HostGator Blog

8 Genius Ways to Get Traffic You Deserve and Leads You Want

The post 8 Genius Ways to Get Traffic You Deserve and Leads You Want appeared first on HostGator Blog. I was 19 and thought launching a company from my dorm room was impossible. No one knew who Nathan Latka was. Back to that in a second. So, you finally pick a company name, grab the domain, and get your site live. Now what? Of course, you text your family and tell them to check out your new idea, but how do you start getting traffic to your site? After traffic starts coming in, how do you get visitors to opt in to your email list so you can communicate more with them in the future? What change did I make to go from 3-5 new email leads per day to 30-60 email leads per day and a 30% conversion rate? Well, it’s not easy. Starting in my dorm room 10 years ago, I had to scrap my way to my first $1m in revenue before I dropped out. In this article, I show you 15 tactics I used to build my website traffic and grow my email list which ultimately led to my first $939,656 in revenue. I loved filing that tax return in 2013 (just 2 years after launching my website).  Let’s start from the beginning. 5 things you should do to get your first 100 website visits.  4 Steps To Your First 100 Visits These 5 tactics will seem dead simple. You might even ignore them, but that would be a mistake.  Momentum is king in the world of website traffic. Start with a small snowball, before you know it, you have an avalanche.  1. Link to your website in your email signature We each send hundreds of emails per day without thinking about it.  These are some of your closest contacts that want to know what you’re up to. Update your email signature with a link back to your site.  2. Use other people’s Facebook Groups Other people have built communities already around the industry you’re focusing on.  Go find those industries and actively comment and post. I started with Facebook Groups.  I wanted to attract founders of software companies (SaaS companies) so I looked up “SaaS” in Facebook search and found SaaS Growth Hacks.  The key is to write a long (1,000 words) piece of content that is entertaining and educational.  Here’s one of the first posts I made which sent 272 clicks back to my website.  3. List yourself on business listing sites If you run a physical business, start with a Google My Business page.  If you’re digital only, list your business on Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Mapquest, Manta, YellowPages, SuperPages, YellowBot, and Yahoo Local.  You may read some of those and think “Those are dead sites. They are old and no one looks at them”. The idea here is to build backlinks.  These sites might be old but they have a lot of authority with Google. By getting your new website approved on these sites, with a link back, you start to “borrow their authority”.  4. Start writing on Quora Quora sends me the 15th highest amount of traffic out of all the tactics I use: The trick with Quora is to go search for a category related to your business.  Unlike blogging, you can get away with writing short posts on Quora. If you write a piece that the audience likes, they’ll upvote your piece and you’ll get more views. Don’t get discouraged. Write one piece for Quora per month and about one-fifth will get meaningful traffic. I’ve done this for several years and now have over 350,000 views from Quora alone: After you see what does well on Quora, you can expand those posts into blogs on your own site like I did with this piece on Venture Debt.  4 Steps For Your First 10,000 Visitors, 1,000 Email Opt Ins Now that you took the first five steps, you can start to think bigger.  Don’t skip those first five steps though. You need a strong floor.  This first step might seem obvious but boy is it hard to do. 1. Write irresistible headlines If you’re blogging on your site and then posting on social and to your email list, you have to learn how to write headlines people click every time.  I wasn’t good at this at first. My breakthrough came from reading two books: Writing Riches by Ray EdwardsWords that Sell by Richard Bayan I open up Words that Sell everytime I write an email subject line or blog post headline to spice it up.  The book is full of thousands of words that help you edit your headline to drive urgency, scarcity, action and ultimately, clicks.  2. On page SEO  When you post a new blog post on your website, you’ll have a lot of text along with a header image. Make sure every image has “image alt-text”. Google will penalize your site if images have saved names like “screenshot-01-34”. A better image alt-text would be “Company Storefront California”.  Meta descriptions can be customized at the bottom of each blog post using a plugin called Yoast SEO: Lastly, make sure when you post a new blog post that you link to other blog posts on your site. This is called internal linking and Google gives you a bonus every time you do it.  3. Save Time and Repurpose Content You’re hustling to get your company making more money, and creating content is tough.  My recommendation? Batch.  I stink at writing so I record 15 podcast episodes one day each month. I then use Rev.com to transcribe them and a Fiverr freelancer to turn them into a blog post like this: “Sprinklr Hits $300m in Revenues, IPO Next?” The total time that takes me is 20 minutes to record the interview, $10 to Rev and another $5-10 for the blog.  This is what I mean when I say repurpose content. Focus on what you’re good at, leave the rest to others. Using this strategy, I’ve grown my business podcast to over 10m downloads: 4. Make your pop-ups “harder” What I mean by harder is more restrictive. Have confidence in the content you’re creating and really push casual readers to subscribe and become avid fans. We recently used Ninja Popups to launch an exit popup which got us 3-4 new leads per day. By making the pop-up show to everyone, they had to enter to read further, we 10x’d new leads per day and now get 20-30: Our pop-up isn’t super well designed, but it gets the job done: Using content marketing to drive email opt ins via a pop-out is one of the fastest ways to acquire customers while keeping your customer acquisition cost (CAC) low.  Wrapping Up In this article I tried to sum up the best tactics I’ve used over the years to build my list to over 30,000 opt-ins. Most business owners fail because they stop. Winners tend to do the same thing, more consistently, and over a longer period of time than their competitors. As you look to implement the steps in this article, keep this quote from Bruce Springsteen in mind: “Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose and of action over a long period of time.” – Bruce Springsteen Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Best WordPress Q&A Plugins to Consider for Your Site

The post 7 Best WordPress Q&A Plugins to Consider for Your Site appeared first on HostGator Blog. No doubt you’ve come across popular question and answer sites like Quora, Reddit, and StackOverflow. Or, maybe you were even a Yahoo! Answers user back in the day.  If you’ve been itching to create your own question and answer site, then WordPress has you covered. All you have to do is install and configure one of the plugins we highlight below and you’ll be able to add Q&A functionality to your site or create a site that’s solely dedicated to questions and answers. Below we dive deep into the benefits of using a Q&A plugin, the types of use cases this kind of plugin can be applied to, and highlight the best WordPress Q&A plugins you can test out yourself.  What Is a WordPress Q&A Plugin? Maybe you spend hours a day on Reddit and you dream of creating your own niche-focused version of Reddit? With WordPress as your CMS, you can do this with ease, and you don’t even have to touch a line of code. All thanks to the help of a WordPress Q&A plugin. There are a multitude of different Q&A plugins available. The plugin that’ll suit your site best depends on what kind of functionality you’re looking for. For example, the sites mentioned in the introduction all serve a similar purpose, but the approach and format of each are very different. Quora uses a vetting system, where the best answers are seen first and the goal is to have your questions answered by an industry expert. Compare this to StackExchange, where the goal is to find the most objective answer possible. You’ll need to think about the features you want your site to have. For example, do you want to create a Q&A site that serves a specific niche? Or, do you want to add forum functionality to your existing site? A quality WordPress Q&A plugin will allow you to do all these things and more. Benefits to Using a WordPress Q&A Plugin A lot of times your WordPress theme won’t have the exact kind of features you require. Luckily, the WordPress plugin library has you covered. Here are some of the biggest benefits to using a WordPress Q&A plugin: 1. Advanced Question and Answer Functionality Out of the box, WordPress doesn’t support question and answer functionality. The closest you’ll get is the comments section, which can feel a little dated. If you want to give your visitors the ability to post questions and write out detailed answers, then you’ll want to use a WordPress Q&A plugin. A lot of these types of plugins are very versatile and allow you to create a range of different question and answer formats.  2. Custom Design to Integrate With Your Site The last thing you want is to add a new feature to your site and have the design conflict with the rest of your site. Most Q&A plugins can be customized to match the existing design of your site. If you worked hard to create a site design that you enjoy, the last thing you want is an out-of-place element. A Q&A plugin will add functionality without compromising your design.  3. User Profiles and Rewards Systems A lot of the fun with question and answer sites is the ability to create a profile and generate rewards and a positive reputation. With a stock WordPress install you won’t have access to this kind of functionality.  But, a feature-rich WordPress Q&A plugin will allow your users to create engaging profiles, earn rewards points, and even achieve a high ranking on the leaderboard.  4. Higher Converting eCommerce Product Listings When it comes to selling products online you want to do everything in your power to make your product listings convert at the highest level possible. This means things like attractive product images, compelling copy, and great user testimonials. However, one thing a lot of product pages lack is user generated questions and answers. This can help your new visitors gain even more valuable product information, and help push them closer to the sale. A WordPress Q&A plugin can easily help you add this kind of functionality to your site.  As you can see, using a WordPress Q&A plugin can bring some serious advantages to your site. Below we dive deep into specific situations where using a WordPress Q&A plugin can truly enhance your site.  When Would I Use a WordPress Q&A Plugin? Even if you’ve found the perfect WordPress theme, it still might not have every feature you require. Hence the need for the extensive WordPress plugin library. There are all kinds of reasons to use a WordPress Q&A plugin. Below we get into the most common use cases. 1. Add a FAQ Section to Your Site FAQ sections can help to enhance sales and product pages, and even be used in in-depth blog posts. There are a handful of WordPress plugins that can add drop-down FAQ sections to any area of your site. 2. Add Quora-Like Functionality Creating a site that functions like Quora would be pretty difficult to do on your own. There are a few different WordPress plugins that can transform your existing site into a Quora-like site with ease. Users can create accounts, profiles, and even receive likes for the questions they answer on your site. 3. Add a Forum to Your Website If you have a passionate user base, then a forum can be a great addition to your site. It can also help to cultivate a community with your readers. A forum setup will be different than a standard Q&A site, but it can be a valuable addition for the right type of website owner. 4. Add ‘Amazon-Like’ Product Q&A On Amazon product pages you might have come across a section underneath the product where users can ask questions, and the product owner can answer. This can be very valuable on product pages, where questions about the product aren’t explicitly spelled out in the copy. Best WordPress Q&A Plugins There are a ton of different WordPress Q&A plugins on the market. Instead of having to find the perfect plugin for your Q&A needs we’ve compiled the best of the best in the list below. 1. AnsPress AnsPress is a completely free WordPress Q&A plugin. The core focus of the plugin is to add a Q&A section to your website, but there’s also bundled functionality to add a FAQ section to your site as well. It’s equipped with a handful of other useful features as well, like voting, social networking integration, and a handful of filtering rules to automatically delete defense content. This free plugin is very versatile. A lot of website owners use this plugin to create detailed FAQ sections and customer support sections. 2. WP-Answers WP-Answers is a sleek WordPress Q&A plugin. It seems like a fairly straightforward plugin, but it’s also equipped with some pretty advanced features. For example, you have Facebook and Instagram integration, so your users can login with these accounts, instead of having to create a new email account. This simple feature alone adds a new level of professionalism to your site. There’s another really cool feature that allows you to gamify your question and answer section. Whenever users answer more questions they receive more points and can achieve a top ranking on the leaderboard. Overall, the type of design you’re getting with WP-Answers is a more polished version of Reddit. So, if that’s your goal, then this plugin is perfect for your needs. It’s also mobile-friendly, so your Q&A section will look good no matter the screen size it’s viewed upon. 3. Heroic WordPress FAQ The Heroic WordPress FAQ plugin is a standard FAQ plugin. So, if you’re looking for a way to insert a functional and elegant FAQ section into your site, then this plugin will be a great fit. FAQ plugins can be useful when you constantly receive customer questions via email, phone, and comments, and you want to centralize these into a single area. This plugin has an easy to use drag-and-drop interface. Plus, you can group questions into certain sections. You can even add media elements to each FAQ section as well, and it’ll display perfectly across every screen size. Sadly, there’s no free version of the plugin available, but if you need a clean and easy to use FAQ plugin, it’s well worth the cost. 4. DW Question & Answer The DW Question & Answer plugin will help you create a Quora-like website. You can add a question and answer section to your site, or build your entire site around the plugin. The core features of this plugin include posting, answering, and following questions. You can easily embed question and answer functionality into your site, along with social sharing functionality. There’s also leaderboard functionality, so you can reward your most active users. As an admin, you have plenty of control over the appearance of the Q&A section. There’s also widespread support for 22 different languages. 5. Sabai Discuss Sabai Discuss is a premium Q&A plugin. It’s equipped with enough features to create any kind of Q&A section you desire. For example, you can create members-only forums, in-depth question and answer pages broken down by categories, and much more. There’s a built-in user reputation engine, that lets you give credibility to helpful users while removing it from accounts that only post spam. This plugin also gives you the ability to create multiple different types of Q&A sections from a single plugin. You can create internal and external Q&As, along with public and password protected Q&As. If you demand a versatile and flexible plugin, then Sabai Discuss is worth a test drive. 6. YITH WooCommerce Questions & Answers The YITH WooCommerce Questions & Answers plugin caters to WooCommerce store owners who want to easily add Q&A functionality to their sites with a plugin. It allows you to add a question and answer section to your product sections, just like Amazon. These questions will display below your product listings for potential buyers to read and reference. Essentially, this allows you to crowdsource your product information and it helps to build greater levels of trust around your products. You can leave the questions open to the public, or only allow admins to post questions and answers. There’s also a paid version of the plugin available as well. This gives you access to additional features like the ability for users to vote on answers, enable email notifications, and much more. 7. bbPress bbPress is the go-to plugin for adding a forum to your WordPress site. It’s developed by Automattic, the team behind WordPress. This plugin seamlessly integrates with virtually every theme out there and is the most popular WordPress forum plugin out there today. This plugin makes it easy to create and manage a forum from your WordPress dashboard. Plus, it can easily scale with your site as the number of forum posts, users, and overall traffic grows. Most of the plugins above focus on adding Q&A functionality to your site. This plugin focuses on turning your site into a lean, mean forum. Plus, it’s completely free! Choosing the Best WordPress Q&A Plugin for Your Needs By now you’re well versed in the WordPress Q&A ecosystem. As you can see, it’s quite easy to add Q&A functionality to your site. The flexibility of WordPress allows you to create a site that operates like Quora, has functionality like Reddit, or is even a full-fledged forum. The WordPress Q&A plugins above all serve different purposes overall, so make sure you take your needs into account before you install one of the plugins from the above list. For example, the bbPress forum plugin will add much different functionality to your site compared to the AnsPress plugin, which will help you build your own Quora-like site.  Hopefully this post has helped you find the perfect Q&A plugin for your WordPress site. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How To Make A Profit Buying & Selling Websites

The post How To Make A Profit Buying & Selling Websites appeared first on HostGator Blog. Websites are the real estate of the virtual world. In the same way that some people choose to invest in houses, others treat buying and selling websites as a business investment. If you’re looking for a new career or side project that can be done entirely from home, buying and selling websites is worth considering.  That said, you should know it’s not easy money. As with real estate investment, there’s inherent risk involved and doing it effectively requires work and skill. A successful website flipper needs to know how to spot undervalued websites that can be improved with a minimal investment in time and money, then sold for a larger fee. Below you’ll learn the ins and outs of buying and selling websites, so you can start a new side hustle, or give yourself a leg up earning an income online. 1. Know Your Time and Money Limits Before you think about buying a website, take inventory of how much time and money you can afford to invest. Buying a website brings risks, so you should only spend what you can afford to lose. There are no guaranteed investments, no matter how attractive the website may seem. Once you have a budget in mind, think about how much time you have to work on your new site. If you find a website that’s already passively making money, you may not need to make that many changes. But you’ll still want to identify areas for improvement and implement the changes to increase the return on investment you get from a sale.  2. Look In The Right Niches When looking for sites to buy, the niche you choose is important. Don’t choose a site based on a passing fad. Look for sites that feature evergreen content. If you’re not familiar with the term, it means content that will remain useful and popular over the long-term. Some examples of evergreen niches include: Health and wellnessMoney and financesSports and hobbiesRelationships and personal growthFood and recipesSmall businesseCommerceEducationCurrent events and political commentary Entertainment coverage and analysis The above niches can expand out into multiple sub-niches as well. Don’t just think about the big overarching topics like health. Consider sub-topics like fitness for people over 40. Specialized niches are more useful and relevant to a subset of consumers and have less competition than websites covering broad topics, which can lead to a more loyal readership.  3. Find Websites to Buy When identifying sites worth buying, consider a few key performance indicators.  How much revenue the website generatesHow consistent the earnings are (e.g. Are they seasonal? Are there spikes and dips?)Whether the income is generally passive (meaning it’s not entirely ad-based)Does it have upside potential? Consider if you can identify ways to maximize the traffic, expand the revenue sources, and improve the existing content and design. Expect to pay a multiple of the monthly (or yearly) income the site brings in now. The current owner is giving up future earnings, so the price has to be worth it. On average, you can expect to pay a 12-18x multiple of the monthly income, although the figure varies. That said, if you’re willing to take on more risk and do more work, there are sites that won’t charge as much. If a website is newer, and thus doesn’t have the proven staying power of a site that’s been a long-term consistent earner, you can likely pay less.  Here are some of the most common places to find websites you can buy: FE InternationalWe Sell Your SiteFlippaBizBuySellWebsite BrokerEmpire Flippers 4. Do Your Due Diligence Once you’ve found a website you like it’s time to do your due diligence. This includes things like: Determining why they’re selling the site. Has it been flagged by Google? Has the interest in the niche been slowly declining? Or, are they simply tired of the site and want to move onto something new?Look for proof of revenue and traffic. Usually, you can verify traffic levels with Google Analytics and other tools.Do you trust the seller? Some sites have user profiles with feedback, ratings, and more.Examine their link profile. Are the links purchased, or are they white-hat links? If the site relies on SEO, can you keep both the link quantity and quality up? Speak to the seller and ask them these questions, along with evaluating things like traffic and income reports. Many of the platforms highlighted above offer broker services that can help you evaluate the site. Some also thoroughly vet every site before they even list it, so you can be sure it’s high quality. 5. Make an Offer If you’ve found a site you like and have done the proper background check, then it’s time to make an offer.  Some website listing sites will have a price listed. If this is the case, then you’ll want to start with a lower offer, but don’t low ball. Starting at 70% of the asking price gives you some wiggle room, especially if there are some negative things you were able to uncover about the site. If no price is listed, use what you learned in the last stage to come up with an amount to offer.  6. Improve the Website Once you’ve purchased the site and it’s been transferred to your name it’s time to get to work making it more valuable. You want to grow your monthly profit as high as possible. This may involve doing things like: Improving the content strategy and SEO to rank for more keywords and improve the trafficExploring affiliate opportunities, or negotiating better dealsIncreasing your investment in things like social media and paid advertising to further grow revenueCreating and nurturing an active email list Overall, you should try to optimize the traffic and income as much as possible, while removing yourself from the equation. A site that takes less time to run and maintain will go for more than a site that requires a lot of work to keep profitable.  7. Evaluate What Your Website is Worth Once you’ve spent some time building up the website’s value, do the math to figure out what the website is now worth. This step won’t be that different from what you did back when you were deciding how much to pay for it, you’ll just be on the other side of it now. Take into account: Your current traffic and any increases since you’ve been in chargeHow much revenue the site makes now, and how consistent it isHow many revenue streams there are and how likely they are to continueHow big your email list and social followings are—loyal followers are more valuable than one-time visitorsHow much work the website will require to stay at the current level of profitabilityThe value of the domain name—if it incorporates a popular keyword, that makes it more valuable to relevant buyers If you’re happy with the number you come up with, and confident you can make a solid case to a buyer, then you’re ready to sell.  8. Find Your Buyer You have two main methods to use for these last few steps: Use a website marketplaceHire a broker The website marketplaces we mentioned earlier (back in step 3) are all options for listing your website. The benefit of this method is that you let interested sellers come to you, rather than having to do the work of finding them. And with a website marketplace, you pay less in fees than with a broker. But for anyone who’s relatively new to selling websites, or that has a website they think could potentially be worth a lot, hiring a broker has its benefits as well. A broker has access to a broad network of contacts. They can discern the kind of buyers who are most likely to want your website and be able to afford it, and find them for you.  If you like the idea of hiring a broker, some of the website marketplaces also offer website brokering as a service, including Flippa and FE International. Some other businesses known for providing website brokerage services include: Digital ExitsFounders AdvisorsQuiet Light BrokerageWebsite Properties 9. Negotiate the Sale Once you’ve found someone who wants the site (or they find you), it’s time to get down to the business details. Figure out a price you both agree on, and work out the terms of the sale. If you hired a broker they’ll help with the negotiations and all the proper paperwork. If not, consider getting a lawyer to help make sure you do everything right in this stage.  When accepting payment, use an escrow service. This is a smart way to avoid scammers and provide confidence in the seller that you’re not a scammer yourself. Most of the marketplaces have built-in escrow services, but if you’re selling the site on your own it can be helpful to use a third-party service. 10. Make The Transfer This is another part of the process a broker will help with. But if you’re doing it on your own, reach out to your web hosting provider to make sure you take the proper technical steps to transfer your website to the new owner. They’ll need access to the web hosting account, the domain name, and any CMS or website builder you use. And all the assets that make up the website will need to be moved to their name.  Can You Make a Profit Buying and Selling Websites? If you’re considering online entrepreneurship, you have a lot of options. Buying and selling websites for profit isn’t for everyone. It requires a lot of work and skill to identify the right websites and increase their value. But if you know how to spot a good opportunity and have some expertise in increasing website traffic and online revenue, buying and selling websites can make for a valuable business model. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

These 6 Cybersecurity Myths Can Endanger Your Small Business

The post These 6 Cybersecurity Myths Can Endanger Your Small Business appeared first on HostGator Blog. When you’re protecting your small business from digital threats, what you don’t know—and what you think you know—can hurt you. These common security misconceptions leave businesses open to attacks that can steal their data, drain their accounts and even cause them to fail. Let’s bust these myths and see what works instead. Myth #1: My Business Is Too Small to Be a Target Reality: Any business can be a target. In 2018, 43% of all data breaches hit small businesses, according to the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report. Why? First, a lot of small businesses don’t keep up with cybersecurity best practices. That makes them easy targets.  Second, hacking often looks different from what you might imagine. In many cases, it’s not a lone hacker targeting specific businesses one at a time. Cybercrime can also be big, organized conglomerates using botnets to search the web for vulnerable sites to infiltrate and exploit.  Most cybercrime is less like a guy with a fishing pole and more like a big ship that sweeps up unprotected businesses of all sizes in its net. So, it’s important to take cybersecurity seriously, even if you’re a solopreneur. Myth #2: I Don’t Sell Products on my Website, so I Don’t Need to Worry Reality: You still need website security, even if you run a service business or brick-and-mortar shop that doesn’t have an online store. There are two big reasons why.  First, without proper malware protection, your site could be hacked and vandalized by attackers so that when prospective customers arrive, they see random or offensive messages instead of information about your business.  Second, if your site lacks SSL protection, you’ll be penalized in two ways. Most browsers will warn visitors that your site is insecure and that their data could be at risk. That will prompt most people to leave. And Google uses SSL as a ranking signal, so sites that don’t have it get a lower spot on search engine results pages.  Myth #3: We don’t Have Anything Worth Stealing Reality: You might, though. Why would anyone go after your small business when there are multinational conglomerates and big banks sitting on much more valuable data? Here are a few reasons.  To hold your business hostage. Ransomware attacks make the news when they disrupt cities and big businesses, but small businesses are frequent targets, too. In 2018, an estimated 70% of ransomware attempts went after small businesses. The typical ransom for owners to get their data back and get their business up and running again? About $116,000. To use your checkout to test their stolen card data before going elsewhere to commit bigger fraud. “Card testing” fraudsters use bots to test batches of stolen credit card numbers by making small purchases on poorly secured websites—sites that don’t limit the number of times a shopper can try to enter the right CVV code for a card number, for example. When they manage to buy some small-ticket items, they can commit bigger fraud on better protected sites. And the small shops where they card-tested are stuck with chargeback fees. To use your business to go after someone you do business with. Remember, the Target data breach started with a vulnerability at one of the company’s HVAC vendors. To protect your business, your bottom line and your relationships with your customers: Make it a company policy never to click on links in emails from unknown senders and to keep your software and operating systems up to date. Ransomware attacks and data breaches often depend on phishing attacks and unpatched programs.  If you take payments on your website, limit the number of times a customer can try to match their card number to other data to prevent card testing fraud. Myth #4: Our Stuff Is Password-Protected, so We’re Good Reality: Passwords aren’t foolproof, as countless hacks and breaches show. Passwords work if they can’t be cracked. But most passwords are easy to figure out, either by guessing or with a bot that keeps trying combinations until it gets a match.  That means that if you and your employees are using weak passwords, it’s time to change them to something stronger.  It’s also important to use a different password for each account, instead of using one password for everything. Otherwise, your password becomes a skeleton key to your entire business if it ever ends up in the wrong hands. There’s one more password issue to consider: the default passwords on devices like your office wireless router, smart speakers and wireless cameras. Not everyone is aware that those devices have passwords, but they do, and hackers know the defaults.  Changing device passwords can be a bit of a hassle, because you need to look up instructions for each type of device. But having thieves or pranksters in your network is a bigger hassle. Read this to how to set a secure password. Myth #5: My Employees and I Know How to Spot a Phishing Email Reality: Phishing attempts are a lot harder to detect than a few years ago—and they don’t always use email.  Yesteryear’s badly written tall tales that blatantly asked for money have evolved into today’s email, text and voice messages that appear to come from your customers, utility providers or vendors. They may be asking for money, immediate “past due” bill payments, sensitive data, or for you to click on a link that lets ransomware into your system.  And while most of us are confident we can spot these kinds of scams, about half of 4,000 office workers surveyed by Webroot said they had clicked on links in emails from unknown senders.  We’ve already covered the importance of not clicking on links from random senders. It’s also important to double-check any unexpected requests for money or sensitive information that come from vendors, co-workers or clients. They could be legitimate requests—or they could be phishing attacks by imposters. Myth #6: Setting Up Your Cybersecurity Is a One-Time Event Reality: Criminals are always finding new ways to steal information, so cybersecurity best practices are always adapting. It’s good business to keep up with the latest security news and keep educating yourself. The National Cyber Awareness System has information on dozens of cybersecurity topics to keep you and your employees up to date.  It’s also critical to have security tools that are always on and monitoring your business data.  In the office that means using firewall and anti-virus software. For example, Windows Security comes with Windows 10 and according to PC World, it works as well as the top paid solutions. It also lets you layer a second anti-virus program on top for added coverage.  Security and Your Small Business Website Your website needs always-on protection, too. A good web host will provide security tools like automatic scans to detect and remove malware and viruses, an SSL certificate to encrypt information your customers enter on your site, and regular site backups so you always have a recent “good” version you can restore in case of a problem.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Want Google’s Feedback on Your Store’s Website? Here’s How to Get It

The post Want Google’s Feedback on Your Store’s Website? Here’s How to Get It appeared first on HostGator Blog. Does your store’s website have all the elements it needs to succeed? Can customers really find what they need on your site, or do they get frustrated and leave? What, exactly, could your online storefront be doing better? If user testing isn’t in your budget yet, no worries. You can get guidance on improving your customer experience (CX) with a free tool from Google. Grow My Store will scan your website and give you a CX report card you can use as a to-do list. (Why check your CX? Customer experience improvements can boost revenue by up to 15% and reduce business costs by as much as 20%.) Grow My Store debuted in 2019 and has been gradually rolling out support for multiple languages. Its goal? To help small and midsized retailers do a better job of giving customers what they want. Right now, Grow My Store is available in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, German and Swedish, plus a new Italian version that launched in April 2020. So, if you have a retail website in one of those languages and you want to see what you can do better, grab your store URL and follow along. What kinds of businesses can use Grow My Store? Google’s Grow My Store is built to evaluate retail websites only, including eCommerce sites, online stores run by businesses that also sell in-store, and websites for strictly brick-and-mortar retailers. That means you don’t have to sell products on your website in order to use the tool and get suggestions from Google. It also means that Grow My Store won’t be much help for non-retail businesses like accounting firms or freelance photographers. How do you use Grow My Store? Getting started with Grow My Store is super simple.  Visit the Grow My Store page and paste in your store’s URL. Click the privacy policy checkbox.Hit the send arrow. Then you wait for Grow My Store to scrape and analyze your site. This can take a bit.  When it’s done, you’ll need to sign in to read your report, which will list the steps you can take and link to information you can use to make your site more customer friendly and, ideally, earn you more traffic and more sales. What exactly is Grow My Store looking for? Google said when it launched the tool that Grow My Store rates each store on as many as 22 best practices for customer experience, based on studies conducted with its research partners.  How does it decide the ratings? The Grow My Store tool searches sites for keywords that correlate with those research-based best practices. Then it checks to see if those keywords appear on the site pages that make the most sense, and it checks to see how many pages those keywords are on.  For example, if your site doesn’t mention “return policy” anywhere, or only on one page, Grow My Store might flag your store’s return-policy practices for improvement, because the information is hard for your customers to find.  And while Google doesn’t specify all of the metrics it might use to evaluate a particular site, it’s reasonable to assume that they’re drawn from retail best practices Google has previously published, such as: Easy to find prices and product information on product pages, with the highlights visible “above the fold” so shoppers don’t have to scroll down to find them. Easy, intuitive site navigation, with the most popular categories at the top of the menu. Here, Barnes & Noble makes it easy for gift shoppers and people looking for entertainment while they’re stuck at home to find what they want. Live support options like chat so customers can find what they need without having to search through the site. A streamlined checkout process, to keep shoppers from abandoning their cart before they hit the “pay now” button. Google does spell out a few specific things that Grow My Store always looks for:  Page load speed, which is critical to keeping customers on your site. Fast is good, amazingly fast is better. After waiting three seconds for a page to load, the likelihood that visitors will bounce increases by 32%.Mobile friendliness, which matters to shoppers who are searching and buying on their phones. And that’s most shoppers—Google found that 94% of US smartphone owners do local searches on their phones, even when there’s a computer nearby.HTTPS, which means your site has an SSL certificate and encrypts traffic between your web server and your visitors’ browsers. (Need an SSL certificate? Find the best option for your store.) All three of these are also factors that Google uses to rank sites for display in search results, so optimizing them delivers both CX and SEO wins. If you need to make improvements, your Grow My Store report will connect you to the information you need to get it done. What if Grow My Store can’t check my store? Google says Grow My Store can’t scrape all retail sites, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of user-experience improvement options. Here are a couple more you can turn to—in fact, they’re worth checking out even if Grow My Store does work with your site.  UX Playbook for Retail Google wrote the book on digital retail user experience, and if you have time to study all 108 pages, it’s a very useful read. The UX Playbook walks site owners through six key areas of the ideal retail website, from homepage to checkout. For each area, there are quick lists of best practices and detailed explanations of what works and what doesn’t, with real-world examples. Product Coach Google’s “digital product coach” decision tree will steer you toward the Google resources that will be most helpful to your business, based on your business goals and where you sell your products: online, in-store, and/or on digital marketplaces. Manufacturers can also use this tool to learn how to set up and optimize direct-to-consumer sales.  Retail Trends Playbook 2020 Microsoft has its own guide to boosting retail CX with AI-driven product recommendations, stepped-up customer service and smarter use of customer data. All of these are things the average SMB can do by using apps, plugins and extensions on their e-commerce platform.  SCORE Small Business CX Resources The U.S. Small Business Administration’s SCORE mentoring partner has free information about improving customer experience, including a recorded webinar on customer journey mapping tools for CX improvements and an e-guide to SMB customer service.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Is cPanel?

The post What Is cPanel? appeared first on HostGator Blog. Put simply, cPanel is a dashboard that’ll help you manage your hosting account. It operates similar to the desktop on your computer, where you’ll find icons and a variety of programs you can use to accomplish certain tasks. Without cPanel, managing your hosting environment would be very technical. But, by using a dashboard like cPanel doing complex tasks only takes a couple of clicks. This unique software makes it possible so complete beginners can manage their own hosting accounts.  A lot of web hosts use cPanel (including HostGator), so it’s a good idea to understand how it works if you want to get the most out of your hosting. Below you’ll learn what cPanel is, the benefits to having access to a cPanel dashboard, and the types of hosting tasks you can accomplish via cPanel. What Is cPanel? As mentioned in the introduction, cPanel is a control panel that helps you manage the backend of your hosting dashboard. It simplifies the hosting management process and lets you accomplish tasks with a couple of clicks. The beauty of cPanel is that it’s built for complete beginners. Even though you can accomplish complex tasks, it’s a very straightforward and easy tool to use. Here’s a quick example of the cPanel you’ll get access to when you sign up for HostGator hosting: As you can see there’s an intuitive navigation bar, along with a number of different applications you can use to effectively manage your hosting account. For example, here are a few tasks you can accomplish in cPanel: Install WordPress, or another CMS with a couple clicksOrganize your server and manage files via a visual interfaceCreate domain-specific email accountsCheck your current server usage statisticsInstall new applications and software onto your serverManage any security toolsRun or schedule website backups Of course, this is just the beginning. There’s a whole bunch more you can do from within cPanel. It seems there’s a near endless array of features and tools you have access to. But, don’t let this be intimidating. You don’t need to understand how every feature works to use cPanel effectively. Instead there are just a few core tasks you’ll need to know how to do. The rest you can learn in time, or just leave it as is. Why Would You Want to Use cPanel? Without cPanel it would be pretty difficult to actually manage your server. You’d need advanced technical knowledge to accomplish pretty simple tasks. Unless you were willing to put in the time to understand how the command line works, you’d have a very hard time managing your server, or even launching a website. cPanel is one of the most widely used control panels in the hosting space. It’s commonly used across shared hosting plans, but you’ll find it on a variety of other hosting styles as well. However, when you get up to more advanced forms of hosting like WordPress managed hosting, VPS, and cloud hosting you’ll typically find a custom control panel. cPanel helps beginners manage their server environments without too much of a learning curve. The feature set can be a little overwhelming for beginners, but accomplishing certain tasks to get your site launched are pretty straightforward.  The Benefits to Using HostGator cPanel When you’re trying to get started online, you want it to be a straightforward process. Sadly, a lot of hosts make managing your server and setting up your website more complicated than it needs to be. Luckily, HostGator is equipped with a beginner-friendly cPanel. It’s very easy to get started with, but also equipped with more advanced features for total server control and customization. Here are some of the biggest benefits to using the HostGator cPanel: 1. It’s Easy to Use and Learn Trying to manage your own server and launch your website would be a near impossible task if you don’t have the right programming skills and experience. But, with cPanel, you literally just have to find the right application, click it, and let the software do its thing. Running the basic applications to get your website live, online, and built only require a couple of clicks. Managing your server files and installing additional server scripts will take more work, but no task is too difficult to accomplish in cPanel. 2. It Can Save You Time and Money Managing, updating, and running your own server takes time and money. With cPanel, doing all of these tasks is as simple as a couple clicks, but without this tool your only option would be to pay a developer. Or, invest a ton of time into learning these skills yourself. Instead of having to hire technical staff to maintain your website, you can handle all of these technical tasks yourself and rely on the bundled software installers.  3. It Includes Tons of Bundled Software Installers With cPanel you get access to hundreds of different software applications–instantly: For example, there are software installers that’ll enable you to do things like: Manage your files on your server visually (no command line needed)Create and manage new email accounts associated with your websiteRun or schedule automated website backupsInstall a variety of CMS on your site Basically anything you want to do with your server or website, you’ll find software that’ll allow you to accomplish the task.  4. It Has a Variety of Support and Tutorials Available Finally, because cPanel is one of the most widely used control panels, you’ll be able to find a wealth of different tutorials and support articles that’ll help you master using this tool. For example, the HostGator Knowledge Base has hundreds of support articles that’ll help you work through any issues you might be experiencing with cPanel. Now that you understand the power of cPanel and the benefits it can bring you and your website, let’s get into how you can actually use the tool.  How to Use cPanel When you sign up for a hosting account with HostGator, cPanel will already be installed. You don’t have to do a single thing to activate it. Once you complete the signup process you’ll receive an email that contains your cPanel URL, along with your username and password. Once you login you’ll be taken to your cPanel dashboard, it will look like the image below. If this is your first time using cPanel, then you might be a little overwhelmed with all the applications. But, once you spend some time in cPanel it starts to make sense pretty quickly. When you sign up for hosting you should automatically receive your cPanel login. If not, get in touch with your hosting provider to send over your login details.  For most users the top panel labelled ‘Popular Links’ will give you access to the programs you’ll use the most. These apps will allow you to do things like access the website builder, install WordPress, manage files and folders on your server, add website-specific email addresses, install subdomains and more.  As you scroll further through cPanel you’ll find additional applications for in-depth server and domain management, database management features, security tools, and much more.  What You Can Accomplish in cPanel As you can see, cPanel lets you accomplish a ton of different hosting-related tasks. We won’t go into everything you can do with cPanel below, but instead some of the most common tasks you’ll find yourself doing in cPanel. 1. Add and Manage Domain Names Depending on your hosting plan you can host multiple domain names and websites on a single account. This can be useful for users who manage multiple websites they want to run, or even to test out new projects and ideas without having to create an entirely new hosting account. Here’s how you can add new domains to your server. Keep in mind that you’ll need to own and have your domains registered before you can add them to your account. Once you’re in cPanel you’ll look for an icon titled ‘Addon Domains’. This will either be at the top section under ‘Popular Links’ or under the ‘Domains’ section. Click ‘Addon Domains’, then on the next screen enter your new domain name. You can also create a subdomain, or create a new folder. However, most users will simply enter the domain name in the ‘New Domain Name’ box and click ‘Add Domain’. Once you’ve added the domain you can start building a new website.  2. Create and Manage Email Accounts One great feature of cPanel is the ability to create email accounts that are associated with your domain name. This gives you a professional email account, instead of using your traditional Gmail email address.  Most hosting plans also give you the ability to create multiple email accounts so you can create email addresses for every member of your team. To create new email accounts find the application titled ‘Email Accounts’. On the next screen you’ll be creating your email handle and selecting the domain name that you want the account to be associated with. You can also set your mailbox quota (how many emails this account can have in the inbox). One you’re satisfied click ‘Create Account’ and your new email will automatically be created. You can even check, manage and send emails directly from your cPanel account as well. Just click on ‘Webmail’, select the application you want to use, and you’ll be able to use your email account as you would any other email client. 3. Access and Manage Server Files Not every user will need to manage files on your server, but it can be helpful to know how to do it. We’ll be using the visual file manager named ‘File Manager’. Whenever you use one of the cPanel applications to install software on your server or create a new website, a series of files will be created for you. When you open up File Manager in cPanel, you’ll be able to view these files, make changes, and even delete old website files you’re no longer using. It operates similar to your file system on your desktop or laptop, so you should have no trouble. 4. Manage and Create Website Databases Most modern websites use databases to manage content and keep things running behind the scenes. This is especially true for WordPress websites and sites that have a lot of content or user data. Usually, these databases will get created automatically. However, it’s still helpful to know how to create or manage your existing databases.  To create a new database click on the ‘MySQL Database Wizard’. This will bring up a tool that’ll walk you through the process of creating a new database, all you need to do is answer a few questions and the software wizard will create it for you. 5. Use the One-Click CMS Installation Software One of the most often used pieces of software in cPanel is called ‘QuickInstall’, this useful application is a bundled software installer and lets you quickly install all kinds of different software on your website.  Virtually any kind of software you need to install on your website can be done with a few clicks from this tool. You’ll be able to install WordPress or another popular CMS, eCommerce software, built-in chat, forum software, and on and on. To access this application search for ‘QuickInstall’. On the next screen you can choose WordPress, Website Builder, or click on One-Click Installs to view the entire library of applications you can install. Every application you can install is equipped with a helpful setup wizard, so you’ll only have to enter a few fields and the software installer will do the rest.  In Closing By now you should have an in-depth understanding of the cPanel control panel, why you’ll want to support your website with this unique software, and the kinds of hosting-related tasks you can do with ease. Here’s the great news: to manage your website effectively, you don’t have to become an expert at using cPanel. With just beginner-level knowledge you can take care of all the tasks required to launch your website, create an email address, actually build your site, and even schedule backups. Get started today by reading up on these cPanel best practices. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What’s Domain Pointing? How to Link an Existing Domain to a New Web Host

The post What’s Domain Pointing? How to Link an Existing Domain to a New Web Host appeared first on HostGator Blog. This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most out of your website.  Here at HostGator, one of our goals is to make it as easy as possible for customers to transfer domains they’ve registered somewhere else to us for hosting, or to host sites whose domains are registered with another company. For the most part, the process is simple enough.  But there’s one small and important aspect of using an existing domain with a new host that can trip up domain owners if they’re not expecting it. That’s domain pointing.  When your domain points to the server your host has assigned to you, people see your website when they type in your URL. If your domain doesn’t point to your hosting service, they’ll get some variation on a “this site can’t be reached” error message—and you’ll miss out on those visitors. Some site owners never need to worry about domain pointing. For example, if you register a domain with HostGator when you sign up for hosting, that domain will automatically point to the name server addresses assigned to you by your host. But what if you registered your domain name with another provider and you want to set up your website with HostGator or another web hosting service? That’s when domain pointing matters, because something has to bridge the gap between your registered domain and your web host—to “point” the domain name to the server where your website data lives.  This may be unfamiliar, so let’s walk through it.  The Basics of Domain Pointing To understand domain pointing, it’s helpful to keep in mind the key elements you need to set up your website:  a domain name that you bought from a registrarIP addresses for your website that are provided by your web host To connect these two elements, you’ll need to share some information with your domain registrar. You’ll need to tell your registrar who does your domain name resolution, which is your web host. Your registrar will also need your name server records from your webhost. This is the information they’ll use to point your domain to your new hosting service.  What (and Where) Are My Name Server Records? Your host will assign name servers to store your DNS zone files—files that contain information about your website’s IP address. The quickest way to find your name server records is to look up your welcome email from HostGator, which includes them.  Can’t find your email? No problem. You can look up your name servers online. If you have a shared hosting plan, you can log in to your cPanel to find your name server information. On the lower left column of your Account Information panel, you’ll see two URLs that end with hostgator.com.  Your name servers won’t be redacted like our example.  If you have optimized WordPress hosting, log in to your HostGator control panel, select Domains from the left sidebar, and click More for the domain whose name servers you need. When the Domain Overview panel opens, you’ll see your name server addresses in the upper right corner.  Copy both name server addresses, because you’ll need to share both of them with your domain registrar. But before we do that, let’s talk about the possibility that your site may be offline while the domain pointing actually happens. Factor in DNS Propagation Time Before You Make Your Changes Just as it takes time to send change-of-address details when you move to a new office or home, it takes time to update your website’s name server information across the web. This is called DNS propagation time, and it can last anywhere from 24 to 48 hours in most cases.  During DNS propagation, visitors to your site may see the old version or the new version, or your website and site-based email might be unavailable. Because of this, it’s a good idea to post a notice on your site before you point your name servers to your new host. This notice should let visitors know that you’ll be making changes, when they’ll happen, and when you expect the site to be fully operational again. It’s also a smart plan to time your name server switch for a time when you typically have the least amount of traffic. Once you’ve let your visitors know to expect a bit of digital remodeling dust and planned your switch for minimal disruption, it’s time to move ahead. Share Your Name Server Records With Your Domain Registrar Now it’s time to change your name server information with your current registrar, and you have to do it yourself for security reasons. Otherwise, anyone could point your domain name anywhere.  To help you out, HostGator has a list that includes step-by-step instructions for changing your name servers at more than a dozen popular registrars.  For example, if you registered your domain with BlueHost, you’ll log in, select Domain Manager, select the domain you want to point, and then click the Name Servers tab.  Bluehost’s name server change fields On that panel, you’ll select Use Custom Nameservers, enter the name servers you copied from your hosting control panel, and then save the new name server settings. Then you just wait for the DNS propagation process to happen, and within 24 to 48 hours your domain will point to your new host.  That’s all you have to do in most cases. But… What if you want to transfer your domain to a new registrar? Maybe you’d rather have your registration and hosting handled by the same provider, or maybe your web host offers better domain registration pricing and support. Maybe you’ve sold a domain to someone and need to give them control of it. In these cases, you can transfer your domain to your web host or your buyer’s registrar. This is a multistep process that requires some preparation and takes a few days to complete, but it doesn’t usually involve downtime.  If you’re transferring a domain you’ve sold, you’ll need to change the name servers with your current registrar to the ones your buyer shares with you, so the domain points to their website. If you’re transferring a domain registration to HostGator, first check that The domain is valid and registered with another registrar.The domain has been registered somewhere for at least 60 days.The domain is unlocked. (You can unlock it through your current registrar’s control panel.)You have an authorization code from your current registrar.  Then you can enter your domain into HostGator’s Domain Transfer tool and we’ll handle the rest.  Want to learn more about getting the most from your HostGator account? Check out our Web Pros Series post on 5 cPanel Mistakes to Avoid with Your Website.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Facebook and Instagram Stories: Why Your Business Needs Them and How to Make Them

The post Facebook and Instagram Stories: Why Your Business Needs Them and How to Make Them appeared first on HostGator Blog. By Emily Hill and Jana Thibodeaux This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most from your website.  Even if you don’t use Facebook Stories and Instagram Stories, you’ve probably seen them – those short photo and video snippet displays that appear at the top of your feed. Maybe you’re a fan, maybe you’re already Story-proficient, but maybe you’re wondering what the point of Stories is when you can already post videos and photos in your feed. Why should your business use Stories? Here are our top 5 reasons. There are several big reasons why we recommend Stories to businesses.  1. Your Story appears at the top of your followers’ feeds. When you do a normal Instagram or Facebook post, it’s up to the algorithm who sees it, and as new content gets published, your post moves farther and farther down where people are less likely to see it. Our No. 1 reason to use Stories is because they automatically show up at the top of users’ home feeds the entire time it’s available (usually 24 hours). You get optimized placement without having to pay for it just by doing an Instagram or Facebook story.  On Instagram, you can keep your Stories visible even after they expire by adding them to your Highlights. Then they’ll live at the top of your profile page, just beneath your profile image.  2. Stories can take your followers behind the scenes.  Maybe it’s a (safely socially distanced) event, maybe it’s the server room at your business, or the kitchen where your restaurant crew is turning out to-go orders. Showing your followers something that they wouldn’t otherwise get to see can build interest for your business.  3. Stories can get more people engaged with your brand.  So, your followers can find your Stories easily—right at the top of their feeds—and they can feel like they’re right there with you doing something interesting. That leads to reason #3 to market with Stories: more audience engagement.  What we’ve found is that people engage more with our Stories on Instagram than they do with regular posts. There are more comments and more responses to polls, for example. That’s probably because there are more interactive Story elements, like stickers.  4. Stories can raise your click-through rates. When people interact more with your brand, they often want to learn more. You may find that you’re getting more clicks through the link in your profile as you build up Story content.  As you grow your followers, you can unlock more features that can boost click-throughs. For example, once you have 5,000 Instagram followers, you can include a link in your Story posts, something you can’t do with in a standard Instagram post.  At 10,000 followers, Instagram lets you add its Swipe Up feature on your Stories. That lets followers go straight from your Story to your store or your blog.  For example, followers can swipe up on this Story to learn more about website updates and then read our blog post. 5. Stories let you market on a shoestring audio/video budget. Unlike most promotional videos, product portfolios and podcasts, a Story can succeed even with lo-fi production values. The idea is that your Story is something that’s happening in the moment, shot on your phone. You don’t need to invest in a graphic designer and video producer, which makes Stories fast to create and easy on your budget. How to create Stories for your business: 11 smart ideas When you’re ready to start using Stories in your marketing, you may wonder how long they should be and how often you should post them. Here’s what we recommend for most new Stories users. 1. Tell an actual story. Even a fifteen-second story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. For an artist, a Story about a mural project could be three images: the sketch, halfway point and finished product.  2. Keep your Stories brief. In each Story, you can create individual pages that display for up to five seconds for an image and up to 15 seconds for a video. We recommend including anywhere from three to six pages in each Story.  3. Mix your media. Mix and match video and still images in your Stories. A little bit of a both in each Story can boost views and get your audience more engaged. 4. Go vertical.  Instagram and Facebook posts have a square format. Stories use a portrait (vertical) format that fills the screen. When you’re taking photos and videos for your feed and Stories, remember to take a couple of different sizes so you have content for both formats.  5. Use content you already have. When there’s something timely from your feed that you can include in your Stories, do it. For example, you might have past holiday posts you can build into a Story for the upcoming holiday season. Or maybe you’ve got a series of related product photos you can string together into a Story. 6. Brand your Stories Branding always matters! You can create Story backgrounds in another platform like Canva to include your brand’s colors and fonts, instead of relying on the fonts and colors available in Stories. That’s a good way to help make sure all your content looks and feels like your brand. 7. Use #hashtags in your Stories. Some marketers put hashtags front and center on their Stories, while others shrink them so they’re unobtrusive. The important thing is to use at least one hashtag on every post, because they make your posts findable in hashtag searches.  8. Get brave and do some live posts. Maybe you’re at an event, maybe you’re in your workshop or office—show your followers what’s happening right now. If there’s something really cool going on, you can make a quick video for your Story.  You can also stream live video for up to an hour on Instagram and up to 90 minutes on Facebook. Then you can leverage the replay. On Instagram, you can save your video to IGTV if it meets the length and format requirements. You may also be able to include your IGTV video in your Stories, although Instagram doesn’t give every user that option. 9. Add your best Stories to your Highlights. Instagram will display them near the top of your profile page, long after they’ve left the Stories feed. 10. Start small with Stories. It’s tempting to try to be everywhere at once with Stories, but it’s best to take baby steps when you’re starting. If most of your audience is on Facebook, focus your Story efforts there. If they’re on Instagram, start there. If you have followers on both, you can set up Instagram to share your Stories to Facebook automatically. How often should you post? Again, baby steps are best. One to two Stories per week is a good place to start. However, don’t feel like you have to hit that target every single week.  Remember, Stories are part of a conversation with your audience. Maybe there’s a week when you’re out or don’t really have anything to talk about with your audience. That’s okay. Maybe the next week there are three cool things you want to turn into Stories. That’s good, too! Don’t avoid Stories just because you’re not sticking to a schedule.  11. Engage with your Stories audience. Stories are great for getting more engagement from your followers. They’re also great for getting more insights from them. Use those Story conversations and polls to get feedback from your customers and have actual conversations that can build those relationships and strengthen your brand. Read more from HostGator’s Web Pro Series. Check out these articles for growing your business: How to Create a Successful Online Community on FacebookQuick Website Updates You Can Do in 30 Minutes or LessWeb Hosting Hot Topics: Caching, Themes & Customer Service Follow us on Instagram and Facebook! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Create a Successful Online Community (and How We Did It on Facebook)

The post How to Create a Successful Online Community (and How We Did It on Facebook) appeared first on HostGator Blog. This article is part of HostGator’s Web Pros Series. In this series, we feature articles from our team of experts here at HostGator. Our Product Managers, Linux Administrators, Marketers, and Tech Support engineers share their best tips for getting the most of your website.  As human beings, we have an innate need to belong and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the other people. There is a ton of research available that proves why we need community.   We are all part of many different communities, some purposefully and some by circumstance. Communities can take on many forms and can be organized groups or a loose knit group of people with whom we share interests. Some examples of communities are: your colleagues at work, sports teams you play on, special interest groups you’re a part of, or your church. Community can be an effective way to share ideas, get help, build relationships and so much more.  So let’s talk about online communities, how to build them, and what you need to know.  Things to consider before you start a community: What is the purpose of the community?What will the guidelines for your community be?How do you plan to grow your community?How do you plan to moderate your community? I’m going to use our “Website Owners Helping Website Owners” Facebook community as an example.  1. What is the purpose of your community? We created this community during the COVID-19 crisis when support resources were overloaded and customers needed to create websites quickly.  But our guiding principle was this – the purpose of our Website Owners Helping Website Owners is to provide an online forum for ALL website owners to seek and give help to each other.  We wanted to provide a safe space where knowledge sharing is encouraged, where web pros could share their expertise in a time of crisis, and where people could ask for help without having to contact a web host’s support team.   We kept this purpose in mind to create the description for our community group. Our stated  description is as follows:  This group is for website owners & web pros, who are in need of help or want to help. Share Qs, struggles, tips, tricks and helpful solutions. We’re stronger when we help and support each other through trying times. After all, the world wide web is best when we keep it spinning together.  Things to think about: Is there interest in the topic at hand?Does a group for this topic already exist, and if so, what are you going to provide that is different from the other group? 2. What will the guidelines for your community be? I cannot stress enough how important guidelines are when forming an online community.  You must have good strong guidelines that cover many different areas and you MUST enforce them equally and honestly.  If you don’t have guidelines your community could quickly stray from its purpose and comments can get out of hand. It’s easy to hide behind a screen and be nasty; you will want to stop that before it starts and nip any bad actors in the bud.  Things to think about: What will you allow to be posted?Are you going to allow off-topic comments or conversations?Are you going to allow self-promotion or soliciting?What’s your stance on behavior? Are bullying, rude comments, and heated arguments okay?What’s your stance on lurking? How will you encourage everyone to participate?What’s your stance on swearing? Okay or not? Be prepared to give examples.Adds for other companies, services, sites? Yes or no?Privacy – This is SO important. You need to state outright that sharing personal information publicly is not okay and dangerous.What are the consequences of breaking rules? How many strikes until people are removed? This is by no means a comprehensive list and your rules will vary depending on the purpose of your community. Read our group guidelines here. 3. How do you plan to grow your community? This topic is hugely important because the last thing you want to do is put all the thought and effort into starting a community only to be hanging out with a couple of your close friends who joined out of pity. You want people who care about this topic and who will engage in the conversation! Things to think about: Ask your friends to join, but only if they have interest in the group too. Ask them to invite their friends. This is an easy win and a great way to get started.Do you have employees? Ask them to join and invite their friends, but set expectations on their participation.Do you have customers or followers? Send out an email push sharing the group and asking them to join.Incentivize participation: Offer swag (like free t-shirts, if you have any) to the most active members. If your forum platform has gamification – like getting extra perks for hitting a certain point level – use it. But make it meaningful.  Send another email push to those who haven’t joined after the first 30-60 days.Promote your community. Build your community on a forum that allows advertising (e.g. Facebook) and consider spending a little bit to promote your community 4. How do you plan to moderate your community? I want to caution you, do NOT try to do it all yourself.  You are not available 24/7/365 to monitor and moderate your community.  “But Erinn, I’m a staff of one.” Don’t worry. There’s still a way to get help moderating your community… In the beginning, you’re going to have to be the only moderator, but pretty quickly you’re going to notice members of the community who are highly active and providing great, valuable information, responses, and original posts to your community. These are YOUR people!  Private message these engaged community members and ask if they’d be interested in being a moderator so that the load is shared across multiple people. I recommend one moderator for every 200 people in your community. This will of course vary depending on just how active your community becomes. Things to think about: You will want to set clear and easy to follow expectations for your moderators. If your moderators can’t or aren’t following your expectations and the community’s posted guidelines, show them the door.Show your moderators some love: think swag, shout outs, thank you posts, and free product.Trust your moderators. If you don’t trust their judgement, then they shouldn’t be a moderator.Ensure that the moderators are applying the guidelines equally. To begin with, have them ask for approval before removing a post or blocking a user, once you know they’ve got it, let them know and let them do their job. Lessons learned from HostGator’s “Website Owners Helping Website Owners” Facebook community We spent one day focused on setting the purpose, guidelines, and future plans for our Facebook community group (steps 1-3 above). Then we sent an email invite to let it loose on the world!  The response was overwhelming! People flocked to this group and instantly started asking questions and providing help.  Below are a few more secrets to our success: Use your coworkers as a sounding board. We have three staff moderators for our community group, and we will bounce ideas off of each other in a private chat whenever in doubt. Active community members that become moderators can quickly turn into self promoters. Stick to your community guidelines and remove their moderator privilege before it gets out of hand. Create a weekly post that welcomes and tags new members to introduce themselves. This is a great way to create ongoing engagement. Email your current customers inviting them to join the group. This was our most successful way to grow our group quickly. And it worked! Wrapping it up… Community is really such a wonderful thing. There is so much to think about and do when you’re first getting started, but once it’s live and out there and you see the group growing, meshing and thriving, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Now get out there and get your community rolling!   Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)?

The post What Is a Content Delivery Network (CDN)? appeared first on HostGator Blog. You’ve heard the classic tale of the tortoise and the hare and their illustrious race, right? If not, spoiler alert! In the end, the tortoise’s slow and steady pace wins the race. And, the hare is left feeling foolish for running most of the race fast as can be, and then piddling around while the tortoise crosses the finish line. While this is a great anecdote to motivate people to take one step at a time toward their weight loss or career goals, it’s not a great anecdote for how users want the internet to run. No one wants to sit around and wait for days for a website to load, even if it is making that tortoise-like slowwwww as tar progress. Cue throbber icon followed by a frustrated yell into a pillow. When people search for your website on the internet, they want sprint of the hare website speed. In fact, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and 40% of consumers will wait no more than three seconds for a web page to render before abandoning the site. Now, what does this reworked fable have to do with the question you Googled? Google search: What is a content delivery network? Content delivery networks (CDN) are the hares of the internet (but they are 100 percent reliable when it comes to finishing the race, as opposed to the hare in Aesop’s fable, just to get that out of the way). In more technical terms, a CDN is a group of servers that reduce website latency time and provides speedy delivery of internet content. How Does a Content Delivery Network (CDN) Work? The more you want your website to do, the more power it will need to load quickly. Think about some of the world’s favorite websites: Netflix, Facebook, and Amazon. All of these industry giants use a CDN to speed things up. These websites have billions of daily searches and a lot going on behind the scenes to make their websites the obsessions that they are, and that means they need more power and speed. A CDN works by placing servers at exchange points (IXPs) between different networks, offering an opportunity for different internet provides to link to each other and give each other access to resources on their respective networks.  Additionally, a CDN places physical servers in data centers across the globe to help move traffic as quickly as possible. These CDNs provide speed and connectivity securely, cheaply, and reliably (again, a better hare than the one in Aesop’s fable).  With the help of a CDN, these top websites can deliver content effectively and quickly, no matter what browser they are using, what internet service provider they use, and regardless of where they are located. Can Smaller Website Benefit from Using a CDN? It’s a given that huge companies like Facebook will use a CDN, but what about smaller websites?  Do you really need to invest in a CDN? Well, it depends on how much you are doing on your website, and what your current website load times are. If you use assets like HTML pages, javascript files, stylesheets, images, and videos, then you’re asking your website to do a lot of hard work, and it may need additional help.  If you use all these assets and notice your website isn’t loading quickly, then a CDN is an easy and affordable answer. What Are the Top Benefits of a CDN? It’s already been stated that main benefit of CDN services is they help with latency and improves website load times. But, how? Here are some primary ways CDN services reduce load times: Since CDN servers are distributed globally, it reduces the distance between users and website resources. This means less cyber travel and faster service.CDNs help reduce the amount of data transferred by compressing file sizes. Smaller files = faster load times.CDNs boost the speed of sites that use TLS/SSL certificates through an optimized connection.CDNs also come with hardware and software optimizations that transfer data quickly. Let’s look at some additional benefits of a CDN. CDNs boost reliability  The last thing you want is for your website to go offline. When your website is down, you lose potential sales and/or the interest of your audience members. A CDN works to help you deal with things that could potentially cause your website to go offline, such as hardware failures, spikes in traffic, malicious attacks, and boosts in your website’s popularity. Here’s how a good CDN helps protect your site: Load balancing distributes traffic evenly across several services. This makes it possible to manage boosts in traffic. If one or more of the CDN servicers go offline, there are still other CDN servers working. Your traffic will be redistributed to other servers that are still working.  Similarly, if one data center has technical problems, another data center can pick up the slack. But, that’s not all! Content delivery networks also help keep your site secure. Let’s take a closer look. CDNs improve data security The more you can do to protect your site from hackers and security breaches, the better.  Here’s how a CDN will help: A CDN keeps your site secured with current TLS/SSL certificates.  These certificates ensure the ability to verify provided identifications, the ability to encrypt info sent from one host to another, and the ability to detect forgery and tampering. It provides DDoS mitigation, which means it protects a targeted server of a network from a specific type of attack and mitigates incoming threats. If you’re looking to increase the security of your website, a CDN is a helpful tool. CDNs reduce bandwidth costs It’s no secret that websites can get expensive. The more bandwidth your website consumes, the more you’ll have to pay. CDNs are capable of reducing the amount of data an origin server provides. This helps reduce hosting costs for website owners. If you know your website will require more bandwidth, then look into a CDN now. Wrap Up Investing in a content delivery network is a sure-fire way to speed up your website, especially if your company operates globally. As with any other outstanding product, when you opt to use a CDN, other critical elements of owning and operating a website won’t suffer. In other words, you’ll still be able to ensure reliability, data security, and keep your operating costs down. For more information about web hosting or to learn more about CDNs, visit HostGator today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Is a Domain Name?

The post What Is a Domain Name? appeared first on HostGator Blog. You’re here because you want to know what a domain name is, and how domains work? It seems like an easy enough question to answer, but it can still trip up a lot of beginners. When you’re building your first website there are a lot of technical terms you’ll come across. And there are a handful of things you’ll need to get right if you want your website to not only work properly but thrive and grow. It’s easy to confuse a website with a domain name, your hosting provider, or even understand what does domain mean? Below you’ll learn everything you need to know about a domain name, how they function, and why they’re necessary. What Is a Domain Name? A domain name is what you type into a web browser to access a website. The domain definition is a unique name that identifies a website. Chances are you’ve already typed in a few domain names today. For example, the domain name of Twitter is https://www.twitter.com. While the domain name for this website is https://www.hostgator.com. Domain names are completely unique to a website, which is why they are so valuable. Domain Names and IP Addresses When we look at the internet as a whole it’s essentially a network of computers connected to each other. Each of these computers is assigned a unique IP address that identifies that computer alone. IP addresses resemble a random string of numbers, which look like 67.454.66.3. But, could you imagine having to remember that unique string whenever you wanted to visit a website? It would be a pretty frustrating experience. So, instead, we have domain names that stand in place of these unique IP addresses. For example, we can look at an IP address as the GPS coordinates of your home, while your domain name could be your street address, or even the more informal name, “Jim’s House”. They all reference the same thing, but some methods are easier to remember. How Do Domain Names Work? Now that you’re equipped with the basics of domain names and IP addresses, let’s dive a little deeper into how they actually work. This will give you a deeper background on what happens behind the scenes when you type a domain into your browser. Once a domain name gets typed into a browser that request gets sent out to a network of servers known as the Domain Names System (DNS). This network then looks up the nameservers of that domain and forwards the request to the appropriate server. The nameservers are managed by your hosting company, which will then forward the request to the specific server where your website is stored. The server then locates the website, or web page, that was requested and sends the data back to the user’s browser. That’s a lot! Right? All of this happens in under a second. This request occurs so quickly, you don’t even notice it’s happening. Different Types of Domain Names When you’re trying to find the perfect domain name you’ll be able to choose between dozens of different domain name extensions. These are the final part of the domain name, for example, .com, .net, and .org. Here are the most common types of domain names you’ll come across:  1. Generic Top-level Domains Top-level domains are the most popular types of domain names. There are hundreds of these available and will generally be the best type of extension for your domain. Here are some of the most common: .com (commercial).net (network).org (organization) Ideally, you’ll choose a domain that uses one of the above extensions. However, there are hundreds of these available. The entire list of available TLDs can be found on the IANA website. Keep in mind that not every TLD on the list will be available for you to register. 2. Country Code Top-Level Domains Country code TLDs are assigned to specific countries and generally used for websites that are based (or serving an audience) in those countries. However, some ccTLDs are used in other circumstances as well. For example, the ccTLD .co is for the country Colombia. But, you’ll find a ton of new websites and startups use that domain as well. Here are some common ccTLDs: .us (United States).co.uk (United Kingdom).ca (Canada).de (Germany).fr (France) 3. Sponsored Top-Level Domains rTLDs are a group of top-level domains that are reserved for specific organizations and agencies. To register one of these you’ll need to meet the specific requirements. If you operate under the category that each domain is reserved for, then you can use that TLD. Otherwise, pick one from one of the other categories.  Here are a few examples: .gov (these are reserved for government organizations).mil (these are reserved for military operations).edu (these are reserved for educational institutions).int (these are reserved for international organizations) Domain Names vs Websites Domain names and websites are related, however, they aren’t the same thing. For example, let’s look at your phone number and existing phone. Although you need both working together, they aren’t the same. Your phone number is like your domain name, while your website will be whatever phone you’re currently using. You can get a new phone (website), but you’ll keep your existing number (domain name) no matter if you upgrade your phone, or even move to a new provider. Let’s look at another example: Say you’re running a website that offers running tips and your current domain name is “letsrun.com”. However, you found a new domain that’s even a better fit, so you buy it. All you have to do is connect your new domain to your existing website and everything will be the same, except your domain. Your domain name is never stuck with any website. You can disconnect it and use it for another website, or purchase a new domain and connect it to your current site. Understanding the DNS System The Domain Name System (DNS) is managed by an organization named Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They’re a non-profit that creates policies and manages the existing domain name system. Any registrar that sells domains must get permission from ICANN to conduct business. Domain name registrars (like the one here at HostGator) can sell domains, and help you manage your records, renew your domains, conduct domain transfers and more. Choosing the Right Domain Name for Your Website There’s a lot that goes into finding the perfect domain name for your new website. It needs to convey what your website is about in a few characters, it needs to be brandable, memorable, and a lot more. Your domain is responsible for creating a first impression, it can impact your SEO, and needs to be in alignment with your brand. It’s also important to consider the domain meaning, you’ll want to ensure the meaning of the words is in alignment with your brand, and doesn’t have an alternative meaning in other languages. That’s a lot for a few simple words! Luckily, we’ve written an entire article on finding the right domain for your needs.  How to Purchase a Domain Name Now for the fun part. It’s time to purchase your first domain name. If all the information above seemed like a lot, don’t worry. The domain registration process only takes a few simple steps. 1. Choose Your Registrar The first step in buying a domain name is deciding where you’re going to register it. There are dozens of different domain name registrars to choose from. Some only register domains, while others are a service offered by hosting companies, like the domain registrar here at HostGator. You can purchase hosting via the same company you use to register a domain, or you can do the two separately. If this is your first time building a website, then it can be helpful to take care of both from the same company, so you cut out a few technical steps. To do this, head over to HostGator Domains. Here you’ll be able to search for domains, choose your extension, and add hosting to your plan. 2. See if Your Domain Is Available It’s time to see if your chosen domain is available. All you have to do is type your domain name into the search box and click ‘Search’. On the next screen, you’ll be able to see if your domain is available. As you can see from the image below, this domain is already taken. So, we can start a new search. Or, choose one of the other domain name extensions, or even an alternative domain that’s recommended by the tool. 3. Purchase the Domain Once you’ve found a domain that’s perfect and available all you have to do is click ‘Continue to Checkout’ and complete your order. Once you complete your order you’ll have your very own domain name, and it’s time to start building your website! Domain Name FAQ Even with all the information above, you probably still have a few questions related to domain names. Here are some domain name frequently asked questions that should clear up any confusion that’s still lingering: Free vs Paid Domain Names: What’s Best? Maybe you’re trying to save money, so you’ve been looking at free domain names. These are domains that typically come with website builders and will look something like yoursite.wordpress.com. Your site will be a subdomain of the primary domain. Usually, you’ll want to avoid using free domains as they don’t look professional. Plus, you don’t own the domain, so you can’t bring it with you. Also, your domain will always have the domain of the service provider, so it’s very difficult to build a brand and it’s never truly yours. How Much Do Domain Names Cost? In general, a domain name will cost around $10 to $15 per year. However, if you’re purchasing a domain that has a lot of value and is already owned by someone this number can shoot up to the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Think of domains like cars.com or credit.com. However, most people will be registering a domain for the first time, so it’ll fall within the $10 to $15 range. Also, a lot of hosting companies will include a free domain name when you sign up for hosting. What About Transferring Domain Names? Yes, you’re never locked into a single provider when it comes to your domain name. As long as you keep paying the annual fee, you own the domain name. You can transfer it to another registrar or hosting company, you’re never locked in. However, if you do transfer your domain to another provider make sure it’s pointed towards the location of your host. What’s the Best Domain Name Extension? Ultimately, this will come down to your business, but there are some general rules you can follow. Most people tend to prefer TLDs like .com, .org, and .net, along with ccTLDs for businesses targeting a local market. You can get more creative with your domain name, for example, “mysite.coffee” or “mysite.ventures”. But, it’s recommended you stick with the domain name extension that’s the easiest to remember. What’s a Subdomain? Subdomains are a domain that’s nested under the primary domain. For example, here at HostGator, you’ll find the support resources using the subdomain “support.hostgator.com”. Once you register a domain you can create as many subdomains as you’d like. Some common uses for subdomains include hosting an online store at “shop.mydomain.com” or even a blog at “blog.mydomain.com”. Can I Cancel a Domain Name Registration? Yes, but it depends on the length of time of your initial domain contract. For example, if you registered your domain for three years, then you might have to wait for it to expire. It depends on the registrar you used to register your domain, some allow you to cancel whenever, while with others you’ll have to wait for your domain name to expire. However, if you haven’t enabled auto-renew, then your domain name will expire on its own and become available to the general public. Can I Sell a Domain Name? Yes, once you purchase a domain name you can sell your domain whenever you’d like. There’s actually a huge market for domains that are brandable and unique. Some people even build entire businesses around domain flipping, which is the process of buying, holding, and selling domain names. There are all kinds of domain marketplaces where you can sell your domain like Sedo and Flippa. Does Domain Privacy Matter? When you’re going through the domain registration process you’ll have the opportunity to hide your domain registration information. Normally, this information can be looked up via a tool called ICANN. If you don’t want these details exposed to the public you can register your domain privately, but keep in mind that these registration services come with an added fee.  In Closing Hopefully, by now you can answer the question: what’s a domain name? As you can see, there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes the moment a domain is typed into a browser.  Choosing a domain name is an important decision for your website and one worth investing time and energy into.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Are Email Drip Campaigns (and How Can They Help Your Business)?

The post What Are Email Drip Campaigns (and How Can They Help Your Business)? appeared first on HostGator Blog. How often does your small business run drip campaigns? If the answer is “never” or “what’s a drip campaign?” then this post is for you.  “Drip campaign” is an awkward term for one of the most effective email marketing tools you can use. In this post we’ll show why drip campaigns are worth using and how to get started. What Is a Drip Campaign? A drip campaign is an automated series of marketing messages that go out to your customers or prospects on a schedule that you set ahead of time.  For example, when a visitor to an online store signs up for email discount offers, that should kick off a drip campaign. The first message in a campaign like this is usually a thank-you/welcome email that includes a discount code. The next email a few days later might include some personalized product recommendations based on items the visitor has viewed on the store’s website. And so on. This kind of campaign is designed to nurture leads and grow customer relationships with frequent small interactions rather than one big pitch, the way nurseries water seedlings with a gentle mist and not a firehose. Why Do Businesses Use Drip Campaigns?  One simple reason that businesses use drip campaigns is because customers are more likely to read a series of brief messages than one long one. After all, if you’ve got five minutes to go through your inbox, are you more likely to read something short and snappy or a 500-word essay? There’s another reason that well-planned drip campaigns work, too. It’s because a good drip campaign increases the number and quality of touchpoints your brand has with prospects and customers.  Touchpoints are the interactions your brand has with your target audience. Customers often need to experience several touchpoints before they’re ready to buy from you. That’s because they’re getting to know and trust your brand a bit more with each touchpoint—in this case, with each message in your drip campaign. And let’s not forget the biggest reason businesses run drip campaigns: they’re effective. In Q2 of 2019, drip emails had an open rate 66% higher than other marketing emails. Drip emails also generated more than twice as many click-throughs as other marketing emails.  What Can You Do with an Email Drip Campaign? Our example about email offers isn’t the only way you can use drip campaigns to grow your business. You can also use drip campaigns to  Welcome new subscribers to your newsletter.Welcome new customers.Keep existing customers coming back with personalized recommendations.Promote upcoming seasonal sales and products.Educate customers about your products and services or how to solve a problem for their business. Many B2B businesses run this kind of drip campaign.Remind customers about items they’ve left in their shopping cart.Touch base with customers who haven’t visited your store in a while.  Marketers have come up with a lot of ways to run drip campaigns in different channels, including  Direct mail SMS messagingFacebook Messenger for Business and other chat toolsMobile and desktop push notificationsEmail We’re going to focus on email drip campaigns, because they’re the most common type of drip campaign and they’re relatively easy to set up.  If you’re not experienced enough with email marketing tools to feel comfortable setting up a drip campaign yet, no worries. Here’s how, step by step.  How Can You Set Up a Drip Campaign with Constant Contact? HostGator partner Constant Contact is an email marketing service that—among other tools—makes it easy for businesses to set up automated email series (aka drip campaigns). Here’s how the process works.  On the Campaigns section of your dashboard, click the Create Button.  A pop-up will ask you to select a campaign to get started. Click Email Automation. On the next pop-up that opens, click Create Email Series.  Next, you’ll give your drip campaign a name. This is a name only you will see.  Then, you’ll decide what will set your drip campaign in motion.  From Constant Contact’s Trigger Type menu, you can set your campaign to start when a user opens an email from your businessclicks any link in one of your emailsclicks a specific link in one of your emailsjoins one of your lists Depending on which trigger you choose, you’ll next decide whether to use a link in an existing email or in a new email.  Or you may need to decide which lists users will join to activate the campaign. Then save your choice. If you choose to use a specific link in an existing email as the trigger, you’ll need to choose the email from a dropdown menu that lists all your past campaigns.  Then, you’ll choose the exact link you want to be the campaign trigger.  Save your selection. To add more emails to your series, click the Add to Series button.  Just like for the first email in your series, you’ll choose between a new email that you’ll create later or an email from your existing campaigns.  After you save that choice, you’ll be able to see your drip campaign sequence so far. Note that you can edit the time between the trigger action and the first email, as well as the time between the other emails in your campaign.  You can add as many as 15 emails to a single drip campaign in Constant Contact. Most drip campaigns aimed at consumers include 12 or fewer messages. B2B drip campaigns are usually shorter than consumer-facing campaigns.  Once you’ve chosen your trigger, the emails you want to include in your series, and the time between your trigger and each email, you’re ready to click Activate. If your trigger is an email, you’ll be asked to choose the list you want to send it to and when you want to send it.  Constant Contact will then validate your series to make sure it’s error free. You’ll have a chance to fix any problems before the series begins.  Once your drip campaign is live, your work is mostly done. One thing you’ll want to do is keep tabs on your stats.  Over time, you’ll see which types of drip campaigns work best for your business. That information can help you get better at writing subject lines, choosing triggers and writing email copy that helps your customer relationships flourish.   Ready to master more email marketing skills? Check out these email marketing dos and don’ts. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Ways to Make Your Website More Interactive

The post 7 Ways to Make Your Website More Interactive appeared first on HostGator Blog. How interactive is your website? If your website isn’t interactive, visitors are just passively skimming it and not sticking around for long. So, do you want to learn how to make it more interactive, so people stay on your site longer and engage with you and your content?  Your website is an important part of your marketing strategy, so it’s essential to make sure you’re encouraging people to interact with it as much as possible. Engaged visitors will come to your site often, subscribe to your email newsletter, buy your products, and share your message with their networks. Let’s explore the benefits that come with building more engaging experiences for your visitors through these seven ways you can make your website more interactive. 1. Encourage Social Sharing We all know the value of sharing your content through social sharing buttons on all of your blog content and product pages. This way, if someone comes to your site and loves your content, they can easily share it with their networks and thereby interact with your brand.  You can easily add social sharing buttons to your site with a WordPress plugin like Shared Counts. This plugin not only displays how many times your content has been shared, but also includes sharing buttons to encourage more engagement.  Remember, it’s also essential to engage with fans and followers on social media. Many brands sign up for accounts on all the platforms and then do nothing with them. People like it when brands interact with them online, as it shows you’re listening to them.  2. Add Quizzes, Surveys, and Polls Encourage people to interact with your website through online surveys and quizzes. People love quizzes and usually don’t mind taking a minute to fill one out. Plus, it will help decrease your website bounce rate since they’ll be on your site for longer, and if you ask for their email before revealing the results, you’ve got a bonus way of growing your email list.  You can use a form plugin like WPForms to create engaging quizzes, surveys, and polls. With it, you can create polls and display the results in real-time on your site or create surveys that dynamically change based on people’s responses. Surveys and polls not only make your site more interactive, but you can also use them to understand the needs of your potential customers and get feedback on how you’re doing.  3. Use Gamification Gamification is a psychological trick that website owners and marketers use to improve the interactiveness of their sites and increase conversions. Combining the fun of a game with the lead generating magic of an opt-in form or a coupon opt-in form makes your site more fun. People will want to see what happens when they spin the discount wheel, but they’ll only find out once they enter their email.  You can create a coupon wheel opt-in form easily with OptinMonster and customize it to your offer, your brand style, and more. Or, use one of their professionally-designed coupon wheel templates to get up and running more quickly.  4. Suggest Relevant Links Once a visitor is reading one of your blog posts, your goal is to keep them on your website. Do this by showing relevant content within each of your posts that let visitors navigate easily to other articles on your blog. Seeing a link to an article that promises further information about the same topic encourages readers to click on the second link even more.  The best place to do this is within the post itself and at the end of each one. HostGator recommends content in two ways at the end of their blog posts. First, by relevant subject, then by publication date, both of which are another way to leverage links to their content to deliver a ton of value to readers. 5. Invite Conversations Many site owners don’t see the importance of complete contact details and omit it entirely. They figure the information on the site is enough and there’s no need for people to contact them (or they’re trying to hide from complaints, but that’s another story.)  Don’t be afraid to talk to your visitors. Publish your contact information openly on your website and show the world you’re available and open to feedback. Don’t forget to list all the ways you want people to be able to reach you. Here, Constant Contact lists their office locations and the contact details for them, their main toll-free telephone number appears on every page, and visitors can choose a team to contact if they have a specific question.  Another way you can invite conversations with your site visitors is to encourage comments on your blog. Write engaging calls to action (CTAs) at the end of every post and invite them to tell you their thoughts on the subject. Respond to their comments and increase the interaction even more.  6. Publish User-Generated Content Let people interact with you directly by incorporating user-generated content on your website. Doing this signals that people’s time and effort at contributing is appreciated and valued, incentivizing them to engage with you even more. They’ll share more of your content, buy more of your products, and evangelize you to their networks.  There are several ways to display user-generated content on your website, including writing articles based on comments from your blog and showcasing social media posts and images of customers with your products. Be sure to encourage your site visitors to submit their user-generated content and make it easy for them to do so as well.  Here’s how Lululemon does it: Another way to create user-generated content is to show off your happy customers on a testimonials page. They’re a secret way of publishing more user-generated content, and they give you more insights into how they view your products and brand, while also acting as social proof for you.  7. Run a Giveaway People love prizes, which is why many websites use giveaways to boost interaction. You can offer a free product or service in exchange for someone’s email address. The giveaway helps people get to know you and your business, making it easier to convert them into a paying customer in the future.  RafflePress has easy templates you can use to create your giveaway, and they look good on desktop and mobile devices. Embed your giveaway on your site or create a customized landing page for it to get the best results.  This giveaway tool also offers verified bonus actions that can help skyrocket audience engagement. Users can perform certain tasks like answering a poll, watching a YouTube video, or following you on Twitter, to receive extra giveaway entries.  Make Your Website More Interactive Today With all the content available online, customer interactions are increasingly valuable to websites and businesses. Use these tips to make your website more interactive and encourage people to comment on your posts, click on surveys and quizzes, and share their thoughts and feedback.  Try out a few of these to start and see which encourages customers to stay on your site more. You’ll create a more interactive experience online and learn more about your audience at the same time. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

WordPress Plugins vs. Widgets: What’s the Difference?

The post WordPress Plugins vs. Widgets: What’s the Difference? appeared first on HostGator Blog. The latest version of WordPress (5.3) has already been downloaded over 49 million times, and that number is growing every day. WordPress even has a webpage dedicated to showing off how awesome they are…aka WordPress displays a real-time count of downloads. To give this impressive count a bit more context, it means that, currently, WordPress powers 35% of the Internet, including 14.7% of the top 100 websites in the world—even Disney!  WordPress is also available in over 100 languages and owners publish content in over 120 languages. WordPress works tirelessly around the clock to share over 20 billion pages to over 409 million people every month. This is all just to say that WordPress is the most popular CMS platform and it’s extremely user-friendly. WordPress is built in a way that both Fortune 500 companies and your 70-year old grandpa can build the perfect website. Seriously, grandpa can build a WordPress website all on his own. While WordPress is popular and intuitive, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a slight learning curve. In fact, right after you download WordPress and login to your account, you’ll be met with features you may have never heard about, including widgets and plugins. Don’t worry and abandon hope! This guide will cover exactly what widgets and plugins are, how you can use them to build a sweet website, and what the differences between the two are. What are WordPress widgets? Widgets are part of the WordPress platform that helps you add, rearrange, and remove content to or from the sidebars and footer of your WordPress website. Widgets make it possible to customize the look and feel of your website without having to do any hard coding work. Widgets primarily deal with the way your website looks and certain features you choose to include on your website. For example, you can include social share buttons, blog post archives, an audio player, a calendar, an image gallery, a navigation menu, and more. When you first sign up for your hosting account and install your WordPress website, you have the option of choosing a WordPress theme. Popular themes will come with a set of pre-installed and common widgets that are ready to use. In other words, your website theme will already have a specific design, layout, features, and functionality on your sidebars and footers. Widgets are just one element that makes each WordPress template look slightly unique. WordPress offers the following basic example of what widgets look like. If you look at the image below, you’ll see a basic navigation bar, and a sidebar with “my posts.” The navigation bar and “my posts” are both widgets that you can customize. You could choose to eliminate or reorganize the location of these website elements.  There are two ways you can view and edit your widgets. 1. Sidebar “Appearance” and “Widget” navigation The first way you can see your widgets is by clicking on “Appearance” on your left sidebar and selecting “Widgets.” You’ll notice there are various “Available Widgets” on the left side of the screen. If you turn your attention to the right side of the page, you’ll see different pages that are included in your individual template. Keep in mind the areas on your website will vary depending on the template you selected. To add a widget to your page, you can click on the widget and select where you want to place it, and then click “Add Widget.” As soon as you save your changes, WordPress works its magic and will place your widget where you directed it to place it. You can also click on the widget and drag it from the left side of the screen to the right side of the page. In the example below, I clicked on the “Calendar” widget and placed it under the “Header Right” section of my website. This is how you can customize the look, feel, and functionality of your website without knowing how to write code. 2. Click on “Customize” on the top navigation bar The second way you can customize your widgets is by clicking “Customize” on the top navigation bar. Once you click customize, WordPress will redirect you to a clean navigation bar on the right. You can click “Widgets” and WordPress will list every place on your template where you can add a feature. If I want to customize my right header, I can click on “Header Right,” and click “Add Widget.” Once I am here, I can select any of the widgets I have previously installed and then add the widget to my website in the respective location. WordPress makes it easy to add widgets (customize the look, feel, and functionality) of your website, by providing these three different ways to do it. What is a WordPress plugin? Now that you know what a WordPress widget is, it’s time to learn about plugins. Plugins are a piece of software that performs a specific function to help your website run more effectively or to help your website do what you want it to do. Examples of popular WordPress plugins include: Social share buttonsSEO optimizationWebsite statsSpam protectionSecurity scanningBackupsContact formsImage galleriesEmail subscriptionsAnd more! There are thousands of WordPress plugins that help your website do what you want it to do without having to know how to code. What is the difference between plugins and widgets? Now, here is where people get WordPress plugins and widgets confused, so let me set the record straight. Widgets are always plugins. Kind of like how all apples are fruits. In other words, widgets have some sort of code that allows your website to perform a physical function that your website visitors will see when they visit your webpage. However, not all plugins have widgets just like how not all fruits are apples. For example, to function properly, your website needs software that keeps things moving forward on the back-end as well as the front-end. Plugins are pre-coded software that works behind the scenes to keep your website moving forward or that provides you with information that only you need.  A good example of a plugin (fruit) that isn’t a widget (apple) is Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO is a back-end plugin that will allow you to add a relevant keyword, meta description, alt images, and more SEO elements to your blog posts.  Here is an example from the back-end of my website. This plugin (Yoast SEO) allows me to add a keyword and provides analysis of how my keyword will perform based on my blog post. As you can see, I have a lot of SEO work to do on this particular post. Also, my audience won’t see this plugin or any information related to how I have optimized my post on the face of my website. This plugin exists on the backend of my WordPress website purely for the purpose of making sure Google can more easily find and index my post. Other plugins that are not widgets include spam comment checkers like Akismet, Google Webmaster Tools, and Jetpack, to name a few. How do you install a WordPress plugin? The best part of WordPress is how easy it is to install a plugin. Your website can do amazing things (e.g., show your Instagram feed, track website visitors, display an event calendar, etc.) and all you have to do is search for a plugin and activate it. You can also search for a third-party plugin, download the .zip file, upload it in WordPress, and activate it. Here’s how. 1. Click on “Plugins” on the left navigation bar The first step of adding a plugin is to click on “Plugins” on the navigation bar. Plugins appear right underneath the “Appearance” section of your blog. Once you’re on the plugin page, you can either manage your WordPress plugins or add new plugins. 2. Click on “Add New” and search for plugin Next, click on “Add New.” WordPress will redirect you to a page where you can search for WordPress plugins.  3. Install and activate or upload your plugin Once you have found the WordPress plugin you want to use, you can either press “Install Now,” or you can upload the plugin. Here is the difference. “Install Now” is for plugins that are already in the WordPress library. All you have to do is find the plugin via search, click “Install Now,” click “Activate,” and then follow the directions. Once you do this, your new WordPress plugin will appear in your personal plugin library. You can also download a plugin from a third-party website and download the .zip file. Then, press “Upload plugin” and choose the file, install it, and activate it. You can follow this process for every plugin you want on your website. Get Started with WordPress Widgets and Plugins WordPress is one of the best website platforms on the market. Widgets and plugins make it possible for anyone to be able to design a website without knowing anything about programming.  Now that you know the difference between widgets and plugins, it’s time to get your website up and running. HostGator provides affordable hosting and a one-click WordPress installation. This means you can get your website up and running today! Find the post on the HostGator Blog

3 Excellent Examples of Money-Making Blog Posts (aka Affiliate Marketing at Its Finest) 

The post 3 Excellent Examples of Money-Making Blog Posts (aka Affiliate Marketing at Its Finest)  appeared first on HostGator Blog. It’s not uncommon for first-year hard-core bloggers to make up to 10K a year on their website side hustle and to continue to grow profits each year. In fact, stats show that 70% of bloggers that have been publishing 3 times a week for over 10 years can make between $500,000 to a million a year (and, now I’m rethinking my career). There are several ways bloggers make money including a mix of advertising and boosts in traffic, growing a substantial email list, selling ebooks, and creating products. But, one of the most lucrative and easiest ways to build a blog that’s a cash machine is to sell other people’s products on your website.  This is called affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing works by joining an affiliate program, finding products your blog audience will love, promoting those products on your blog, tracking your sales, and then earning a commission from the sales you make. To give you an idea of how to get started with affiliate marketing, here are three money-making blog posts to guide your efforts. 1. The Points Guy One of the most popular travel bloggers, The Points Guy (Brian Kelly), is also a killer affiliate marketer. He earns his living by running a blog that provides smart insight into how travelers can cash in on free travel experiences by maximizing the use of reward points earned by opening and spending money on credit cards with travel benefits.  Through Brian Kelly’s advice, I have personally been able to get free Global Entry, free access to ritzy airport lounges, cash credits for travel, and free stays at hotels in Aruba, Beijing, New Orleans, New York, Miami, and several other amazing places. But, here’s the thing. Every time I get travel advice from The Point’s Guy blog, click on one of his affiliate links to a credit card deal, and sign up, Brian Kelly either get credit card points or a cash reward. Cha-ching! According to SimilarWeb, The Points Guy blog has received 12.18 million visits over the last 6 months. If only a portion of those convert, imagine the cash Kelly is bringing in every six months (Yo Brian, can I marry you for money?). Let’s talk about what affiliate marketing looks like in practice. Here is one of the top posts on The Points Guy blog, The Best Travel Cards for 2020. The first thing The Points Guy does in this blog post is he picks a topic that is highly searchable and that shows purchasing intent. In this instance, he caters to avid travelers that like to use points for travel and that want to know what the best travel cards are for this year. Then, The Points Guy offers website visitors an insightful blog post with relevant details. Here is where affiliate marketing genius comes into play. The goal of the post isn’t just to provide insightful travel details for free; the goal is to provide details and make an affiliate sale. If you look at the post, you’ll see a series of credit cards with blue links to deals. These links are special affiliate links provided by the credit card company that links to Brian Kelly’s unique affiliate program account.  Every time one of his website visitors click on this unique link and makes a purchase, he gets the credit, and the respective credit card company will pay him in either cash or credit card points. Take note there are several affiliate links in one post. This provides multiple opportunities for The Points Guy to make an affiliate sale. If you turn your attention to the right side of the blog (pictured below), you’ll also see a sidebar with the heading “Top offers from our partners.” These also affiliate links, and when someone clicks “learn more,” it’s another opportunity for The Points Guy to make a sale and a commission. Important note: You’ll also notice a disclaimer at the beginning of the post that lets website visitors know the links are affiliate links and he will get a commission if you click on it and sign up. Providing an affiliate disclosure at the beginning of your post is an FTC requirement. 2. Entrepreneur On Fire John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur On Fire is another popular blogger that makes money by inserting affiliate links into his content. While Dumas uses a number of different affiliate content strategies, let’s talk about an interesting one that many rich bloggers use (we know they are rich, because they tell us). Many bloggers will create a monthly post sharing their monthly income report. These income reports usually start with tips that readers will find helpful and an overview of happenings from that particular month. This particular post includes a tax tip and a legal tip, which are particularly relevant to entrepreneurs in January, and then an overview of what happened in January at Entrepreneur on Fire that was significant. Finally, it’s time to get into the income report. Dumas first starts out with an overview of non-affiliate sources for making income, including the journals he has for sale, podcast revenue, free courses, and more. After this overview, he gets into affiliate income. The first thing you’ll notice is the required disclaimer that says Dumas is including affiliate links. Then, you’ll see a breakdown of how much money Dumas made on which affiliate programs. By including the affiliate links in the affiliate income report itself (as opposed to simply including a picture or no links), it provides another opportunity for visitors to learn what he sells, click on it, and to make a purchase.  For example, if, as a website visitor, I click on “Click Funnels,” the link will redirect me to John Lee Dumas’s individual affiliate page for Click Funnels. If I start a free trial, Dumas will get a commission. If you look at the URL, you’ll notice it’s not just clickfunnels.com, the URL includes an additional tag that is unique to a particular affiliate account (in this case, John Lee Dumas’s account). This is one way you can tell your affiliate link is working properly. It would still be helpful and interesting to readers for Dumas to include an income report with no affiliate links, but it would not be strategic, and would not provide an additional revenue opportunity. Adding affiliate links in one more place on his blog increases the chances of clickthroughs and conversions. 3. Your Marketing BFF When you start your blog, it’s imperative to select a niche. Your Marketing BFF is a blog that is all about marketing, and only about marketing. Tana Nelson owns this blog and offers tons of awesome marketing tips. While Nelson limits her niche to talking specifically about marketing (smart), she doesn’t present herself as the only expert in the industry (also smart). Part of her charm (and part of the reason she makes money off her blog) is her willingness to share insight from other smart marketers. This strategy further establishes her credibility and also presents an opportunity for her to engage in affiliate marketing. In one of her top posts, she explains how bloggers can make money. She doesn’t do this by offering only her wisdom (of which she has plenty). Instead, she highlights eight other bloggers that are making thousands of dollars a month, offers a brief description of what they are doing to make money, links to their website, and also makes a recommendation (affiliate linked sales pitch) for products these bloggers have put out that have either helped her grow her business or that she enjoys. As with any good affiliate blog post, Nelson includes a disclaimer that links in the post are affiliate links and she will get a commission. When you’re starting a blog, you don’t have to present yourself as the only expert in the niche. The more you branch out and discover products from other bloggers that will help your audience, the more opportunities you’ll have to grow your business.  Did You Know HostGator Has an Affiliate Program? If you are new to blogging or affiliate marketing, a good place to start is by joining the affiliate program of your own hosting company, HostGator. HostGator has an affiliate program that is open to you. All you have to do is sign up for the affiliate program here, share your affiliate link in your blog posts, and earn commissions whenever someone else signs up for HostGator through their link. A strategic way to do this is to create a blog post that is called something like “How I Started A Blog,” “How You Can Start A Blog in Less Than 10 Minutes,” or something similar. Then, create a tutorial that outlines how to sign up for HostGator’s Web Hosting program, how to install WordPress, and present the basics of how the HostGator WebBuilder works. Instead of linking to HostGator directly, when you sign up with the affiliate program, HostGator will provide you with a unique HostGator affiliate link that you can add to your post. Any time one of your readers clicks on your link and signs up, you’ll get a commission. For your reference, this post explains how you must disclose your HostGator affiliate link in your blog posts. Remember, when it comes to affiliate marketing, your options are endless. You don’t have to commit to just one vendor (remember how The Points Guy is part of several credit card affiliate programs?).  You can create a tutorial of how to create a HostGator account and link your affiliate ID, and seek out other affiliate opportunities. Get started with HostGator’s affiliate program today, and earn your first commission. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

What Makes a Great Social Media Graphic? [Checklist]

The post What Makes a Great Social Media Graphic? [Checklist] appeared first on HostGator Blog. Did you know that nearly all (95.9%) bloggers promote their blog posts via social media? It’s with good reason too, considering the various social media platforms are THE hot spot for online engagement. In fact, there are 2.45 billion active users on Facebook, 2 billion on YouTube, 1 billion on Instagram, and 340 million on Twitter. And, 86% of people using social media use it at least one time a day. Here’s the hard truth, though. Just because people are following you, and you’re regularly sharing your blog posts on social media doesn’t mean that people will automatically click on your link and visit your blog. To truly capture the attention of your social media followers, it’s imperative to follow social media and blogging best practices. One thing you can implement into your strategy right now is to create a great social media graphic—one that entices readers to click. Designing a cool graphic is worth your time and will produce instantaneous results. Seriously. Images on Facebook constitute 93% of the most engaging posts, and using images in blog posts means 94% more views. But what makes a great social media graphic, and how do you create one? This post will cover everything you need to do (checklist style) to create a visually appealing graphic for your social media posts. Checklist: How to Make the Best Social Media Graphic Before you press “publish” on your social media post, do yourself a favor and review the following checklist items.  1. Did I use the right dimensions on my graphics for each different social channel? Have you ever come upon a social media post that has a great headline, but the image is too big or another sort of visual wonky? This is typically the result of including a graphic that isn’t the right size for a particular social media platform. Here is a quick guide to dimensions to help you get it right. Facebook shared image guidelines: 1,200 x 630 pixelsWill appear at a max width of 470 pixels (will scale to a max of 1:1), and at a max width of 504 pixels (will scale to a max of 1:1) on page Facebook shared link guidelines: 1,200 x 628 pixels is recommended.Square pic minimum is 154 x 154px in feed, and 116 x 116 on-page.Rectangular photo minimum is 470 x 246 pixels in feed, and 484 x 252 on-page.Facebook will scale photos that are under the minimum dimensions, but you can always increase image resolution at the same scale as the minimum size. LinkedIn shared image guidelines: The recommended size for images or links is 1104 x 736 pixels but appears at 552 x 289 pixels.The maximum size for shared images is 1104 x 736 but may appear slightly cropped on a mobile device. Twitter in-stream photo guidelines: Minimum to appear expanded 440 x 220 pixels (a 2:1 ratio).Aspect ratio = 16:9.Maximum to appear expanded 1024 x 512 pixels, and appears in-stream collapsed at 506 x 253 pixels on a desktop.The maximum file size is 5 MB for photos and 5 MB for animated GIFs on mobile and 15 MB on the web. Instagram photo guidelines: 1080 x 1080 pixels, but Instagram scales these photos down to 612 x 612 pixels, and it will appear in feed at 510 x 510 pixels.For square or rectangle photos, the aspect ratio should be between 1.91:1 and 4:5 ratio.For portrait photos, the recommended dimensions are 1080 x 1350 pixels.Smaller featured header images appear as 204 x 204 pixels, and larger featured header images appear as 409 x 409 pixels. Instagram stories photo guidelines: The recommended resolution is 1080 x 1920.The minimum resolution is 600 x 1067.The aspect ratio is 9:16.Max file size = 4GB. These are the necessary dimensions. For more in-depth information about image sizes, check out this comprehensive post by SproutSocial. 2. Does the graphic use colors, fonts, and illustrations that complement your brand identity? How weird would it be to see a picture advertising the new Apple iPhone that was red and yellow and looked like a McDonald’s ad? It would throw off all the lovers of classy, high-tech, right? Your blog may not be as big as Apple or Mcdonald’s, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a brand identity, and that you can’t optimize your graphics by maintaining a comprehensive look. Before sharing your first post, remember to use colors, fonts, and illustrations that look like they came from your blog. Some bloggers will even add the URL of their blog to their image to promote their brand more effectively. Seriously. Look how cool this image is from Making Sense of Cents.  The image jives with the overall theme of Michelle’s blog. She includes her URL, so people know where the post came from, and she also ads an option where others can share her post via her image (another excellent strategy to boost blog traffic). 3. Did I sell my message visually? Think about how long it would take to describe the room you are sitting in right now. Now think how long it would take to look at a picture of that room and understand everything you need to know about the room. It only takes a few milliseconds to understand a visual message, and that’s why using graphics in your blog is so powerful. It’s also why billboards are a hit in the advertising world. Not only is it easier for the human brain to process visual information, but stats show that humans recall information 55% more efficiently when it’s paired with a visual graphic. What does this mean? It means don’t skimp on your graphics. Design your graphics in a way that they tell the same story of your post.  Let’s look at Social Media Examiner as an example. The Social Media Examiner content team works hard to include a visual graphic that explains every post.  This blog post is on “How to Advertise on Quora.” The image sells the same idea with the cute design of the Quora logo and woman with the megaphone. In two seconds, you know what the post is about, and whether or not you want to click through to the story. Also, notice the URL at the bottom of the image showing you the blog post is by Social Media Examiner. 4. Did I include my key message or CTA? Not only do you want to make sure you tell the story of your post visually, but it also helps to include a key message.  The first strategy is to include the headline of your article in the blog post. The Social Media Examiner article, “How to Advertise on Quora,” pictured above, follows this strategy, and it works. The text tells you the central message of the article, complements the design, and quickly allows people who are following you that are interested in advertising on Quora to find you. Another winning strategy is to include your call to action in your image. If you are trying to get your audience to do something, don’t be afraid to call attention to it in your excellent visual graphic. Here is an excellent example from Whatfix. This blog post is all about coming to a conference and meeting Whatfix. The team wants to meet people at Oracle OpenWorld, so that’s what the image tells people to do.  Creating a blog image with a call to action shortens and focuses your message. It’s a great way to help your audience recall your message.   5. Have I applied the essential elements of graphic design? The best option is to hire a graphic designer to create your graphics. But, the reality is not every blogger has the budget to hire a designer. The alternative is to learn some of the basic rules of blog graphic design and give it a whirl yourself.  Some pointers from Buffer include: Considering your color choicesFollowing the rules of balance in designUse lines to tell your storyUse serif fonts for print and sans-serif for the webAdd contrast to your graphicScale the most critical imagesGroup similar items togetherPut the more important messages in a bigger fontUse the same fonts, colors, and logos (we talked about this earlier)Understand how people read/look at picturesUse spacing to your advantage Other ideas include browsing current web design trends on different platforms and scouring the internet for free design advice. The best thing that I have personally found online for a writer trying to design images is Canva. Canva sizes images for you, provide free (and some paid) design elements and has a healthy amount of templates that you can customize to your liking. Wrap Up Including a social media graphic with every blog on your website is the way to go. Every time you create a graphic, refer to this checklist and make sure you’ve followed every step. Remember, while you may need to design your blog graphics, you don’t need to design your website. When you purchase web hosting from HostGator, you get access to 200+ free templates and a drag and drop website builder. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How Social Media Integration Can Boost Your eCommerce Store

The post How Social Media Integration Can Boost Your eCommerce Store appeared first on HostGator Blog. eCommerce success depends on getting potential customers to your website. It’s a necessary step in every online sale. That makes eCommerce marketing one of the most important parts of any business plan. To get people to buy, you have to make sure they know you exist and where to find you.  But when working out an online marketing strategy, you have a lot of different social channels to consider. How do you decide which social media channel to invest in? A good online marketing strategy meets people where they are. And with the ubiquity of social media, chances are a lot of your target audience is on multiple social media sites. This is the future of eCommerce.  According to Pew Research, 72% of people in the United States are on social media. And most visit social media sites every single day. Social media isn’t the only way to reach your audience online, but it’s a powerful tool to include in your larger marketing strategy. And integration of social media with your website is a good way to make all your social media marketing efforts go further.  5 Ways Integration of Social Media Can Boost eCommerce Sales  Developing a presence on social media takes time and work, and it can feel like it’s not worth much if you fail to gain much of a following there. For your investment in social media to make sense, you need to know it will provide some return on investment. Integrating social media into your website can pay off in a few tangible ways. Developing your social accounts will grow your brand awareness and give you insight as to how eCommerce has transformed marketing in today’s market.  1. Promoting social channels on your website encourages follows. Outside of paid ads on social, the people who see your updates will usually just be those that already follow you. That makes building a follower base an important step in getting anything out of social media. But it can be hard and slow going.  By integrating social media into your eCommerce website, you’re telling people who already have an interest in your brand where they can find you on the other sites they spend their time on.  A one-time website visitor is much less valuable to a brand than someone who extends the relationship beyond that first visit. A social media follow is one option for them to do that. It ensures they’ll continue seeing updates from your brand, and makes it much more likely that they return to your website again down the line.  2. Social media integration makes it easy for visitors to share your site. Your social updates reach your followers, but every time a visitor finds something on your website valuable enough to share, it also reaches their followers. That’s powerful. It means you reach a whole new audience—people that might just click on a link and visit your site.  And it shows that audience that someone they trust likes your brand, which is a more persuasive case for checking you out than anything you can say about yourself. 83% of consumers in a Nielsen survey said they trust the brand recommendations of friends and family—making them the most trusted of all channels.  When someone shares a link to your website with their network, it serves as an endorsement. They’re saying your website is worth visiting. And people are more likely to take the step of sharing your website if you make it extremely easy for them. Social media integration with your website is how you do that. 3. New followers start an ongoing relationship with your brand. When someone chooses to follow you on social media, they’re saying they want to keep hearing from you. That’s a pretty big deal for brands!  People have a lot of different options for places to put their attention. Making an active choice to give some of it to you—not just once, but on an ongoing basis—demonstrates a genuine interest in your brand.  And the consumers that decide to start a relationship with your brand are the ones that are likely to develop loyalty. That means an increased likelihood that they’ll make purchases from you beyond the first—as long as your products and services are good enough to earn that loyalty.  4. Social media can amplify your special offers.        While a good social media strategy isn’t all about promoting your products, consumers actually want to hear about it on social media when you’re offering a new deal or having a sale. According to Sprout Social’s research, discounts and sales are the number one thing consumers want to hear about from brands on social media.  That may surprise marketers that have internalized the idea that a brand’s social presence shouldn’t be promotional. But the promotions are what customers expect and want from you. So the next time you’re offering a great deal or discount, make sure your social followers know all about it. It’s a good way to increase eCommerce sales.  5. A strong social following drives more traffic. One of the benefits of eCommerce and using your website to promote your social channels is that it drives more traffic back to your website.  A solid online marketing strategy recognizes that the various online channels are connected and support each other. Some of the same people that follow you on social media because they saw your social profile promoted on the website will return back to the website when they see your content or products promoted on social feeds. And some will help drive new traffic to the site by sharing your content and updates with their networks. Integration between the two channels just makes sense, as it helps both become more successful. 7 Methods of Social Media Integration to Consider for Your eCommerce Store You have a variety of options for integrating social media with your eCommerce website. Here are seven ways you can make them work together.  1. Show website visitors how to follow you. Possibly the most obvious and basic way to integrate social media into your website is to add social buttons that show visitors where to follow you. Include a button for every social channel you’re active on, then all visitors have to do is click on the button to find your profile on the site and follow you there.  You can choose from a number of free social button templates that use the most recognizable images for each social network, so visitors will know at a glance what each one is for. Put them in your header or footer, so they show up on every page of your website. That way every visitor that likes what they see on the site can find you on the social media network of their choice with one click.  2. Add social share buttons to website pages. When someone on your website likes what they see, they’re much more likely to share it with their own followers if there’s an easy way to do it instantly. If they have to open up the social media network and then copy and paste the link, that adds multiple steps to the sharing process. While technically those steps only add a few seconds, that’s all it takes to create a barrier to taking action.  Social share buttons remove those barriers completely. One click, and your visitors can share the page with their networks. Add social share buttons to any page you think visitors may want to share, including your blog posts and product pages. 3. Provide pre-written updates visitors can share. Social share buttons are a start, but you can make them go even further by pre-writing the message that will post with it. Use a plugin like Click to Tweet to pre-populate the social message your visitors will share. That way they don’t have to do the work of writing something, and you have more control over the message their followers will see.  For content like blog posts, Click to Tweet also lets you highlight key quotes throughout the post readers can tweet. That presents more opportunities to encourage them to share as they read, and more variety in how people will see the piece on social channels. 4. Add a social feed to your home page. Adding a social feed to your home page gives visitors a taste of what they’ll see if they follow you. If you’re proud of the social media presence you’ve developed, it’s a great way to make the case for why your social accounts are worthy of a follow.  It’s also potentially a way to get social proof in front of your visitors. If your existing or potential customers are talking about you on social, you can create social feeds on your website based on the hashtag they use. Instead of showing your own social updates on the homepage, it will collect the social updates of your customers. That way, visitors see your products in practice and see evidence of how enthusiastic your customers are.  You can add social feeds to your websites with the help of a plugin. The main options available are: Curator – free basic accountJuicer – free for small businessesEmbedSocial – starts at $24 a monthTaggbox – starts at $19 a month 5. Promote branded hashtags on your site. Talking about yourself on social media is one thing. But customers sharing how they feel about your products on their own social feeds is much more powerful. You can encourage them to do so by creating a branded hashtag and urging customers to use it. Encourage them to share photos of them using the product, or anecdotes about their experiences using it. You can amplify what they share by collecting examples on your website (as with the social feeds just discussed), or by re-sharing them with your followers.  Encouraging user generated content is a smart tactic for both gaining more content for your website and feeds, and for getting loads of examples of social proof and engagement at the same time. And customers are often happy to be featured on a brand’s website or feed, since you’re giving them a little visibility boost in the process. 6. Provide rewards for social interaction. If you have a rewards program, use it to encourage more social interactions. Customers that join your loyalty program are those most likely to be enthusiastic about your brand and product. That means they’ll be some of your best brand enthusiasts. Reward customers with additional points for following you on social media and/or sharing mentions of your brand.  Providing rewards points for social actions gives them an extra nudge to follow you on their favorite social sites, and talk about you to their followers. That deepens their connection to your brand and increases the likelihood that they’ll drive referrals your way—both results that are great for any eCommerce business. 7. Promote your website on social media. Most of these suggestions have been focused on how to promote your social media profiles on your website, but integrating the two channels goes both ways. Your social feeds should serve as a tool for driving traffic back to your website.  Use your social accounts to share the content you create and publish on the site. Share new deals and promotions with your followers. Announce new products across all your social feeds. And share any important brand updates on each social profile you manage.   The people that follow you on social media care about your brand. They’re precisely the people that appreciate your content, want to know about your new products, and will take advantage of your sales. Social media is good for promoting your website, just as your website is good for encouraging people to follow you on your social accounts. Social Media for eCommerce Works Better with Website Integration When creating an online marketing strategy for the future of your eCommerce site, you want to figure out what channels to include and how to approach each. But it’s crucial that you not treat each channel as separate from all the others. Your strategy for every online marketing channel and tactic should be connected to all others. Your actions in one channel will be far more powerful if they work to strengthen another, and vice versa.  That’s absolutely the case with social media and your website. Your website is an important resource for promoting your social channels. And your social updates are a great opportunity to encourage people to visit your website and drive engagement. By integrating the two channels, you make both work better. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

7 Ways to Get More Email Subscribers for Your WordPress Site

The post 7 Ways to Get More Email Subscribers for Your WordPress Site appeared first on HostGator Blog. Here is the bottom line. Email marketing is crazy effective. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to sell a product, tell a story, or drive visitors to your website, email marketing is an excellent way to do it.  Not convinced? First fact: The average American still spends 5 hours a day on email. Second fact: the average email open rate for all industries is 20.81%. Finally, email marketing has a $44 ROI for ever $1 spent. That’s a 4400% increase—an investment worth betting the house on. It’s not difficult to make the argument that email marketing is the top way to get people visiting your website. But, subscribers don’t just come out of thin air. You have to follow some email marketing best practices to find the people who are dying to hear from you. This article will offer seven things you can now do to get more email subscribers to your WordPress site. 1. Add a subscribe bar to the top of your WordPress site If building your email list is one of your primary business goals, then ask yourself this question. What is the first thing your website visitors see when they land on your website?  If the answer is anything other than an email subscription box, then it’s time to re-evaluate. There are several handy WordPress email plugins (e.g., OptinMonster, Leadpages, Sumo) that allow you to add an email subscription bar to the top of your WordPress site. You can search for one of these tools by logging into your WordPress account, clicking on “Plugins,” clicking on “Add new,” searching for the desired plugin by name or keyword, downloading the plugin, and then uploading it to your WordPress site. Once you activate the WordPress email plugin, it will direct you on how to add your call to action (“Subscribe now”), what fields (email address, name, etc.) you want to add to your subscription bar and ask for your unique email service provider (e.g., Constant Contact) form code. This code ensures that email addresses get sent to your own Constant Contact list or the list of any other ESP you use. Viola! You’re done and ready to start capturing subscribers. 2. Use a pop-up subscribe form The top of your WordPress website isn’t the only place you can ask visitors to subscribe to your email list. Using many of the same plugins mentioned above, you can add a subscription form pop-up to your website.  You can add a subscriber pop-up in addition to the subscription bar at the top of your website, or your pop-ups can stand alone.  There are also several options for how you can program your email subscription pop-ups to appear on your website. You can program them to show up when a website visitor clicks into your site, or when they are about to leave your website. You can also tell the pop-up to appear when subscribers visit a specific piece of content on your website. Regardless of what you choose, it’s helpful to know that top pop-ups average a 9.28% conversion rate, according to research by Sumo. That means if you have 150 visitors come to your website daily, you’d have 418 signups in a month.  The average conversion rate for pop-ups is 3.09%. If you had 100,000 monthly visitors with this kind of conversion rate, you’d end up with over 3K new email subscribers each month! Remember, these numbers are just averages from one study. There are best practices you can employ to boost your pop-up conversion rates. 3. Spin it to win it! Be honest. The last time you went to a business expo and saw a booth offering prizes in exchange for a spin of the wheel, you stopped at that booth. Or, you at least wanted to. Because who doesn’t love freebies involving games? Using gamification on your website is equally, if not more, effective than the ole spin the wheel trick salesmen use to draw you into their expo booth.  With the help of a WordPress spin the wheel plugin, you can create a form that allows website visitors to “spin the wheel” for a prize in exchange for their email address. The prize could be a free bit of content, a discount code, or anything else your users find valuable. To keep it fun, you can include spaces that say “better next luck time,” or “try again.” This type of gamification campaign engages your audience and provides you with information that helps you connect in the future. 4. Turn your blog commenters into email subscribers It’s safe to say that people who are visiting your WordPress blog, reading your posts, and commenting want to hear from you. This makes blog commenters the best targets for your email list, and it’s easy to capture their email address with one simple hack. WordPress allows you to include a checkbox with a custom call to action under the commenter’s information. You can even say something simple like “Sign up for my newsletter by clicking this box.” When subscribers click the box, they are automatically added to your email list. Brian Dean of Backlinko employed this technique and saw an increase of over 200 subscribers in just a couple of weeks. Asking your blog visitors to subscribe to your email list is a softball. Jump at the chance to add these already engaged individuals to your email list. 5. Utilize downloads within your content The comments section isn’t the only part of a blog post where you can encourage visitors to subscribe to your list. Another popular and effective technique is to place useful downloads within your blog post. The first way to do this is with an inline download. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Somewhere in the middle of your blog post, you can include a section of text that offers a useful download. For example, “Download 100 free PowerPoint templates,” or anything that’s related to your website.  Once the users click on the link, it will prompt them to enter their email address to access the free download. Another way to do the same thing (with more style) is to include an opt-in box at the beginning or end of your content.  Take this example from popular blogger (and HostGator customer) Michelle Visser of Souly Rested. In nearly every blog post, she includes an opt-in box in exchange for free content from her Resource Library: 6. Use LinkedIn to your advantage The previous pointers are things you can do to your website to get more email subscribers. What if you want to capture the attention of people who haven’t yet visited your website, but may be interested in hearing more from you? There are several ways to do this, but creating a viral loop on LinkedIn is promising. Anna Vital boosted her subscriber list to more than 76k using this technique. What did she do?  To sum it up, she created a valuable and free download—content that likeminded individuals crave. Then, she wrote a LinkedIn article presenting her free download and included a catchy header image, a straightforward title, and basic terms and conditions. Then, she included a link to a landing page with an opt-in form. An opt-in form requires people to include their email address in exchange for the free content. Once the subscriber has confirmed their subscription to your list, it acts as a trigger for your linked email service provider to send the free content.  You may be wondering about the “viral loop” part of this process. In addition to including an opt-in form, Vital asked her audience to comment “yes” on the shared LinkedIn post, and she responded to each comment. LinkedIn rewards this extra engagement with a broader audience and additional options to capture the attention of more interested subscribers. LinkedIn is an excellent platform for finding and connecting with people interested in your niche. 7. Add a social bar to your outside curated content Sharing stellar articles on your social media sites is a standard practice among website owners. Every time you share a relevant article on your social media accounts, you are driving your followers to another website.  There is a smarter way to share content you love on social media and to capture email subscribers at the same time. A social bar tool (e.g. Sniply, ClickMeter, Back.ly), allows you to post a social bar over the content you share via social media and promote your email list. You can enter a simple call to action like “enter your email to get similar insights delivered to your inbox.” This way, you are killing two birds with one stone. You are sharing valuable content and capturing email subscribers for your WordPress site.  Growing Your Email Subscriber List on WordPress Your WordPress website may be the star of the show, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t several other savvy marketing techniques you can use to attract your audience.  Putting effort into your email marketing efforts is a surefire way to capture email addresses and draw more individuals to your WordPress website. If you’re looking to get started with a WordPress site, the time is now. HostGator makes it easy to purchase a fitting WordPress hosting package, download the WordPress application, and get started with building your website asap.  You don’t have to know how to code or design. You just have to pick your favorite WordPress template and follow the in-app instructions on how to get started. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

5 Creative Ways Specialty Stores & Artists Can Drive Sales via Social Media Now

The post 5 Creative Ways Specialty Stores & Artists Can Drive Sales via Social Media Now appeared first on HostGator Blog. Remember craft fairs, window shopping and in-store events? If you’re a local retailer or artisan whose income depended on making in-person connections with customers and letting them see your products up close, you may miss the old pre-quarantine days more than most.  How can you connect with customers during shelter in place orders? Social media. Before the pandemic, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms were popular. During stay-at-home orders, social media is a lifeline for people stuck at home, missing their friends and worried about their local communities.  Even if you’re an old hand at using social media to promote your boutique, craft business or creative side hustle, there are some specific approaches you may want to adopt or increase while everyone’s searching for connection, creativity and items to brighten up the same four walls.  1. Use your local handmade, arts and crafts hashtags A lot of people worry that their favorite local businesses are struggling during closures, and they’re looking for ways to support their local faves from home. For makers and shop owners that means making the most of hashtags and keywords that show where you are and what you do.  For example, here are a few Instagram posts by different Austin area artists, all using the tag #atxart:  Each of these artists is appealing to local buyers. Some offer local delivery. And each of them has a link to their online store in their Instagram bio to drive visitors to their site to keep browsing.  Not sure which tags to use on your posts? Do a little research. For example, when you search for #atxart on Instagram, your search results will include a list of related and similar hashtags: You can do the same kind of hashtag search for whatever’s relevant to your niche and location, look at the posts using those tags, and build a list of hashtags that local shoppers may follow at home. 2. Team up for a special event or community deal Another way to raise your profile is to support your fellow local businesses and boutiques. Here, a local magazine promotes an at-home, citywide picnic with meals available from local eateries. And a local yarn store lets its fans know how to get gift cards that can help other local businesses weather the current shutdown.  3. Create “making of” videos that show how you work Another way to connect with customers is to make videos to let them see how you make the things you sell. These don’t have to be how-to videos—they can simply tell the story of how your art or crafts happen.  Here’s a great example of a “making of” video from an Austin bead artist that gives viewers an idea of how long it took the artist to create the finished piece.  A video like this can drive traffic to your website and online store. Even if the item you feature in your video is expensive, visitors may decide to pick up less pricy items–if you have them for sale. For example, this artist’s site includes handmade jewelry at lower price points than the deer skull piece in her video. 4. Auction your work in the comments It’s possible to sell your items first-come, first-serve on social media. But adding an auction can generate more views and interest at a time when we’re all seeking distractions and a little novelty.  For example, this local needlework artisan paired with another creator to make a series of throw pillows. That kind of partnership can generate more traffic on its own by getting your work in front of new people who follow your creative project partner, and vice versa.  The auction is the icing on the marketing cake, though, because  There’s a time limit, which can get people excited to buy. The designs are unique, which appeals to home décor shoppers. The auction winners will have a story to tell about the artisans behind their throw pillows. Auctions get people excited about competing to win, so they’re often eager to keep bidding.  How well did these auctions do? Winning bids ranged from $160 to $200, and one of the posts got more than 1,100 likes. And the bidders who didn’t win can shop the artisan’s website for other pillow designs.  5. Host an event or teach a class on social media live If you sell creative supplies or can lead a live class, consider video meetups that you host on social media or another platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Live classes and hangouts can break the monotony of staying home, help your students or customers keep up their skills, and generate interest and/or income for your business.  For example, many dance teachers have moved to live online classes while their studios are shuttered. Other artists, artisans and shop owners are launching online classes and hangouts, too. Some are hosting free online how-to sessions on social media and selling kits of supplies on the websites for delivery so students can craft along in real time at home.  Social media works best when it brings local shoppers to your online store Social media channels are great for connecting with local audiences, showing them how you work and generating excitement about your products.  And while you can auction or sell your products directly from your social media feeds, you’ll almost certainly sell more over the long term if you’re also driving your social media traffic to your online store. Why? Your website store offers an easier shopping experience. With a social media feed, customers have to open each post to see information about the item pictured, including whether or not it’s for sale, the price, dimensions and how to buy. A good eCommerce platform, on the other hand, shows your customers all of that information at a glance. It’s easier to update product availability, pricing and shipping information on your eCommerce site than in social media. That means you spend less time on administrative tasks as items sell out or prices change. Tagging and describing your products in your store helps with SEO. When people Google “Austin bead artist” or “Portland soap maker,” your social media posts won’t appear in those results. But if your online store is active and optimized, those customers will find you. There are other benefits to expanding your eCommerce operations, too. And more ways to use social media to get people to your website. Is it time to set up or step up your online store? Get started with HostGator. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How to Create Your First Blog Posts [It’s Easier Than You Think]

The post How to Create Your First Blog Posts [It’s Easier Than You Think] appeared first on HostGator Blog. There is a reason why it seems everyone is starting a blog these days. Blogging is a good way to make extra money. It’s an excellent avenue to get your voice and expertise out into the world. And, it’s a fun way to document and journal your life’s adventures and accomplishments. It doesn’t matter why you want to start a blog, what matters is that you do start a blog. And, here’s the good news. No matter what you have heard, or what you have been telling yourself, it’s easy and inexpensive to start a blog. You don’t have to know how to code, you don’t need to know a lick about web design, and it takes less than a day to publish your first post. To help you get started, here is a quick overview of what to consider when starting a blog, and how to get started with either WordPress or a website builder. How to Create a Content Strategy for Your Blog in 4 Steps Here’s the deal. If you start a blog, but then never post, you don’t really have a blog. You won’t make money or engage your audience. Before you even sign up for a blog hosting plan from HostGator, it’s a great idea to plan your content strategy. Here are some tips on how to do this. 1. Start by listing your goals What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? Is it a tool to grow your business? Are you looking to share expertise? Hoping to get started with affiliate marketing in a particular niche? Write your goals down as your first step. Your goals will determine what you post, what tone your blog takes, and your content calendar. For example, if you are trying to increase your website traffic to sell eCommerce products, then you will need to post often. You’ll also want to heavily optimize your posts for increased SEO.  If you are starting a blog for personal reasons, then you may not need to post as often. Also, the tone of your posts will be more friendly and casual and you won’t need to put as much effort into SEO. 2. Identify your target audience As you are listing your goals, your target audience will become more apparent. However, it’s important to solidify in your mind exactly who will be interested in your content. Are you writing for tech-savvy youths? Maybe you are writing for an older generation that is interested in homesteading and gardening. Perhaps you are running a blog on the most relevant pop music. The target audience for various types of blogs will be very different. Your audience will determine the tone of your blog, the depth of your articles, and your voice. For example, if you’re targeting tech-savvy Gen Zers, you’ll probably want to develop a tone that’s a mix of professional and cheeky. A blog geared toward people interested in pop culture will need to be fun and quirky. And, a blog that people interested in homesteading and gardening may need to be more conversational and to the point. Your audience will affect how you write, so it’s important to determine who they are before you put fingers to the keyboard. 3. Create a content calendar Did you know that 44% of marketers have identified content production as their top challenge? You may not be in charge of an entire marketing department, but you are in charge of marketing your blog and may experience the same challenges. To eliminate this problem, create a content calendar. Consider your audience, what information they will find interesting, and your bandwidth. Brainstorm topics and then select the ones that you know will resonate with your blog readers. You can also write down topics that occur to you and add them to your calendar later.  To help you stay on track, use a productivity tool like Asana, CoSchedule, or even your email calendar. These tools will help you plan out your calendar and will send you automated reminders. Here are some ways to come up with topics: Look at what your competitors are doing and then add something unique to your postAsk your audience what kind of posts they want to see you produceAnswer the most common questions your audience has and develop them into how-to postsTell a story that is interesting and relatableUse Google as a tool to see what topics are trending (Google even has a free tool for this) 4. Learn how to write for the internet Another thing that is critical for new bloggers to know is blogging requires a different format than any other type of writing. You may be an excellent storyteller, which will help you keep the interest of your readers. But, to really crush it, you have to write the way people read on the internet. Here are some tips: Create great titles. The title is important for two reasons. First, it tells Google what your post is about, so make sure to include your keyword. Second, those 4+ words will tell your reader exactly what your post is about and helps them decide if they want to continue reading. Put the most important things first. The average reader spends 96 seconds reading a blog post. This stat means you shouldn’t wait until the end to get to the good stuff. Put the most important things first.  Make your posts scannable. It would be weird and boring if a novel had a bunch of bullet points and headlines, but it’s awesome for blogs. When writing for the internet, break up your content as much as possible with headlines, subheadlines, and bullet points. This strategy makes it easy for readers to quickly glance through your copy. Use images. Not only are images interesting, but people can understand what your story is about in the glance of an eye. Additionally, people can recall 65% of the visual content that they see almost three days later. Infographics and videos are also powerful tools to supplement your blog posts. Include a call to action. Bloggers usually have some sort of motivation for sharing information on the internet. In other words, they want readers to do something. Don’t be shy about telling your users exactly how you want them to act. Include your call to action in your post. For example, you can say “call us today for more information,” “download a free sample,” or “start a free trial today.” Optimize your blog posts for search. SEO optimization is an involved process, but there are a few things you can do that will always help Google catalog your posts in the search results correctly. First, identify your keyword (what a user would type in the search box to find your post). Then, use your keyword in your title, in a few of your headlines, throughout your post, and as the name of one of your images. Just don’t overdo it. Learn more in our Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Research. How to Create Your First Blog Post in WordPress The best thing about hosting your site with HostGator is it makes setting up your WordPress blog a cinch. The first step is to go to your web hosting control panel (cPanel), and click on “QuickInstall.” On the next screen, you’ll select WordPress and then enter all of the necessary and relevant website details. This step includes naming your website, enter your login information, and then clicking “Install.” With a click of a button, the HostGator software will do all the hard installing work for you. All you do is sit and wait. Congratulations! If you’ve gotten this far, you officially have a WordPress blog up and running. Now, it’s time to make it pretty. Here’s how. Login to your WordPress dashboard via a link that looks like ‘yoursite.com/wp-admin.” If you forgot your login details, don’t worry. HostGator emails you your login details automatically, so just check your email. Once you’ve successfully logged into your site navigate to Appearance>Themes, then click “Add New.” Once you get to “Ad Themes,” you can browse through the 200+ beautiful FREE templates and select the theme you like best. Your WordPress theme is the precoded foundation for how your site looks and functions. Since WordPress is primarily a blogging platform you’ll find that most themes come with extensive blogging-related features. Selecting a theme will give your blog a basic layout, but you can customize it however you want. To further customize your site, look at your side navigation bar, and navigate to Appearance>Customize.  Under this tab, you will be able to customize all of the following: Site identity – Site title, site tagline, and the site icon.Header image – Image at the top of your home page.Menus – Primary and secondary navigation menus that you create.Widgets – Any plugins or sidebars you want to add to various sections of your template.Home page settings – Your latest post or a static page.Theme settings – Color, layout, and other options.Additional CSS – You only need to worry about this if you know how to code. If not, don’t touch it, or you might regret it. And that’s it! By clicking through those options and making the desired changes, you’re well on your way to publishing your first post. Creating and Publishing a Blog Post with WordPress [Step by Step] To create a blog post in WordPress, head over to your WordPress dashboard. Then, click on Posts>Add New from the left-hand navigation menu. Doing so will bring up the post editor screen where you can enter your title, your post content, add social media, and any post metadata. Once you’re satisfied with your blog post click “Publish”’ and your post will be live. If you’re not ready to publish your post, you can always save a draft and return to it later. How to Create your First Blog Post Using the GATOR Website Builder WordPress is one of the best blogging platforms on the market, but there is also a learning curve to using WordPress. Thankfully, WordPress has gotten leaps and bounds better throughout the year, but if you’re not someone computer-savvy, an easier option may be best. The GATOR website builder is a website builder that’ll allow you to build your blog in the shortest amount of time possible. This tool is beginner-friendly and super easy to navigate. You can create your own blog without having to touch a single line of code. Not to mention, you’ll find plenty of blogging-oriented themes that come with your hosting package. To select your blog template and start building your site, you have a lot of options. You can search via keyword or category, or simply browse through the entire collection until you find the perfect theme. If you want to get your blog up and running quickly, skip to the “Blog” category and browse through the themes. Once you’ve found the perfect template, hover over it and click “Select.” Next, you will see an editor pop up. This editor helps you to customize your site with the drag and drop builder. Once you spend some time navigating the editor tool, you’ll be amazed at what you can do. Creating and Publishing a Blog Post with GATOR [Step by Step] To publish a blog with GATOR, all you have to do is click on the “Blog” section on the left-hand editor, and click “Add New Post.” From here, you can enter your post title, author name, meta tags, featured image, and your content. Once you’re satisfied with your first blog post, click “Save Post” and your first post is officially live. Over to You Creating a blog is not only a fun side hustle, but it’s something you can do completely on your own. If you’ve been dying to start a blog, the time is now. As soon as you’ll get started, you’ll be shocked to learn how easy it is, and will be wondering why you didn’t start years ago. For more information on how to get your blog up and running, visit HostGator today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Pages

Recommended Content