a Zoom link or you know what whatever. So you can basically have triggers and actions right and when they fill up that Gravity Form saying that they’re interested in hiring you as a web designer. It will trigger all these actions to happen right depending on what you’re using and what you want it to do and stuff like that. So that you’re not getting an email and then having to go in and manually add them to your CRM or manually send them a Zoom link for the call or or whatever, you know that typical process is. You can have all of these things happen automatically, and that’s just a rough example. If you go to automatorwp.com or Uncanny Automator figure out what the url is for that, you can look at the tools that you’re using and then see all the available integrations that they already have for that tool. So it’s really really powerful to be able to link different plugins together that you’re already using on your site. You just don’t have them linked together, so that is a great way to add automation. You can really get creative with it and as we mentioned a couple episodes back we talked about some of the reasons why you’re going to want to add automation into your business it really comes down to saving time and it might take a little bit of time up front to kind of figure out and how it’s going to link together and stuff, but then after that your time is saved you know, potentially for years because you have just those automations already configured and running indefinitely.

06:45 David Blackmon: Absolutely! Next on our list, number three is Zapier or Ifttt. So let’s let me give you an example of when you may want to use a Zap for short that’s what you know they’re called. Uh and and i’m gonna put this out there up front Zaps can get expensive because, i think they charge per Zap or something. Yeah but Ifttt on the other hand which is conditional logic and that’s kind of what Zaps are as well. You know Ifttt if this then that which means you’re, you know if they take this action make this happen. Um so let’s just keep it simple. You know, we’re all create we know the importance of creating content on our websites, well you know let’s face it running an online business is a tremendous amount of work and you can get stuck spending countless hours you know managing that aspect. So you write a blog post you create a video then you’ve got to go to all the social media things and share it on facebook instagram twitter wherever your audience is,  you got to publish it write descriptions. It can be overwhelming. Well these are some of the things that you can automate and Ifttt or Zapes can automatically share pro posts across social media platforms. They can publish them quickly they can bring photos into your blog, manage drafts there’s just so many things that you can do to automate. It is huge, so you know and you don’t have to do this on every single blog post. You can set it up to where if you write a blog post for example. And when it’s published you can have a Zap or an Ifttt you know, set to recognize okay new blog post is published we’re going to share it here here and here and these things are just going to automatically happen. Now once that’s set up like Tim said, you’re golden you know you’re not having to to do this over and over and over again, you’re setting it up one time and it’s going to be an action that’s going to take a tremendous amount of weight off of your shoulders and stuff. So take a look at Zaps, there’s so many things that you can you can set up automations for with those two programs it’s crazy. I just used a simple blog post and sharing them social media and stuff but there’s really the sky’s the limit.

09:15 Tim Strifler: Yeah, and the difference between using automated WP or Uncanny Automator versus Zapier or Ift is it depends on whether or not it’s happening in your internal website. So Automator WP and Uncanny Automator those are linking plugins together that are on the same site where Zapier and ift or ifttt whatever you want to call it. Those are linking apps together that you’re using, they don’t have to be on your same site. It could just be if you’re using Slack and you’re using Salesforce and you’re using you know what this tool over here, you can kind of link them all together and have certain things trigger other things. So similar similar reasons to do it but it depends on whether or not it’s happening on the same site. So the next thing on our list next way to add automation into your web design business is to use tools like Text Expander or Paste to Streamline common replies. Let me explain what i mean when you are a small business owner a lot of times you are saying the same things over and again over and over again right? You’re saying the same types of responses to potential customers, when you’re booking calls with them or you have common responses that you’re saying to clients when you know it’s time for them to review the website changes. Right, so there’s all these different things that you’re saying over and over again. Well don’t repeat yourself, don’t reinvent the wheel, don’t type everything from scratch every time. Use automation use tools to streamline those common reply. So Text Expanders one i’ve used it quite a bit basically what you do is you pre-write some of those common replies and then you create like a short abbreviation. And so um for example one of the ways that i used it would i would have customers that would reach out in my pre-sales form asking for support. And so i would have to then point them over to the support ticket right and so because even though it clearly was labeled and you know they agreed that this was a pre-sales question they would still ask support questions in the pre-sales form anyways. So i was saying the same thing over again please open a support ticket. So instead i use Textexpander and i just made an abbreviation s-u-p-p-t-i-c-k septic right and when i’ve typed subtic it would expand the text to say the whole paragraph about “hey you need to open a support ticket blah blah blah here’s the link for that thank you”, whatever. Right, so you create a little uh abbreviation that then expand that’s why it’s called text expander. Now the tool that i’m using more so these days is called Paste and basically this is the app that i’ve always wished would exist and essentially is it’s a Clipboard Manager. Right typically when you copy and paste something or you copy something, if you don’t paste it and you copy something else, well that previous thing that you copied is now lost. Right because it’s only you copy once you paste. If you copy multiple things in a row you’d lose those previous copies. Well what the paste tool does, is it actually creates a clipboard manager where you have a clipboard history. And so i can go back i think like 60 days. You can control how how much history you want and see. Everything that I’ve copied. So then if i copy something copy another copy i can go and easily select which one i want to paste. And then also you can break them down into categories. So i have a category for support pre-sales questions which is the common things that i’m constantly saying related to support or pre-sales. So when i get a question that fits one of those i already have a canned response for, i can just use paste to just put it in the email. I don’t have to type that over again and it’s just a handy way of keeping all that compiled. You can do the same thing for uh like i have a category for frequently used snippets, right code snippets. So you can use it for so many different things it’s super powerful i absolutely love it.

13:24 David Blackmon: Last on our list number five is Client Invoicing. Obviously if you’ve got a WordPress web design business you’re probably building websites for clients and you, if you’re smart, you probably have a lot of those clients on maintenance plans. And you may be invoicing them monthly, you may be invoicing them quarterly biannually or annually whatever it is you can automate that process. Even if you’re using something like Quickbooks, and you can have it tied all in together to where those invoices go out regularly. For us it’s on the 30th of each month you know, our invoices automatically go out clients, pay them, It’s done set in stone. So these are things that obviously aren’t changing in prices and stuff, and it’s not really for custom web design bids. Uh because you’re gonna create new new invoices and stuff for that as you go but if you’re doing maintenance like backups and updates and security and you’re taking care of certain things like they may be. You may be charging them for their hosting or whatever it is you can automate that process by creating those client invoices and stuff so pretty straightforward pretty simple and pretty cool.

14:34 Tim Strifler: Yeah and depending on the invoicing software, you can also it can automate it for your clients as well where it will auto bill them. So it’s not just auto invoicing, auto bill. So that they don’t have to go and receive the invoice and then go pay it they’re just getting a receipt every month and with the invoice pdf showing that they paid it and then they don’t have to do anything either so it’s a win-win.

15:04 David Blackmon: Absolutely. Tomorrow we’ve got another great topic. In episode 809, how to win during a recession. Tim i think we’re technically in a recession, so this might be an important topic for you to listen to.Till tomorrow we’ll see you then

15:25 Tim Strifler: Take care, bye.



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