I can’t say enough good things about WP Engine. I host all my sites with them, as well as some clients, and they’ve provided excellent customer service and support, even at the worst of times, not to mention doing an excellent job at providing everything they advertise. While I was at WordCamp San Francisco this weekend, they even helped with some support queries I had while they were manning their swag table and hosting a special episode of the Dradcast. They did this without my asking. I was speaking to a rep while walking around networking. The subject of how I like the service came up, and when I mentioned that I needed to file some tickets to get some issues looked into, the rep offered to let the table know I would be coming by later to get some help with support, and the table delivered on that offer promptly when I showed up.

Now, WP Engine is rolling out a new service: a new disaster-recovery option for automatically sending web traffic to an alternative data center in the event of a catastrophe at the data center they primarily use.

What this means is that if their servers go down, your site gets automatically routed to a backup copy with no more than a few minutes downtime so that your readers can still get to your content. It also means that maintenance can be performed when it’s needed, instead of having issues pile up until you get to the scheduled time for maintenance.

If you’re using your site to make money in any way, this is a feature you’ll definitely want to have at your disposal. It can mean the difference between gained versus lost clients. I hope my site never goes down, but this is the internet, and nothing can guarantee that your servers will be up all the time. Disasters also have a funny way of effecting things. Like a hurricane hits where your site’s hosted,knocks out the power, and poof, everything goes down. Or hardware fails in the server your site’s hosted on, and it goes down.So if it’s important to you that your content is reachable to your readers, and you don’t want to, (or can’t) manage your servers yourself, then give WP Engine a try. You have sixty days to get a complete refund if you’re not satisfied for any reason ith their services, or even if you find that their services are not for you.

The second day of WordCamp San Francisco was focused on two things: Blogging and contributing to WordPress. As part of the blogging track, Chris Lema gave a talk on how to build your brand with a blog. He’s shared the slides on his site, (which, if you’re not reading, you should be), and he’s also provided an accessible, text-only summary of the slides that made up his presentation. It’s some of the best blogging advice you’ll read when it comes to using your blog to further your business goals.

I was pleasantly surprised to watch as Chris did a sound check before his talk. I think his might have been the only talk before which that happened. That demonstrates attention to detail and is a real mark of professionalism.

Lists are a Twitter feature that lets you group accounts into a curated stream so you can look at only the timelines you’re interested in at the moment. There are several lists related to wordPress, and one of them is the list created by David Bisset that contains all the speakers from WordCamp San Francisco 2014. It’s a great way to keep up with what’s going on at WCSF if you’re not here, and also a great way to keep up with the speakers once the camp is over. The list is here, and you can also subscribe to it from your Twitter client of choice. There are forty-six people on the list, and they range from developers of every kind, to bloggers. All of these people tweet a lot about WordPress, and Twitter lists can be a great way to get digestable pieces of information that you can use to further your knowledge. So follow this list, and you just might learn something.

Highlighting your credibility is very important. One way to do that is to collect and display testimonials from your clients.

The Town Crier during the Old Town Week's 2007 opening ceremony

The Town Crier during the Old Town Week’s 2007 opening ceremony

Is there an easy way to do both?

In short, yes. As with a lot of things in the WordPress universe, there’s a plugin for that. Actually, there are several plugins for that. But the best one I’ve found so far is Strong Testimonials by Chris Dillon. This is a complete testimonial manager. You can add, display and collect testimonials from your clients, and it’s accessible out of the box.

The plugin provides both shortcodes and a widget for displaying your testimonials, as well as a built-in form for collecting them that asks for the headline, content, and client information such as name, email, company and company website. It also allows for adding a photo to go along with the testimonial for display purposes.

how It Works

The plugin adds a testimonial custom content type to your WordPress installation, and will work with any theme. You have the option of either using the default styling or styling it from the ground up so that it works best with your theme and matches the look and feel of your website. It comes with complete documentation on usage with examples of how to employ the shortcodes.

This is a great solution if you either don’t want to write and add your own custom content type, can’t code, or just don’t have the time. I found myself in the latter situation, and this is the best plugin I’ve found that will display the testimonials the way I want them to be displayed. The plugin author will be taking feature suggestions at an unannounced date, (see the “future” section in the documentation).

What About You?

Now it’s your turn. Are you collecting testimonials for the work you do? If so, how are you displaying them on your site? Leave your tips in the comments below.

As a follow-up to this guide on invoicing clients, Kate Loving Shenk wants to know how to invoice with PayPal. This guide will walk you through the “Create New Invoice” screen found in the “Request Money” section of your PayPal account.

Before You Start

Before you can invoice a client using PayPal, you will need to ensure that you have at least a Premier account. This is because, in order to take advantage of PayPal’s invoicing feature, you will need access to its suite of merchant services. You have limited access to these services with a personal account, and full access with either the premier or Business account types. It doesn’t cost anything to upgrade from a Personal to Premier account, but some extra documentation is required. When you wish to upgrade, PayPal will walk you through that process step by step, and let you know what kinds of documentation you will need.

Creating your First Invoice

Once you’ve either upgraded your account, or ensured that you have at least a Premier account, you can begin sending invoices. To start creating your invoice, go to the “Request Money” section of your PayPal account. Once you click on that section, a “manage Invoices” screen will appear. On this screen, click “Create New Invoice.”

Selecting A Template

The first thing you need to do when creating your invoice is select a template. PayPal provides a default template to start with, and you have the ability to create new templates from any invoice you create. When selecting or creating your template, you have the option to add your logo. You can ensure that your logo is added to every invoice by visiting the “Invoice Settings” section. You can also set your business information here so that you have the option of not entering that information for every invoice.

Entering the information

Hopefully, you’ve already set up your business information. Next, you need to either add or select a client to send the invoice to. You can either add the client’s information manually, or select from your address book. Note that this address book is not the same one that comes with your email client. The address book you’ll be using is stored with PayPal. if you’re manually adding client information, you have the option to save that information to the address book so that you can use it lager.

Filling Out The Details

Fortunately, payPal’s invoice creation tools maps well to the previous guide on invoicing. All you need to do is fill in the information, and then, once you’re done and you’ve checked to make sure everything is correct, send the invoice. Your client will receive a copy, you will receive a copy, and PayPal will keep track of invoices and their status on the “Manage invoices” screen. Once your client pays the invoice, PayPal will automatically change its status to paid.


All of the WordPress solutions I linked to in the earlier guide support using PayPal as a payment gateway out of the box. So you can either use this guide and manually create your invoices directly through PayPal, or you can use one of the WordPress solutions to create your invoices and then accept payment with PayPal. Either method works, and the choice is yours.

Invoicing is one of those tasks every business has to perform, whether big or small. Whether you have one thousand employees or one employee. If you are a Limited Liability Company, (in the U.S., LLC) raising invoices is mandatory when doing business. They are used for record-keeping purposes, as well as being a handy way for you to keep track of what a client owes, and what has been paid. in this guide, I will show you how to prepare an invoice by hand, and then how to prepare and send invoices using WordPress. This last part will be useful especially if you use WordPress to conduct your business.

Preparing An Invoice

This guide walks you through preparing an invoice, but I’m assuming you have already discussed with your clients what the payment arrangements are, and that they are in writing so that both you and the client have a copy. Having a written copy of payment arrangements, (as well as documentation for other parts of the project, such as scope, deliverables, ETC.), means that everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect. The invoice is part of that process of communication. it details how much is owed, how much work has been completed, and how payment should be made.

What Should An Invoice Include?

The first thing your invoice should include is company or contractor details. These are:

  • Company or contractor’s name
  • Company or contractor’s address
  • Company or contractor’s telephone number
  • Company or contractor’s email address

Invoice Number

Each of the invoices you generate should have its own number. The numbering scheme you use is up to you, but the numbers should be in sequential order. This is so that you can keep track of outgoing and incoming invoices, and so that you have something to refer back to if questions arise.


Your invoice should include two dates:

  • The date the invoice was raised
  • The date the invoice is due

if no due date is specified on the invoice, then it is assumed to be thirty days after the invoice was generated and sent.

Client Details

Every invoice should include client details. The name should be included at a minimum, but other details such as an address or phone number can be included as well.


The fees section of your invoice should include the following:

  • A description of the services rendered
  • The gross amount due
  • The taxes due, if applicable
  • The total amount due

Terms of Payment

The terms of payment section should include how the invoice should be paid. How you accept payments is up to you. If you need the invoice paid via money transfer, that should be specified here along with your baking information:

  • Bank name
  • Account number
  • Routing number if you bank in the U.S.

Sending the Invoice

Once you have finished adding all the above details to your invoice, it’s time to send it. How you do that depends on the relationship you have with the client and what has been previously discussed concerning invoicing. Some clients want paper copies of invoices, while others will accept digital copies. If sending a digital copy, a good practice is to send the invoice as a PDF so that it cannot be altered. You can also send invoices via email or in some other attached format.

Invoicing With WordPress

As discussed above, you can generate your invoice manually. But if you’re working with WordPress, there are several plugins that will help with the invoicing process, allowing you to automate as much of it or as little of it as you like. Elegant Themes has an excellent roundup of invoicing plugins for WordPress, (both free and paid), as well as a few themes specifically created for invoicing. I personally use a plugin called WPInvoice, which leaves a lot to be desired as far as accessibility goes, but comes with a lot of features in the free version, including the ability to accept payments using Stripe, and integration with the WPCRM plugin so that I can keep track of clients and automatically select the client’s information when generating an invoice.

Summing Up

Invoicing is a necessary task. It helps ensure that you get paid. You can generate them manualy, but you can also streamline the process using WordPress, which will make invoicing much easier. There are also other non-WordPress solutions for generating invoices. If you have a favorite WordPress or non-WordPress one, share it in the comments below.