Industry Buzz

Leveraging Technology to Improve the Patient Experience

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

Improving the patient experience is a guiding light for modern healthcare organizations.  Along with reducing costs and increasing the overall health of populations, it’s considered one of the pillars the industry must focus on to improve the country’s overall health system performance.   Today’s patients are well informed consumers, and their expectations have helped set the benchmark when it comes to engagement, just as they have done in other areas, such as retail and financial services.  And just as those […] The post Leveraging Technology to Improve the Patient Experience appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

How to Use Pinterest Search Ads

Social Media Examiner -

Want more visibility on Pinterest? Wondering how to use Pinterest search ads to promote your products and services? In this article, you’ll discover how to use Pinterest search ads to reach your ideal customers. What Are Pinterest Search Ads? Pinterest is a search and discovery tool. Users can actively search for specific ideas, products, and [...] The post How to Use Pinterest Search Ads appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

Tuesday Tip: Reach out at the Right Time with Active Status

LinkedIn Official Blog -

Knowing the right time to reach out is key, so make sure to check out if your connections are available and active on LinkedIn when sending a note. Simply look for the green status dot to see if your connection is online when you go to message them, as you scroll through your feed, or when you check out their profile. We’re always looking for #TuesdayTip ideas so take a moment to let us know what you’d like to see! .

WP Engine Recognized in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management

WP Engine -

Gartner has recognized WP Engine in its 2018 Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management—the first time the company has appeared in this assessment. Gartner breaks the definition of Web Content Management* (WCM) into four core components: (1) controlling content, (2) across one or more digital channels, (3) using specific management solutions, (4) based on a… The post WP Engine Recognized in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management appeared first on WP Engine.

Using the cPanel App

cPanel Blog -

Hello again from the world of Customer Service! Over the past several months, we have seen many customers inquire into the cPanel App, its features, and how to set it up. I would like to cover these things and more right here! What is the cPanel App? The cPanel App is an app for Android and iOS devices that allows you to manage your cPanel & WHM accounts. This app is available to provide quick ...

Choosing the Best Dedicated Server for WordPress

InMotion Hosting Blog -

Choosing the best dedicated server for WordPress is essential for your business. It doesn’t need to be daunting task. We’ve compiled a great list of frequently asked questions to make this an easier decision. What Is a Dedicated Server? A dedicated server is one that is totally assigned to your software and website. This means that the server resources—including its memory and computational power—belong to you. It also means that any problems your server has can be diagnosed and repaired immediately. Continue reading Choosing the Best Dedicated Server for WordPress at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

12 Common WordPress Errors (And How to Fix Them)

DreamHost Blog -

Nothing can sully your day quite like an unexpected error with your site. Thankfully, WordPress is generally a well-oiled machine that isn’t likely to throw errors at you for no reason. However, when a problem does appear, it can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know how to try and fix it. While many errors can seem intimidating at first glance, most WordPress issues stem from relatively small problems that are usually easy to deal with. As long as you understand the source of the problem, you can typically perform some basic troubleshooting on your own. To help you out, this article will show you how to diagnose and correct 12 of the most common WordPress errors. If your problem is not listed here, you’ll want to check out the official list of common issues. What’s more, if your site is hosted with DreamHost, you can always reach out to our 24/7 customer support. Let’s start from the top! 1. Parse Error/Syntax Error Let’s start with an easy one. While many of the errors we’ll be looking at can be frustrating due to how little information they give you, the ‘parse error’ (or ‘syntax error’) is at least helpful enough to tell you exactly what’s wrong. This error occurs when there is an issue with your site’s code, most commonly in the functions.php file. Instead of loading your page, a simple message will appear, which explains what the issue is and where it occurred. To fix the problem, you’ll need to access the specified file using SFTP. We’ll be using FileZilla, as it’s a free and open-source tool. Just use the SFTP credentials provided by your web host, and access your site’s backend. Then, you need to find the file in question. In the example pictured above, you can see that the problem is in the functions.php file for the site’s current theme. As such, we’ll access that theme’s folder, right-click on functions.php, and select View/Edit. If you check the Parse error message, you can see that it even tells you on what line the problem exists. Now we just need to find that line and fix the problem. In our example, it’s a simple case of a missing parenthesis, so let’s sort that out. Save your file, and select Yes when your FTP client asks if you want to replace the existing file on the server. You should now be able to check your site and see that it’s back to normal. 2. White Screen of Death (WSoD) One of the most infamous and cryptic errors in WordPress is the dreaded White Screen of Death (WSoD). This error simply replaces your entire site with a blank, white nothing, leaving no error messages or further assistance. This problem can occur for a variety of reasons and usually means your site couldn’t be loaded properly. As such, there are several methods for troubleshooting it. We’ve actually covered how to fix the WSoD before on this blog, so we recommend that you check out our comprehensive guide to this error. However, here’s a quick summary of the things you can do to troubleshoot this particularly tricky problem: Disable your plugins. The most likely culprit behind the WSoD is a faulty plugin, so try disabling them all and see if that fixes the problem. Disable your theme. Your theme can also cause this issue, so use SFTP to replace it with one of WordPress’ default themes. Activate the WordPress debug mode. This is a useful feature that lets you see errors directly on each page, which can help you pinpoint the underlying cause of the WSoD. Purge your cache. Finally, your site’s caching solution could cause you to see outdated files even if the WSoD has been fixed. Therefore, you’ll want to clear your cache and see if that resolves the problem. Raise your memory limit. Your site might have run out of memory. You can raise your maximum limit by editing your php.ini file. These methods will fix the WSoD in the vast majority of cases. However, if you’re still experiencing issues, you should contact your host’s support team for more help. 3. Internal Server Error The Internal Server Error is another issue that can be frustratingly opaque about the underlying problem. Fortunately, this error has fewer potential causes than the WSoD. It will appear when an unknown issue occurs with the server, and is generally caused by one of the following: There’s a problem with your site’s .htaccess file. Your site has reached its memory limit. In simple terms, .htaccess is a file that dictates how your site communicates with its server. This file can be used to increase your site’s security, and to override some of the default server settings. To test and see if this file is causing the Internal Server Error, all you need to do is disable it. You can do this by once again using SFTP. The file is usually located in your site’s root directory, which is often titled public_html. To disable the file, just change its name. For example, if you rename it .htaccess-disabled, you can then check your site to see if the issue is resolved. If this does fix the problem, all you need to do is generate a new, bug-free .htaccess file. You can do that by going into your admin dashboard and accessing Settings > Permalinks. You don’t need to make any actual changes here. Just click on Save Changes to generate a new .htaccess file. This should hopefully resolve the issue. If it doesn’t, you may need to increase your PHP memory limit. If that’s the case, we have a complete guide on how to do that. If you find that you can’t increase your limit further, you might also want to consider upgrading your current hosting plan. 4. 404 Error The 404 Error should be familiar to most internet users. It signals that the server was unable to find the requested page. This error is most commonly associated with broken links and changed URLs, but it can also occur even if the page you’re looking for should be available. When this happens, the most likely cause is again the .htaccess file. This file also handles your site’s hyperlink structure, and it’s possible that it could be redirecting your URLs incorrectly. Your first step should, therefore, be to regenerate a new .htaccess file, using the steps we outlined in the previous section. However, in the unlikely event that this doesn’t resolve the error, you may need to re-upload .htaccess. The easiest method is to create a new file, give it the name .htaccess (don’t forget the period, and you don’t need to add a file extension), and paste in the following default code: # BEGIN WordPress <IfModule mod_rewrite.c> RewriteEngine On RewriteBase / RewriteRule ^index.php$ - [L] RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d RewriteRule . /index.php [L] </IfModule> # END WordPress You can now upload the file to your site’s root folder. In most cases, this should resolve the 404 error you’re seeing. 5. Error Establishing a Database Connection As the name suggests, this error will appear if your site can’t access its database. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, your site’s database is where all its content is stored. This includes your posts, pages, and user information. As such, if you can’t access the database, your site won’t be able to function at all. There are a few reasons this error can occur, but most of them stem from a single file on your site, namely wp-config.php. This file contains all the information about your site’s database, so it’s the most likely origin for this type of issue. To repair the connection, access your site’s wp-config.php file, which should be located in its root folder. Right-click on the file, and select View/Edit. You’ll first want to check that the credentials in the file are correct. To do that, you should access your phpMyAdmin to find the exact details. If the hostname, username, password, and/or database name in the file are incorrect, replacing them should fix the error. However, if the error persists, you may need to activate WordPress’ automatic database optimization tool. This feature can be used to repair corrupted databases, and can be turned on by adding the following line to your wp-config.php file: define( 'WP_ALLOW_REPAIR', true ); After saving the file and uploading it back to your server, you can run the new script by navigating to https://yourwebsiteurl.com/wp-admin/maint/repair.php in your browser. The resulting page will look like this: All you need to do is click on either of the buttons to run the repair tool. When the process is completed, the page will reload, and you should see a message telling you that the database tables have been fixed. This should deal with your database connection error. Just don’t forget to remove the line WP_ALLOW_REPAIR from wp-config.php when you’re done. 6. Connection Timed Out Error You’ve probably seen this error show up after a site has tried (unsuccessfully) to load for some time. It means that the server is struggling to load the site, and has essentially given up. This could happen for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is that your site doesn’t have the resources it needs to function properly. For example, if you’re using shared hosting, another site could be hogging your server’s resources. Alternately, perhaps your site has exceeded its maximum allowed bandwidth. As such, you might want to consider upgrading your hosting plan if you see this error occur multiple times. A higher-tier plan will help you avoid slowdowns and downtime, as your site will have more server resources and won’t be affected if other sites see a surge in traffic. The ‘connection timed out’ error can also occur if your site is causing a lot of strain on the server. Therefore, we recommend that you optimize your site for speed, get rid of any resource-hogging plugins, and check your theme to see if it’s dragging down your performance. Once again, you might also want to increase your PHP memory limit. 7. Your Site’s Sidebar Appears Below the Main Content There may come a time when you find that your trusty sidebar has moved from its usual position next to each page and post’s main content, and has instead decided to hang out right underneath. This is almost always the result of an issue with your theme’s HTML or CSS code. As such, this error is likely due to a recent change to your theme. If you’ve edited any of your theme files lately, try reverting them to their previous states, to see if that resolves the problem. More specifically, there are two main things you should look out for when troubleshooting this problem: Leftover <div> tags: These tags are used to add HTML elements, and if one is not opened or closed properly, it can cause the sidebar to move. Incorrect margins in CSS: If the margins are not set correctly in your style.css file, the sidebar may not have the space it needs beside your main content. Examine your theme for these issues, and you should be able to find the source of the problem. You can also run the affected page through the W3C Markup Validation Service, to help you find the source of the error faster. 8. You’re Unable to Upload Images There are a few different ways images can ‘break’ on your website. They may appear incorrectly after you upload them, or you might not be able to upload them at all. Either way, the issue most likely stems from incorrect file permissions. Essentially, this means the site doesn’t know that you’re allowed to add and access the files with which you’re trying to work. This can occur if your site gets hacked, or if a plugin has accidentally rewritten your permissions. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. Once again, you’ll want to access your site using SFTP. This time you’ll want to find the uploads folder, which is located in the wp-content directory. However, you don’t want to open this folder. Instead, right-click on it and select File permissions. This will open the folder’s permission settings. You’ll want to set the Numeric value to 744, as this will let the owner (i.e., you) read and write uploads. Click OK when you’ve done this, and the new permissions will be applied. You’ll need to repeat the same process for all files inside the folder, so now right-click on uploads and select File permissions again. This time, you’ll want to set the value to 644 and check the Recurse into subdirectories option. You also need to select Apply to files only. When you save your changes, your site’s Media Library should once again be working as normal. You can check this by uploading an image in your admin dashboard. If there are still issues, you can repeat the above process, but set the uploads folder’s permission value to 755 instead of 744. 9. You’re Unable to Access the Admin Area The errors we’ve discussed so far have all been due to technical issues. However, getting locked out of your admin dashboard is a little different. In short, this generally happens when you forget your password. Now, there’s no need to panic. Just because you’ve lost your password doesn’t mean you can’t access your site. First of all, you can click the Lost your password? link on the login page. This will let you recover your password by entering your username or email address. In the vast majority of cases, this will do the trick. However, in rare instances there may be an issue with this feature, it could be disabled or maybe you don’t have access to the email you signed up with. If that’s the case, it is possible to use phpMyAdmin to reset your password. However, using this method can be risky as you might accidentally cause problems with your site or database. As such, you should only use this method as a last resort. The process itself will vary depending on your web host and setup, but we’ll be using the DreamHost control panel in our example. After you’ve logged in, click on Domains and select Edit for the site you want to access. Next, open up phpMyAdmin. Here, you’ll need to find your user table, which is usually called wp_users or something similar. Once you’ve located it, find your specific user account and click on Edit. You can now change your profile’s information, including its password. Replace the current string in the user_pass row with whatever password you want to use. You should also set the function drop-down menu to MD5, as this will encrypt the password. Once you save your changes, you can go ahead and log in again using your new password. 10. WordPress Is Stuck in Maintenance Mode Maintenance mode is an automatic feature that temporarily disables your site while it’s being updated. This is to avoid situations where users try to use functionality on your site just as you’re updating it, which could cause problems. Usually, the update process is so quick that you don’t even notice the change. However, if the update had to cancel before it was complete, you might find that your site is stuck in maintenance mode indefinitely. The good news is that this is a very easy problem to fix. All you need to do is fire up SFTP again, access your site’s root folder, and delete the file called .maintenance. This file is what activated maintenance mode, so removing it will revert your site back to normal. However, you’ll also need to retry the failed update, as this error means that it didn’t successfully complete. 11. Missed Scheduled Post Error The ability to schedule posts ahead of time is one of WordPress’ more useful features. You can line up posts in advance, leave the site alone, and have content automatically published at the times you set. However, sometimes this system fails, and you’ll notice a Missed schedule error next to a post. Without getting too technical, this problem is due to something called ‘cron jobs,’ which are tasks that WordPress uses to automate certain processes. If the appropriate cron job does not trigger when your post is scheduled, it will fail to publish and remain in your admin dashboard until you do so manually. The best way to avoid this error is to use a plugin, and there are a few options at hand. One that we recommend is Scheduled Post Trigger. This is a free and very lightweight plugin, which ensures that the cron jobs responsible for publishing scheduled posts run as expected. By activating it on your site, you can rest assured that your scheduled posts will publish on time from now on. 12. WordPress Failed to Auto-Update Keeping your WordPress site updated at all times is vital. We’ve hammered home this point for years, and it remains one of the most important pieces of advice we give every website owner. If you have a managed WordPress hosting plan, you usually don’t need to do this yourself, since new WordPress updates will be applied for you. However, occasionally something goes wrong, and the automatic update will fail. This is highly irregular, of course, but it can happen. It’s usually due to a glitch in the server’s connection with your WordPress files, incorrect file permissions (which we discussed earlier), or an unreliable internet connection. If WordPress fails to auto-update, you may be hit with the WSoD, or notice warning errors when you try to access your site. To fix this, you will need to manually update WordPress, by downloading the latest version of the software and installing it on your site using SFTP. However, if your site is hosted with DreamHost, this process is made much easier. This is because you can simply upgrade your site straight from your dashboard. After that, everything should be back to normal. Trial and Error Experiencing issues with WordPress is blissfully rare, but when it does happen it can be quite frustrating. However, fixing most of the problems you’ll encounter is usually easier than it might seem at first glance. Do you have a question about any of these errors, or have you encountered another issue that’s giving you a headache? Join the DreamHost Community and let’s discuss! The post 12 Common WordPress Errors (And How to Fix Them) appeared first on DreamHost.

Auditing WordPress Site Performance With Lighthouse

Nexcess Blog -

Performance-optimized WordPress hosting is an essential component of a fast and reliable WordPress site, but hosting isn’t the only variable that affects performance. A host of other factors are involved in ensuring that the data your site sends to the browser is received and rendered as quickly as possible. Because there are so many factors… Continue reading →

Pricing WordPress Projects Without A Clear Scope Of Work

Liquid Web Official Blog -

In a perfect world, every potential website client who contacts you about a new WordPress project would know exactly what they need, have a clear scope of work with a requirements list, and understand the costs associated with their request. But perfectly educated clients are rarely reality because they don’t build websites or work with WordPress for a living. They don’t spend all of their time learning about web design and web development. They aren’t experts in WordPress and shouldn’t be expected to become experts. Clients hire you because they are busy running their business and doing what they do best, and they trust you to be the experts they need: To guide them through the process To educate them when necessary To put their goals and best interests first at all times, and To provide an accurate, honest, clear estimate of the cost up front Often, pricing WordPress projects is a process of discovery, like peeling back layers of an onion to learn about obstacles and constraints, gain clarity about requirements and objectives, set expectations, and map out the scope of work and project deliverables. Pricing WordPress Projects Without enough information up front, pricing WordPress projects is tough because assumptions and educated guesses must be made about the full scope of work, which is never the best approach. If the quote is too high, there is a risk of losing the project and the client. If the quote is too low, there is a risk of not being taken seriously or being second-guessed as to why your estimate doesn’t align with other quotes gathered. When information is missing, it causes problems for potential clients as well, creating a confusing gap between the expectations of the prospect and the estimate provided by the designer that can be difficult to overcome — especially if the designer isn’t confident in communicating the value they deliver and skilled in explaining and pitching the reasoning behind and benefits of the solution they are proposing. Effective Pricing Helps Designers and Clients When you do your due diligence and a potential client works with you during the estimating process to provide as much detail and information as possible, the result is a clear, accurate, detailed estimate — and everyone wins. Designers and developers win because they are able to confidently deliver accurate estimates based on clear deliverables, timelines, and an agreed upon scope of work — and enjoy fees that are in alignment with their experience and expertise. Clients win because they receive a clear, accurate estimate that explains exactly what they will get, at what price, and when. This will help set expectations, dispel confusion, and reduce revisions and future surprises. When you quote new projects accurately by having open and honest conversations with new clients about price and expectations, projects will run more smoothly, there will be less stress, and you will enjoy your work more. Pricing WordPress Projects When You Don’t Have A Clear Scope Of Work Unfortunately, there are times when: A client doesn’t have answers to your questions Not all of the details, requirements, or obstacles are clear The prospect will not answer questions or share the details you need A simple request is far from simple In all of these scenarios, it’s easy to fall into some pricing traps and to make mistakes that can create stress, frustration, and potential conflict. Some of the most common mistakes made when quoting web design projects are: Not Enough Due Diligence As a professional web designer or developer, you can’t take a client’s word on face value alone because often there is much more to the story that isn’t being shared. By not getting all of the information needed up front, projects are more likely to hit major obstacles, require change orders, encounter added cost, and cause frustration and stress. Focusing Only on “Doing” Time When asked for a quote from a potential client, it’s easy to fall into the trap of basing the cost on the amount of time it takes them to do the actual work. The problem with that approach is that you then fail to account for the hours spent on project management, email communication, meetings, phone calls, research, training, file preparation for print or go-live, revisions, searching for stock photos, testing typography stacks, brainstorming or sketching ideas, and configuring premium plugins, etc. Using Assumptions and Educated Guesses Pulling information out of a prospect is not a comfortable task. Instead, most designers and developers ask a few questions and move on, creating a proposal based on what they assume the full scope of work is. Yikes! Not providing an accurate estimate sets the stage for surprise costs and major delays. “Should Be” Pricing I know you want your clients to love you and you want to make the process as easy as possible for them to say yes and hire you. Unfortunately, this often leads to skipping over the work to gain the critical information needed to provide a detailed estimate. As a result, only a ballpark estimate, based on what something similar “should cost” instead of what is actually costs, is provided — these estimates are often MUCH lower than they should be and based in fear, not real data. How To Deal With Unknowns In Pricing WordPress Projects 2018 marks 21 years of working as a web designer and 13 years as an agency owner. In that time, I have made all of the pricing mistakes listed above and have learned quite a few lessons along the way. Those experiences are what allow Bourn Creative to now confidently provide accurate proposals for new work that is a great fit for our expertise. Let’s look at the four most common scenarios we encounter with potential clients, where there are unknowns and uncertainty, and explore the best ways to handle pricing WordPress projects effectively. Pricing A Simple Web Design Project Rarely is simple ever simple. What seems simple to a potential client — like a simple five-page website — is actually quite complicated, and often several external factors must be accounted for due to their impact on the project. Here are 9 Things You Must Know Before Creating a New WordPress Website. For example: There may be technical debt — technical problems or issues that existed before you got involved. This may include things such as hosting accounts with other sites located in that same account, messy hosting accounts, lost passwords, no access to accounts, past hacked sites, outdated WordPress installs or plugins, etc. The client has no branding in place. A simple website design project quickly becomes something much more complex if the client doesn’t have a logo, color palette, or typography stack established and the designer or developer must create it as part of the project. If you encounter situations like these, there are a few options to avoid surprises in cost for the client and an eroding hourly rate for the designer or developer: OPTION 1: Most technical debt issues happen when taking a new website live. If dealing with an existing hosting account, consider quoting a flat rate for the theme design and development, and quote the go-live of the final site hourly (with a ballpark range/not to exceed amount) to ensure your time is covered. OPTION 2: Offer a paid technical assessment to be completed before you quote the project. In the paid technical assessment, review the existing site, hosting account, forms, and more to identify any potential issues. At the end of the technical assessment, the client has a report of the findings, and you have the data needed to provide an accurate estimate based. If the client signs the contract, consider offering to apply the technical assessment fee toward the initial deposit. OPTION 3: Think about every external item that may affect the project. Ask the client about branding, content, imagery, opt-ins, forms, and more. For items not included, but may be asked for later on: Be very clear about what IS and IS NOT included in the base estimate. Include items as optional “add-ons” in the proposal. This will establish that they are not included and set an expectation of cost should they be requested later on. Pricing WordPress Projects for Existing Websites Sometimes you’ll receive an inquiry from a potential client who originally hired another company and is looking for a new partner. In these cases, when we review the sites during our initial consultation, we find some egregious errors, and we know (from experience) that for every error we see on the front end of the site, there are probably ten we can’t see — and that is a tough place to be. In this situation, before we get to an official proposal, we pitch a discovery project with a set number of hours. Discovery Projects allow you to see what was really going on in the back end of the site and gives the potential client the ability to test the waters and see what it would be like to work with you. At the end of the discovery project, the potential client has a report of exactly what was done, what is still left to do, what concerns/issues were identified, and how we propose to handle the new issues moving forward. The keys to a successful discovery project are to: Agree on a set number of hours for a flat fee. Outline the deliverables or tasks to be completed and to prioritize the list. Over-communicate and communicate clearly — let them know exactly what’s happening, what you are finding, and how it will impact the list of desired deliverables. Create a plan for what happens after the discovery project is over (this will shape your future estimate). Establish boundaries and expectations, demonstrate processes, and set the tone for the rest of your relationship. Lack Of Information Sometimes a potential client will fill out your WordPress Inquiry Form and answer every question with things like: I don’t know Isn’t that your job? Not sure None You tell me Unfortunately, it is VERY difficult to provide an accurate estimate when the prospective client provides no details about what they want or need. In this situation, send the prospect an email with a couple of follow up questions. If they respond and provide good answers, schedule a call to ask more questions and get the information we need to provide an accurate estimate. If the website project is more complex — like a membership site, online course, or eCommerce site — and the prospect hasn’t yet thought through the details, consider pitching a Scoping Project. In a scoping project, the prospective client pays you as a consultant to help them create a project requirements document or creative brief. During a scoping project, the focus is not on design and development, but on: Identifying constraints Detailing all requirements Outlining milestones and deliverables Planning the scope of work Defining the objectives — what success looks like At the end of the scoping project, one of two things may happen: You and your client decide that you enjoy working together and armed with a clear scope of work, you can now provide a detailed, accurate estimate for the design and development of the project. You decide during the Scoping Project that the partnership isn’t going to be a great fit. In this case, the client now has a clear scope of work and requirements document they can take to any other company to get a quote. When Prospects Won’t Provide Any Information Some prospects don’t want to provide any information about their project. They leave important fields on project inquiry forms blank or provide no answer They can’t or won’t answer your questions, and in most of these cases refuse to talk about their budget They object to a technical assessment, a discovery project, or a scoping project However, they will still want an estimate and a timeline. Unfortunately, most of the time these inquiries are ignored or deleted because it is a signal that the prospective client isn’t serious about their project, or they are spamming inquiry forms hoping for a cheap quote — and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to chase down people who aren’t serious about their project. But there are going to be those who demand an estimate and a timeline anyway. In this case, you’re making an educated guess as to what the project scope will be based on previous experiences and adding in “what if” pricing to cover your time in case the worst case scenario present itself. Pricing WordPress Projects for the Unknown When pricing WordPress projects for the unknown, you must account for your time. Quote the potential client your hourly rate, give them a ballpark range of hours, track your hours, and bill them for the total. Remember to track your time for discovery, research, client communication, project management, phone calls, meetings, file preparation, design, development, etc. Use a three-pronged approach. Evaluate: The estimated number of hours you think it will be The best case scenario number of hours The worst-case scenario number of hours. Use these three numbers to make an educated decision about the final estimate amount. Tips On Communicating With Prospects When communicating with prospects, don’t rely solely on email. Pick up the phone, schedule a Zoom meeting, jump on Skype, or do a Google Hangout as soon as possible. You will gain much more insights into your client’s feelings and attitude about the project when you can hear their voice and see their body language and facial expressions. Keep asking them questions until you get the clarity you need to provide an estimate you can feel confident about. Ask questions like: When you say X, what does that mean to you? Can you explain your thoughts behind X? Occasionally, a potential client will get testy about the persistent question asking. It’s important to communicate that when it comes to technology, often times people mean very different things when using the same language. Share that your questions are critical to ensuring everyone is on the same page and that no incorrect assumptions are being made. The goal here is to provide the client with the most accurate and complete estimate as possible and reduce or eliminate future surprises. When To Turn Down A Project If a potential client will not answer your questions, will not speak with you on the phone about the project, and is extremely difficult to communicate with, consider turning the client down. Likewise, if the project isn’t a great fit — usually due to budget, timeline, or requirements — pass the project to another provider who is a better fit. At Bourn Creative, for us to consider a project, it must be a match for our skillset, interesting and fun to work on and return a profit to the company. If we are presented with an awesome new project and there is one aspect of the project that will be new for our team, we will provide a proposal for the project and reinvest the agency profit back into the project to learn something new and boost our skills. If the potential project has two elements that are new for our team and we already have an existing relationship with a specialist in that area, we will take on the project, dedicating our profit to learning something new and boosting our skills. If there are three or more elements of the project that are unfamiliar to us, we will pass on the project and refer the client to another provider we know and respect. We never increase the cost when pricing WordPress projects to cover our learning time. Pricing WordPress Projects Is A Process Pricing WordPress projects with unknown variables isn’t easy or fun for anyone! It creates inaccurate estimates based on assumptions and guesses and causes more obstacles and increases in cost throughout the project. By taking the time to do the necessary due diligence up front, asking a lot of questions, and pitching a technical assessment, scoping project, or discovery project, you can mitigate the challenges that come with unknowns and gain the knowledge you need to provide a clear, accurate estimate. Understanding how pricing WordPress projects to increase profit and decrease stress will create more successful client relationships with more clarity, fewer surprises, and greater satisfaction. Need Help with Your WordPress Site? Stop worrying about plugin updates, managing multiple sites, image compression and more with our Managed WordPress Hosting. The post Pricing WordPress Projects Without A Clear Scope Of Work appeared first on Liquid Web.

What Pro Sports Can Teach Us About Digital Transformation

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

Artificial intelligence, automation and big data are all becoming essential parts of companies’ digital transformation — the integration of modern technology into all areas of the business, changing how they operate and deliver value to customers. But what does that look like in practice? The world of sports is a great place to look for […] The post What Pro Sports Can Teach Us About Digital Transformation appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

3 Low-Cost Video Tools for Social Media Marketers

Social Media Examiner -

Need to do more marketing with video? Looking for video tools that are easy to use? In this article, you’ll discover three tools to quickly and easily create polished, eye-catching videos for social media. #1: Produce Video Quickly With Biteable Biteable lets you quickly create video ads, animations, and presentations. It offers more than 60 [...] The post 3 Low-Cost Video Tools for Social Media Marketers appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

7 Conversations with Chris Penn: An Introduction to Machine Learning and AI

Stone Temple Consulting Blog -

When I saw Chris Penn speak at our 2018 Next10x event, I knew I wanted to get together with him for a video session to discuss machine learning and AI. We did that recently, and the videos below are the result. Each video is accompanied by a transcript if you prefer to read. We covered seven major topics in our discussions: What Are Machine Learning and AI? How Will Machine Learning and AI Change Our World? Google and AI: RankBrain Google and AI: Beyond RankBrain The Rise of Smart Devices Predictive Analysis and Content Real Applications of Machine Learning and AI Today As you can see, we covered a wide range of territory. Throughout these conversations, we’ll give you a solid introductory primer into machine learning and AI, as well as an understanding of how companies and individuals are applying them in the world of search. I hope you enjoy these conversations as much as I did. Conversation #1: What are Machine Learning and AI?  Eric: Chris, my first question for you is, “Can you just tell the viewers a bit about machine learning and AI, first of all, and how they’re different?” and then, “Where are they today?”   Chris: Gotcha. AI is a big broad umbrella term. It basically means getting computers to do things humans do with our intelligence naturally. So you can see me, and if you’re watching this, you can see what’s going on. You’re using vision. If you’re hearing the words I’m saying and it doesn’t sound just like noise, then you’re using natural language processing. We learn these things instinctively and through our own training as we grow up. But, we’re trying to teach computers to do those things. Now under that umbrella, the foundation of today’s AI and machine learning is all statistics—it’s all math, right? So, if you didn’t like math, sorry. The good news is software’s helping with a lot of that. Statistics and probability are really the heart of artificial intelligence. With those individual statistical techniques, we build them into what are called algorithms—repeatable processes. Everybody uses algorithms all day long. When you get dressed in the morning, you probably have a sequence of things that you do every day that is predictable. And so that’s the algorithm. You get into the interesting territories when you give computers these algorithms and you give them data and you say, “Hey, you decide what algorithms to use to make the data reach a conclusion of some kind.” And that’s what we call machine learning where the computer now, instead of we write the software and the computer processes the data, now we provide the data and the computer writes its own software and then comes out with an outcome. Now, if you were to take machine learning as a layer of a pancake,—a set of algorithms,— and you were to start stacking them on top of each other like Lego blocks, where the data moves from one block to the next, that’s what’s called deep learning. It’s called deep because it can be hundreds of layers deep. That gets computers much closer to either human level or beyond human level capabilities. Deep learning is like a stack of machine learning Lego bricks, each brick passing information to the others.Click To Tweet So, when we’re talking about AI, particularly in terms of marketing and search and things like that, we are talking about computers being able to think like humans, create outcomes that humans want, and optimize for those outcomes. A lot of what we’re going to be talking about today deals with how that impacts things like search. Eric: Absolutely. One of my favorite examples is when Google’s DeepMind subsidiary cracked the code on the game of Go and taught it to beat the world champion. That was an intense machine-learning exercise right there. Chris: Yes, absolutely. END OF PART 1 Conversation #2: How Will Machine Learning and AI Change Our World?  Eric: For the next question, can you talk a little bit about how this is going to impact our world, in terms of the types of jobs and the kinds of things that will change in our environment, overall? Chris: In the future, there will be two kinds of jobs. You will manage the machines or the machines will manage you. And that’s pretty much the future for everything. If there’s a process or a task that you do that is repetitive, a machine will do it. At some point, a machine will do it because it’s really not worth a human copying and pasting the same thing over and over again. In the future there will be just two kinds of jobs: you will manage machines or machines will manage you.Click To Tweet Think about, for example, in the world of search marketing. What are some of the things that we would do in search marketing? We do stuff like keyword scoring, keyword analysis, and text analysis. All that is stuff machines can do. You don’t need a human to do that anymore. Another one of the things I think is relevant is if you ever Googled for an Instagram template or an SEO checklist, things like that, right? If you use a template to do your work today, a machine’s going to do it without you tomorrow because you just don’t need to be doing those things anymore. So that’s a big part of the future. And the most important thing, I think, is that from a marketing and communications perspective, marketing becomes truly one-to-one. We can’t scale. You and I can’t individually talk to a million people every day. You and I are having this conversation here. We’re having a one-to-one conversation, but we can’t do this at scale. We don’t scale. There’s just not enough hours in the day.  But an AI can actually do that and have a meaningful interaction with somebody on a one-to-one basis. Whether you’re searching for something or talking to a voice assistant, you can have these interactions one-to-one and the machines can remember who you are. For one of my favorite examples, go to Google and look up Watson Conversational Ads. It’s an IBM product. Disclosure: I’m an IBM champion, so they send me clothes to wear. You can talk to the ad. It’ll ask like, “What’s your favorite ingredient?” And I’ll type in “Sriracha” and they’ll come up with a recipe, on the fly, that’s just for you based on the time, the weather, your search history, and things like that. It’s your recipe, but it also warns you these are not kitchen tested—use common sense. But that’s one-to-one marketing and that’s how this is going to impact everything going forward. END OF PART 2 Conversation #3: Google and AI: RankBrain Chris: I want to get back to something that we were talking about in terms of search. At the Next10x conference, we were talking a bit about RankBrain and how Google is using AI. What have you seen the big search engines doing with AI and machine learning as it impacts marketers? Eric: I’m glad you started with RankBrain because there’s a little bit of a myth out there and Google picked a really unfortunate name for it. But the original RankBrain algorithm is what I call a “sparse data algorithm,” and it was really about providing better answers for the kinds of search queries that users enter for which they don’t have data. So the way that worked is it would actually look at historical search queries, especially on long-tail queries. It might be five, six, seven words long, or even longer queries. Nobody had ever done these queries before, but they could do what they call a similarity vector analysis where they look at the vector for the query entered by the user based on the words. They might have a similar query where the vector, when they draw it, is really similar. So mathematically, they’re able to determine that these queries are extremely similar. This is building on what you said a moment ago, just doing the statistical analysis. Looking at those two very similar queries, Google could then actually see how people responded to the other query. Do they not click on the first result? Do they ignore the e-commerce results? Do they click on the informational result? And based on that, they can tune how they give you the results for the query you actually entered. This is where RankBrain started years ago. The interesting thing is, this got confounded a little bit more because Google made the statement that it was the number-three ranking factor in the Google algorithm. By the way, the first two, they said, were content and links. Chris: Huge surprise. Eric: Which is good. The world hasn’t been turned completely upside down yet. The reality is we have to remember, 70% of all search is in the long-tail. So if RankBrain operates primarily in the long-tail, it can actually have a very large impact but not change ranking for higher volume queries at all, which is basically what they tend to say about it. 70% of search takes place in the long tail, and that's where RankBrain comes in.Click To Tweet Chris: But here’s the thing. The way we search is radically changing. So that inflates RankBrain’s importance. Today, when I talk to Google Assistant, I don’t say “best SEO firm.” I don’t speak in these short-clipped phrases. I’ll say, “Hey, Google, what’s the best SEO firm in Framingham, Massachusetts?” Right? It’s a very long-tail query. So does that mean that RankBrain is processing a lot more of the voice interface and the voice searches? Eric: I think that’s likely the case. As you know, voice queries tend to be much more natural language and much longer, and as a result…Yes, it’s going to trigger RankBrain even more. END OF PART 3 Conversation #4: Google and AI: Beyond RankBrain Eric: I happen to think RankBrain is evolving. Chris: Into what? Eric: What we’re seeing now is this idea of comparative analysis and being able to look at query histories using machine learning and AI, and that is particularly interesting. It allows them to try out the idea of experimenting. Let me replay it briefly. RankBrain was looking at past historical query results and learning from them to tweak your results. Chris: Based on a vector word analysis. Eric: Now, let’s make a simple modification to that concept and actually run an algorithm where we test certain kinds of listings, see how they perform, and compare them to tests of other kinds of listings. I’m again looking at historical results, but rather than going in the databank and hoping that I have a related phrase that I’ve done something with, I’m going out of my way to dynamically test scenarios. Chris: Well, yes, we know they do that. They do that with Markov chains in the Attribution 360 product. It’s built right in and they do hundreds of millions of comparisons of all your data based on your past data. Eric: I think they’re being much more deliberative about that now in what they’re doing with search results. Above is a screenshot of the search results for the phrase “digital cameras” from February of 2018. What you’re seeing is that there are two reviews results and two e-commerce results. By reviews results, I mean pages giving reviews of lots of different digital cameras. Fast forward to May of 2018, and it’s changed dramatically. Now we have three e-commerce results, no review page results, and Wikipedia. I’ve seen this for many, many different kinds of SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) in a way that I’ve never seen in Google before. It’s happening more dynamically. So it’s my conjecture—I have no confirmation, to be fair—but it really looks to me like they’re deliberately testing scenarios to better determine user intent. It looks like Google is testing user intent assumptions and adjusting search results in response to the tests. Click To Tweet Chris: How do you get around the issue of personalization in the results? When you’re advising clients, do you provide something like, “Here’s the generic, not logged-in result,” and then here’s 12 or 15 personas of standard business users or standard homeowners to show how the results will vary from person to person? Eric: It’s actually hard to do specific SEO work around personalization. But really, it ultimately all gets back to user intent, and how well your content matches up with user intent. This is something that I think a lot of businesses are dramatically under-invested in because when someone comes to your web page, they’re looking for something. And it might not be just the top-level product on your web page, but all the ancillary needs that they have related to that. Chris: Do I need a digital camera and… Eric: Well, I was going to say an SD card, right? I almost said film. I was dating myself terribly there. Chris: No, you could be retro. Eric: Well, I could be retro. That would have been an embarrassment. Oh, wait a minute. I did say it. Yes, you have other needs, and you have other things that you’re looking for. So you have to design your content to meet that broader range of needs.   And this, I actually think, is the thing that helps the personalization part of the algorithm work in your favor, because if you’re creating the content that they engage with initially, because you do a good job of putting out there that you’re addressing a broad range of needs, then you’re putting yourself in the situation where the personalization algorithms work in your favor. END OF PART 4 Conversation #5: The Rise of Smart Devices Chris: Now, let’s talk a bit about some of the smart devices like Google Home and Alexa and others in that world. How should we be optimizing for these devices, for these much longer tail searches? Intent is a big part of it because obviously, if I don’t have to think about what I’m typing, I would say, “Hey, what’s the best SEO firm in Framingham, Massachusetts that accepts B2B clients?” That’s a very long search term, and there’s a lot more rich intent in there than “best SEO firm.” The intent is unclear. So how do we optimize to take advantage of all these different types of intents that people are going to physically speak into their smart home devices, their watches, even people talking to their refrigerators now? Eric: Absolutely—my car, right? Chris: Exactly Eric: And my watch; I’ve got them all, all those devices. I think one of the big things people have to realize is when you’re dealing with Alexa or the Google Assistant running on Google Home or something running on your smartphone, and you use a voice query and you get a voice response, you get one answer. You know this, right? This is the big thing. Most of the time, the great majority at that time, when it’s a Google Assistant answer, they’re drawing that from what they serve as featured snippets in the regular search results. So the big thing to do is learn how to generate featured snippets. But let’s back up and look at this from a Google perspective and how they’re thinking about it. It used to be that when they served regular search results, if the first answer in the search results wasn’t perfect but the user got what they wanted in position two or three, that was actually still a good result for the user. They don’t have that opportunity in the voice environment. They only get one answer. I happen to think that they’re investing in enormous amount of machine learning… Chris: Duplex! Eric: …technology. What’s your take on that? Chris: I think you’re absolutely right. And I think one of the things that marketers, in particular, are neglecting is the data they already have. So we’ve been doing a couple of projects, mining people’s CRM data, like the stuff that people call in or email in: “Hey, I’ve got a problem with this product or service.” If you mine that data and you pull out the way people are talking to you about your stuff on your website, that is rich search content to fulfill intent, right? Mining data from your CRM and email using machine learning can yield new search-friendly content opportunities.Click To Tweet Because you know when somebody searches for SD card class 10, what they’re really asking about is, “How do I have a card that doesn’t cause frame rate issues when I’m recording a video or setting up a security camera?” or things like that. And so, if you mine your CRM data, and you’ve got a whole pile of emails that say, “Hey, I’ve got jittery video,” now you can go back and reinfuse your content that’s public or search volume indexed with that intent to say, “My video’s stuttering.” “Okay. You need a Class 10 card,” and things like that. I don’t see companies doing that. People are sitting on these years or decades of CRM data and they just let it sit out there and just cost money as storage cost and let it be a security risk, as opposed to saying, “Let’s use this to inform search and marketing and communications.” END OF PART 5 Conversation #6: Predictive Analytics and Content Chris: The other thing I don’t see people doing, or hardly any of, is predictive analytics. This is a problem that marketing automation software has made worse. People assume that everybody who is qualified to buy is ready to buy all the time, right? You’re the CEO of a company, right? So clearly, you’re qualified. You’re the decision-maker. So we’re just going to assume that you’re ready to buy. Well, no. I mean, if you are a CEO, you’ll have ebbs and flows and things throughout the year, particularly if you’re publicly traded. You have a quarterly calendar you have to go by. And so by using predictive data, especially based on search data, which is reliable─ and well, people ask Google things they would never ask another human being out loud─ you would get a much better sense of when somebody’s doing something good. I think part of the intent and part of the search results that we’re talking about is that people don’t take into account time. When is somebody searching for an SEO firm? When is somebody searching for a marketing firm? When is somebody searching for a new car? I would be completely surprised if Google did not take into account time in its results. Predictive analytics can go beyond what people want to when they want it. Effective marketing shows up just when people are ready to buy.Click To Tweet Eric: Yes, I agree and I think people are dramatically under-invested in content. I mentioned this earlier. Here’s a case study with a search visibility chart pulled from SearchMetrics for a company that we happen to believe has about 15 full-time, knowledgeable content generators putting up over 100 articles a month on their site addressing specific questions and aspects of topics that users have in their market space. When you look at this, it’s crazy, the traffic lift. They launched in May of 2016 and they’ve actually already achieved a dramatic search visibility by understanding what you were just talking about and investing in answering the real user questions. END OF PART 6 Conversation #7: Real Applications of Machine Learning and AI Today  Eric: Why don’t you talk to us a little bit about how you guys are using machine learning in your business today. Chris: It’s really three things. Predictive analytics: when is something likely to happen or what drives something? Text mining: understanding what’s in the data you already have. There’s so much data you’re sitting on. Please do something with it. Don’t just put it in a digital filing cabinet to rot forever. Attribution analysis: the same technology Google uses, the same algorithms like Markov chains and Monte Carlo simulations, you can do on your laptop, though you won’t do it at a Google scale. But you can do it enough to do really good attribution analysis and get a very clean picture of what’s working. What’s really surprising is, in particular, search traffic and referral traffic are so under-weighted in most people’s attribution models because they just go with “last touch,” that if you do a full path analysis, I guarantee you’ll find you are under investing in search. No matter what company you’re with, you’re under investing in searches with the way devices are going and with how social has changed to be all pay-to-play. Whatever your search budget is, just double it, because that’s where this stuff is going as the only way you can be found and not be spending large quantities of ad dollars. Now, at your Next10x Conference, you mentioned that you would actually take Python courses and such. So what are you guys using in the AI realm? Eric: Well, to be honest, at the beginning, it was just me trying to get my head around it. Being a geek, I have to go down into the detail before I can come back up and get my own sense of the bigger picture. So, I basically was just learning machine learning. I took the course from Andrew Ng, who’s Chief Scientist at Baidu. And then Geoffrey Hinton, who is directly involved in Google and machine learning out of the University of Toronto. Where we’ve gone from there with it though is we’re really focusing a lot of energy on understanding how Google is using AI and machine learning. That’s really a big area for us because that actually puts us in a better situation to help our clients with it. And we have also done some dabbling in tools to improve content quality. In particular, we have something that’s focused on processing user-generated content and automating that to, at this point, just reduce the need for human moderation by 80-90%. It’s a little hard to get to 100% with that. Chris: Oh, yes, that’s true. Eric: But if you can cut it down dramatically, then that’s actually a very high-value thing to do. Chris:   I’ll say. One other course that you should take a look at is Google’s crash course in machine learning, completely for free. It uses TensorFlow, as well as their hardware and their software. So if you wanted to literally get it from the horse’s mouth, it’s a completely free course. I’d encourage anyone to try it out. END OF PART 7 If you’ve made your way down to this portion of the post, you have a definite interest in Machine Learning and AI. Watch this space for more content along these lines! Christopher S. Penn is co-founder of Brain Trust Insights, a data analytics company focused on helping you make more money with your data, a co-founder of PodCamp with Chris Brogan, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast with John Wall. Learn more about him at his personal site: www.christopherspenn.com Eric Enge is the founder of renowned, award-winning digital Stone Temple Consulting, and was its CEO until it was acquired by Perficient Digital, where Eric now serves as General Manager. He is the lead co-author of the bestselling The Art of SEO (now in its third edition from O’Reilly Media), and a sought-after keynote speaker, as well as a regular columnist for Search Engine Land. Eric’s groundbreaking studies have become industry standards, regularly cited in major publications.

What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Bluehost Blog -

A new user has two options for starting a WordPress site: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. While both of these offer the popular WordPress site building and content management system, they are very different—and knowing those differences can help you make the right choice for your new website. What Are WordPress.com and WordPress.org? WordPress is one of the world’s most widely used site building software. It’s free and open source so that it can be modified and shared by any user in the WordPress community. The core WordPress software package can be downloaded by anyone from WordPress.org, or it can be installed as part of a hosting package from a web hosting provider. WordPress.com is run by Automattic, the company that also runs WooCommerce and JetPack. WordPress.com users don’t have to download or install WordPress—it’s part of the hosting services that WordPress.com provides. The differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org arise from the differences between hosted and self-hosted websites, so choosing between them largely depends on the level of control a user wants over the design and management of their site. Self-Hosted and Hosted Sites Self-hosting means that a user has full access to all the site files and code and can deploy them in any way they like. A self-hosted site has its own domain name and is hosted by one of a number of web hosting providers who make server space available for self-hosted sites of all kinds. Owners of self-hosted sites are free to make changes to the site files in order to customize the site and add any needed functions. A hosted site uses web space provided by a hosting company, and it can be a full-service solution for those who want to publish a site easily and quickly, without dealing with design and ongoing maintenance of their site. WordPress.com is a hosted platform that runs on the very popular WordPress software, but WordPress.org makes the WordPress site package available for download and use in self-hosting as the user chooses. What is WordPress.com? WordPress.com provides all the tools for a hosted WordPress site. It offers users a platform for getting a site up and running with no coding expertise needed, and WordPress.com takes care of all the ongoing management of the site. At its simplest level, all users need to do is to sign up for a free account, pick a theme, and start publishing. This makes WordPress.com a popular choice for students, bloggers, and creatives who don’t have a need—or have an interest in—the full range of customization options offered by WordPress.org. WordPress.com offers multiple plans starting with the basic free account. For more services and options such as adding a custom theme, users can move up to paid plans that include Personal, Premium, and Business. Each of these paid plans allows for greater customization and control over the site’s operations so that it more closely resembles a self-hosted WordPress site. But the convenience and ease of use that make a WordPress.com site so appealing could also have challenges. Unless a user upgrades to a paid plan that includes a custom domain name, a WordPress.com site will always have the extension “wordpress.com” in the site name—a sure sign that you’re using a hosted site. A domain name that includes the host provider in that way can signal a personal site or blog, not a professional site dedicated to doing business or offering a service. WordPress.org: Hands-On and Versatile WordPress.org is the home of the WordPress software files, a collection of templates in the PHP programming language that can be modified by any user. With its vast collection of customizable templates, plugins for added functionality, and a visual text editor, WordPress can be used by both beginners and experienced site designers, who can work directly with its files and stylesheet for precise customization. But, with this self-hosted version of WordPress, it’s up to the user to maintain the site aside from features offered by the hosting provider and to install the plugins and other elements for customizing the site. Comparing Features on WordPress.com and WordPress.org With those distinctions in mind, here’s a look at how WordPress.com and WordPress.org stack up in terms of key WordPress features. Themes Themes are a defining feature of WordPress sites. With a WordPress.com site, you have the choice of a wide range of premade WordPress themes—all that’s needed is to add the content you want. But, unless you’re paying for premium, you can’t add a theme from an outside source. The self-hosted version of WordPress allows users to install and change themes at will, and themes can come from any source. Themes can be customized using tools on the site’s admin dashboard, or more experienced designers can work directly with its files to fully customize the site. Plugins WordPress.com states that users don’t need to worry about installing plugins since the functions of many plugins come preloaded with every site. These include social media sharing, analytics, contact forms, and more. But other plugins generally can’t be installed on a WordPress.com site, which limits the range of available options for professional users with specific needs. Self-hosted WordPress is famous for its long list of plugins—bits of code designed by developers in the WordPress community to add specific functions that aren’t available in the basic WordPress install. Plugins can be used for things such as creating a contact form, building an online store, or adding a gallery to the site. Users can even install Jetpack, an “all in one” social sharing plugin designed by WordPress.com. Domain Names A domain name is a site’s online identity, and most business experts advocate owning your own domain. Self-hosted WordPress sites have custom domain names that clearly indicate the site isn’t being hosted on a third-party platform. But, unless you’re paying for premium to have a custom domain, a WordPress.com site always comes with the extension “wordpress.com” after your domain name. WordPress.com and WordPress.org offer different ways to take advantage of the site building power of WordPress. For those who prefer to focus on creating content, WordPress.com takes care of everything else, with no need to be concerned with site maintenance and design issues. WordPress.org simply makes the WordPress platform available to as many users as possible—and the rest is up to them. Which should you choose? That depends on your plans for your site and the way you want to run it. If you desire more flexibility and the ability to build and grow your site with plugins and customized themes, WordPress.org is the best option for you. The post What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

Yahoo Small Business launches improved Localworks for small businesses

Yahoo! Small Business Blog -

By Dilip DeshpandeYahoo Small Business, Product ManagerWe’ve updated our Localworks product that allows businesses to build and control an local online digital presence. Localworks is not just a paid business listing service – it also comes with pack of features to help you gain a competitive edge in the current market.With three different plans, users can choose the package that fits their business needs. Updating listings information in the Yahoo Local website directory has never been this easy. With Localworks Starter packages that include Yahoo Local and six other essential directory listing sites, your business information will be updated in real-time. As a business owner, you will have full control of your business information, and you will be able to upload enhanced listing content such as a photo gallery, videos, calendar of special events, and promotions. You will also get access to our “Digital Assistant”, a text bot that will assist you in updating your hours of operation, adding photos, and many other items using your mobile phone. The starter package also offers robust analytics to track your business performance, all at a very affordable cost.With nearly 60% of searches happening on mobile devices, millions of users are looking for business addresses and phone numbers, hours of operation, driving directions, menus, photo galleries, and reviews before they make a visit to the physical location of a business. As a business, if your listing information does not include this enhanced content, or if you are not monitoring your business reputation, you might be losing customers. For businesses that want to control their business information across most of the local directories on the Internet and closely monitor user reviews, understand user sentiment and how they compete in local search, Localworks by Yahoo Small Business is a comprehensive solution. With our higher end packages, in a single dashboard, businesses canPublish business listings in 60+ directories (Including maps, GPS, social media sites)Eliminate duplicate business records appearing in the Local Search ecosystemConnect to social networking sites such as Facebook and TwitterMonitor and reply to user reviews from all major review sourcesCompare with 5 other competitors (local or national)Generate reviews through our website widgetsUnderstand customer reviews with Sentiment AnalysisReceive In-depth analyticsYahoo Small Business also offers a free business listing scan tool, where businesses can easily find out how their information is listed across 60+ directories and clearly identify errors in location data across local listing networks before signing up for a premium Localworks service.About Yahoo Small BusinessFor the past 20 years, Yahoo Small Business has helped millions of businesses get online and grow their presence on the Internet. Whether you hope to start a side business or are currently running a multi-million dollar venture, you can trust Yahoo’s proven online business experience, powerful yet easy-to-use solutions, and broad community support to help your business succeed online. Learn more at: https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com

Customer Q&A: A Conversation with LeoVegas

WP Engine -

LeoVegas, a Swedish mobile gaming company, offers all the excitement of Sin City without all the inconveniences. LeoVegas is an online provider of casino and sports betting services such as table games, video slots, progressive jackpots, video poker and live betting to a number of international markets. Since day one, the company has been mobile-first; agility and performance are essential for their business.… The post Customer Q&A: A Conversation with LeoVegas appeared first on WP Engine.

Happy Hour | Share your best videos on this discounted domain

Name.com Blog -

If you’re a filmmaker or just want to share all of your favorite videos from one convenient location, use this domain as your home base. Join us this Thursday, Aug. 16 from 3 to 5 p.m. MDT (9 to 11 p.m. UTC) to register .VIDEO domains for $4.99 each at our Happy Hour sale. This […] The post Happy Hour | Share your best videos on this discounted domain appeared first on Name.com Blog.

5 Ways to Turn Your Blog Into an Online Brand in 2018

HostGator Blog -

The post 5 Ways to Turn Your Blog Into an Online Brand in 2018 appeared first on HostGator Blog. 5 Ways to Go from Blog to Online Brand in 2018 When I look back at the past two decades, a lot of websites, blogs, and social media platforms play through my mind — especially those that I personally created and worked with. From the most simple days of basic HTML and static websites, to the now advanced days of mobile usage and social media, it’s all above adapting with the times and providing value to an audience. In my past 22 years of making money online, one of the most pivotal moments  would have to be when I launched my blog at ZacJohnson.com back in 2007. Not only was this a huge business and brand shift for myself, but it was also the first time I started using WordPress and didn’t need to rely on design software and HTML to create my sites. WordPress has changed everything and made the process of creating an online content-focused business or brand a whole lot easier. Since there are no technical skills required, and being that the software is free, everyone may soon have a blog. However, just because it’s easy, it doesn’t mean you are going to find success. Every day I get emails from readers of my sites, asking me why they aren’t making money with their blogs. To answer all of these questions and more, today I wanted to cover some of the most effective and important ways to actually turn a blog into a real brand and business. 1. Building Your Blog, Brand and Business from the Ground Up Before you even get started with a website or blog of your own, you need to know why you are doing this in the first place. For the sake of example, throughout this guide, we are going to focus on creating a blog to make money. In most cases, a blog should be very niche specific, provide a need or information to an audience, and also have some form of monetization as well. Getting a ton of traffic to your site is great, but without a clear focus or calls to action (for monetization) in place… it’s just another blog taking up space on the already saturated internet. While there are many ways to make money with a website or blog, many of them are by sending visitors away from a site or making a quick commission or sale for someone else. This is fine, but turning your blog into a brand and respectable source for information is even better. To invest in your online business and brand, you should have a professional logo design and a way to resonate with your audience even after they leave your site. This doesn’t mean you are going to need to spend a lot of time and money. Thanks to online design tools like Tailor Brands, it’s easy for anyone to create a professional looking logo, without the need to hire an expensive design agency or go through hundreds of freelancers to find the best design work. Below you can see a quick example of a few brand designs created in just a few seconds. Once you have a brand identity and image in place, you can build a great first impression and brand following online. This means posting the image not just on your site and blog, but also within all your social media profiles and email signatures if possible. Keep in mind that these same best practices can be used by freelancers and sole entrepreneurs as well. The long term value in your logo branding and online following can greatly influence the amount your site can charge for reviews, content contributions, display traffic, and affiliate marketing campaigns, and as well as how much you might be able to charge for consulting or related services. If you don’t think a professional logo identity and brand makes a big difference, go see how much it costs to buy banner ad places on a site like ESPN, versus that of another high-traffic sports blog that no one has really heard of. This is also why someone might pay more for a pair of Nike shoes or a Starbucks cup of coffee — it’s all about the brand association!   2. SEO is Dying, but the Long Tail Value is Here to Stay As much as I hate to say it, SEO is kind of making its way out the window. This is always going to be an argued debate, but we can clearly see that more people are moving away desktop usage and focusing more on mobile usage, social media, and online video to get their information. There will likely always be a place for searching websites and content online, but it likely won’t be through the traditional Google search and SEO methods that we are familiar with today. However, even with this in mind, the value in long-tail keywords is still extremely effective and profitable. When someone searches for something very specific on Google, they are likely ready to take action and buy something. The deciding factor in what site is going to get the sale is who is ranking at the top of Google for these terms. So what does this mean? In short, stop focusing on creating a lot of content, and instead focus on bigger, better, and longer content. At the same time, keep an eye on the latest case studies and trends from other top SEO blogs, as these are the sites that are often already ranking well and know what it takes to move up on Google with all of these latest algorithm and user changes in motion. Not only will this allow you to get more focused with your content and who your target audience is, but it will also help with the content promotion and your link building process as well. Keep a close eye on your competition and research not only what keywords and search phrases they are ranking for, but also the different types of content and length they are publishing as well.   3. Target Your Best Audience through Social Media Everyone talks about social media and the massive two-billion plus users across the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. However, not many are actually mastering the art of social media and converting these followers into customers and visits on their site. At the same time, every social platform is different in the way not just content needs to be created, but also how you can reach and promote to such audiences as well. For example, simply by continually using any of the top hashtags on Instagram, you can instantly improve your impressions and exposure to millions of new users. The tricky thing about Instagram is that you aren’t going to be allowed to link back to your site, but it’s amazing for visual content creation, branding, and building a following. If you ever needed an example to follow, Kylie Jenner is the one to keep an eye on right now. With a net worth of over $900 billion, Kylie has built her massive make up empire through the use of social media and getting new attention, followers, and sales at all times. More often than not, if you take the time to examine your competition and see where most of their traffic is coming from, it’s usually from one social platform over a wide spread across all of them. With this in mind, it’s important to know not only which social network is best for attracting your target audience, but also which methods (visual, text content, paid ads) will work best as well.   4. Manual Outreach is Still King in the World of Blogging Like it or not, but in some cases, throwing money at your website or blog will only get it so far. It’s the time-consuming and annoying manual research and outreach that really helps content sites move ahead of the competition. There are many ways to get manual outreach working for your blog and brand. Instead of listing all of them within this article, I recommend you take a look at this detailed outreach resource guide. Whether your outreach is for an infographic, broken link building, or guest blogging… it’s all about the tone and conversation you start with. Here are some of the most notable and effective ways to start using manual outreach and promotion to grow your blog, brand or online business: Sending out emails to other websites and seeing if they would like to cross-promote your content on social media, through mailings, or even mentions in articles. These emails should be more personable and not an obvious template. Guest blogging still works extremely well, but it should only be focused on legitimate websites that have traffic and are relevant to your niche. Contributing to other websites and blogs is great for link building, but also for reaching new audiences and growing your brand. Broken link building is a huge opportunity, but again… this can be very time consuming (and rewarding). Analyze other sites within your niche, find where their broken links are, and then reach out through email and see if they will replace their broken link with a working one to your site. Depending on how you approach each of these methods, your personal outreach and research methods might vary. The good news is that many of these processes can be outsourced to freelancers who will do all of the manual work for you, or if you want to work on this yourself, be sure to consider your options with SEO analysis tools and software automation. No matter what route you go, the more ‘realistic’ your outreach and content emails look, the better they are going to work. At the same time, don’t just ask for backlinks, promotions, and favors — try to offer something in return.   5. Treat Your Blog Like a Business, Not a Content Distribution Center Last but not least, it’s time to talk about blogging as a whole and why there are now more than 300 million blogs in the world today… yet only a very few only get traffic and make money with their sites. We’ve all heard the saying ‘content is king’. While this may be true in theory, it’s actually misleading many would-be bloggers and entrepreneurs in their journey to online profitable. Gary Vaynerchuk also makes a good point, in saying “Content is King, but Context is God!” Content is great, but there is simply way too much of it. With more than a billion active sites on the internet today, I think we have a pretty good amount of content already out there. However, anything that can be improved, and anything we can use more of, is great content! If you want to rank at the top of Google, be a trusted resource for information online – and also get free quality backlinks, mentions, and references everyday – you need to be creating better content than what is already out there. As mentioned earlier, people are less interested in text content, and now they want visuals and online video more than anything. To make all of this work for you and your brand, keep the following in mind. Create less content, but better and more resourceful content. Longer content performs better in Google. Stay above 2,000-words in each post. Go after the longtail keyword and cover every topic in full detail. Have an exact form of monetization in place, and calls to action in each article. With all of these elements and factors in play, your blog is no longer just a blog. It’s a traffic generating revenue lead magnet that is also providing value to an audience in the process. This isn’t rocket science. Take a look at any of these blogging success stories, and you will find that each of them has their own unique target audience, topic they specialize in, and awareness of exactly why and how they are monetizing their traffic and turning new readers into revenue daily.   Your Blog Is Your Business “Blogging” has a lot of different meanings depending on who you ask. I’ve already looked at blogging as a way to create content and build your own online platform. Others look at it as a way to get started with a website and having their own voice online. In short, blogging can be anything you want. However, if you want blogging to be a business — you need to have a business model! Run through each of the ideas above and make sure you have all of these methods implemented into your blog. It’s time to turn your blog into a blog business and potentially change your life and brand for the better. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Learn How to Code Online: The Top 4 Online Learning Centers

InMotion Hosting Blog -

In the past, if you wanted to learn how to code, you’d have to order a specialized book from the library. After waiting two weeks for it to come in, you could start to learn. It took awhile just to get started. Things have changed since then. There are now incredible ways to immediately begin learning how to code with online courses. These include interactive tutorials, videos, and advanced coding exams. Continue reading Learn How to Code Online: The Top 4 Online Learning Centers at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.

Getting a T-Shirt Store with Printful Up and Running with WooCommerce

Liquid Web Official Blog -

Customized t-shirts with fun logos are all the rage today. From sassy quotes to puns, and favorite superheroes to inspirational statements, we see people expressing their individuality in a number of different ways. Are you planning to set up such a t-shirt store yourself? Well, there are a few things you’ll need to get your t-shirt store up and running. In this article, we talk about how you can create your online t-shirt store with Printful and WooCommerce. We’ve chosen WooCommerce as our e-commerce platform because it is by far the best and easiest e-commerce platform to run (not to mention free) if you want to host an independent store. Printful is our choice of a printing, shipping, and fulfillment company because it is easy as wink to set up products with Printful and it integrates beautifully with WooCommerce.   The way it works: every time a customer places an order on your WooCommerce store, it is sent directly to Printful. After checking and confirming product availability, the t-shirt is printed and shipped by the company without requiring you to look into all the shipping details. All you have to do is upload your creative designs and the WooCommerce+Printful duo handles the rest. So without further ado, here’s your 5-step guide to building a t-shirt store with Printful using WooCommerce. Step 1 – Set up WordPress + WooCommerce At this point, we expect you have your WordPress installation up and ready, with the associated hosting provider and plan. If you haven’t gotten a domain and website set up yet, our Liquid Web managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce hosting are two good options you can check out. Setting up WordPress is extremely easy, once you have your domain name and hosting service in place. You can read WPBeginner’s excellent guide to WordPress website installation. Now that your site is ready, let’s start with building your e-commerce t-shirt store with Printful by installing WooCommerce. In the Main Menu of your website backend, navigate to Plugins → Add New Search for ‘WooCommerce’ in the search bar Install and Activate the plugin Step 2 – WooCommerce Settings In WooCommerce, there are a whole bunch of settings you need to configure. Fortunately, WooCommerce’s setup wizard guides you through the entire process, making it easy to understand the settings and configure them. As you set up your store, make sure that the following settings are configured properly: In the General tab, you can add the location of your store, locations you will be shipping to, the currency you prefer for the transaction In the Products tab, you can set the Page where you’ll be displaying your products, weight and dimensions units, and enable/disable reviews and ratings. On the Tax tab, simply enable application of taxes as we shall manage the details of the tax payments through Printful In the Payments tab, set up the payment options through the regular PayPal payment gateway. This will take you to the PayPal settings page where you can add your receiver e-mail address and your PayPal API. Have a good look at the Accounts and Privacy tab to fine-tune the details of guest checkouts and customer account creation. Don’t forget to frame your Privacy Policy and give clear information about why you are collecting customer data. This is important to ensure that the GDPR doesn’t end up costing you a huge fine for violation later. On the Emails tab, you can manage the email addresses to which all order emails will be sent. You can customize your WooCommerce email template here as well. In the Advanced tab, select the pages for Cart, Checkout, My Account, and Terms and Conditions, which your users will be directed to. In addition, this is where you enable secure payment on the checkout page; make sure you have an SSL certificate for your website. Important: Go to Advanced → Legacy API and make sure the Legacy REST API is enabled. We are not making any changes on the Shipping tab right now since we’ll be handling the product shipping details in Printful. P.S. Don’t forget to ‘Save Changes’ on every page. Step 3 – Setting up a Printful Account and Connecting Your WooCommerce Store Now that we have our WooCommerce Store set up, let’s turn our attention towards creating a Printful account and connecting it to the store. Log in to your account and click on ‘Connect to an e-commerce platform’. Here, we’ll be connecting to the WooCommerce store. Here you have two options – Set up through SiteGround and Set up for an existing store. Even if you haven’t built the store yet, you’ll want to choose the second option. To make Printful work successfully with your WooCommerce store, there are a few things you need to take care of, i.e. enabling REST API and changing the Permalink structure. We have already enabled REST API in the WooCommerce Settings. To change the permalink structure, go to your WordPress Dashboard → Settings → Permalinks. Make sure that the ‘Post Name’ permalink option is selected and save changes. Step 4 – Integrating WooCommerce for Your T-Shirt Store with Printful To integrate Printful and WooCommerce, you will first need to set up the WooCommerce-Printful Integration plugin. Go to Plugins → Add New Search for ‘printful’ and choose the ‘Printful Integration for WooCommerce’ plugin, by Printful. Install and activate the plugin Go to Printful from the WordPress Dashboard and hit ‘Connect’ WooCommerce will ask you to authenticate the connection, click on ‘Approve’ Printful will now link your account to your WooCommerce store and import and sync product data. You can now start adding your custom t-shirts as products in your WooCommerce store. Step 5 – Creating a Product and Product Variations When you click on ‘Add Product’, a variety of options will pop up – t-shirts, jeggings, mugs, caps, etc. All of these are available in different categories – men’s clothing, women’s clothing, kids, accessories, and more. Since we’re focusing on building a t-shirt store with Printful, let’s see how you can create custom designs for t-shirts. Right now I’m choosing the men’s clothing section. You can iterate the same process for any other category, as you wish. On the ‘Configure Design’ screen, choose the image you want to print on the t-shirt. You can upload an image directly or choose one from your WordPress Library. If you are stuck for ideas, you can even create an impromptu quote/image there with the available fonts, clip art, and default Printful designs. Both front and back design can be customized as required. Select the t-shirt sizes, areas where it will be available, and colors. Align the final image and click ‘Proceed to Mockups’. A Mockup is an Image that will be displayed to potential customers when they visit your store. Select the type of image and proceed to the description. On the ‘Product Description’ screen, you can add your ‘Product Title’, describe it in detail and also add a size chart for reference. You can now proceed to Pricing. In the pricing section, you’ll see three columns – Printful Price, Retail Price, and Profit. Now, Printful’s basic price remains constant, considering their printing and shipping costs. The Retail Price is the cost that will be displayed to the customer and includes your profit margin as well. You can vary the Retail Price by changing your profit percentage. The greater the percentage, higher is your Retail Price. Under the profit column, you can see the amount you make per t-shirt, per size. You can sort t-shirts into different, previously-defined categories on your WooCommerce store. If you don’t have any set up beforehand, don’t worry. You can always go back to the store later, and create categories and assign products there manually. Once you have finalized the prices, click ‘Submit to Store’. Make sure that Product Visibility is enabled. This will display your t-shirt to your customers on the WooCommerce store. You’ll receive a notification when the product is added. To view the t-shirt in your WooCommerce store, simply click ‘View in WooCommerce’ Voila! Your t-shirt is ready for sale! Quick and Easy, Right?! There are no hassles of adding products manually at the WooCommerce backend, setting up all the product attributes, variations, and other details. One of the biggest advantages Printful offers is that it calculates taxes and shipping costs out of the box, based on your location and where the t-shirt is to be delivered. Additionally, you can manage all of your orders from the Printful Dashboard directly, viewing order and delivery status there, once the order has been confirmed. The Printful plugin largely eliminates all of your stock management worries as well, as it handles inventory at its end. You can see the product availability while creating the product and your customers can see it at the front-end, with the product description. TL;DR? Setting up your t-shirt store with Printful and WooCommerce is super easy. At one end, WooCommerce gives you a robust e-commerce mechanism while Printful handles all your inventory management and shipping concerns. All you have to do is set up your WooCommerce store, create an account on Printful, link it to the store and then create your custom t-shirts with Printful’s easy-to-use interface. While designing your t-shirts, make sure you properly select the specific type, material, sizes, colors, and location availability. Once your t-shirt is designed and ready, it will be displayed automatically on your WooCommerce store. Yep. It’s that simple! Have you built a t-shirt store with Printful + WooCommerce? Share your experience with us! Also, feel free to drop a comment in case you need some more help while setting up your store. For further reference, you can watch this t-shirt store setup video, in which WooCommerce expert Chris Lema takes you through the complete process. Happy selling! The post Getting a T-Shirt Store with Printful Up and Running with WooCommerce appeared first on Liquid Web.

How Companies are Saving Millions with Pivotal Cloud Foundry

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

Enterprise IT development teams across the world have similar frustrations: they want to spend their time writing code and deploying quickly, not putting out fires and waiting around during six month release cycles. Which makes sense; think how many more customer-centric applications and updates could be deployed if developers were able to focus on what […] The post How Companies are Saving Millions with Pivotal Cloud Foundry appeared first on The Official Rackspace Blog.

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