How to add a free booking system to your WordPress website (part 1)

by | business, online tools & resources, website strategy

If you are a service based business there is one thing (second to an email sign up form) that I would recommend adding to your website, and that’s some kind of booking a call system. Save yourself and your client time and stop the back and forth over email.

On my own website I use Calendly so potential clients can book a call with me there and then through my website without me having to get involved. Quick and simple.
It links to my Zoom account so it automatically sends them a confirmation email with Zoom a link for. the day and time they have booked. I even have text reminders the day before the. Calendly does all this for me while I get on with day.

Want to see it in action, have a look on my contact page > my call scheduling for client leads.

Note: there is no affiliate link, this is just a tool I use myself and that makes my life so much easier and helps to automate some of the admin in my business.

Now there are loads of similar scheduling / book online tools but the ones I recommend to my clients are Calendly and Acuity Scheduling. Right, let’s dive in!

How to create a free book online calendar for your website

How to set up your free Calendly account & create a bookable service or event

If you’re on the hunt for an online booking system to add to your website, Calendly is a fantastic tool that does just that. It also has the added bonus of being completely free if you only require one appointment ‘type’.

Watch the video (19 mins) for my step-by-step guide on how to use Calendly for your business.

Prefer to read through the steps, no problem, all the steps are outlined below 👇 .

Step One: Go to calendly.com and sign up using your email address.

Step Two: Once you’ve set up your Calendly account, the first thing you need to do is to create is your Calendly URL. This is the URL that you will send clients (via email, for example) that will link directly to your booking form within Calendly. You can set this to anything you like – your business name, your name or the name of the service you offer all work well.

Step Three: Select your time zone.

Step Four: Link your existing calendar(s) to Calendly. Whether you use Google, Apple or Microsoft, you can sync your Calendly to a calendar so that when clients or potential customers book a free consultation/power hour etc. with you, they can’t book one at a time when you already have something booked in your diary. You’ll also need to select which of your existing calendars you would like any new appointments booked via Calendly added to.

Step Five: Set your availability. Perhaps you’re happy to take calls within business hours any day of the week. Or, you might be like me, and decide to only take calls on set days of the week because you prefer to block out certain days to focus on client work (I only take calls between 9am and 5pm on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, for example). 

Step Six: Create your appointment types (remember you only get one type on the free Calendly plan). Once you click ‘create’, you’ll need to select the type of meeting to offer and whether it’s in person, a phone call or via video call. I conduct my client meetings on Zoom but Microsoft Teams and Google Meet are also options so choose the one that works best for your business. 

Step Seven: Connect your Zoom account. If, like me, you host meetings on Zoom, at this point you’ll need to visit the Zoom integration page and follow the steps to connect your Zoom account to Calendly. This means your client will receive an auto-generated meeting ID and password when they book an appointment with you.

Step Eight: Upload any important pre-appointment info. Whether you need to communicate specific instructions, summarise the meeting agenda or simply advise clients of things to do or consider before your call, including this information in Calendly will ensure you both get the most out of the appointment. 

Step Nine: Set your date range. Calendly offers you the option to allow people to book appointments at any point in the future or alternatively to limit bookings to a certain number of weeks/months ahead. I have set mine to a maximum of 60 days ahead but choose the timeframe that best suits your business. 

Step Ten: Select the length of the appointment type(s) you want to offer. Again, you can customise this to suit your specific business requirements. My top tip here is to use the option to automatically block-out a window of time before and after appointments so that you have a buffer at the end of each meeting to prepare for the next one. As well as giving you time to make any notes, this will also stop meetings that overrun from making you late for any others you have booked in. 

Step Eleven: Set up pre-appointment questions for your client. When someone books an appointment with you via Calendly, you automatically receive their name and email address. You can also request other information from clients to help you prepare for consultations. This could be relating to the client’s budget, for example. You can create a quick questionnaire to accompany all bookings and opt to make the answers ‘required’ fields to ensure you gather all the information you need.

Step Twelve: Set up email notifications. When someone books an appointment via Calendly they will automatically receive confirmation via email. You can customise this message with details of your choice. You can also play around with the settings for cancellation notifications and emails as well as setting up automated pre-appointment reminder emails or texts (in which case you’ll need to capture their phone number when they place a booking). You can even go as far as scheduling an automated post-meeting follow-up email.

Step Thirteen: Upload your cancellation policy. It’s a great idea to include a link to reschedule or cancel your meeting in all pre-appointment communication. You should also consider adding a copy of your cancellation policy which will explain to clients what happens in the event they need to reschedule/don’t turn up for the call or cancel 5 minutes before it’s due to start.

Step Fourteen: Share your Calendly link. To share your Calendly link, simply copy and paste it into emails/Google docs/your social media bio etc.

Other useful features/upgrades in the paid version of Calendly: 

  • Payment processing – if you offer paid consultations and require clients to pay up front, the paid plan gives you the option to collect payments from clients when they place a booking.
  • Automation – a relatively new feature in Calendly which can further streamline your workload by setting up workflows and integrating with marketing campaigns.

Keep an eye out for my next post which will be a step-by-step guide on how to embed Calendly onto your site.

And that’s basically it, you can book clients while you sleep through your Calendly link. I have it added to my email auto responder and out of office so a potential client can book a call with me even if I’m away!

If you have any questions or want to know anything more, just ping me an email to hello@sm-webdesigns.co.uk. If you need help implementing this on your own site and have other bits and pieces you want to update on your site then why not book a Website Intensive with me and I can do it all for you 👍 > Find out more about a Website Intensive.

Sarah x