Last updated on September 6th, 2023 at 06:22 pm.
As an online business or a service provider, a good billing and client management system are key for your success. As a business, you will often struggle with automated invoicing systems and customer subscription management. This can lead to inefficient and error-prone procedures. However, to sort out these problems, you can use an automated billing system like the Blesta billing software. Blesta is an alternative to WHMCS or ClientExec. There are other options too.
What is Blesta?
Blesta is a very robust and versatile billing software designed to ease and automate the billing and invoicing processes for businesses. Blesta can be used in different industries. Whether you’re a web hosting provider, a subscription-based service, or any other small business owner, the Blesta software has the functions needed to manage clients, automate invoicing, billing, and payments.
Video captions for this Blesta tutorial video
In the last video, you learned how to install Blesta in HestiaCP. In this video, let’s dive into a Blesta tutorial. Think of this as a beginner’s guide to Blesta. If you’re unsure where to start, by the end of this video, you’ll know how to create packages, set up order forms for customers to make purchases, and configure payment options. Let’s get started, and the most crucial aspect is creating packages. You need packages as they are what your customers will be able to order.
In this example, I’m going to use a digital service as an example. Imagine you’re a digital marketer and want to offer a subscription-based service. You can think of it similarly to web hosting. So, let’s start with packages. To do that, click on “Packages.” Here, you’ll find packages, package groups, and order forms, which are closely related. To create a package, let’s say you want to create a package for digital marketing.
The first step is to establish a package group. The hierarchy goes like this: package groups contain packages. For instance, under the package group “Web Hosting,” you’d have different shared hosting plans. Similarly, “Digital Marketing” could be another package group, and within that, you can have various service plans like web design, e-commerce websites, simple websites, and blogs, each with its pricing.
Let’s begin with creating a package group for “Digital Marketing.” Please note that this is just a sample. In this case, we’ll enable upgrades and downgrades. Below, you’ll see “Standard” and “Add-ons,” which I’ll explain in a moment.
Now, let’s go back to creating packages under this package group. Every package must belong to a specific package group. To do this, navigate to “Packages” and create a new package. For instance, the first plan can be called “Intro Plan” with a description like “Digital Marketing Service Plan 1” and details about what it includes, such as managing one website and handling Facebook management.
Now, let’s review the available options for this plan. Ensure that the status is set to “Active.” For quantity available, you can specify a limit, but you can leave it as “Unlimited” if there’s no restriction. The client limit can also be set to “Unlimited.” If you want to use renewal prices for package upgrades, enable that option.
Next, you can make the package taxable, and there’s a section for setting up taxes. We’ll cover this in a separate video. You can choose whether the package can be canceled at the end of the term or prorated.
Regarding group membership, select the appropriate group, which, in this case, is “Digital Marketing.” This helps organize your services.
Now, let’s focus on pricing. You can set the initial price at $20 per month for the intro plan, but feel free to adjust it as needed. You can choose different billing periods like monthly, weekly, etc. For this example, it’s monthly in USD at $20.
For the renewal plan, you might want to offer an introductory rate of $38 for the first month, and then a regular rate for subsequent months. You can also add setup fees or cancellation fees as needed.
You can get creative with pricing, perhaps offering discounts for quarterly or yearly subscriptions. For example, a three-month subscription could be $60 upfront, and then it renews at $80. You can also offer annual plans with reduced rates, like $250 for the first year and $260 for subsequent years.
“So, that’s just an example. It depends on how much you want to charge for the service, and you can go on and on, just add another one, there, on and on, until you’re satisfied.
So, even before I save, let’s come back up here. You can see we have basic – this is a package detail that’s at a basic level, and then module, and a module. Now, this is a module that you’re going to use if you want to host a website with cPanel, or if you want to sell domains. There are modules that you can install. If you come here under settings, you’ll see these modules. You can install modules for different things. So, look at available modules here. You can sell domains, you can sell all these items. If you want to sell web hosting, you can resell OpenSRS domains, DirectAdmin, and more. Just look at all the available options there that you can resell, like cPanel and so on. There are lots of domain resellers here. You can sell domains and become a reseller for one of these platforms. To install one, you can just click the install button and then add your API key or your login, whatever is needed to enable the module on Blesta. And once you do that, come here under packages, points, you can choose the module. So, in this case, we’re going to use none. If you want to sell a service, you just choose none. If you want to sell web hosting, you have to go with something like cPanel that will enable you to create the actual web hosting accounts.
Alright, so once you’ve chosen the module there, you may also want to edit the welcome email. Now, the welcome emails will usually have certain template tags that you can add based on the module that you’re using. So, if we say ‘client first name,’ you can add their client first name. So, this is an email they will get when they order the subscription. Hi there, but I’m going to show you the other emails like sales and so on. I’ll show you where they are and where you can edit them. So, ‘Hi, [client’s] first name,’ and so on. Welcome, just choose system, the template tags, and give them details. Maybe it’s web hosting, as web hosting, of course, you’ll need to give them the server login and so on. And if we get to DirectAdmin, I will show you how you can do that. I’ll do that in another video.
Configurable options: So, you can also set up configurable options. So right now, we don’t have any, there is none that I’ve set up for my digital marketing. But if you come here, you can see here you have some that are already here, and they exist because of the modules that are already installed. You can see we have generic domains, and those are a result of that module. So, if you install a certain module, it will probably add various configurable items here. So, you can also create the configurable items yourself. If you come here under packages, you’ll see these configurable options. Maybe number of websites, like in my digital marketing case, you can add the number of websites, the number of Facebook, and whatever. All that you can create under configurable options. Just click on it and see what it does once you’ve finished watching the video.
Now, welcome emails, we’ve looked at that, configurable options, we’ve talked about that. And these configurable options, when someone is ordering, you’re going to see them also appear there. So, that’s how you can set up your package. Most importantly, make sure that all the details for your package have been set up there. And then we’re going to create the package. The first step was creating a group for your package, the second step, we’ve created a package, and now the third step is for you to create an order form.
So, when I was installing Blesta, you remember I did install it inside of a directory. So, if I want to go to my front end, let me just copy that and let me open this inside of Chrome. So, if I go to that, you’ll see that we have Blesta here. And if someone wants to come in here and click on ‘order,’ they’ll see that there’s nothing that they can order. It won’t go anywhere. It will just redirect to the same place. Even if you click there, there’s nothing. Let’s see what you can do so that when people click on these other items, it can give them at least something.
Come back into Blesta, the next step is to create an order form. So, an order form is what customers are going to see if they want to order an item from you. First of all, let’s click on settings and see the options that we have here. So, you can make your order forms. You can have a default order form or you can have the order form list everything, and I’m going to show you this once we have some other forms what this means. And then you can set up and try anti-fraud using any of these. Some of them are paid. Just make sure you read more about them on their websites to see the implications of using them. And then email verification. You can hold orders from unverified clients. So, if you set up an asset, there is so much under settings in Blesta. There is an option where you can make it so that before people actually register on your website, they have to do an email confirmation. So, that’s what this is about. If you set this up, you can check that ‘hold orders from unverified clients’ and verified clients. That’s something you do under settings, and it will be under settings options for clients.
So, you can send. Some of these are self-explanatory, just read them, and then I’ll save. We haven’t created an order form. Let’s come back here under order forms, and then we’re going to create an order form. Let’s call this… This was for digital marketing.
Digital marketing plans, so all the plans will be listed here. Every package you create, and then you select that group for this order. Down here, you see we also have groups. So, all packages that will be inside of this group, just drag it in there. Instead of this group, we’ll be listed in this order form. And we’re going to see this in action once we set this up. You’re going to see it. Those that have their label, let’s just call this digital marketing. I’ll just call it ‘DM.’ And if you go to that link, you can view the order form. Now, visibility, public type. So, the type of order form, you can see right now we have ‘General,’ ‘Domain,’ and ‘Other.’ If you’re selling domains and web hosting, you’ll go with ‘Domain’ and ‘Other.’ If you’re selling something generic like what I’m doing with digital marketing, you go to ‘General.’ And if you just want to create a registration form, you go with ‘Client Registration.’ Now, I will choose ‘General,’ and then you can select the forms that you want the forms that people
will see. So, you can just click on one to preview. Let’s select this ‘Wizard Boxes,’ preview that, and you’ll see this is what it looks like. I don’t like this, but I still haven’t looked into how to edit this. But I know if I spend the time, I will look at how to edit the CSS for some of these forms. For now, I haven’t really taken the time to do that.
Preview Ajax list, yeah, let’s go with this Ajax list. You can choose whichever one you prefer there. And then the default client group. Now, I only have one client group. These are things you can set up under settings. Allow coupons. If you have coupons, sure, you can allow that. Require manual review and approval of all orders. If you want to approve each and every order, you can select that. You can first definitely [set] https, require human verification for all signups. Here are the verifications you can set that as well under settings. Require agreement terms of service, enter the link for your terms of service there. And then you can see currency. So, you can choose the currencies to be shown to the customer. They can select the currency.
Now, you can see there’s one thing that is missing here, and that is payment options. So, let me just add the form for now, and the next thing we’re going to do is we’re going to see how we can set up how we can enable payment options like PayPal. So, if I come here back here and I refresh this and I go into order, I should be able to have at least one item that is orderable.
So, since there’s only one item, you’ll see that it directly automatically takes me into that item. But once we add another order form, you’ll see that it will list them. Maybe you have web hosting, digital marketing, all of them will be listed before it goes directly here, and it also shows me just the one plan. If I add another plan, it will be listed here. If someone was to select this, first of all, you need to log in and create your accounts. Now, there’s a lot of details here for logging in, and some of this you can trim down. I will show you where you can trim some of this login information down. So, let’s just create an account quickly.
And then password, and then I will create an account. So, right now, if I was to try to check out, just click continue.”
For now, let’s see where you can make changes.
Let’s find out where you can add payment options. So, if you come here in the settings, you can configure payment gateways. Currently, none is installed. Let’s look at the available options. You can choose from several options here and simply add the necessary details. For example, if you want to use PayPal, select ‘PayPal Payment Standard’ and obtain the API information from your PayPal account. To install PayPal, you’ll need to enter your PayPal email and then access your merchant account on PayPal to obtain the required API credentials, such as API username, API password, and API signature. All these details can be found in your PayPal account. If you want to add another payment gateway, simply click on ‘Payment Gateways’ again and explore the available options.
Here’s one that doesn’t require any API credentials. Let’s install this. It doesn’t need any API configuration. For instance, if you want to offer a payment option like Western Union, where people can send money to you, you can enter your details here. You can also select the supported currencies for your payments.
Once done, click ‘Update Settings.’ Now, if I were to go back to the order forms (not packages but order forms), and click to edit, you’ll notice that we now have payment options available.
I’ll debug the error off-screen, but for now, let’s continue with the tutorial. You’ll notice the error message here, but if you go to your account’s home, you’ll see that you have an order.
Additionally, you can access client information. Let’s take this moment to explore this feature. If you navigate to ‘Clients,’ you’ll see a list of your clients. If you click on a client’s ID, you can access various options related to that client’s details. You can even log in as the client and perform actions on their behalf. Here, you can see that we have three pending items because I refreshed the page. If someone creates an account and starts an order, it might result in pending items. This seems to be a bug in Blesta, and it shouldn’t happen if the client logs into their account. You can log in as a client here.
When you log in as a client, you’ll see that the client has some outstanding items that didn’t go through on this end. Anyway, let’s get back to the main topic.
I’ve shown you how to create packages and set up payment options. Let’s add another package. Let’s create another package and call it ‘Plan Two.’
Now, let’s configure ‘Plan Two’ with a monthly cost of $79. The renewal price remains the same. I’ll select the package group and create the package. However, you’ll notice that it still won’t show up here. To make it visible, you need to create another order form for that group.
So, let’s add another order form for our blogging packages. You can name it whatever you prefer. You can choose a different template for the order form. Now that you have different packages and order forms, you can click on each to see what they look like on the front end and enable what you need. I’ll drag in the ‘Blogging’ package. You can also configure payment options for each order form.
Now, if I go back to the order section, you’ll see that the different plans are now visible. Users can select different plans, such as digital marketing or blogging, and see the available packages. You can change the order form design and select a different design if you prefer.
Before concluding this video, I’d like to show you one more thing. You can add your own logo to your Blesta installation. To do this, go to ‘Settings’ and then ‘Look and Feel.’ You can change the theme colors for your website and play around with the settings. For the staff, you can choose different themes and customize the colors.
For the client, you can also adjust the theme colors. Under ‘Look and Feel,’ you can change the theme and layout to match your preferences. You can upload your own logo or set a logo URL. Make sure to save your changes.
Additionally, you can configure the navigation menu. To add items to the navigation menu, go to ‘Navigation.’ You’ll see options for staff navigation, client navigation, and public navigation. For example, if you want to add a link to your website or another page, you can create an action.
Let’s call it ‘Website Link’ and enter the link URL. After adding the link URL, it will appear under ‘Public Navigation.’ You can enable and disable items as needed. You can also add custom links to the navigation menu for clients. Just follow the same process.
That’s pretty much how you can get started with Blesta. If you have any questions or specific topics you’d like me to cover, please let me know. I hope this tutorial helps you get started with Blesta. There’s much more to explore in the settings, so feel free to explore all the options available.
Alright, see you next time in another video!”