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Maximizing Impact and Profit: The Top WordPress Plugins and Tech Stack for Coaches and Course Creators

Figuring out Your website as a new business owner can be intimidating! Where do you start? How can you do it yourself? And how do you manage to create courses and memberships to get more time and more reach?

I get it, it’s a LOT. And I know a lot of folks starting out can’t immediately afford a designer to do the heavy lifting and strategy for them. That’s why I’m going to let you in on my perferred tech stack for 2023 for WordPress Websites.

There are going to be two versions. One with Thrive Suite and one with Elementor Pro. I still use both for my clients as well. Because while Thrive is amazing, it’s more than some people need.

The key questions I would have you ask yourself are:
Will I be creating a course in the near future (3-6 months)?
Do I have enough content to start a membership in the near future?

If the answer is yes to either, save yourself the headache and go into Thrive if you can afford to. As mentioned in Episode 8 of LunaCco Coffee Chat, if you have a few coaching friends see if they want to split the cost of Thrive. The main license allows up to 5 sites. And that can help you cut those initial costs.

On to the stack! (All prices are in USD)

Thrive Stack

Thrive Suites

Thrive Suite is a package of 10 plugins that are all optimized to work together. The key components are Architect and Theme Builder. Also, because they are built together Thrive has a built-in feature that enhances the speed of your site. So you also don’t need extra plugins to help with speed.

Theme Builder has a set of Smart Templates that allow you to apply your logo and branding in minutes. All of the Templates are built with one thing in mind. Conversion. These pages are designed to sell. They even have text prompts to help you fill out the copy.

Architect is the full builder that allows you to add pre-designed blocks, and widgets to the page to add or change the design quickly and easily. They have a TON of Youtube videos to help you along.

And when you’re ready to branch out, Apprentice allows you to create courses and memberships with ease and style right on your own website with no need to buy another service. They also have Leads to help built email lists, A/B testing to get the most of sales pages, Automator to connect other services and more.

Pricing- $299 (currently as of 11/5/2023 for the 1st year) and $599/yr after for the whole suite.

Elementor Specific Stack

Elementor Pro

Elementor has become a staple in WordPress Builders. It’s compatability is what had me switch from Divi. You just have more options with Elementor.

The builder is pretty easy to use. I have heard otherwise from beginner’s but I’ve always been able to break it down for my clients. I’ll be posting some tutorials for the basic setup to get you familiar.

The basic Elementor is Free. But the Pro is really what I recommend.

Pricing- $59/yr

Elementor Helper aka the Addons

The PlusAddons

I love the addons available for Elementor. In fact, I miss that with Thrive. You can add so many cool effect and have extra functionality with no coding. BUT do not go overboard. I see a lot of people stack these and that leads to a slow website really fast. Remember you have 2 plugins just with Elementor. With PlusAddons there is also a free one and paid. So you’re up to 4 already.

Make sure to turn off the ones you don’t use after you’ve built to keep it fast. Weigh what features you want the most and stick with that. Remember fancy effects aren’t what will get you clients. So, make sure you have a real need before opting in for addons.

Things like the Dark Mode, Equal Height, and Login Windows are good things to add some more professionalism. But are not required.

Pricing- $39/yr or $149- one time payment lifetime.

Premium Addons

I love this addon as well. It just depends on what I need which I use for clients. This one has great Off-Grid widgets that are wonderful for menus and alerts.

The woo widgets can help you stand out with physical and digital product pages. I like their blog widgets as well. Both of these have cross domain copy and paste which means you can copy blocks from the sample site with a click. This can help you build out a site faster.

Though for ease and conversion Thrive really does beat these out of the box.

Pricing-$35 at the moment, or $199 Lifetime.

TutorLMS

This is my preferred Course provider for Elementor. In my opinion this is the best looking setup with the easiest setup. They have a lot of addons and integrations to make it easy to setup. Most of the features you need will be in the main plugin.

This is a pet peeve with almost al course plugins for WordPress. And where Thrive shines. Apprentice is well setup where you don’t need a ton of extra plugins installed. You could easily end up with 8 plugins to have everything you need with Tutor alone. Add in Elementor and addons you could have 12 plugins right there, if not more. And this is the case for LearnDash and Memberpress as well.

Tutor integrates with Elementor or Divi, works with Bunny.net for video hosting, and links to WooCommerce for payments. It also connects to Google Meet or Zoom for live calls.

Pricing-There is a Free version that is limited or $199/yr

Plugins/Services for Either

Newsletter

SendFox Lifetime Deal

Sendfox is a beginner friendly Newsletter service. They offer automation, list segmentation, and up to 5k subscribers on their first tier, which expands to 8k if you do their first step prompts.

One downside is that they do not yet have a drag-n-drop email builder like Mailchimp or Mailerlite. It is basic HTML only. This is one their roadmap though and I’m hopeful we’ll see a roll out soon. I will be doing some tutorials on how to easily had some style to those emails anyway.

I wouldn’t say for most that this will be their long haul newsletter service. As you grow the sending speeds, scheduling and automation may become too limited for your needs and you’ll need to graduate to something more hardcore. But I would say you should be good with them for at least the first year or two of business and you’ll save a boat-load as you build your list.

Pricing- $49- one time payment. They do have the option to upgrade to a $10/m to remove their branding, get priority sending, advanced HTML editing, and redirects.

MailPoet

This would be my recommendation when you outgrow SendFox. You can easily build gorgeous emails in their builder. Include Woo Products into the emails. Send abandones cart messages and other woo connections. Pre-built templates for emails and forms. Advanced sending protections and validation to help you stay out of the spam folder.

It also has the automation and list segmentation that SendFox has.

Pricing- Free for up to 1000 subscribers and 5000 emails sent.
From there is starts at $20/m for up to 1500 subscribers.

Booking For Either Stack

Fluent Booking

I used to recommend Amelia Booking and that is still a great option as well. But I’ve recently been using Fluent and it is an easier setup, though it is a bit pricier. But not by much. The setup requires less techy setup which is great if you are a beginner.

The only techy part is setting up the Google connection for Google Meet/Workspace/Calendar. You need to setup a connection API. The tutorial is really straightforward and easy to follow. Once you set that up, google meetings are automatically created, notifications sent, and time slots booked. It also checks your calendar to avid double booking with other things.

You can also connect this to Zoom if you prefer.

My only pet peeve thus far, is that you have to create seperate services for each service provider. If you have 2 or more coaches that can be a real pain. But if it’s just you, I wouldn’t worry about it. This is a great option if you a Google Workspace user.

It also integrates with Stripe for easy appointment payments! This is especially nice if coaching sessions are your only offering because you don’t need to setup Woo to take payments.

Pricing- $99 for early bird, regularly $199 for 1 license.

Amelia Booking- Option 2

Amelia was my preferred before Fluent came out. And it’s still a great option. As a Google workspace gal, I need that automatic Google meet URL created. This is pretty much the same API setup as Fluent. Amelia does require a Cron job setup in order to send reminders. They have a tutorial but it can be finicky to setup in my experience.

You can setup services that can be handled by different service providers. Which I do miss on Fluent now. Forms are fully customizable as well.

Stripe and Paypal are supported…but don’t use Paypal. They are a mess!

Pricing- $69 current Fall sale (in my experience there is a sale at least once a month.) $76 regularly for Basic 1 License.

Payment Processors

Stripe

Stripe is what I use and love for payments. It is very easy to setup and create an account. I recommend setting this up pronto so that you can go through the verification process. It is a little different for different company structures but you usually need to verify small payments to link your bank account.

You will often have some limits when you start out, so that they can confirm you aren’t a scammer. As you build your reputation as a good seller (no or few returns or complaints) they will increase these limits.

You can buy a reader as well, but it needs to be linked to a POS from what I can see. If you do fairs or other in-person deals I’d suggest getting a square reader and using that for in-person.

Pricing- No monthly fees. 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.
Invoices are .4% added to transaction fee.
Which is pretty much the standard now. Keep track of those fees as they are tax deductible (not a tax expert)

WooPayments

This is an option with Woo (aka Woocommerce they are changing it to just Woo). The funny/annoying thing is this is through Stripe BUT you cannot use an existing Stripe account to connect to WooPayments.

The only reason I mention it is because of ease. You don’t have to do the API keys. And they have slightly more advanced fraud protections to avoid false purchases with stolen cards.

I really recommend Stripe over anything else at the end of the day. For one, you cannot accept subscription or monthly membership fees with WooPayments automatically. Which means if you are interested in course payments, memberships, or monthly coaching fees, this is a NO-GO. And you’re better off going with Stripe all the way.

If you do need a physical reader for fairs or other events you can do that with WooPayments as well.

I really mention it because it is telling that Woo paired with Stripe for this and adds to their credibility.

Pricing- No monthly, 2.90% + $0.30 per transaction.

Human Design Chart Creator

BodyGraphChart

Currently, this is basically your only option for a Chart Creator on your site. Be aware that their WordPress Plugin is not acutally live. And their Woo plugin is currently not working either. You can still link it to your Stripe though for payments and you can embed it into a page for the Generator.

The parts I LOVE, is that you can create a bodygraph in your brand colors! AND you can create your own language for the automated reports and summaries. This is great for any HD reader but especially if you have your own take or focus on a particular aspect like Variables.

Once you recognize the setup you’ll notice almost all HD readers use this is they a chart creator on their site.

There is a free business site with membership. But unless you ONLY offer readings I would steer clear.

Their chart type selection is super limited with a few types that are supposed to be coming soon (that they say are already live but they aren’t). For this reason, I also have the GeneticMatrix Pro to run more advanced charts for clients.

Pricing- $50/m or $500/yr
(When I hopefully get approved as an affiliate I’ll drop a code!)

Quick Note on Security

With wordpress Security is always a good idea. At the very least grab the free version of Loginizer, the Pro version is $24/yr. This is a good idea because Brute Force attacks are rampant on WordPress regardless of how big or small your site. Scammers will attack. I had up to 1200 attempts on a test site! And have had 500 in one day on a live site.

Don’t get caught locked out of your site! It’s worth the 20 bucks to keep your online business home safe.

**DO NOT USE: ADMIN as your username!! Ever! Or even your first name.

I use Bitwarden as a password manager and it has a username and password generator. I recommend doing that for both user and password. Bitwarden is also a very safe secure password manager with a great Free version that works on all devices. And it has never been breached like LastPass! Seriously, I used to use LastPass and found out how unsafe it is. If you are using it please switch to something like Bitwarden or ProtonPass!

That’s it

You can see that you don’t need a ton of services or to go outside your own website to setup your business. With Thrive you can really setup a Patreon-like membership as well. You can make that happen in Elementor as well but honestly, I would probably recommend just having a Discord Server (and you can setup a server subscription for that) I actually like the idea of a Discord server regardless as a membership extra if not the main delivery setup. It is free to start and easy to navigate.

By setting your website up in this way you don’t need to mess with Kajabi, Teachable, SamCart, ThriveCart (which is weirdly not affliated with Thrive Suites), Patreon, or Circle. Once you get setup you can scale with ease.

I will be doing videos to help y’all through the setup of these stacks so you can get going on your site FAST. most look intimidating at first. But once you get the breakdown you’ll see they are actually pretty simple to use.

Looking For the Website Tech Stuff to Be Handled for You?

Reach out via email hello@lunacco.design or use the Contact Form to get a quote for your project.

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