Living on the Cheap (LOTC) is a national network of websites that provides its readers with tips for living well on less, plus the latest deals and freebies from retailers and restaurants in their local area. A crucial part of this mission is letting their followers know about upcoming events and promotions in a way that makes it easy for them to find what they are looking for.
We have been providing technical support and maintenance services to the Living on the Cheap network since 2014. Because of this relationship, they came to us late last year with an idea for a custom WordPress event calendar plugin that would make it easier for them to enter and manage upcoming events. By streamlining this process, they can save time and better promote event posts.
The Custom Event Calendar was a wish-list project for Living On The Cheap after we converted to a new network-wide theme, said Laura Daily, Managing Partner of LOTC. Because of the plugin, we are now able to automate many of our event calendars (which before took us hours of manual data entry on a weekly basis), and also create custom calendars.
Since Living on the Cheap has such a large network, the solution needed to be scalable and easy for website publishers to implement and maintain. While publishers did not need to have a large amount of control over customization, each one of them has a unique way of adding and managing their content. The new plugin needed to be flexible. Since we built the plugin from the ground up, we were able to take their wish list for how events could be added and managed and work from that. Not only did this give us the ability to create something that worked exactly how they wanted, it saved time and frustration in the long run compared to starting with a pre-built solution and trying to make it fit.
Our Custom Solution
While most of the sites on the network already had an event calendar system in place, there were pieces that didn’t do quite what they needed. Rather than creating new posts for each event, administrators needed events to be attached to existing posts, and each post needed to be able to support multiple events. They also needed the ability to link to different neighborhoods in their city and different venues, depending on the type of event. This is where we were able to help. Our solution enables them to do all of these things and it creates dynamic embedded Google Maps for all venues making it easy for users to find events and get directions directly to the venue.
For each post a publisher writes about an upcoming promotion or event, they are able to add custom event details. They can attach an unlimited number of events to a post and specify different locations and prices for each if necessary. They also have the ability to create recurring events that repeat daily, monthly, weekly or yearly. While their old system included some of these features, it was not quite as intuitive and lacked flexibility for front end styling. While building the new plugin, we took special care to make sure it would match their theme. We worked closely with publishers to make sure it would fit with their unique workflow.
We haven’t even tapped into the plugin’s full potential, such as allowing readers to search by city or venue, said Managing Partner, Teresa Mears. We have also been pleased with Lee Media Group’s ability to tweak the plugin and its features as we continue to deploy it to more sites and find more ways to incorporate it into our websites.
Since this is a custom project, administrators know they can work with us directly if they have issues or decide to add new features down the road. We are thrilled we were able to help a longtime customer solve a unique problem.
In essence, the custom plugin has given our publishers and editors more time to focus on content and marketing. That, in turn, allows us to further monetize our sites and generate additional income. The bottom line is that the Custom Event Calendar Plugin was well worth the investment. ~Laura Daily and Teresa Mears, Managing Parters, Living On The Cheap.
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