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Gravity Forms 101

I'm excited to share with you how Gravity Forms can be used to make money, save money, save time and automate dreaded tasks – but there's so much to talk about it's hard to know where to start!

In this series of articles you'll discover why Gravity Forms is much, much more than a contact form, how it can be used to help you spend less time on administrative tasks, and how to use it for e-commerce. I'll also share with you how to make Gravity Forms into your personal assistant. So let's get started!

What are all these awesome things you're telling me I can do with Gravity Forms?

  • Sell your stuff
  • Event registration and management
  • Automate paid webinars with GoToWebinar (anyone that has ever tried to do this knows it's a huge pain!)
  • Online Courses with automated certificate of completion upon passing the course
  • Create a paid membership site
  • Add people to your mailing list automatically after they've done any of the above things
  • Automate email communication after your customers have done any of the above things
  • Connect any payments you receive to Freshbooks (more on Freshbooks and why it's great for entrepreneurs in future articles)
  • Much, much more.

Notice that most of the above things have to do with making money online and automating everything to do with making money online? See how it can pay for itself?

Which License Should I Buy?

If you simply need a contact form, you don't need Gravity Forms. If you simply need to integrate with your email list, you don't need Gravity Forms. There are some other great free plugins that can accomplish those things for you, and I'll be showing you how to do that in future articles (hint, hint – sign up to get them delivered right to your inbox!)

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the real power of Gravity Forms happens with the full suite of add-ons that you can only get with the Developer License. The Developer License is $199, and then $99.50 to renew annually. That may seem steep even if you are using it on only one website, but that license will pay for itself in the amount of time it will save you in automating mindless tasks that are time-sucking, soul-stealing creativity killers.

Not only do you get a sweet suite of add-ons that I will discuss in-depth on this blog, you also get priority support. And they have a 30-day refund policy, so in case you find that you have a problem that Gravity Forms can't solve, you can get your $$ back.

I'll also be recommending 3rd party plugins to extend the functionality of Gravity Forms. Many are free, some are not – but I will only recommend plugins that are so fantastic at saving you time that they are worth paying for. It's so important to use your resources wisely, and putting up a little cash to allow you to focus your time on more important things is SO worth it.

Before we dive in, I want to let you know that some of the links on this page are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. I have deep experience with Gravity Forms and any other product I recommend on WordPress Ally, and I recommend them only because I’ve used them to help me solve problems and I know that information will be helpful to others. If I haven't used a product and had a great experience and outcome with it, I will not recommend it. Please do not spend any money on Gravity Forms or any other product I teach about on this site unless you feel it will be helpful to you.

If Gravity Forms is so awesome and easy to use, why would I need priority support?

I have Gravity Forms installed on at least 20 websites and I've used their support only a handful of times. But when I've needed it, I've really needed it! Once I had created 75 paid courses for an online continuing education website. When I tried to connect each form to, only 20 of them would work. I spent a couple hours doing the dreaded plugin conflict tests and other basic troubleshooting to no avail.

Learn more about how I created the online course website in a future article!

Well, I spent way more time trying to figure it out than I needed to. Finally I remembered I had priority support! One quick ticket on Gravity Forms' website and they were in touch with me within the hour, figured out that I had pasted in “fancy single quotes versus regular quotes” from an old version of Word. I didn't know there was a difference between quotes, but whatever…

So now I think I have to find “fancy quotes” on 55 forms and I start to get really sad… Until an email from Dana at Gravity Forms shows up in my inbox with a link to an updated plugin to install, and a note that the the fix will be included in their next version. Problem solved in under an hour, and several hours of work saved. I could have saved another couple hours of troubleshooting had I contacted them right away.

Random things happen. It's unavoidable. But Gravity Forms' support when they do happen is impeccable. And again, here's an instance where you can save yourself some time by paying a little more.

Gravity Forms 101: Form Basics – Getting Started

Purchase and Installation


You can purchase the Gravity Forms Developer License here. Remember, if you need a simple form that's just collecting information or capturing email addresses for your mailing list, you really don't need to buy Gravity Forms. I'll show you how to do that for FREE in a future article, so be sure to subscribe.

I'm going to assume that you already know how to install WordPress plugins, but if you don't, here are some instructions. You'll receive a license key via email once your purchase is complete.

Once the plugin is installed, you'll see a “Forms” menu item to the WordPress dashboard. To enter your license key click on the “Settings” link under the “Forms” navigation menu. Copy and paste the license key you received via email when purchasing Gravity Forms in this field.


The first thing you'll notice is that you have a Forms menu in your Dashboard navigation. Here's a rundown of what's under that menu:

  • Forms – a list of all the forms you've created. You can edit forms from this page.
  • New Form – self explanatory 🙂
  • Entries – view all form entries
  • Settings – these are your general Gravity Forms settings. You should have to adjust these rarely. Typically the default settings will be adequate.
  • Import and Export – 95% of the time you'll use this to export form entries to Excel files so you can manipulate the form data however you want. It also lets you import and export Gravity Forms XML files – for example, if you use the same for on multiple sites, you can create it once, then export it from your original site and import it onto another. Most people won't use this very often.
  • Updates – simply shows you if your version needs updated and lets you update it from here rather than the plugins menu.
  • Add-Ons – this is where the magic lives!!! This is where you can install all the other plugins that make Gravity Forms much more than a plugin that lets you “easily create web forms and manage form entries within the WordPress admin.”
  • Help – this is where you can access FAQs, submit a support ticket, etc.

Create a Form

Check out this 17-minute tutorial on how to set up a basic form.

Adding a Form to a Page or Post

You add forms to your site through the use of shortcodes, so the form will appear on the front-end where you put the shortcode in the text editor. First, click in the text editor where you want to place the form. Then click the “Add Form” button that appears at the top of the text editor.

Screen-Shot-2014-11-23-at-10.38.05-AMThen select your form from the dropdown list and check whether you want the form title and description to appear, and click “Insert Form”.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 10.44.54 AM


You'll see that a shortcode has been created:

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 10.46.59 AM

Save your page and view it, and you'll see your full form displayed on the page.

Adding a Form to a Widget

Click on Appearance > Widgets and you'll see that you have a Forms widget. Click on it, select the part of your site you want to add the form to and click Add Widget.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 10.55.19 AM


Next you'll configure the Forms widget. Click on it to expand it, and then give the widget a title or leave it blank, select the form you want to display, check whether or not you want to display the form title and description, and click Save.

Note that if you make the widget title “Contact Us” and check to have the form title display, you'll see “Contact Us” twice on the page – so generally you'll want to leave the widget title blank and check “Display Form Title”.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 10.57.49 AM

And that's it! You can place the same form on multiple pages, posts and widgets, and you can also place multiple forms on the same page.

Still have questions? Ask me in the comments below! I'll do my best to find answers for you or point you in the right direction. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and sign up to receive the latest WordPress Ally articles in your inbox.

And if you liked this article, please share it with someone you think it would help!

Coming Soon:

Gravity Forms 102: E-Commerce – discover how to use Gravity Forms to sell both physical and digital products online.

Gravity Forms 103: Event Registration and Management

Gravity Forms 104: Automate Paid Webinars Using GoToWebinar

Gravity Forms 105: Paid Courses and Certificates of Completion

Gravity Forms 106: Paid Membership Sites

Gravity Forms 107: Mailing List Automation

Gravity Forms 108: Accounting Automation

Gravity Forms 109: Listing Site (local buy-sell-trade, niche buy-sell-trade, job boards)