We’re into real estate investing. We’re also into keeping it real.
Some of the links in this article help to financially support this website, but the real-world guidance is all REtipster.
For a lot of small businesses, WordPress is a natural place to start – because comparatively speaking, it's one of the easier platforms to figure out, and there are a TON of “plugins” that have been developed to help these websites perform specific tasks.
As a land investor and blogger, I've worked with WordPress to build a lot of my websites (both past and present), and over time, I've gotten pretty familiar with some of the well-known (and lesser-known) plugins that have helped my websites do what they need to do.
Sometimes these plugins are free to use, and sometimes there is a small cost associated with them – but either way, using the right plugins can make a MAJOR difference in getting a website to perform the tasks it needs to.
In the video below – I'll walk you through 10 of the most helpful plugins I've discovered over the past several years. Some of them are very applicable to ANY type of website, and others will only be helpful to certain types of real estate businesses – but either way, my goal is to help you discover at least a few new plugins that will help your website meet the demands of your business.
1. Gravity Forms
Gravity Forms is a well-known and respected plugin because of how effective it is at creating and customizing website submission forms (in a way that DOESN'T require a Ph.D. in computer science to do so).
I've been using Gravity Forms on my buying website for a couple of years now, and it's awesome. It acts as the primary submission form when visitors submit their property information to me when requesting an offer.
The only downside to Gravity Forms is that it's not free (though, considering what it can do, the cost isn't terribly outrageous).
Note: If you're vehemently opposed to spending money and looking for a FREE form builder that also works pretty well, you can also check out Contact Form 7.
2. Interactive US Map
If you're running a geographically diverse business like I am, there could be all kinds of potential uses for an Interactive US Map plugin (also note, there are similar maps available for just about every major part of the world).
This kind of map is a GREAT way to explain things to your prospects and customers in a visual way. For example…
- If you have offices in multiple locations around the country (or world)
- If you have properties, products or services for sale in multiple regions or states
- If you're looking for new business in several different geographic areas
- If you're referencing third-party information about several different locations
- If you need to explain issues that pertain to various places around the country (or world)
The reason I like this particular mapping plugin is that it's extremely flexible, it allows me to host the map on my site (not on some third-party platform), and it's mobile response (unlike most of the other mapping systems I've found). It can also be used multiple times without having to buy the plugin again.
Here's one example of when I used this plugin to illustrate how tax deed and tax lien investing works in each state.
Pretty cool, huh?
For some other examples, you can also see the blog post where I illustrate how real estate transactions are typically closed in each state and the blog post where I explain how the business of tax sale overages and excess proceeds works in each state.
You can set the colors for each state to be whatever you want, you can format the map so a brief description appears when hovering over each state, and you can even make each state clickable and send the user to any URL of your choosing.
3. Buttons X & Morphing Buttons
I started using Buttons X on the REtipster Blog this past year and I love it. It's a great way to take a boring link (say, to a third-party website, a checkout page or a related product of some kind) and make it MUCH more interactive, flashy and fun.
This plugin also has some add-ons that can add some new dimension to your buttons. For example, Morphing Buttons brings a lot of new functionality to the table. Go ahead and click this button below and you'll see what I mean!
As you can probably tell, it's one of those features that can be overdone, so I try not to use it excessively, but when it does make sense to integrate this kind of button into the content of your site, it can be very powerful!
4. Easy Social Share Buttons / Monarch
Easy Social Share Buttons is a plugin I've been using since 2014 and it has been a GREAT one-size-fits-all solution for my social media needs.
It provides endless possibilities, formats, styles, positions, dimensions, colors (and a lot more) for how you can attract new followers to your social media profiles AND encourage visitors to share your content. The only downside to this plugin is that it's easy to get lost in the ocean of possibilities because it offers so many different options.
If you're looking for something equally powerful, but with a simpler layout, you could also use the Monarch Plugin – which has more limitations in what it can do and where it can do it, but overall, it performs most of the same basic functions in a much easier-to-follow format.
And lastly, if you need something that's free, I think Simple Social Icons is another solid option.
5. PrettyLinks Lite
PrettyLinks Lite is a plugin I use all the time when I'm trying to reference a complicated URL and I want to make it short and easy-to-remember.
This plugin can take an ugly-looking link and make it “pretty” – which also has the side-benefit of making the link much easier to remember.
For example – with PrettyLinks, I can take this bizarre looking affiliate link from Rocket Lawyer:
And shorten it to look like this:
Tell me – which one do you think will be easier for people to remember?
Since they both go to the exact same place, you might as well use the one that's shorter!
6. Yoast SEO
When it comes to your website's basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) needs, Yoast SEO has been the go-to plugin for most WordPress websites for years now.
It's a solid, highly ranked plugin that does a great job of helping you understand how to best optimize your listings, posts, pages and more so that search engines can pick up on the value you're adding AND send your website higher up the search engine rankings.
There's nothing “magic” about this plugin – but if your WordPress theme doesn't have any other built-in SEO tools to help you optimize your content, this is a great (and free) tool to have integrated with your site.
7. Layered Popups / Bloom
If you're building an email list for any purpose (and if you're running a website of any kind, you probably should be), I know of two solid options that can help you get new signups.
The first one is called Layered Popups. It offers a TON of options on where and how to display your opt-in forms on your website (usually in a way that's noticeable, but not intrusive). You can also have them appear after clicking a link, or you can have them appear automatically. The opt-in forms with this plugin look very good, and I think they leave a noticeable impression of quality and credibility.
The only issue I've had with Layered Popups is that it's not the most user-friendly plugin. The end product looks great, but it takes some time and patience to get to the finish line.
If you're looking for an easier option that still looks and works great, you may want to check out Bloom. I like this one too because it's MUCH easier to use, and it offers several different variations on where and how you can display your opt-in forms. If you don't have much (or any) experience with coding or website development, this is a great combination of user-friendliness at a relatively low-cost.
Both plugins do a nice job of looking very classy and NOT spammy.
Layered Popups (which also has additional add-ons available, like the Content Locker, Subscribe & Download, Side Tabs and Video Events Listener) has a lot more options and flexibility for the look and feel of your opt-in form, but it's also a bit more complicated to figure out. I use it on my blog currently (and it brings in about a dozen new subscribers per day) – but it took me a long time to get each one of my forms set up just the way I wanted.
If you're looking for an option that is simpler and easier to use, Bloom is probably the better option to work with.
8. WP Amortization Calculator
If you're selling properties that require any kind of borrowing activity (and let's be honest, most properties do), it can be extremely helpful to give your visitors a fast and easy way to calculate their payments.
With WP Amortization Calculator, users can easily plug their inputs into a user-friendly interface and see the entire payment schedule in a matter of seconds.
To take it one step further, this plugin also allows them the option of entering their email address and having a pdf emailed directly to them. The plugin even allows you to customize the look and feel of the pdf, to include your company logo, your company colors, along with a customizable message and a “from” email address as well. It's pretty sweet!
Keep in mind, if you're based outside the United States – this plugin also allows you to use different currencies (like Euros, Pounds and more).
I've seen a TON of different amortization calculators on the internet – and I've always been surprised at how badly some of them look (considering how basic this task is). This is one of the few calculators I've seen that really seems to do the job well.
9. Divi Builder
If you're a web design novice and you do better in a visual environment, the Divi Builder could be a very helpful plugin to integrate with your WordPress website.
I've used it here on the REtipster Blog, but only in a few select places – because I've been working with WordPress long enough that I know how to manipulate it most of the time (but not always).
In some cases, I've found this plugin almost gets in the way, because even though it makes the process easy, it also creates some restrictions in the process. Even so… I've found that there's definitely a time and place for this type of design tool – the trick is to simply identify those instances and use it when it makes sense for your situation.
If you're working with a WordPress theme that doesn't already have a robust framework for building property listings, Estatik could be a VERY helpful tool to have at your disposal.
The free version of this plugin offers all of the following tools:
- listing manager (unlimited categories/types/statuses)
- sorting by price, date, popularity
- customizable features, amenities, labels (featured, hot, open house)
- social sharing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+)
- photo gallery
- several layouts for listings
- dark/light skins
- search widget
- multilingual support
And if you're willing to pay for the Pro or Premium version, you can unlock these features as well:
- front-end management for admin and users/agents (PRO)
- subscriptions with payments via PayPal (PRO)
- CSV import (PRO)
- agents support (PRO)
- video tour option (YouTube, Vimeo) (PRO)
- PDF file generation (PRO)
- map view widget (all listings on the map)(PRO)
- slideshow widget (PRO)
- request info form widget (PRO)
- RETS import (Premium)
It's also worth mentioning if you have the Divi Builder installed on your site, Estatik actually works very well in conjunction with it to organize listings and information on each page of your site.