How to Create a New Virtual Product at ProlificWriters.Life
Prolific Writers Life (prolificwriters.life/ — which we’ll refer to in shorthand as PWL) is a “Virtual Workspace” for writers, where you can connect: “collaborate with authors, editors, writers and experts who can give you the guidance, motivation and support you need to achieve your writing goals;” learn: “Participate in virtual events hosted by experts who are dedicated to helping you reach your writing goals;” and earn: “Sign up as a Host and set up your store; host events when you want; enjoy the benefits of doing what you love while having the freedom to set your own schedule and prices; and profit by sharing your know-how and experience; the more writers you help, the more you earn.”
There are many options for the kinds of “products” you can create and offer here (downloadable docu- ments, physical products, virtual online events), but the primary product type is virtual online events. This tutorial walks you through the step-by-step process of creating and scheduling an online event.
The website is built with WordPress, the world’s leading content management system for creating and managing websites; it also uses the widely popular ecommerce tools Woo Commerce and Marketplace. While there is a learning curve to learn how to use these tools, it does not require any coding and can be learned relatively easily — so let’s get started!
This is Step Two of being a Host at PWL; Step One is signing up as a host and setting up your “storefront,” which is covered in the tutorial How to Register as a Host at ProlificWriters.Life. Now that you have your PWL store set up, it’s time to create your first product.
Creating a Virtual Event:
- The Store Dashboard can be a bit overwhelming at first glance, but we’ll only be using a few parts of it. (Woo Commerce and Marketplace are powerful tools that can be used for all sorts of ecommerce; we’re just using a small portion of their capacities…)
- Begin by rolling over Products (4th item down on left navigation menu) and click on Add New.
- The first step in defining and describing your new “product” is to select Simple Product from the drop down menu for product type.
- Make sure you also check the box for virtual product.
- Give your event a title, and then write a short description of 1–2 sentences. Then write a fuller description, offering as much detail as you can. You should also set the price of your event, and if you want to offer a sale price you can do that too. (Skip the Schedule link; we’ll address scheduling later, in step 8 below.)
There are several options here:
- The “WYSIWYG” (“What You See is What You Get”) editor is very similar to what you’ve seen in word processing software, including buttons for all sorts of formatting, including text styles (Bold, Italic, Underline), lists (bulleted or numbered), quotes, left/center/right alignment, and more.
- There are keyboard strokes for many more options; see Text formatting keyboard shortcuts for Mac, or Alt key shortcuts for symbols in Windows for Windows.
- Click the Add Media button to add images to the short and long descriptions, then choose from several image alignment options for how the image and text will be arranged on the screen. (Understanding how to work with images, PDF files and videos in WordPress is a whole topic unto itself, worthy of its own tutorial… coming soon!)
- You can also select Categories under which your product will be listed, and add Tags as well.
The Categories checkbox list
There are a few things you should understand about categories:
- You will likely find appropriate categories already listed; check one or more that apply to your event. If you do not find the category you want, you can click the Add new category link and add to the list — but understand this before doing so:
- Categories should be general enough for many different hosts to be able to use them; this is not where you put anything specific to your unique offerings or company/brand/product/service — that’s what tags are for.
- Also be aware that anything you add will then be visible and usable by all the PWL hosts, so think accordingly.
- If you do add a category, see if it is a “subcategory” of another category already listed. If so, when you create your new category, select the broader category as the “Parent Category” of your new category; 2 examples are WordPress under Tech, and Fantasy under Young Adult. (These sub-categories are called “Child categories;” and you can even create “Grandchild categories:” sub-categories of a sub-category…)
And there are a few things you should understand about tags:
- Tags are where you can get very specific about the content of your event;
For more on categories and tags, see Categories and Tags in the WordPress documentation. (The screenshots will look a bit different than what you see in the PWL store dashboard, but the underlying WP functionality is the same. See Categories for a more indepth look at categories.)
- Now you can click the SUBMIT button; after it’s saved and refreshed the page, you can scroll down to the second section, Product Details.
- Click on the Event button. The first thing to do is select Yes on the dropdown menu to indicate that this product is an event. Indicate the date of the event. When entering the start and end times, know this: If you use the 24-hour clock (AKA “military time”), then do not also select am/pm — this will mess it up! So either use 1–12 and indicate am/pm, or use 24-hour time and do not indicate am/pm. Indicate that the Venue is a Zoom online video conversation (or meeting or whatever noun you prefer).
- There are a few fields about location you can ignore: GPS Coordinates, Google Map Coordinates, Directions. For the next fields —phone, email— we suggest the following:
- Rather than share your personal number, you can sign up for a free Google Voice number, which will then forward to your cell.
- Likewise, if you mostly use a personal email, you can create a new gmail account and share that email. (You can also then have that gmail automatically forward to your personal email, if you like.
There are a few options for HTML ticket theme; you can ignore that as well. If you have a business/store logo (as mentioned in step 5, page 3), you can add it to the ticket, which can be a nice touch.
- The next step is the Ticket text; the ticket is what will be emailed to people who sign up to attend your event; this is where you copy-paste the Zoom meeting invitation — so now it’s time to talk about Zoom!
- Zoom (zoom.us) is an awesome tool for online video conferencing, with both a free version and more robust “Pro” and “Business” plans ($14.99 and $19.99/month, respectively). As this tutorial is being written, the country and world are still in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown, and many of us have been spending many hours a week on Zoom…
- So in addition to signing up for your hosting membership here at PWL, you’ll want to create an account at zoom.us and download and install the Zoom app on your computer, tablet, and/or smartphone. (Though as we point out at URL?, these events are best on a larger screen, so hopefully you have a desktop or laptop computer to use, or at least an iPad or other tablet; it’s pretty hard to do this on a phone…)
- Regarding the free vs. paid versions, the free version limits events to 40 minutes if there are 3 or more participants (including you the host), so the free one will work for small and/or short events, but if you have 3+ participants and want more than 40 minutes, you’ll have to do a bit of calisthenics by creating two or more consecutive Zoom meetings — and including both Zoom meeting invites in your ticket text.
- So, once you have your Zoom account, you can
About this Tutorial:
This tutorial was created for ProlificWriters.Life by Ted Altenberg, owner and principal web designer at Agora Media Services. Ted was an educator (teacher, curriculum specialist and administrator) for 32 years, and has been doing web design for over 20 years. Until his retirement from education in the summer of 2019, web design was his “side gig;” now that he’s retired , Agora Media Services is his second career.
Ted is also a host here at PWL, and has a number of offerings of support, training and coaching on WordPress and other topics related to website hosting, security and design.