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What was the last thing you bought?
Whether it was the latest-and-greatest tech toy, a must-have beauty product, or a mouthwatering burger at a new restaurant, you probably bought it because you got a great recommendation from a friend — or you meticulously scoured internet reviews for the scoop on a particular product or service.
When it comes to purchasing decisions, consumers religiously follow word-of-mouth recs — virtual or IRL — from peers and unbiased others.
Product reviews are 12 times more trusted than product description or copy coming directly from brands, and a near 70% of online consumers check reviews before buying. Other data reveals that 82% of Americans seek recommendations from friends and family before making a purchase. What’s more, 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations.
These numbers represent a profound insight for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
When it comes to handing over their hard-earned $$$, consumers are more likely swayed by endorsements from trusted peers and unbiased others during the decision-making process, not the companies peddling the products. Word of mouth matters.
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What Is Social Proof?
Social proof = sway. Essentially, it’s a fancy term for the truism that people follow the crowd. Social proof manifests itself in different ways, but companies who want to boost their bottom line will employ elements of social proof on their website to build trust with customers, increase your conversion rate, and establish a powerful brand image.
So what does social proof look like online? Examples of social proof include:
Instagram post likes
online rating systems
influencer and celebrity endorsements
proudly-displayed certification or credentials badges
social media shares
large social media followings
user or subscriber counts
The most successful companies utilize one (or more) of these tools on their sites.
Long story short: there’s immense power in social proof. And more often than not, the presence or absence of social proof on your e-commerce site will be the make-it-or-break-it factor in your business earning five-star online reviews, loyal customers, and abundant sales.
Not convinced yet? Let’s explore nine reasons why your website needs social proof. Plus, we’ll share some of the IRL websites of businesses who are nailing social proof.
Related: 10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business
9 Reasons to Use Social Proof on Your Website
1. Social Proof Creates — and Sustains — Customer Trust
It’s great that your product can do XYZ and has a list of gold-star features. But unless you’ve got an army of brand ambassadors, potential customers aren’t going to buy it — literally or figuratively.
Employing social proof assures prospective customers that your sales pitch echoes the actual experience of people who have done business with you and isn’t just a marketing tactic. Consumers need multiple unbiased opinions that your product or service is going to do what you say it will.
Social proof elements help shoppers trust that your business is legitimate, persuading them that there are real fans of your product or service. Validation through social proof adds credibility and authenticity to your business.
Skin and hair care brand Teadora establishes trust with potential customers by displaying media mentions and certifications.
2. Social Proof Utilizes the Influencing Power of Your Customers
Your customers aren’t merely sales numbers; they’re powerful tools of persuasion that can help you grow your business. Social proof allows you to utilize an authentic marketing strategy that can effectively sway customers disillusioned by modern clickbait, sponsored ads, and false claims.
Whether you’re sharing five-star ratings, video testimonials, or a list of your high-profile clients, social proof allows you to take advantage of the substantial selling power of your customers.
E-commerce fulfillment provider ShipBob knows that their customers’ positive experiences can help persuade others to use their services, so they prominently display them near a call-to-action button.
3. Social Proof Shows Customers You Care
Social proof isn’t just about proving to consumers that they should get on your business bandwagon (because #FOMO). It’s also about demonstrating that you care about the customer experience and that you value the opinions of your customers enough to share them with others.
What’s more — when you display badges, certifications, and awards, you show that you care about safety, quality, knowledge, and growth. It makes it apparent that your company fosters engagement, sustainability, and customer loyalty.
Writer Elna Cain of Innovative Ink uses customer testimonials not only to promote her business and gain customer confidence but also to show the strong relationships she has with customers, and that she cares about them and their needs.
4. Social Proof Distinguishes Your Business From Competitors
It’s likely that the competition in your industry is fierce. You need to set yourself apart to build a business with staying power and a bottomless bottom line. By using elements of social proof on your website, you separate yourself from other marketers and show consumers what makes your brand different. Why should they choose you over another brand? Let your customers do the talking.
Allbirds shoe company displays a clear testimonial on their site, a press review that distinguishes the brand from their competition.
5. Social Proof Identifies Your Target Customers
Just like shoppers are looking for something specific, so is your business. Finding your target audience assures that you make more high-quality sales, establish long-lasting customer relationships, and grow a sustainable business.
Use social proof to help consumers know who your ideal customer is, and how your product or service will benefit them specifically. As they identify with relatable qualities, they’ll more effectively envision themselves as satisfied using your product, and you’ll enjoy higher conversion rates.
This benefit of social proof also validates current and past customers, helping followers connect more strongly with your business as they line up with target audiences. Plus, by appealing to your target customers through social proof, you’ll demonstrate you’re in-tune with your market, proving you understand them and their needs.
Curology creatively gives a small snapshot of the type of customers who do — and can — use their products, using real-world examples to help potential customers identify themselves with the brand’s target.
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6. Social Proof Highlights Selling Points
Losing things, forgetting an appointment, smelling bad — there are a lot of things that trouble people. For every pain point, there’s a business looking to alleviate that consumer concern. What about your product or service meets a glaring customer need?
Social proof on your website allows you to highlight the key selling points and features of your product and identify how it can relieve consumers’ most troubling problems. Without boring or exhausting them with repetitive, overly-confident, and schmoozy digital marketing, keep things fresh by illustrating the many attractive features of your product or service through customer proof. You’ll help customers make a decision and give your business dimension.
Owlet appeals to overly-exhausted parents by featuring a third-party review assuring that their product will meet a desperate need: a full night’s sleep.
7. Social Proof Follows Consumer Purchasing Patterns
Let’s turn that old parental adage on its head: “If all your friends were buying the latest gadget, would you do it too?” Well, science says yes, it’s likely.
When deciding where to divvy their dollars, consumers aren’t taking your word for it — they need social validation from their peers (including virtual ones) to confidently make purchases. Reviews rule in the e-commerce biz.
Social proof aligns with how consumers shop, meaning your efforts to outfit your site with social evidence and customer proof have the potential to yield a massive ROI. Because consumers adapt their purchasing patterns to follow the trends and behaviors of the crowds, your business needs to utilize the enormous marketing power of previous buyers to influence those on-the-fence shoppers, effectively converting consumers into customers.
Related: How Your Online Business Can Nail Customer Service
Soliciting feedback, highlighting glowing reviews, showcasing testimonials, sharing the feedback of happy customers — these and other tactics appeal to the proven ways that audiences buy. Think like your customers: if loads of satisfied customers put forth the effort to leave a review of your product, it must be good. And let’s face it — these days, customers aren’t buying anything without even glancing at some of those reviews.
By employing social proof, you’re working with the psychology of sales and proving your business’ virtual street-smarts.
In a unique, engaging way, Postmark showcases customer satisfaction by using an impactful rating element on their site, proving they know the power of reviews in customer buying patterns.
8. Social Proof Builds Your Brand Image
It’s good to have a successful, growing business. But you want more; namely, a strong, positive brand image. Social proof can elevate your influence by spreading that all-important virtual word-of-mouth and increasing your visibility. Be a well-respected, well-known, and high-sales leader in your field by establishing your business as an authority through social validation.
Slack helps brand visibility by showcasing its high-profile users and success stories. With the virtual name-drop of other prominent brands, they elevate themselves to a highly-influential and well-respected brand image.
9. Social Proof Creates User-Generated Content
Every website owner knows content is king. As a business owner, you need content to incentivize consumers to come to you and care about your brand and offerings.
With social proof, your customers supply valuable content that you can promote on your site to grow traffic and increase engagement. Doing the work to solicit reviews, customer stories, and press coverage provides you with useful content that can fill company blog posts, draw eyes, and give you fodder for your sales funnels.
Customer testimonial videos provide great shareable content for Amazon Services.
Your Mission: Increase Conversions with Positive Reviews
We love our customers — and they’ve got some nice things to say about us! We proudly display our reviews so that potential Dreamhost users can read the IRL experiences of those who use our services.
Now that you’re convinced of the importance of social proof, you’re going to need a website to display those five-star reviews proudly. We’d recommend starting with DreamHost’s Shared Hosting — the easiest way to get everything you need to thrive on the web. And with plans starting at just $2.59 per month, building social proof for your brand won’t break the bank. Need a second (or third) opinion? Read what our customers have to say.
The post The Power of Customer Testimonials: 9 Reasons to Use Social Proof on Your Website appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
WooCommerce is an excellent tool for creating and managing an online store. However, there are some features it doesn’t include out of the box, such as a quick view option. Considering the importance of product displays for landing sales, this is a crucial missed opportunity.
The good news is that, like many such issues in WordPress, you can solve this problem without too much trouble. Using the right plugin, you can easily add a quick view option to all of your products. This makes it easier for customers to examine and purchase items – and increase your conversion rate to earn more revenue!
In this post, we’ll explain the many benefits of adding a quick view display option to each of your WooCommerce products. Then we’ll share two simple steps for doing so using WooCommerce Quick View Pro. Let’s get right to it!
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The Benefits of Including a Quick View Option for Your WooCommerce Products
In online retail, a quick view display is a popup box that shows a product’s key details. This information might include one or several images, pricing, variations, and an Add to Cart button.
Quick view displays are typically accessed by clicking a button or hovering over a product in a catalog or list view. For example, you might include quick views on your product category pages, so customers can see more information about individual products without having to navigate to their product pages.
This feature provides several benefits to your users. For instance, since they don’t have to navigate back and forth between your product lists and individual product pages, browsing becomes a lot easier. Guests can simply open the quick view display to see a product’s details, and then continue looking through the other items on the page.
Additionally, quick view displays are an ideal place to include photo galleries, zoom options, and information about product variations and add-ons. With these additions, customers can get an up-close look at the items they’re interested in from multiple angles. They can also see each of the colors or other variations an item comes in.
Finally, quick view displays with an Add to Cart button simplify the purchasing process. Customers can add multiple items to their carts without having to leave your category page or product list. This enables them to continue browsing without interruption, increasing the chances that they’ll buy more products.
Ultimately, adding a quick view option is beneficial to both you and your potential customers. Enhancing your product displays with this handy feature is a simple way to make your e-commerce website easier and more enjoyable to use.
Related: How to Build an Awesome WooCommerce Store with the OceanWP Theme
How to Add a Quick View Option to Your WooCommerce Products (In 2 Steps)
With the WooCommerce Quick View Pro plugin, adding quick view popup boxes for each of your WooCommerce products is fast and easy. Let’s look at how to configure and use this solution in just two steps.
Step 1: Download, Install, and Activate WooCommerce Quick View Pro
The first thing you’ll need to do is acquire WooCommerce Quick View Pro, and add it to your WooCommerce site. It’s important to note that you must already have WooCommerce installed and activated for this quick view plugin to work.
To get started, head to the developer’s website and navigate to Plugins > WooCommerce Quick View Pro.
Here you’ll find information and pricing for the plugin; at this time, there isn’t a free version of this particular tool. Once you’ve purchased a license, you can download the WooCommerce Quick View Pro .zip file. You should also receive an email containing your license key. Make sure to take note of this, as you’ll need it to finish setting up the plugin.
Next, make your way to your WordPress admin dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add New. Click on Upload Plugin at the top of the screen.
You can then select or drag-and-drop the .zip file containing the plugin, and hit Install Now. After the installation is complete, select the Activate button as well.
Finally, with your license key in hand, access WooCommerce Quick View Pro’s settings by navigating to WooCommerce > Settings > Products > Quick View. The first field available should be the one for your license key.
Add your license key here, then scroll down and click on the Save changes button. You’re now ready to start using the plugin.
Step 2: Configure the Plugin’s Settings to Meet Your Needs
Once you’ve installed and activated WooCommerce Quick View Pro, the plugin will automatically add a quick view display option to each of your products. However, you can also customize these displays to include the information you need by visiting the plugin’s settings.
First, you’ll want to decide how your customers will open the quick view displays. You can use a button, enable the quick view to open when a customer clicks on the product image or name , or both.
Leaving both of these options unchecked will disable the quick view displays entirely.
The two fields below the Opening the Quick View check boxes will help you customize your Quick View button with your own text. You can also choose to add or remove the button icon. Next, you’ll need to decide what information you want to include in your popups. You have the option of an image, product details, or both.
If you include images, you can choose to enable a gallery-style view and zoom functionality. Quick View Pro works great as a standalone WooCommerce gallery lightbox plugin. Both of these options are useful for customers who want to see variations on a product or get a closer look at fine details such as stitching.
If you choose to add product details to your quick view displays, you’ll also need to check the box for each item you wish to include. Your options are:
Reviews: These can provide social proof for your merchandise.
Price: An important detail for customers who are debating a purchase.
Short description: It helps to highlight features that could make an item more desirable.
Add to Cart button: A button makes purchasing fast and easy.
Meta information: This includes extra product information such as categories, tags, and SKU codes.
Once you’ve selected all the information you wish to incorporate, your quick view displays will be ready to go. You can always come back here to change these settings, and your quick view displays will be updated automatically.
By default, the plugin adds your quick view displays to your category pages and other areas where customers may be browsing through several items. However, you can also incorporate them into product pages, too.
Plus, all your quick view displays will be fully responsive for mobile shoppers. Quick view lightboxes like the ones you can create with WooCommerce Quick View Pro are especially helpful for giving customers a better look at your products on smaller screens.
Design Your User Experience
Detailed, easy-to-view product displays are essential to the success of your online store. With quick view displays, you can point out the best qualities of each of your products, simplify browsing, and speed up the purchase process. In some cases, this might even lead to an increase in sales.
Are you ready to up the ante on your WooCommerce store? Consider DreamPress, our managed WordPress hosting solution. With automatic updates and strong security defenses, DreamPress takes server management off your hands so you can focus on what you do best: selling products. Learn more about plan options today.
The post How to Add a Quick View Option to Your WooCommerce Products appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
Running a business means you’re probably always on the lookout for new customers. This can be tough online, where there’s so much content vying for your audience’s attention. Even if you’ve built a beautiful website, it can be difficult to get visitors to stick around and interact with it.
That’s where a lead capture form comes in!
These marketing gems can be used in many ways throughout your website. In particular, they’re especially useful for gathering valuable data about your leads and increasing conversion rates.
In this article, we’ll look deeper into what lead generation forms are. We’ll also discuss why you should include them on your site, and how to get site visitors to click on their Submit buttons. Let’s get started!
An Introduction to Lead Generation Forms and Why They’re Beneficial
Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably filled out dozens of lead generation forms. Some common examples include user registrations, contact forms, opt-in forms, and email subscription sign-ups. They’re the entry points to your site’s “lead capture funnel,” which means they gather the information you need to convert visitors into customers.
According to Kissmetrics, 96% of people who go to a website don’t go with the intention to buy something right away. Building high-quality lead generation forms that follow best practices can do a lot to help boost your conversion rate and turn your visitors (think of them as “qualified leads”) into customers.
Although they may seem like small details, lead generation forms are key to any site’s success. For example, getting visitors to register on your website can make them feel as though they’re part of an online community. This helps build brand loyalty that may steer them towards your site when they’re ready to purchase a product or service you offer.
Related: How to Create a Loyalty Program for Your Website (And Why You Should)
Similarly, contact forms that enable users to make inquiries about offers can streamline the conversion process. By putting you directly in touch with leads, these forms allow you to easily respond and seal the deal.
Finally, email marketing is still a highly effective strategy. Building your email list and collecting information to craft targeted content is a vital part of a successful marketing plan. High-quality lead generation forms can help with that.
How to Get Visitors to Fill Out Lead Forms on Your Website (5 Tips)
Designing a great sign-up form is only half the battle. Getting people to actually fill them out without abandoning them can be a bigger challenge! Let’s take a look at five tips for getting site visitors to follow through.
1. Offer Incentives to Attract Visitors to Your Forms
Most people enjoy receiving discounts or free products. Many are willing to “pay” for them by giving you their email addresses or signing up for an account. This makes coupons and other special offers smart ways to incentivize your lead generation forms.
Take ThredUp, for example. This online thrift store offers a pop-up for a 50% off coupon in exchange for your email address.
Some other potential incentives include free trials, e-books, online courses, or sample products. At CrazyEgg, users receive a free heatmap for submitting their website address. All are workable options as incentives you can offer site visitors in return for filling out your capture form.
2. Review the Length of Your Forms to Prevent Abandonment
Generally speaking, website users like to complete tasks quickly. Keeping your forms short and simple will likely yield the highest conversion rates. That said, you also want to gather as much information as possible about your potential customers.
Elements such as progress bars can help extend users’ patience when it comes to filling out multi-step forms. Breaking up questions into sections and tabs is also a way to make forms feel shorter.
For instance, BrokerNotes has a 46% conversion rate through their “un-form,” which provides an interactive experience for users guided by helpful breadcrumbs. It gathers a lot of information, while also providing users with incentives along the way.
3. Leverage Social Media to Promote Lead Generation
Incorporating social media might seem like a no-brainer when it comes to marketing. However, it can also boost access to your lead generation forms via tools such as Facebook Lead Ads.
Additionally, enabling users to create accounts using their favorite social platforms can increase your registration count. In fact, 77% of users think social login is a great idea and wish all sites offered it.
By shortening the registration and sign-in processes, social logins can help combat “account fatigue” and increase the likelihood of visitors becoming members. Additionally, this strategy makes it easier for you to gather information on your users, which you can then use to improve your marketing strategy.
4. Test Your Forms to Find and Fix Errors
Once you dive in and design a lead capture form that suits your goals and branding needs, you’ll want to make sure it actually works. Regularly testing your forms can help avoid a high bounce rate, incorrect information, and user frustration.
High-quality forms often follow basic web design best practices, but there are a few exceptions and considerations. You’ll want to review your content and structures for elements such as title consistency, error message language, button content, and more.
You might also consider instituting A/B testing. This process involves creating two versions of a form and trying them out to see which one works better. Just remember to be careful when setting this system up for your forms, as there are some technical aspects to consider that could cause the test to fail.
5. Eliminate Distractions and Friction to Decrease User Frustration
When users try to fill out your lead capture form, they shouldn’t feel like they’re working. The best way to avoid this is to reduce “friction” such as error messages, data that fails to load or send, and unclear instructions.
To do that, keep vital elements such as form field labels, layout, placement on the page, and even Call to Action (CTA) color choice in mind. Doing this will help point users in the right direction to complete your form.
Similarly, distractions can also cause a dip in your conversion rate. Distractions include anything that prevents your visitors from engaging in the action you most want them to take. The closer a user gets to completing the desired action, the fewer elements you should have on the page to draw their attention away from the ultimate goal.
Tools for Adding Lead Generation Forms to Your Website
If you’re using WordPress, you’re one step closer to taking advantage of lead generation forms. There are several plugins available to help you incorporate them into your site; one of the most popular is OptinMonster.
OptinMonster enables you to create popups to re-engage visitors who are leaving your site and encourage them to fill out your lead generation form. The tool also makes creating different form layouts easy. Pairing this and other tools with a fast, reliable WordPress host can improve your site’s user experience and increase your chance of capturing leads.
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Lead Nurturing to Increase Conversions
Building a client base can be challenging. However, knowing that your lead generation forms are consistently converting at a high rate can provide you with some comfort as you grow your business.
Are you ready to add lead generation forms to your landing pages? Combining these key takeaways with lead capture plugins and our fully-managed WordPress hosting plans can help you start working towards a higher conversion rate!
The post How to Get Visitors to Fill Out Lead Forms on Your Website appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
Whether you’re setting out to build your own website or plan on hiring a developer, you might be overwhelmed by the pricing options available for website hosting. In order to create a reasonable budget for your website and still maximize performance, you’ll need to conduct some research first.
Arming yourself with a broad selection of hosting information and pricing levels will help you confidently pick a web host that suits your needs. Additionally, knowing the basic benefits that come with managed versus unmanaged hosting and the different options available is an important step towards building a great website.
In this article, we’ll take a look at three different kinds of web hosting services and discuss how much you should expect to pay for them. Let’s get started!
The Costs Involved in Starting a New Website
When it comes to getting a new website off the ground, you can do so for next to nothing. However, there will likely be some costs to keep in mind as you plan to launch your site.
Let’s look at WordPress, for example. The software itself is open-source and won’t cost a cent. Still, you’ll need to consider the following costs:
Domain name. Depending on what name you’re hoping to score, domain pricing can have a wide range. For a standard .com name, however, you’ll need to plan for anywhere between $10 to $50 per year.
Premium themes or plugins. If you want full control over all aspects of your site, you may need to consider a budget for premium plugins and themes. The extra cost is often worth it if you’re looking to set yourself apart from competitors.
Web hosting. Hosting is required to get your site online and, in most cases, will involve a monthly fee that can vary significantly.
Your hosting service is the highest non-optional cost you’ll need to worry about. That’s why we’ll spend the rest of this article providing the information you need to make an informed hosting decision.
Related: How to Start a WordPress Site in 5 Minutes
How Much Does Website Hosting Cost? (3 Types of Plans)
There are several types of web hosting, and costs can range from less than $5 per month to hundreds of dollars per month. To help you cut through the clutter, we’re going to look at the three major categories of web hosting services you’ll want to consider in your search.
1. Shared Hosting
The first and most popular kind of hosting is shared hosting. This variety is so common among web hosting companies because it’s cost-effective. Shared hosting distributes the resources of one physical server among multiple websites.
Performance and Security
Let’s get the biggest downside of shared hosting out of the way first. It’s more difficult to maintain high speeds and overall performance on this type of hosting. You can think of it like having a timeshare on an exotic island. You get the benefit of a beautiful place to relax and some very general upkeep, but it might not be available whenever you want or need it.
Since loading times can make a big difference in how people interact with your site, performance is a critical consideration. Shared hosting also requires that you stay on top of updates. If one person forgets to lock the door to your timeshare, it could ruin the experience for everyone. That also means it’s possible for security issues on other sites to affect yours.
Shared hosting generally offers very basic service levels. You can think of it as a ‘DIY’ option, where you’ll need to be ready to handle most issues on your own. This could mean you’ll not only have to install WordPress yourself, but also worry about performance and security optimization.
Not all shared hosting options are created equal, however. Your shared hosting plan may include extras like one-click installations for WordPress, guaranteed bandwidth, free domain names, and more. You’ll simply want to assess what level of support you need for your website and make sure the host you choose provides it.
Hosting prices are typically listed as a ‘per month’ rate. However, it’s also essential that you pay attention to the fine print. Generally, to get the lowest possible price, you’ll need to sign up for a longer contract length.
Therefore, paying per month is likely to cost you more in the long run than paying for one or more years upfront. Still, shared hosting at any contract length is by far the most economical and budget-friendly hosting service you can find. Despite its drawbacks, this makes it an excellent choice for small sites and blogs.
The industry standard for shared hosting comes in at an average of $5 per month. You can find plans for cheaper than that, however, yet still come with plenty of features.
Here at DreamHost, for example, we offer high-value shared hosting plans starting at just $2.95 per month.
DreamHost shared hosting includes a domain name, comes with one-click installations of WordPress, and features 24/7 support when you commit to at least one year. There are also starter and unlimited package options for paying month-to-month, as well as for the one- and three-year contracts.
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2. Virtual Private Server Hosting
The next hosting option, which has also become incredibly popular, is Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting. This still hosts multiple websites on the same physical server, but each site gets its own virtually-partitioned space.
This enables your website to run more optimally and enhances security, but it’s still a very cost-effective method. VPS represents a middle ground between shared hosting and dedicated servers (which we’ll look at next).
There’s one other major factor to consider when you’re looking at VPS hosting. With this type of plan, you can opt for either a managed or unmanaged service. Managed VPS hosting will provide you with a support team that will tend to your site’s security and performance, while unmanaged VPS hosting requires more hands-on attention.
Performance and Security
Let’s revisit our timeshare. When you go with a VPS plan, you are ensuring that you can reserve whatever dates you want in your exotic beach house. Plus, it will be clean and ready to go when you get there.
VPS hosting can guarantee better page loading speeds and less downtime, as every website gets its own dedicated set of resources. Also, since each site is kept separate, it’s unlikely that security threats to other sites will affect yours.
If you opt for a managed VPS plan in particular, you’ll know that your server is being maintained and secured for you. Your site uptime should be guaranteed, and you’ll know exactly what kind of resources you have available (and get the opportunity to scale them up when needed).
Unmanaged VPS hosting is a lot like shared hosting. You may get a few extra perks, but you won’t have a lot of help managing your website or server.
On the other hand, a managed hosting plan provides you with a safety net. You’ll have a team of technicians and support staff who will be looking out for the security and functionality of your site and server. The exact services you get can vary, but often, your web hosting provider will work hard to make sure your website is optimized and up-to-date at all times.
Managed hosting is an excellent option if you have a growing website, but are not ready to invest in your own hardware or an IT team to manage everything. You can get excellent results with little to no technical know-how.
Once you decide whether you want to go with a managed or unmanaged VPS plan, you’ll want to start assessing the pricing options. As with shared hosting, VPS plans will need to be renewed either in monthly or yearly increments. For the best deal, you’ll want to opt for the longest contract (if your budget allows and you’re happy to commit for the long term).
VPS hosting will cost you a bit more than a shared plan, but it’s still an affordable option. Prices vary a good deal, but the monthly industry standard is right around $30 per month. Managed plans will cost a bit more than unmanaged plans, although they make up for it in additional features and services.
At DreamHost, we offer four tiers of VPS hosting, each with a monthly, one-year, and three-year option.
You can start with a basic VPS plan for just $10 per month or go all-in with an enterprise plan for $80 per month. Regardless of your choice, all of our VPS plans all come with free SSL certificates and unlimited websites and traffic. What’s more, these options are all managed, which means you’ll save a lot of time on upkeep.
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3. Dedicated Hosting
The third hosting service you’re likely to encounter is dedicated hosting. This is the ‘all-in’ option. Dedicated hosting, or a ‘dedicated server’ as it is sometimes referred to, provides you with an entire physical server that’s reserved solely for your website.
While your hosting provider still owns the hardware, this option gives you near-complete control over what is installed on that server and how it’s configured. There are a few more things to consider when it comes to dedicated hosting, including the more substantial up-front investment, but it’s a sound option if your site is well-established.
Performance and Security
Dedicated hosting offers a lot of benefits for certain kinds of sites. If your website receives a ton of traffic or you handle a lot of transactions on your site (such as with a small business or e-commerce website), a dedicated host might be a smart investment.
With this option, you finally have that house on the beach all to yourself. Dedicated hosting offers you speed, stability, flexibility, increased security, and lots more storage. Plus, you won’t have to worry about other websites affecting your site’s performance or putting its users at risk.
When shopping for dedicated hosting, you’ll want to know whether you are buying a solid-state or a traditional drive. Along with that, you’ll also need to decide if you want metered or unmetered bandwidth. All of these elements will impact the price of your dedicated plan.
Now that you’re investing in a physical piece of hardware, there’s more to consider when it comes to service. While you can rent a server and manage it yourself, you’ll need a lot of knowledge about server technology and programming to make that work. Even if you do have the necessary know-how, optimizing and managing a dedicated server can take up a lot of time.
Managed dedicated hosting provides the same kind of service we talked about when discussing VPS hosting plans. Plus, it adds on everything you’ll need for handling a larger and more robust website (or multiple sites). This can include a unique IP address, dedicated server backups, and plenty of support.
Just like with other hosting options, you’ll have to decide if you want to pay for your hosting month-to-month or benefit from the savings you can get with a year-to-year plan. Most dedicated hosting providers offer both. Just be sure to read the fine print to determine whether your yearly renewal includes a standard increase.
Now that you’re investing in a piece of equipment and the skills necessary to take care of it, you’ll be looking at a significantly higher price tag. Dedicated hosting prices cover a wide range, depending on how much speed, memory, security, and service you need.
The average dedicated server starts at around $100 per month, although plans at that price aren’t likely to include a fully-managed hosting package. Our own dedicated hosting is managed and still comes in at a competitive price.
If you’re not afraid of commitment, you can bag a standard plan starting at $149 per month, or pay $279 per month for enhanced features such as additional memory and faster processing. The month-to-month price range for DreamHost’s dedicated hosting starts at $169.
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Breaking Down Website Hosting Costs
Before you break out the checkbook, it’s crucial to understand all of your website hosting options. With many different kinds of plans out there, and what seems like an infinite combination of services and performance levels, knowledge is power for you as a consumer.
When making your choice, you’ll want to understand the basics of the three most common types of hosting:
Shared hosting. This is the least expensive entry-point into web hosting, although the services will be basic. You can expect to pay $5 per month or less.
VPS hosting. This can be the best value-for-dollar option. You’ll likely pay an average of $30 per month, and you can opt for the benefits of managed hosting for an even greater value.
Dedicated hosting. For top-of-the-line dedicated hosting, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 per month. You’ll get what you pay for here, so read the fine print and assess your site’s needs carefully.
Have you decided what kind of web hosting plan might be right for your website? At DreamHost, we have something for everyone. That includes superb managed WordPress hosting plans, in addition to our other shared, VPS, and dedicated options!
The post How Much Does Web Hosting Cost? (3 Types of Plans) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
OK, so the traffic is bad, the rent is too high, and the smog rolls in thick. But still, there’s a lot to like about Los Angeles. It is home to many iconic sites — the Santa Monica Pier, the Getty, the white block “Hollywood” letters, and the Walk of Fame — plus hundreds of museums and enough restaurants and food trucks to bring a foodie to paradise.
At the cutting edge in several industries, from tech to fashion to entertainment, L.A. is always drawing in new hopefuls looking for their place in the sunshine. In 2005, Brian Champlin was one of these transplants, moving to L.A. for work and finding a new home. As he and his now-wife, Christina Champlin, sought out new hiking trails, art galleries, and taco stands together, they used social media to document their adventures in La La Land — eventually building a WordPress website and “what to do” newsletter that brings the magic of L.A. out of the smog.
There’s a lot going on in L.A. every day of the week. Blink, and you’ll walk right past the best food in Chinatown, miss a beachside screening of a classic film, or lose out on tickets to CatCon. Brian and Christina’s blog, We Like L.A., curates a rundown of things to do that’s comprehensive enough to cure anyone’s FOMO.
As longtime customers at DreamHost (we like L.A. too), Brian and Christina use DreamPress to power their site and bring the best of the City of Angels to locals, transplants, and visitors.
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Falling In Love
So what does Brian like the most about L.A.? His obligatory answer: the weather. Can’t beat 284 days of sunshine or the balmy year-round temps.
“But more than that, it’s the variety of things to do and the diversity of people and cultures that make up our city,” Brian says.
“The physical geography of Los Angeles plays a big role in how it has evolved over the course of its history. It’s big. It’s spread out. The topography and climate change as you move further inland. Neighborhoods are built out instead of up. Some people see that as a drawback, but I think it’s a strength. The pockets of community and culture that have grown amidst the sprawl are what make Los Angeles unique.”
An Orange County native, Brian moved to L.A. for a job in digital marketing. Once he started dating Christina — who was born in the San Gabriel Valley and lived in L.A. County her whole life — he was pushed to get to know Los Angeles as they explored the city together.
“I think I fell in love with L.A. as I fell in love with my wife,” Brian says. We Like L.A. first started on social media, as a personal project for Brian and Christina.
“It seemed like we were always out exploring the city in one way or another,” Brian says, “So we thought, ‘Why not start documenting some of these adventures on social media?’”
Echo Park Lake. Photo by Diana Kuo.
Their posts on their Instagram and Facebook accounts gained traction quickly. “Of course this was back in the days when organic growth on Facebook was actually possible, versus the pay-to-play dynamic of today,” Brian says. “It got taken to a whole new level when we started developing our own web content.”
They moved from snapshots of their adventures to a blog, compiling lists of free museum days, L.A. neighborhood guides, and other events and free things to do in the city. Basically, they built anything they thought might be useful, figuring that others might also be interested. Creating these how-tos and guides to the city they loved drew in the clicks and provided the first hints that they had hit on something big.
“A few of our articles went viral on Facebook — thousands of shares, hundreds of comments — and that really fast-tracked our readership growth,” Brian says. “We went from having a few thousand people reading the blog to literally hundreds of thousands of monthly readers after just a few months. We’ve been able to keep up that level of traffic ever since.”
Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Your Website and Increasing Traffic
Bread and Butter
Millions of tourists from around the world flock to Los Angeles each year — and you can bet most of them are Googling “What to do in L.A.?” While search results may bring tourists to the We Like L.A. website and YouTube channel and help them plan unique trips that bring them to the center of the city’s unique culture, Brian and Christina create their content with a different audience in mind.
“Our bread and butter are things to do in L.A.,” Brian says. “But we aim to create content that’s going to appeal to people that actually live here, whether it’s peeling back the layers behind a unique landmark or point of interest or writing guides that help recent transplants get acclimated to L.A.”
Their goal is to help fellow locals — especially new residents — fall in love with the city, providing guides such as a list of five hikes or 21 things to do during your first year in L.A. The foundation of their work (and what the blog is most known for) is an emailed newsletter with a list of what’s going on in L.A. It goes out (and on the blog) every Monday and Thursday with a guide for what to do over the next week or weekend. “We have about 67,000 subscribers to that service,” Brian says.
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To track down information for their website and newsletter content, “at first we were literally just picking random things or restaurants that we thought seemed interesting,” Brian says. “Christina was a huge help here, because she’d grown up reading Jonathan Gold in the LA Weekly, following his recommendations, and then developing her own sense of what was good and what wasn’t. Her taste in food is impeccable.”
Brian’s strength? Finding the freebies. “Since I’m a total cheapskate, I was always focused on finding free stuff to do,” he says. “People seem to appreciate that, though.”
As their audience and notoriety grew, people started reaching out to We Like L.A. with ideas for restaurants to check out and details about pop-ups, art walks, festivals, and more. Today they have an entire email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) dedicated to collecting tips and announcements, and it’s flooded every day with pitches, requests for coverage, and news releases. Even with the time it takes to sift through and follow up on these tips, Christina and Brian still make it out into the city to do some on-the-street exploring.
“Still, sometimes our best discoveries are just when we happen to be walking a neighborhood and spot something interesting,” Brian says.
Related: The Website Owner’s Guide to Email Marketing
Building an Audience
Building an audience doesn’t happen overnight. “And converting an audience into an actual business model takes even longer,” Brian says. “But if you believe in what you’re doing, and you’re willing to try and fail many times over, eventually you figure it out. I wouldn’t say we have it all figured out yet, but the progress from day one to now is pretty remarkable.”
As their personal project evolved into a bigger undertaking — one that could actually make money — he and Christina, whose professional background is in public relations, found themselves learning about business best practices on the fly. Their combined experience in PR and marketing were a big help, but learning how to grow and run a business themselves took some time. “On a bigger level, the two words that come to mind are ‘relentlessness’ and ‘patience.’ Maybe it seems like those traits might be at odds with one another, but really it’s just two sides of the same coin.”
Once Brian realized the potential of We Like L.A., he took a big risk by quitting his day job fairly early into the project, “even though we were making peanuts on Adsense revenue. For Christina, it took a bit longer,” he says, “but eventually I convinced her to go all in.”
For the past few years, We Like L.A. has grown enough to become their full-time gig — and they’ve pulled in others to help out as well. “Every month we contract local journalists to write stories and cover angles that we wouldn’t be able to do if it were just us, whether it’s reviewing a comedy show, previewing a new pop-up, or offering our readers a unique round-up of to-dos,” Brian says.
Angels Flight Railway. Photo by Christina Champlin.
Brian focuses mostly on creating the email and working on their videos, while Christina manages the events calendar and specializes in covering food and restaurants. It’s a true partnership, says Brian, drawing on their complementary strengths to build something readers love.
“Every day we try to move the ball forward by creating new content, telling a new story, or sharing some actionable tips for exploring L.A.,” he says. “The idea is that if our content helps people engage with their surroundings and try new experiences, and if we do it in a way that’s genuine and true to ourselves, we form a lasting relationship with the audience that strengthens over time.”
Related: Ready To Start an Online Business? 5 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs
We Like DreamHost
Brian built the blog using WordPress. He mentioned his website-building to a friend who, lucky for We Like L.A., was a longtime employee at DreamHost. Brian’s friend pointed him to DreamPress, a new product at the time.
“When you run a website with a lot of traffic, there are going to be hiccups and hurdles to overcome so you can keep things running smoothly,” Brian says. “That’s a fact of life. In the few instances when there’s been a server issue, a faulty plugin, or some other site-related issue, I’ve always been impressed by the responsiveness and helpfulness of the DreamHost customer support team.”
Managed WordPress hosting also gave We Like L.A. an affordable way to provide its audience with a great user experience, including quick loading times. This value of using a product with high performance and low cost helped get the blog off the ground. When a new business starts growing fast from nothing, this kind of service is essential.
“There are advantages, of course, if we had a dedicated server. But those costs would’ve been prohibitive when we were first starting out. I can honestly say that if we didn’t go with DreamHost, We Like L.A. might never have happened.”
A Good Way to Be
Amidst the crowded streets and celebrity sightings, L.A.’s claim to fame is the food. “It’s the best food city in America,” Brian says. His favorite place in L.A. right now is Mercado La Paloma, a food hall just east of the USC campus, on the other side of the 110 freeway.
“Gilberto Cetina Jr. is one of our favorite chefs, and he actually has two spots in the Mercado. One is Chichen Itza, which specializes in cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork — so good),” Brian says. “The other spot is a Yucatan seafood restaurant called Holbox. Honestly, you couldn’t go wrong with either one.”
Right now, the We Like L.A. duo is getting ready to bring on another full-time employee. In the meantime, there’s always “another pop-up to check out, another new restaurant to try, and many more free things to do to share with our readers,” Brian says. “Every week, I feel like I’m trying something new. That’s a good way to be.”
Feature Image: Overlooking Los Angeles. Photo by Christina Champlin.
The post We Like L.A.: Your Guide on What to Do, Eat, and See in Los Angeles appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
Building a website has never been easier, thanks to the modern Content Management System (CMS). Using the right platform, you’ll get access to functionality that can make the process much simpler. There are lots of CMSs to choose from, however, each with its pros and cons.
It’s no big secret that we’re huge fans of WordPress, and for good reason. In fact, the majority of CMS users select it as their platform of choice, which makes WordPress the world’s most popular website platform.
In this article, we’ll go over 12 reasons why we recommend you choose WordPress for your next website. We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get to it!
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1. It’s Open-Source Software
The term open-source software gets thrown around a lot in development circles, but it may not tell you much if you’re not a part of that world. For practical purposes, it means two things:
The platform is free. Open-source software is free, which means you can use it for any type of project you want, be it commercial or otherwise.
You can customize it any way you like. With WordPress, you can look under the hood of the CMS and change just about any aspect of it.
The open-source nature of WordPress is also one of the primary reasons there’s a massive community of developers creating new tools for it. Let’s talk about how else that benefits you.
2. It’s the World’s Most Popular CMS
There are millions of websites out there, and WordPress powers more than 30% of them. Every day, over 500 new sites using WordPress go live, and those numbers are only getting larger.
With such a massive user base, you can be sure that WordPress’ developers aren’t going to stop developing it any time soon. That means choosing this CMS ensures you’ll always have access to updates that make your site more secure and add new features to it.
Plus, there’s a robust community of developers working within the WordPress ecosystem. For example, there are more than 55,000 plugins you can access for free at WordPress.org.
Likewise, there are thousands of themes to choose from, which gives you full control over your site’s style. That doesn’t even include premium plugins and themes, of which there are plenty as well if you don’t mind making an investment.
Related: How to Pick a WordPress Theme for Your Website
3. You Can Use WordPress for All Types of Projects
You might have heard that WordPress is a blogging platform. That’s not technically false, but the way the CMS is built also means you can use it for all sorts of projects.
For example, you can use WordPress to grow your business, build virtual classrooms, create forums, run social media platforms, or power pretty much any other type of project you can imagine. If you own a small business, you can even set up an online store with WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin.
If you like to get your hands dirty, you can also use the WordPress REST API to feed information to other platforms. That means you can use WordPress to power mobile apps and other cool projects.
4. Learning How to Use WordPress Is Simple
WordPress is pretty easy to pick up, even if you’ve never dealt with a CMS or built websites before. Beginners are welcome! To get started, all you have to do is select a theme, maybe install a plugin or two, and then jump right into creating pages and other content.
However, the great thing about WordPress is that there are always more ways you can customize the platform. Once you get the hang of it, you can start implementing more advanced functionality to gain full control over how your site looks.
Even for experienced web developers, WordPress has plenty to offer. It provides a foundation you can iterate on more quickly, which is far more efficient than trying to build a site from scratch.
Related: 11 Best Online Resources to Learn How to Use WordPress in 2019
5. There’s a Huge, Friendly WordPress Community
We already talked about just how popular WordPress is in numbers. However, it’s also worth mentioning that there’s a thriving community of people who use the platform (and not just developers).
To give you an idea of what’s out there, take a look at WordCamps. These are worldwide events where you can sign up to network with other WordPress enthusiasts, and listen to some of the most experienced people in the field.
Likewise, a quick search will reveal thousands of online communities built around WordPress itself. That means if you ever have a question on any aspect of using the CMS, you’ll have plenty of people you can turn to for answers.
Related: How to Get Started as a WordPress Contributor
6. WordPress Enables You to Scale Your Website
One of the most challenging aspects of running a website is scaling it. The more content you publish and the more traffic you get, the bigger the strain becomes on your CMS.
Choosing a quality web host is key to scaling your website and making sure it always feels fast. However, the CMS you use also plays a significant role. WordPress, for example, powers some of the most popular sites on the web, so you know in advance that scaling won’t be an issue.
Keep in mind, though — if you want to keep your website blazing fast, you’ll need more than the right web host and CMS. You’ll also have to do some maintenance work, but the results are well worth the effort.
7. Themes and Plugins Give You Full Control Over Your Website
If you’re new to WordPress, you may not be familiar with the concept of plugins and themes. Let’s break down what both of them are:
Themes: These are templates you can use on your website to alter its basic design.
Plugins: These add new features and functionality to your site.
As we mentioned before, there are thousands of plugins and themes (both free and premium) available for WordPress.
In most cases, you’ll find there are excellent free options for whatever style of features you want to implement on your site. That is in stark contrast with other CMSs, where some of the best ‘extras’ lie behind paywalls.
Related: The Jetpack Plugin Now Comes Pre-Installed with Your DreamPress Account
8. WordPress Websites Are Easy to Maintain
One thing you may not be aware of if you’ve never set up a website before is that they require a bit of maintenance work. With WordPress in particular, you have to stay on top of the following:
Updating the CMS as new versions come out
Updating your plugins and themes whenever you have the option to
Managing your site’s comments (if you choose to enable them)
Ensuring that your website is fully optimized and secure
Backing up your site often
In practice, none of those tasks should take up too much of your time individually. However, if you want to save time, you can always opt for a managed hosting service.
Managed hosting plans get their name because your provider will take care of a lot of maintenance tasks for you. Our DreamPress services, for example, offer automated backups, website optimization, and around-the-clock support. That means you get more time to focus on growing your site, instead of worrying about making sure it’s running smoothly.
9. You Can Optimize Your Website for Search Engines
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about making sure your website gets the traffic it deserves from the likes of Google, Bing, etc.
There are a lot of things you can do to work on your site’s SEO. However, depending on which platform you use, optimizing your content for search engine results can either be simple or an uphill battle.
With WordPress, you get access to a lot of powerful SEO plugins, such as Yoast SEO, All in One SEO Pack, The SEO Framework, and more.
You don’t need to use an SEO plugin, but in our experience, they help a lot when it comes to making sure you’re not missing anything.
10. WordPress Takes Security Seriously
No CMS or website is 100% secure. New security threats are always popping up, so it’s essential to use a platform that takes online safety seriously.
If you want to run a tight ship, the single best thing you can do is make sure WordPress is always up to date. That includes the CMS itself, as well as any additional components you use (such as themes and plugins).
WordPress is always pushing out new updates and security patches, so by updating your version, you’ll be a step ahead of everyone else. If you want to secure your website even further, you can look into using a web host that takes security seriously.
There are a lot of additional steps you can take to secure your site as well, including enforcing strong passwords and implementing Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). However, all that effort might go to waste if you use a platform that’s not secure out of the box.
11. You Own Your Website and Its Content
WordPress is what’s called a ‘self-hosted’ CMS. That means you can take the software and set it up on any server you want to use to power your website.
The advantage of this approach is that you’re not tied to a single hosting platform. With a hosted platform, the provider can always suspend your account for one reason or another.
With WordPress, on the other hand, you can switch hosts at any time. You can also make any changes you want to the CMS, and you have full ownership of all the content you create.
12. It’s the Industry’s Best Option for Blogging
So far, we’ve talked about all the uses for WordPress beyond blogging. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t emphasize just how great an option WordPress is for blogs.
At its core, WordPress still has blogging at heart. That means it’s easy to publish new content, manage it, keep track of comments, format your text, and more.
Despite its ‘age,’ WordPress continues to innovate. In 2019 its developers launched the new Block editor, which completely overhauls the blogging and editing experience. With the new editor, you get full control over your page and post layouts, which can make for visually stunning blogs.
Finally, WordPress offers an excellent taxonomy system, which enables you to categorize large libraries of content. Using WordPress, keeping all of your blog posts organized won’t be an issue.
Related: 19 Expert Blogging Tips for 2019
Content Management Made Easy
WordPress has a lot going for it. These days the CMS powers over 30% of the web, and it keeps picking up new users. In many cases, people choose WordPress because it’s an easy platform to use if you’re new to web development.
However, WordPress also has a lot to offer if you have experience building websites. It’s entirely customizable, and its plugin and theme systems can enable you to build almost any type of site you’d like.
If you’re ready to give WordPress a go, you’ll want to pick the right hosting provider to make sure you get the most out of this CMS. Fortunately, DreamHost offers a great selection of web hosting plans that are tailored to WordPress users!
The post Why Should I Use WordPress? 12 Reasons to Choose the World’s Most Popular CMS appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
When you’re tackling the launch of your very first website, hosting is one of the most critical but potentially confusing aspects. Understanding the differences between various hosting types and plans is crucial for your site’s success, as well as the health of your budget.
Fortunately, when you break it down, hosting isn’t as complicated as it first seems to be. After doing just a little research, you’ll be well equipped to choose the best hosting plan for you and your website.
In this post, we’ll focus on shared hosting, a popular choice for first-time website owners. Then we’ll discuss some things you may want to consider when determining whether shared hosting is the right choice for you. Let’s get started!
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What Is Shared Hosting (And How Does It Work)?
The secret to understanding shared hosting lies right there in the name. With this type of hosting, your site shares a physical server with one or more other websites. To understand what that means and why it’s important, let’s discuss how servers and hosting work.
Every website on the internet is stored — or ‘hosted’ — on a server (a type of computer). This is how it becomes publicly available to users. When someone types a website’s URL into their browser, the browser uses that address to determine where the site is stored.
Then the browser requests information about the website from the server. The server provides all the necessary data, and the web page appears in the browser. After that, the user can interact with the site by navigating to other pages, clicking on links, filling out forms, and so on.
With shared hosting, one server stores all the files for several sites at once and is responsible for serving up information about them. This is the opposite of a dedicated server — a server that hosts just one specific website.
Since sites on a shared hosting server take up fewer resources than those on dedicated servers, shared hosting plans tend to be a lot less expensive. The host who owns the server also takes on the responsibility of maintaining it, which means less work for you. However, there are disadvantages as well, since sites can end up essentially competing for resources.
Still, shared hosting plans are a popular choice for beginners looking to host their first sites, and for good reason. The small monetary investment and lack of maintenance requirements make this type of hosting an intriguing option.
Is Shared Hosting Right for You? (4 Key Considerations)
Knowing what shared hosting is and how it works is one thing. Determining if it’s the best hosting solution for your website is another. Below, we’ve outlined four key considerations you should think about when deciding whether or not to go with a shared hosting plan.
1. What’s Your Budget, and Which Features Do You Need?
As we mentioned earlier, shared hosting plans tend to be less expensive than other types of hosting, such as a Virtual Private Server (VPS), cloud hosting, or dedicated hosting. Since you’re only using part of a server’s storage space and resources on a shared plan, your hosting provider can afford to offer lower costs.
For example, consider our shared hosting plans at DreamHost. The least expensive option starts at just $2.59 per month.
This is highly affordable, even for those who have little to invest in their website upfront. Compare this with our dedicated hosting plans.
While these costs are still affordable when compared to other hosts’ dedicated hosting plans, they’re much more expensive than shared hosting. If your site isn’t very large and doesn’t drive enough traffic to use up the disk space and resources on a dedicated server, it’s probably not cost-effective to purchase a dedicated plan just yet.
It’s also important to consider what features are available with any hosting plan you’re considering. For example, our shared plans come with a free domain, which makes setting up your site simpler. You can also add email services for as low as $1.67 per month.
When you consider the savings on these services, in addition to the low monthly cost of the hosting itself, a shared plan is by far the most budget-friendly option out there. If you don’t have a lot of money to throw at your site or you simply want to stick to a strict budget, shared hosting may be right for you.
Related: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website?
2. What Are Your Technical Skills? How Easy-to-Use Is the Hosting Dashboard?
As a beginner, it’s possible that you may not be very experienced when it comes to managing a server. With a shared hosting plan, this responsibility is usually handled for you. This is helpful if your technical skills aren’t very advanced, or if you simply want to devote all of your time to maintaining the site itself.
You’ll also want to check out your potential web host’s control panel. It will be vital for performing troubleshooting, managing billing, upgrading your plan, and other significant tasks. Making sure yours is easy to navigate can simplify your site management process and save you from a lot of headaches down the line.
At DreamHost, our clients benefit from a custom control panel.
Its navigation is intuitive and easy to pick up. Even beginners shouldn’t have much trouble learning the ropes and getting their accounts set up just the way they like.
Finally, another consideration to think about when it comes to ease of use is the plan upgrade process that’s provided by your host. While shared plans are a smart place for most websites to start, as they grow, they usually need to be moved to another (more robust) hosting plan.
At DreamHost, we offer a simple one-click plan upgrade process. It’s accessible right from your control panel so that you can reach it at any time.
Hosting is a fundamental part of running your website, and you’ll likely have to access your hosting account frequently. Choosing a hosting provider that makes managing your account and maintaining your server easy is crucial if you want to use your time efficiently.
Related: When Should You Upgrade Your Hosting Plan?
3. How Large Is Your Website, and What Resources Does It Require?
As you now know, shared hosting involves two or more websites sharing a single server. Unfortunately, this can lead to a few problems that may have a significant impact on your website and its ability to succeed.
To start, shared hosting accounts provide limited storage space. If your website is somewhat large, shared hosting may not be right for you. What’s more, other sites on your server can grow and take up more storage space as well, pushing your website to the fringes.
The same applies to your website’s traffic level. If you start getting a lot of visitors to your site all at once, it’s more likely to overload your shared server than it would on a dedicated server. Likewise, a traffic spike on another site that shares your server could temporarily put your site out of commission.
Finally, other websites on your server can also affect your site’s performance. Their size and traffic levels could lead to slow loading times for your visitors, even if your pages are highly optimized.
For all of these reasons, you may want to look into Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting plans as well.
As with a shared hosting plan, websites on a VPS share a server. However, each site has an allotted amount of space and resources, minimizing the impact other sites can have on your own. That makes it a balanced option in terms of price vs. resources.
4. What Restrictions Apply to Shared Hosting Plans?
In an attempt to prevent any one site on a shared server from using up more than its fair share of resources, your hosting provider may have usage restrictions. While they’re primarily in place to help users, in some cases they can cause issues if you don’t know what your site requires.
To be more specific, a website on a shared server will typically be subject to:
Memory limits. Many web hosts constrict the bandwidth and other resources, such as server memory, that one site can use. If your site grows to the point where it’s taking up more than its share of resources, you may need to upgrade your hosting plan.
File restrictions. In some cases, shared servers can become a security issue. If malware infects one site, it’s possible that it could spread to all the sites on the server. To prevent this, some providers place restrictions on the types of files you can upload to your site.
Spam and hacker activity. Many web hosts carefully monitor activity on shared servers for security and performance reasons. If there is evidence of spam or hacker activity taking place on your site, your host may decide to temporarily or permanently disable it.
These restrictions could interfere with your ability to download specific plugins or carry out tasks such as sending emails directly from your server instead of through a third-party provider. However, if your site is an ideal candidate for shared hosting, these limitations shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that shared hosting is best for:
Small business sites
If your site falls into one of these categories, the restrictions placed on shared hosting shouldn’t impact you significantly.
Selecting a Shared Hosting Package
As a beginner, it can be confusing to sort out all the different kinds of web hosting that are available. Learning more about shared hosting providers and how this particular type of hosting works is essential if you want to make an informed decision when purchasing your first hosting plan.
Do you think a shared hosting plan is right for you and your site? Whether you’re a small-business owner, blogger, web designer, or developer, DreamHost offers one of the best low-cost, secure, and high-performing shared hosting solution on the market.
Our robust features include unlimited bandwidth and storage, access to our powerful 1-click installer, free privacy protection, a free SSL certificate, automated backups, and an instant WordPress setup. And if you upgrade to Shared Unlimited, we’ll also throw in a free domain name and a personalized email address to match. Choose your plan today!
The post What Is Shared Hosting? The Ultimate Guide for Beginners appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
Search engines can make or break websites. Getting your site to show up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) often isn’t enough. You also have to get people’s attention, so they’ll click on your links over the hundreds of other options.
At their core, meta descriptions give potential visitors an overview of what kind of content they can expect. They tend to be just a few lines long, so small differences in the way you write your meta descriptions can be enough to boost your click-through rate significantly.
In this article, we’re going to talk about what meta descriptions are, why they’re necessary, and what elements they should include. Then we’ll walk you through five tips to ensure that your meta descriptions hit home every time. Let’s get to it!
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An Introduction to Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the snippets of text you see underneath the title within SERPs, as in the example below.
The main goal of a good meta description is to give you an idea of what the page is all about. Naturally, titles also play a vital role here, but there’s only so much information you can fit into a single headline.
Meta descriptions provide you with up to a couple of sentences to expand on your page’s content. You can either write them yourself or have search engines generate them automatically based on each user’s search query.
As convenient as having search engines do the work for you sounds, however, we strongly recommend that you write your own meta descriptions. That way, you get full control over what shows up on the SERPs and on social media sites while also increasing your chances of engaging users.
Let’s take a look at some meta description examples for a specific line of shoes. You can tell the meta description below was generated automatically, and it doesn’t give you much to go on.
Here’s another result for the same product search, this one using a stronger meta description.
It’s important to understand that meta descriptions only give you a limited number of characters to play with. On desktops, that can be up to 158 characters, whereas mobile users will only see 120 of them. Roughly speaking, that means you get about two lines of text.
Why Meta Descriptions Are Important
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about competition. You compete against every other site that appears within the results pages for a given search, each hoping to get the lion’s share of the clicks.
When it comes to the SERPs, several factors determine how many views your links get, including:
The title you use
Whether it’s a rich snippet or not
If it appears within an answer box
The position of your pages
Your meta descriptions
Out of all those factors, you get full control over three of them: your title, schema markup, and meta descriptions. It’s only logical that you should optimize those elements as much as possible.
If you take another look at the previous section, you’ll notice just how much of a difference a good meta description can make. Letting search engines generate yours will often result in descriptions that look like gibberish.
Related: SEO Trends to Improve Your Ranking in 2019
What to Include in a Meta Description
Two lines of text aren’t much, but more often than not, it’s enough to cover a few key elements. Most often, this should include:
What your page is about
How it can benefit the reader
If a meta description is too vague, then you’re not selling users on the idea of visiting your website. You’ll still get clicks, of course, but not as many as you might have otherwise.
Let’s say, for example, that you wanted to write a meta description for this article. Here’s a not-so-good example:
Have you ever wondered what meta descriptions are? Wonder no more, because we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
While it hits on the article’s primary topic, it doesn’t do a good job of previewing the page’s actual content. Now let’s give it another go, keeping in mind the fundamental elements we want to include:
Meta descriptions are key to any site’s SEO. In this article, we’ll break down why and help you optimize your own descriptions. Read on to find out more!
This is short and to the point, and we even had enough characters left over to include a simple Call to Action (CTA). It may not win any literary awards, but it will get the job done.
Related: 7 Tips for Writing Winning Calls to Action for Your Website
How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks (5 Key Tips)
At this point, you know the basics of what a meta description should include. However, if you want your descriptions to really hit home, here are five tips to help you optimize them further.
1. Use Relevant Keywords
If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the concept of keywords. Ideally, you’ll use them organically throughout all of your content, and that includes metadata such as your descriptions.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re writing a recipe and you want to optimize it for the search term “how to cook a healthy lasagna.” That’s an easy to term to work into a meta description:
Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. Let’s go over a recipe you can cook in under two hours!
Including keywords within your meta descriptions is a smart SEO practice. It gives search engines a better idea of what your content is all about. However, as always, make sure to work those meta keywords in organically. That means not stuffing your descriptions full of keywords; make your description still reads like something a human (not a bot) would write.
Related: 10 SEO Tools to Optimize Your Website for Success in 2019
2. Don’t Obsess Over the Character Count
So far, most of the examples we’ve shown you have come in well under the maximum character count for the major search engines. You want to get some mileage out of your meta descriptions, but in practice, obsessing over the character count isn’t as serious as you might think.
To build on our earlier example of a healthy lasagna recipe, you could easily expand on its description to cover more information:
Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. For this recipe, we’re substituting meat with eggplants, which means it will cook faster and feed up to four people.
That example goes over the character limit for both desktop and mobile meta descriptions in Google. In practice, it would get cut off and look something like this:
Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. For this recipe, we’re substituting meat with eggplants, which means it will cook …
That snippet still provides plenty of information, so you don’t necessarily need to change it. What matters is that you include the essential details early on, so whatever does get cut off is just supplementary information.
3. Optimize for Rich Snippets
Most search results look pretty dull — a sea of titles, meta descriptions, and URLs. However, in some cases, your results will look a bit more lively.
Those are examples of rich snippets. To create them, you add structured data markup to your pages, providing more information on what their content includes. Search engines can recognize that information and structure your results accordingly.
This practice offers two key benefits:
Your pages will look more engaging within the SERPs.
You get to add a ton of extra information to your results, without needing to count characters.
For a real example, let’s take a look at the results for “how to cook a healthy lasagna.”
Two of the top results are featured snippets. Without even clicking on them, you can see an image, cooking time, rating, and even the number of calories in the recipe.
Keep in mind that not all types of content lend themselves well to rich snippets. However, they’re pretty easy to implement, once you know how to add the right structured data markup to your pages.
4. Avoid Duplicates
When it comes to meta descriptions, there are two kinds of potential duplicates. It’s good practice to avoid both of them:
Mimicking other sites’ descriptions
Having several of your pages use the same description
Overall, duplicate content is almost always bad news when it comes to SEO. Moreover, it can hurt your click-through rate if you have several pages competing for the same search terms.
For practical purposes, there’s no reason all of your pages shouldn’t have unique meta descriptions. If it takes you more than a couple of minutes to write one, then you’re probably overthinking it.
5. Use Interesting Words
Most meta descriptions are pretty boring, at least linguistically speaking. The need to cover so much information in such a limited space doesn’t lend itself well to innovation.
One way to make your meta descriptions stand out is by using compelling language. To do that, take a look at what other websites are writing for the keywords you want to rank for. Let’s say, for example, that you’re looking for a cast iron pizza recipe.
A lot of the content will be similar, which means their meta descriptions will share elements as well. However, not all descriptions are equally effective.
Some of our favorite hits from the above example include the words ‘crispy,’ ‘buttery,’ and ‘chewy.’ There are five results here, but the first and last stand out due to their word choices.
Think about it this way — if you’re staring at that page trying to decide which recipe to follow, you’ll probably pick the one that sounds more delicious. At that stage, you don’t know how good the recipe will be, so your only indicators are the title tag, picture, and word choice in the meta description.
Search Result Focus
When you boil it down, SEO is a competition. You’ll never be the only website within a niche, so you need to look for ways to make your pages stand out in the SERPs. Fortunately, an informative, unique meta description is a great way to catch potential visitors’ eyes.
Are you looking for a hosting plan that can handle all the traffic your improved meta descriptions will send your way? Check out our shared hosting options!
The post How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks (5 Key Tips) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
Choosing a web host can be challenging — especially if you’re just starting your first website. There’s a lot of information to digest about hosting your site, and it’s easy to forget something important when you’re weighing the pros and cons of various providers.
However, if you know the right questions to ask, you can navigate the waters of web hosting without fear. There are many excellent plans to pick from. Making the right choice is simply a matter of considering your needs alongside what each service provider has to offer.
In this post, we’ll discuss why it’s necessary to determine your site’s hosting needs before you begin shopping. Then we’ll share a 15-point checklist to help decide which web hosting provider is right for you. Let’s get going!
Why It’s Vital to Identify Your Hosting Needs Upfront
There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all web hosting. Every website has different needs when it comes to storage, performance, features, and price. So before you start looking at plans, you’ll want to determine your site’s hosting requirements.
By knowing what you need ahead of time, you can narrow down your choices more quickly and avoid making costly mistakes when selecting your host. Some questions you might ask include:
How large is your website and what are its storage needs?
On average, how much traffic do you expect each month?
What’s your hosting budget?
What are your current website management skills? What might you need help with?
Apart from storing your site, what services will you need from your hosting provider?
Your answers to these questions will eliminate some hosts right away. Then, you can use the checklist below to determine if other hosting options are a smart match for your site.
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How to Choose a Web Host (A 15-Point Checklist)
There are many aspects to consider when choosing a hosting provider, and the process can seem overwhelming at first. That’s why we’ve listed out the 15 most important questions to ask when evaluating a hosting provider:
How Reliable Are the Host’s Servers?
Is It Easy to Upgrade Your Plan?
Can You Easily Add a Domain?
Are There Significant Differences in the Sign-Up and Renewal Costs?
Does the Host Have a Generous Refund Policy?
Is There a One-Click Installer?
Will Your Host Provide Email Addresses for Your Domain?
Will You Have Easy SFTP Access?
How Difficult Is It to Find and Edit .htaccess?
What E-Commerce Features Are Included (If Any)?
Can You Easily Navigate and Use the Control Panel?
Are SSL Certificates Included?
How Often Will You Have to Renew Your Subscription?
Does the Web Host Offer Easy Site Backups?
Can You Quickly Access Support 24/7?
Now, let’s dive into each question in more detail to guide you towards the best host for your situation.
1. How Reliable Are the Host’s Servers?
Performance and uptime can make or break your website. Your website’s performance influences Search Engine Optimization (SEO), bounce and conversion rates, and how trustworthy your site appears to visitors. We’re not exaggerating when we say that the reliability of your server has a direct impact on your website’s bottom line.
Any provider you consider should have an uptime guarantee of at least 99%. At DreamHost, our uptime guarantee is 100%, as per our Terms of Service.
It’s also wise to check out what performance-related features a given host offers. This can include built-in caching, access to a Content Delivery Service (CDN), and more.
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2. Is It Easy to Upgrade Your Plan?
If you’ve created a website with all the elements it needs to succeed, chances are it’s going to grow. With any luck, you’ll see an increase in traffic and conversion rates. This will likely mean you’ll have to upgrade your web hosting plan.
Related: When Should You Upgrade Your Hosting Plan?
Most new sites start on a shared, low-cost plan. As your online presence expands, however, you’ll need more resources, bandwidth, and disk space to maintain your site for all its users. A host that offers easy upgrades to a Virtual Private Server (VPS), Managed WordPress, or Dedicated Hosting plan can make this process smoother.
If you choose a host that makes it difficult to change your plan, you could find yourself migrating to a new provider just a few months after launching your site.
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3. Can You Easily Add a Domain?
As your digital brand grows, you may find that you not only want to expand your current site but start a new one as well. Alternatively, perhaps you simply like collecting domain names or you want to get into website flipping.
Whatever the reason, if you’re going to purchase additional domains, you’ll need a host that makes it simple to acquire and manage them. Choosing a provider that offers unlimited domains ensures that you won’t ever run out of space.
Related: The Complete Guide to New Top-Level Domains (TLDs)
4. Are There Significant Differences in the Sign-Up and Renewal Costs?
It’s important to choose an affordable host. However, be careful when signing up, as you don’t want to get roped into a plan that’s more expensive than it seems on the surface. Some companies will offer attractive sign-up deals for new customers. Then, when it comes time to renew, they’ll raise the price.
Make sure to look into your potential host’s renewal fees as well as the initial sign-up cost. Some difference between these two is an industry norm. However, you’ll want to keep the contrast as low as possible and avoid a higher renewal rate entirely if possible.
5. Does the Host Have a Generous Refund Policy?
In an ideal world, you’ll choose the perfect host the first time around, your website will flourish, and you’ll never need to cancel your service. However, things don’t always go according to plan.
If you need to cancel your hosting for any reason, you’ll want to avoid excessive fees. It’s also wise to choose a host that offers a trial period so that if things don’t work out in the first few weeks of service, you can cancel without penalty.
6. Is There a One-Click Installer?
As the most popular Content Management Service (CMS) on the web, WordPress often receives additional support from hosting companies. Managed WordPress plans and WordPress-related features can be especially helpful if this is the platform you intend to use.
A particularly useful feature that some hosts offer is a one-click WordPress installer.
Better yet, some hosts will pre-install WordPress for you. This can save you a lot of time during the initial setup. You can also find one-click installers for other platforms, such as Joomla and Zen Cart.
Related: What Is a WordPress One-Click Install?
7. Will Your Host Provide Email Addresses for Your Domain?
Whether you have a business site, a blog, an e-commerce store, or some other type of website, your visitors will probably need a way to get in touch. Having an email address that’s associated with your site’s domain (i.e., email@example.com) appears more professional and is easier for users to remember.
Checking out a potential host’s email services is a must if you want to incorporate this feature into your online presence.
Choosing a host that includes this service in its web hosting packages or provides it for a low cost means you won’t have to set up custom email addresses manually.
8. Will You Have Easy SFTP Access?
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) are vital tools for website maintenance. At some point, you’ll likely have to use one or the other to resolve an error, customize your site, and carry out different tasks.
Your host should provide credentials so that you can use FTP or SFTP via a client such as FileZilla. This information should be easy to locate so that you can access it at any time. Additionally, some hosts will provide their own FTP clients for your use as well.
This is a nice bonus and can be an easier and more secure option than third-party FTP clients.
9. How Difficult Is It to Find and Edit .htaccess?
For WordPress users, the .htaccess file is a crucial part of your site. It contains a wealth of configuration information that influences permalink structure, caching, 301 redirects, file accessibility, and more.
You may need to edit .htaccess at some point to resolve an error, tighten security, or carry out other tasks to improve your site. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy, since .htaccess is a hidden file.
Even if you can find the file, editing it via SFTP can be risky. It’s helpful if your web host provides a file manager for editing .htaccess, to minimize the risks to the rest of your site.
10. What E-Commerce Features Are Included (If Any)?
All websites have the same basic needs. However, if you’re running an e-commerce site, you’ll need some unique features. For instance, you’ll probably want more frequent backups and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to reach customers around the world.
A specialized e-commerce website hosting plan can help you get the support your online store needs at an affordable rate.
Some plans — including our own e-commerce plans — will even pre-install WooCommerce and the Storefront theme for WordPress retailers.
Related: How to Start an Online Store in 1 Hour with WooCommerce
11. Can You Easily Navigate and Use the Control Panel?
You’ll be spending a lot of time in your hosting control panel. Being able to navigate around your account easily can make managing your website much less challenging. Plus, you won’t have to rely on support as much when you’re figuring out tasks such as billing and upgrading.
Choosing a host that offers a custom control panel can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
Our control panel, for instance, offers clear navigation menus. That way, you can easily find information on your site, contact support, or edit your account information.
12. Are SSL Certificates Included?
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates are vital for keeping your site and its users safe. This is particularly true if you’re dealing with sensitive information such as credit card details, SSL certificates, and the like.
Adding an SSL certificate to your site is usually an additional expense. However, some hosting providers will include one in your plan at no extra cost. Choosing one of these hosts can save you a little extra money while helping to keep your site secure.
13. How Often Will You Have to Renew Your Subscription?
Many hosts require a monthly subscription from their customers. There’s nothing wrong with that model, and if your fees are low enough, you might not mind having to pay monthly. However, this option isn’t always the most cost-effective.
Other hosts will offer one or even three-year plans. By paying for a longer term upfront, you can often save some money down the line. When comparing prices between hosts, make sure to consider this.
Don’t forget that you’ll have to renew your domain name as well. This is usually an annual occurrence, although you can find options for two- and three-year registrations here at DreamHost. You can also sign up for an auto-renewal program to avoid forgetting to renew your domain.
14. Does the Web Host Offer Easy Site Backups?
We all like to think the worst will never happen to us. However, it’s best to be prepared. Accidents and attacks happen, and if you’re in a position where your site has been destroyed, you’ll want a way to restore it.
Backups ensure that you have a way to bring your site back if it’s lost. While there are many methods available for backing up a website, one of the easiest is to do it through your web host. It’s even more convenient if your host offers automated daily backups for your site, along with one-click on-demand backups.
15. Can You Quickly Access Support 24/7?
Your relationship with your web host will hopefully be a long one. Reliable customer support is key if that relationship is going to be mutually beneficial. Making sure any host you’re considering has multiple contact methods and a 24/7 support team can guarantee that someone will be available whenever you need help.
Additionally, specific support for WordPress, e-commerce, or other niches can come in handy. Choosing a host with a team that is knowledgeable about the tools you use will ensure that your site has the best support possible. For example, if you opt for DreamPress, our WordPress-specific managed hosting, you’ll get priority access to our elite squad of in-house WordPress experts.
Finding the Right Web Hosting Service
When it comes to choosing a web host, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. There are many factors to consider, and your decision could ultimately determine your website’s success or failure.
However, if you go into your web hosting search with your needs clearly outlined, you’ll eventually find the best provider for you. Asking careful questions about the quality of the host’s services and equipment, the additional features it offers, and its pricing will steer you in the right direction.
If you’re a WordPress user, that direction just might be DreamHost’s Starter Shared Hosting plan. This plan is a low-cost option that’s ideal for small business owners or those just starting out. With Shared Hosting, there’s no limit to the amount of disk space you can use for your site. Unlimited bandwidth means when your site goes viral, you don’t have to stress about storage space. Most importantly, with any DreamHost plan, you’ll be able to answer “Yes!” to each of the questions on this checklist.
The post How to Choose a Web Host: A 15-Point Checklist appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
When it comes to starting a website, web hosting is one of the most crucial yet most confusing aspects to tackle. With dozens of providers on the market, it can be hard to cut through the noise and figure out which one offers the best plan for you.
Fortunately, several signs will make it clear when it’s time to move to a new host. While they’re not so pleasant to deal with in the moment, these issues may lead you to a better service provider that can help you boost your site’s success.
In this post, we’ll discuss these signs and how to spot them on your website. Then we’ll explain how to migrate your site to a new web hosting platform. Let’s get started!
Have a website? We’ll move it for you!Migrating to a new web hosting provider can be a pain. We’ll move your existing site within 48 hours without any interruption in service. Included FREE with any DreamPress plan.Choose Your Plan
How to Know When It’s Time to Migrate (6 Tell-Tale Signs)
It’s possible you’ve been experiencing problems with your website for a while now without really knowing why. In some cases, it may be that your web hosting provider isn’t a good fit for your website. These six signs will let you know it’s time to switch web hosts.
1. You’re Experiencing More Downtime Than Usual
Any time your website is unavailable to users, it’s considered ‘down.’ Even if your site is only unavailable for seconds at a time, it could cause serious problems. For starters, downtime makes your website appear unreliable and low-quality to both users and search engines.
If your site is experiencing frequent outages, your users will come to find they can’t rely on it to be available when needed. The Google algorithm will account for this, and your search engine rankings will fall as well, hurting your site’s visibility.
Plus, if your site generates revenue, you’ll be missing out on income every time your site has an outage. If your site is down often or for long periods of time, you could be losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. When you’re running an online store, uptime truly affects your bottom line.
Web hosting is one of the most common causes of website downtime, as there are many ways in which your server can impact your site’s availability, including:
The quality and reliability of your hosting equipment
The type of server your website is on, as shared servers tend to become overloaded more quickly than other types of servers.
Your host’s security features, since malicious attacks can lead to downtime.
So, if you keep finding your website is down, there’s a fair chance your host may have something to do with it. Moving to a more reliable server is the best thing for your site in a situation like this.
2. Your Website’s Loading Speed Is Slow
Site speed is also key to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), users’ opinions of your site, and your conversion rate. It’s wise to test your site’s speed every once in a while using tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom to make sure your loading times are staying low and to fix any performance issues.
While a crowded server can certainly slow your loading times, your server’s location also plays a role in how fast your site delivers information to visitors. Servers located far away from end users aren’t able to serve them content as quickly.
An easy way to determine if this is the case for your website is to use Pingdom to test your site speed from a variety of locations. If your site loads quickly from some places yet takes a long time to load in others, you’ll know server location is causing speed issues for users in those regions.
If your host only has servers in one location and doesn’t offer a Content Delivery Network (CDN), it’s almost guaranteed that some portion of your users will experience less-than-ideal site speed. It may be worth looking into hosts with more or different locations, or ones offering a CDN.
3. Customer Service Isn’t Helpful
A solid relationship with your web host is priceless. For starters, there are going to be times when server-related errors occur on your site. In these instances, you’ll need to be able to get ahold of your host quickly to resolve the issue and get your site back up. Plus, you may sometimes have questions about billing or other account details.
However, the best hosts also offer support in other areas of website management. For example, many hosts provide troubleshooting guidance for different types of errors on your website or support for platforms such as WordPress.
If your host is difficult to get in touch with, provides inadequate solutions, or doesn’t offer support in areas directly related to your hosting account, consider switching to a new provider. While you may be able to get by without quality customer support, at some point, you’ll have to reach someone for help with a server-related problem, so you’ll want a reliable team at your back.
4. You Need More Space Than Your Current Provider Can Offer
Most websites start small and grow over time. Your current host may have been a great fit when you were first launching your site, but if your traffic levels have increased significantly, this may no longer be the case.
As your site accumulates more recurring users, you’ll need a server that can handle more traffic as well as more and larger website files. Moving from shared hosting to a dedicated server can help, but switching hosts can often provide a greater benefit.
Some providers specialize in shared or Virtual Private Network (VPN) hosting and may not offer dedicated servers. As such, if your site continues to grow, you’ll need a dedicated web hosting service at some point — so a switch may be inevitable.
Other hosts may have dedicated servers available, but still not offer as much storage as you need. Ultimately, you’ll want to compare plans between companies to see which one offers the most space for the best price.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Dedicated Hosting
5. It’s Getting Too Expensive to Stay With Your Current Host
Web hosting is a recurring expense. It’s also sometimes the largest expense associated with running a website, especially for WordPress users working with a free Content Management System (CMS) and mainly free plugins and themes.
It’s true that you often get what you pay for with hosting. However, there are also times when an expensive plan isn’t necessary. If your site is still small and not using the amount of server space you’re paying for, or if your current hosting plan comes with several features you never touch, you’re probably paying too much.
There’s no sense in breaking the bank to host your website when there are plenty of affordable options available. For example, we offer high-quality managed WordPress hosting plans for as low as $16.95 per month.
If you’re shelling out more money for web hosting than what your website brings in, you might want to consider downsizing or switching hosts to stay within your budget. Plus, it never hurts to pocket a little extra cash each month.
6. Server Security Is Sub-Par
As we mentioned earlier in this post, hosts are responsible for securing their servers. Not every provider is as diligent as they should be when it comes to security, and hackers will sometimes exploit weaknesses in your server to gain access to your site.
This can be detrimental to your website for multiple reasons, including:
The loss of parts or all of your site due to a malicious attack that destroys key files and data.
Compromised user data, including sensitive information such as private records and credit card details.
Decreased credibility, as users will see your site as less reliable if it’s hacked.
Investing in secure hosting is a smart move. Even if you have to pay a little extra or go through the trouble of migrating to a new host, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble down the line.
Some security features you may want to keep an eye out for are Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, malware scanning, and server firewalls. Of course, no matter how secure your server is, you should always follow security best practices for your site itself, too.
How to Migrate Your Website to a New Hosting Provider
If you’ve considered the signs mentioned above and determined you should switch hosting providers, you’ll need to migrate your website. This requires you to copy all your website’s files and move them to your new hosting account.
Typically, the migration process is pretty involved. You’ll have to contact your current host, back up your site files, then use Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) and a client such as FileZilla to connect to your new server and upload your files. You’ll also want to consider transferring your domain since there are benefits to keeping your domain registration and web hosting under one roof.
Related: How to Transfer Your Domain to DreamHost
As you might imagine, there are a lot of things that could go wrong during this process. For example, corrupted backups are always a possibility, and using SFTP still poses a risk to your site’s files as you could mistakenly delete some or all of them (we recommend users always have a recent backup of their site on hand).
These things considered, it’s helpful if you can get an expert on board to migrate your site for you. Fortunately, if you’re a WordPress user and have decided to switch to DreamHost, our managed WordPress hosting plans include free website migration services.
We’ll handle moving your site at no extra cost. If you’d prefer one of our shared hosting plans or have a website built without using WordPress, never fear. You can still take advantage of our migration service for just $99.
Our migration experts will get your site moved to your new hosting account within 48 hours of your request. You’ll also avoid downtime altogether, so you don’t have to worry about negatively impacting your users’ experience while you move your site and get acquainted with the DreamHost control panel.
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Switching Web Hosts
Hosting can be one of the most confusing aspects of owning a website. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know if your web hosting provider is the best one available for your needs.
If you’ve noticed these issues on your website and have decided it’s time for a change, consider checking out our DreamPress hosting plans. Our managed WordPress hosting service will provide you with the speed, support, and security your WordPress site needs. Plus, you’ll be able to use our site migration services for free.
The post Should I Switch Web Hosts? How to Know When It’s Time to Migrate Your Site appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
If you’re in the process of creating a website, either for yourself or a client, you’re likely concerned about User Experience (UX). After all, your site won’t be very successful if visitors can’t figure out how to navigate it and find the information they need.
Fortunately, there’s a handy strategy you can use to work on improving UX before your site ever hits the web. By using a wireframe, you can test drive user flows and page layouts, so you know exactly how they’ll work on your live website.
In this post, we’ll discuss what wireframes are and why they’re essential in web design. Then we’ll share six steps to help you create mockups for your own site. Let’s get started!
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An Introduction to Wireframes (And Why They’re Useful)
A wireframe is like a UX blueprint for your website. It maps out certain features of your site, such as menus, buttons, and layouts, while stripping away the visual design. This gives you an idea of your site’s underlying functionality and navigation, without distracting elements such as its color scheme and content.
The purpose of a wireframe is to maximize a site’s UX potential before it’s even available to visitors. By creating mockups of your site’s UX on paper or with a digital wireframing tool, you can troubleshoot issues before they become a problem for your users. This can save you time and money down the line.
Whether you’re planning a small one-page site, a huge company portal, or something in between, wireframing can be a beneficial part of the planning process. Unless you’re reusing a tried-and-true template with a UX design you’re confident in, wireframing could provide significant benefits to your site.
After all, effective UX design focuses on getting your site’s key functionality just right. Without a design that supports a strong, positive UX, you run the risk of higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. A wireframe will not only smooth out your creative process; it could also help promote your site’s overall success.
Related: How to Optimize Your Website with Responsive Design
How to Wireframe a Website (In 6 Steps)
Creating a wireframe can become a time-consuming process, especially if things don’t go well during the testing stage. However, taking the time to iron out UX issues ahead of time will give your site a much better chance of success down the line. The six steps listed below will help you get started.
Step 1: Gather the Tools for Wireframing
There are two main methods for creating wireframes — by hand or digitally. If you’re going with the former option, all you’ll need is a pen and paper to get started. Some designers begin with a ‘low-fidelity’ paper wireframe for brainstorming and then create a ‘high-fidelity’ digital version later.
As far as digital options go, there are a wide variety of wireframe tools available. If this is your first wireframe, or if you’re a single Do It Yourself (DIY) site owner and not a designer, you might try a free tool such as Wireframe.cc.
This simple wireframing tool keeps your drafts from becoming cluttered by limiting your color palette. You can create easy designs with its drag-and-drop interface, and annotate your drafts so that you don’t forget important information.
Another option is Wirify, a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser.
This tool’s interface turns existing web pages into wireframes. Rather than helping you draft UX design for a new site, it’s most helpful for website redesigns.
If you’re willing to spend a little money, on the other hand, you might look into Balsamiq mockups.
It boasts an easy-to-use, collaborative wireframing interface that’s great for teams and professionals who need real-time collaboration. However, it is limited to static wireframing. If you’d like a more comprehensive tool that can also be used for prototyping (which we’ll discuss later in this post), you might try out Prott.
Step 2: Do Your Target User and UX Design Research
Before you start drafting your wireframe, it’s helpful to do some research. For starters, you’ll want to know who your target audience is. This can help you determine which features need to be most prominent on your site so that visitors can find what they need.
User personas can be a helpful design tool for this part of the process. Try creating some for your potential user groups, so you have a reference you can return to throughout the wireframe design process. Personas can also help create a marketing strategy later on, so hang on to them.
It’s also wise to research some UX design trends and best practices. This can provide insight into elements such as menu layouts, the positioning of your logo and other significant branding elements, and content layouts. Users find it easier to navigate a website that follows convention when it comes to these features.
Step 3: Determine Your Optimal User Flows
A ‘user flow’ refers to the path a visitor takes to complete a specific goal on your website. So for example, if you have an e-commerce site, one user flow might be from a product page to the end of the checkout process.
Determining the key tasks users will need to complete on your site can help you create the most straightforward user flow for each potential goal. This will help maximize UX by making your website easy and enjoyable to use.
That said, it can be hard to get into the mind of a hypothetical user. Asking yourself these questions can help when you’re trying to work out your primary user flows:
What problems do you intend to solve for users? What goals might they be hoping to achieve by coming to your site?
How can you organize your content (such as buttons, links, and menus) to support those goals?
What should users see first when they arrive on your site, which can help orient them and let them know they’re in the right place?
What are the user expectations for a site like yours?
What Call to Action (CTA) buttons will you provide, and where can you place them so users will notice?
Each of these answers will suggest something vital about the way you’ll need to design your pages.
Related: 7 Tips for Writing Winning Calls to Action for Your Website
Step 4: Start Drafting Your Wireframe
Now that you’ve gathered your tools and key information for your wireframe, you can start drafting. Keep in mind that the purpose of this task is not to create a complete design for your website. You’re focusing solely on UX, and how you can create a page that is easy to navigate and understand.
To that end, your wireframe should include features and formats that are important to how your users will interact with and make use of your website. These might include:
A layout noting where you’ll place any images, branding elements, written content, and video players
Your navigation menu, including a list of each item it will include and the order in which they will appear
Any links and buttons present on the page
Footer content, such as your contact information and social media links
Your answers to the questions in the previous step will likely help with this stage of the process as well. Remember to consider web design conventions, user expectations, and information hierarchies when placing these elements on your page.
There are also several elements that aren’t appropriate for a wireframe. Visual design features, such as your color scheme, typography, and any decorative displays, should be left off of your wireframe. In fact, it’s best to keep your wireframe in grayscale so that you can focus on usability.
You also don’t need to insert images, videos, written content, or your actual brand elements such as your logo and tagline. Placeholders for these features will get the job done. The idea is to avoid incorporating anything that could provide a distraction from user flows and navigation elements that are fundamental to UX.
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Step 5: Perform Usability Testing to Try Out Your Design
Once you have your initial wireframe completed, you’ll need to carry out some testing. This will help you determine if it has accomplished its goal of mapping out the simplest and most natural user flows and UX for your site. There are several ways to go about this.
If you’re working with a team, your first round of testing will probably take place internally. Each team member should spend some time with the wireframe to see if it makes sense. Have everyone work independently so as not to influence one another, and take notes on any issues they run into.
However, there are also tools that can provide more objective usability testing for your wireframe. These tests are meant to imitate actual users, which can be particularly helpful. Just because your team of web designers finds your wireframe logical doesn’t mean that the average site user will.
UsabilityHub is a platform that connects designs with real users to give you feedback on how the average visitor perceives your wireframe.
It offers a free plan so that even small sites and non-designers can put this tool to good use. For professional designers and teams, there are also plans that provide advanced features to help with more extensive and in-depth testing.
Related: Top 6 Basic Elements of Web Design
Step 6: Turn Your Wireframe Into a Prototype
After your wireframe has undergone testing, and you’ve determined the best possible UX design for your site, it’s time to turn it into a prototype. Unlike wireframes, which are static, prototypes include some basic functionality so that you can test out user flows more realistically.
As we mentioned in the first step, it can be helpful to choose a platform that can turn your wireframe into a prototype. Prott, for instance, enables you to create interactive, high-fidelity prototypes from your wireframe.
However, if you prefer a different wireframing tool, some platforms focus specifically on prototyping. InVision is a high-quality platform that makes it easy for teams to work together and communicate about mockups.
Whichever tool you choose, you’ll want to put your prototype through another round of user testing once it’s complete. After your prototype has passed, you can get to building your actual site with the confidence that your UX will be top-notch right from your launch date.
Making Wireframes to Improve UX
When it comes to designing a website, solid UX is crucial if you want to set your project up for success. Wireframing your website before you start building pages can help you get UX right before you’ve even launched your site.
After you’ve finished designing your site, you’ll need a hosting plan that can keep up with your stellar UX. At DreamHost, we provide high-quality shared hosting plans that won’t let your users down. Check them out today!
The post How to Wireframe a Website (In 6 Steps) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
The future is freelance. Did you know? By 2020, 50% of the U.S. workforce will do some type of freelance work — and it’s predicted that by 2027, freelancers will make up the majority. Whether you work exclusively freelance or take on additional side projects in conjunction with your full-time work, you’re joining an ever-growing population of successful, flexible, untethered, and creative craftspeople.
What’s more, the innovation and growth of technology have made the work environment more fruitful for freelancers: 64% of freelancers found work online — a 22-point increase in the last five years.
And you freelance writers, bloggers, and web content writers — we see you. We know you’re out there, coloring the world with your beautiful language and lightbulb ideas.
But because freelancers must do their own marketing legwork, you need to take advantage of every tool available to you in building a prolific writing business. One of the biggest weapons in your arsenal? A relevant web presence. Forget scouring the wanted ads to find work — establishing an online presence and showing off a strong virtual CV is vital for getting seen and earning $$$.
How to put your best foot — and word — forward online? A top-of-the-class website. For writers, a killer freelance writer website is a make-it-or-break-it tool for getting you leads on quality writing gigs. And we’re going to show you how to do it. Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide (in case you want to jump ahead):
Why Having a Freelance Writer Website Is Important
How to Build Your Freelance Writer Website
Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your Website
Handy Resources for Starting a Writer Website
With a website, you can flaunt your talent and personality, create sustainable sales, build your writing portfolio, and connect with potential and return customers, building your business and financial success — all in one place.
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Why is Having a Good Freelance Writer Website Important?
You’re a writer — you know, good ‘ol pen and paper. Why do you even need a website in the first place? With a well-built freelance writer website, you can:
Showcase Your Online Portfolio. One of the most significant advantages of creating a freelance writer website is having a living, breathing portfolio that is easily accessible online. Prospective clients can access your work, and through a broad range of content, get a feel for your style, voice, and writing ability. They can view your previous work and a wealth of relevant content that will help them trust their business to you.
Increase Brand Visibility. Your website is a visible showcase of your writing ability and a crucial tool for establishing awareness of your brand. With a powerful online presence, visitors don’t have to go digging around to discover info on your offerings. Not only do you make it possible for people to find you online, but your website also helps you build likability. With great content and engaging content, visitors start to care about you and your work and will entertain the prospect of working with you. It illustrates your legitimacy as a writing professional and helps you position yourself as an authority in your field. By making your work accessible, you broaden your visibility and provide social proof which, in turn, increases your chances of getting rewarding freelance writing work.
Strengthen Brand Legitimacy. Let’s be real. Companies without a website or an internet presence tend to raise some red flags in the e-commerce ecosystem, right? Everything’s on the web. These days, a dot com is an essential requirement in the biz world. If internet users can’t find your virtual corner of the web, customers seeking out a particular product or service will instantly think: can we trust that business if they’re not online in an everything-digital age?
It’s a no-brainer that if you want to do business and market a product or service in the world we live in, potential clients need to be able to find you with just a couple of clicks from their browser. So on a very basic level, having a website helps establish your brand as a legitimate business, rather than just operating amateur or letting customers rely on what they gather from your social media presence. What’s more, the better you are at outfitting your site with great content and strong visuals, the more that legitimacy will increase and work in your favor. To bless your bottom line and earn trust from internet visitors, it’s crucial to demonstrate not only your tech-savvy web skills but also your ability to establish a professional and valuable web presence.
We know you’re wondering: Do I have to have a freelance writer website if I’m just getting started? The short answer: No. BUT — having an established site for your freelance writing (your services and a showcasing portfolio) is the best way to build a marketing funnel and establish a legitimate, cohesive, and authoritative brand. It’s a clear way to put your best foot forward and secure quality writing jobs.
OK, but hold up. It’s 2019, you say. Can’t I just use social media, like a LinkedIn company page, instead of a website to promote my writing business? Sure. But a website, even a simple one, is a good idea. With a well-established freelance writer website, you build authority as a brand, and increase your chances of getting seen by potential clients. Plus, you’ll own all the content on your site — something that isn’t always true on social media sites.
Perhaps building a high-performing and snazzy-looking freelance writer website seems like an overwhelming task. But putting in the effort to set up a website is an investment with guaranteed returns. A site to be admired — and get you hired.
Related: Want to Build a Website in 2019? Here’s Your Game Plan
How to Build a Great Freelance Writer Website (7 Steps)
Like we said, creating a great-looking freelance writer website doesn’t have to be rocket science or overly time-intensive. We’ll show you how to set up a website in seven easily-manageable steps.
1. Brand Your Business
Time to pick a name, business owner! If you’re branding yourself and marketing your skills, you can use your own name, but ask yourself a few of the following big-picture questions before nailing down a moniker:
Would you ever sell your business? Even if you’re not entirely sure of your long-term business plan, you probably have an idea if you ever intend to pass the torch on your writing business or include others’ services or products in conjunction with your business.
If you’ve entertained the idea of selling your brand one day or partnering up, don’t brand yourself with your own name. Obviously, that is unique to you and won’t transfer. Also, if your name is difficult to spell, pronounce, or remember, consider the possible confusion using your name might cost your business.
But then again, your personal name might help brand you uniquely as potential clients can differentiate you from other common-name writing businesses. So consider your options before jumping into a brand or business name haphazardly. You never know how you’ll grow, adapt, and change in your freelance writing business. You’ll want to choose carefully in order to set yourself up for long-term success.
2. Choose a Content Management System
Now that you’ve got your brand’s fancy new name tag, you need a content management system (CMS) to facilitate the creation and publication of your content on the web. The best part? You don’t have to know how to program a single line of code to use one! Take WordPress, one of the web’s most popular content management systems out there (it powers 30% of the internet!)
Related: What Is WordPress? Everything You Need to Know About the Platform
With the WordPress platform, you can create and manage your web content without the pressure of a deep learning curve — you can get a website set up with little-to-no technical know-how.
3. Register a Domain and Set up Hosting
OK, you’ve decided you want to use WordPress, and you’re full of great content ideas. Good to go, right? Well, first, you need to find your site a home on the web so that visitors can actually view and engage with your content. All those great ideas won’t amount to anything if your website isn’t available online. That means you need two very critical components: a domain and a hosting provider.
A domain is the unique web address where your website can be found. This is what visitors will type into their browser to navigate to your site (for example, www.dreamhost.com). Your domain is unique to your website and should match your brand or business name. You should also consider your choice of top-level domain — meaning .com or .blog or dot-whatever — in order to position yourself as an authority in search engine rankings. Whatever domain name you choose, you purchase it through a registrar.
Next, you need a hosting provider. Hosting companies sell unique-to-you plans that include space on a server so that your website has a place to live online. Without a server, your website won’t be available to visit. For the best chance at scoring quality gigs, you need a quality hosting provider.
There are a lot of providers out there, but only DreamHost can offer you the best of the best: one-of-a-kind features, high-performance tech, and responsive support. Plus, we make things easy: domain registration and hosting services under one roof and one-click WordPress installs. With Shared Hosting, just check the “Pre-Install WordPress” box during sign-up and boom! We install it for you.
Shared Hosting provides ambitious WordPress beginners everything they need to create a killer freelance writing website that gets them hired. Even better? Our Shared Hosting plans start at just $2.59 per month.
4. Choose a WordPress Theme
Time to outfit your website with a WordPress theme. The theme you select doesn’t just dictate the overall appearance of your site (though it does do that), but it also determines what sort of functionality your site will have. The right theme will allow you to control and customize your website to your exact specifications and niche. Browse the WordPress Theme Directory or search WordPress theme developers to find and install your perfect theme.
5. Decide What Content Your Site Needs
So what does your freelance writer website need? What are the must-have content and features relevant to your niche? Time to make a plan. While you have the freedom to customize your website according to your brand and personality, there are a few essential pages that your site should have to set you up for the best possible business success:
Homepage: An easy-to-navigate and attractive landing page that can direct visitors and potential clients to important parts of your website.
Online Portfolio: Your website should be a solid, structured way to demonstrate your skills as a professional writer. A vital feature — nay, asset — of your website is an easy-to-find, specially-dedicated portfolio section where you can showcase relevant published work and prove your capabilities as a writer.
Services: Nearly 50% of website visitors check out a company’s product or services page before any other sections of the site. That’s big. What do you offer? Give potential clients a clear and detailed description of the specific writing services you offer.
About: Don’t be a robot behind the computer screen. Demonstrate your writing chops, let potential clients and visitors get to know you, and help them get acquainted with your unique voice with an engaging and humanizing Get-to-Know-Me section. Showcase your accomplishments and passion for what you do but also share what makes you unique.
Contact: How can potential clients get in touch with you? Make your contact information easy to find and use.
Now that you’ve got your essential pages set up, you can go above and beyond to bring your freelance writer website to the next level. While you should avoid non-essentials, you can consider adding the following optional (but helpful) pages:
Clients: Name-dropping your current clients on your website is a great way to demonstrate social proof and establish your authority in the field. Think of it as a virtual word-of-mouth recommendation.
Speaker, writer, and consultant Hillary Weiss proudly displays the well-known brands that believe in her work.
Testimonials: The power of a good review cannot be overstated, especially in an online environment. Confidently showcasing positive feedback you’ve received from clients in your field about your writing services can be great fodder for snagging new clients and more writing jobs. It’s OK to toot your own horn.
Writer and speaker Colleen M. Story inspires confidence with a visible display of reader testimonials.
Blog: In addition to your portfolio, you can showcase your writing chops and your unique voice with a content-rich blog. The extra effort and value you’re providing your visitors with relevant blog content can be an investment with rich returns.
Resume: Allow visitors and potential clients to check out a bulleted list of your skills and achievements with an easy-to-view CV.
FAQs: If you want to answer potentially common questions about your work or services or provide more specific details to potential clients about what you offer, consider adding a FAQ section.
Downloads/Freebies: Making free, downloadable goodies available to your visitors on your site shows that you’re going above and beyond to offer value, demonstrating the high-quality nature of your freelance business.
Lastly, consider pricing: if you want to be explicit on your site about the cost of your services, be transparent, upfront, and confident in the value of your work. Or if you have adjust-to-fit service options, you can keep costs mum and invite interested visitors to contact you for a quote.
6. Create the Content
Time to get creating! You know the adage: content is king. Live by it. You need to fill your website with rich content to attract traffic and prove your worthiness as a business. Fill the content on your must-have pages first, then continue to provide valuable content regularly.
Of just as much importance as creating content is creating it smartly — meaning, using it to get found by potential clients. How to do that? Using keywords. Consider: what are relevant topics and search terms related to your field? Being smart about how you use phrasing and common search terms in your content will allow you to position yourself for good rankings and stronger search engine optimization. So do your research and incorporate common search terms into your content. Use tools like Google’s comprehensive (and free!) Keyword Planner to create high-traffic website content with smart keyword research and build a strong content marketing strategy.
Also, consider the tone of your content. Does it appropriately and uniquely represent your brand? Does it showcase your expertise and/or personality? One of the most marketable tools in your writer repertoire is your voice — use it smartly.
Celebrate! Toast to yourself, do a little dance, pat yourself on the back. You did it! Your website is up and running! You should be proud. We know that having something living, breathing out there on the web can be nerve-wracking. Don’t worry about your website not being perfect. The important thing is that it’s out there.
Remember, you can always perfect and tweak over time. Most importantly, people can start finding you — and you have something you can improve on.
7 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your Writer Website
When you’re starting out with your website, it’s inevitable to face a learning curve. Some things just take time to learn. You will improve over time. But guess what? We want you to succeed — as soon as possible. So we’re giving you some inside knowledge: a list of thou-shalt-nots when setting up your freelance writer website. Avoid these major whoopsies, and you’ll be one step ahead in attracting quality writing jobs.
1. Bad Visuals
Let’s talk a little science. Did you know 90% of the information processed by the brain is visual? What’s more, 80% of people remember what they see (compared to 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read.) Lastly, know that visuals help grow traffic — content creators who feature visual content grow traffic 12 times faster than those who don’t.
Not having visuals as a part of your freelance writer website is a BIG no-no. But even more, having bad visuals can torpedo your chance at building a successful freelance writing business. Judgments on a company’s credibility are 75% based on the company’s website design, so take seriously the first impression you’re making with your visuals. Your visuals should be reflective of the quality work you offer, proving you trustworthy to potential clients and their money.
To benefit from the traffic-building and engaging powers of excellent visuals, select quality images, a robust visual structure, and remember: white space is good space.
2. CTA Issues
When visitors come to your website, you want them to do something. But if you don’t ask them to do anything, they will click away and you won’t get any business. Not ideal. Even if you have kick-butt writing skills and excellent website design, having confusing, conflicting, or nonexistent CTAs (70% of small biz websites lack a CTA) will damage your chances of growing your business.
So think: what do you need visitors to do to get writing gigs for your business? Whether it’s subscribing to an email list, filling out a contact form, or viewing your portfolio of work, make sure that your CTA is visible, clear, and focused.
Elna of Innovative Ink has a clear CTA front and center — visitors know just what to do.
3. Sloppy Formatting
You’re not just a freelancer — you are a brand. As such, your potential clients expect a level of professionalism from you, so they need to see that the minute they click onto your site. Along with clear navigation, focused visual structure, and a frictionless contact funnel, your website needs to be fine-tuned, sleek, and polished.
Even as a freelancer, an entrepreneurial free spirit, you need to channel those suit-and-tie vibes on your website to gain the trust of potential clients. No sloppy formatting, no error-filled copy, or overly-casual design. Concern yourself with the details. If you want people to trust you with their dollars, you need to be professional. Not only does meticulous formatting help your site design make a killer first impression (remember the eye-opening stats about visuals?), but it helps people view you as a trustworthy business.
Related: How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Website
4. TMI (Too Much Information)
Don’t get us wrong; it’s great to be personable and relatable. A critical part of your brand’s success is your likability. You want to be a person to visitors and potential clients, not just a robot writer behind a screen.
But your website is not your online diary.
Refrain from sharing too much personal info or content irrelevant to your field. Focus your content and be strategic about what you choose to share, making it all in the aim of building your business and earning clients.
5. No Target Audience
You have a brand-spankin’-new freelance writer website and are ready to bring in traffic, and ideally, new business. But who are you trying to reach through your website? What kinds of people are you looking to attract? In simple terms: who is your target audience?
Your success is hugely determined by how you focus your efforts on building a business. If you cast too wide a net, you won’t be able to effectively target the high-quality clients that you want. So before you start seeking to build traffic, identify your target.
6. Weak Copy
You’re a writer. Skilled wordsmithing is your talent, your money-making tool, and your passion. That being said, every aspect of your website should reflect your abilities as a writer. Weak, lackluster copy will not earn you clients, build trust, or engage visitors. In fact, it will send potential clients to your competitors.
Take special, even meticulous care in making sure that your copy is strong, engaging, and polished. Whether you’re writing blog posts, articles, or landing page copy, don’t just wing it — write and rewrite, seek a second pair of eyes for outside observation, and edit, edit, edit. The strength of your copy will make or break your business.
7. Infrequent Updates
Reality check: creating a money-making freelance writer website isn’t a one-and-done affair. Just like software needs regular updates, so does your website. Not only do periodic refreshes help you out SEO-wise, but they keep things relevant and professional. Update blog content, test plugins, solicit feedback, and use site analytics frequently to adjust how it operates for maximum UX. Know that you won’t always get things right the first time — continually be looking to improve all aspects of your website.
Related: The Complete Guide to Cleaning Up Your WordPress Website
Handy Resources for Starting a Writer Website
Don’t worry — we’re not going to just throw you out to the web’s wolves without a few more top-tier tools for your burgeoning freelance writer website. Here, we offer you a well-curated roundup, a well-stocked toolbox of handy virtual resources destined to help you reach your goals.
We know we’ve mentioned this before, but a good web hosting provider can make all the difference for the success of your freelance writing business. It’s true. Not only can a reliable hosting provider help make creating content easy, but it can make the management of your website a snap, leaving you to focus on the most crucial aspects of running your writing business.
With DreamHost Shared Hosting plans, we offer you those benefits and more — including 24/7 support, high-performance tech, and budget-friendly options. Choosing a hosting provider is one of the first choices you’ll make on your journey — make it a smart choice with DreamHost.
Like we’ve said, your freelance writing business is just that: a business. And most companies out there are easily identified by a unique marker — their logo. Think about any famous company: Nike, Apple, McDonald’s — you can quickly think of their logo just by seeing the name, right? Or you’d be able to pick it out easily if you just saw the logo’s telltale visual?
Having your own logo is an integral part of establishing and building your brand. It’s essential for consistency, visibility, and growth. But don’t worry; making one that your visitors will love isn’t hard to do.
In addition to your logo, you should establish a color palette that is unique to your brand. This will help your website and materials feel cohesive and professional and can even help you grow your business by highlighting relevant sections or CTAs with specific colors. Picking your brand colors is as easy as 1-2-3, but remember to be intentional about your personal branding choices.
We’ve already emphasized how significant visuals are for helping bring in traffic and engage visitors. So where do you get professional-looking images and other visuals? Try Pexels or Unsplash for high-res, royalty-free photos, or find a photographer to take some for you. If you’re ambitious, follow a DIY at-home photography guide to snap your own for cheap. And remember, copyright rules rule, so keep things legal. Give credit where necessary and don’t steal.
You don’t have to be a Photoshop master to give your images that extra oomph. Crop, adjust, and enhance your photos to improve composition and make your website visuals a powerful tool in earning your business. Try a few simple photo editing tricks on the software of choice.
As another type of visual, icons or symbols on your website can make it easy for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for — whether it be your social media pages, your portfolio, or contact form — without even having to navigate menus or copy. They’re a universal language! Get great-looking icons on sites like The Noun Project, Creative Market, or for free on Flat Icon.
Your freelance writer website should have its own unique feel. After all, you are your unique brand. Your design incorporates not only your layout, but the style of your copy, visuals, and navigation. A well-designed website is carefully thought-out for ultimate functionality and aesthetic, and we’ve got the guide to help you make it look snazzy.
If you don’t have an eye for design, DreamHost can help. We’ve partnered with the experts at RipeConcepts, a leading web design firm, to offer professional web design services to our users.
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The Final Word
Now, we’ll reveal the results of our crystal ball reading: we see a bright (and prolific) freelance writing career in your future! Getting quality writing gigs may take some website-building legwork, but with a well-built site, you’re well on your way to new clients and a growing portfolio.
Because your success is our success, DreamHost offers you the perfect beginning-of-the-journey hosting packages to get you on your feet. Check out our comprehensive Shared Hosting plans to start taking your career to the next level with a freelance writing website.
The post How to Create a Freelance Writer Website That Actually Gets You Writing Gigs appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
For first-time website owners, figuring out which type of web hosting is right for you can be one of the most challenging parts of getting started. It can be hard to know the differences between each variety and how their features will impact your site.
Fortunately, once you break down the different kinds of web hosting, it should become clear pretty quickly which one your site needs. You can then find a top-notch provider and get your site up and running quickly.
In this post, we’ll discuss what web hosting is and then break down the main types of web hosting that are available for website owners:
Managed WordPress Hosting
Other Hosting Options for Specific Purposes
We’ll also provide some advice on how to choose the best web hosting company for your site. Let’s jump right in!
What Is Web Hosting?
Every website is stored on a server. Your site’s server is what makes it available to users on the web, and what delivers your content to them. In turn, web hosting is simply the service of storing a website — or ‘hosting’ it — on a server.
Your ‘web host’ or ‘hosting provider’ is the company that owns and maintains the server that hosts your site. These companies often provide helpful resources, support, and other services such as domain registration and custom email addresses as well.
Typically, a provider will offer a variety of plans (sometimes called hosting packages) you can choose from. These plans may encompass different types of hosting, which will often determine the price and additional features available for each one.
Selecting the right web hosting services for your site is an important process. Your server impacts your site’s security, availability, and performance. This means that choosing the wrong plan or web host could affect your site’s ability to expand and build a user base.
Similarly, your hosting company plays a crucial role in keeping your site safe and making sure it stays up and running. If your host offers poor customer support or doesn’t maintain its servers well, your website will likely suffer for it.
What Types of Web Hosting Can I Choose From?
When we speak about different types of web hosting, we’re generally referring to how a hosting provider uses the storage space on a specific server. Below, we’ll explain the most common ways websites are stored, as well as a few specialized types of hosting for sites with particular features.
1. Shared Hosting for New and Small Websites
Shared hosting is exactly what it sounds like — your website shares a server with other users. The most significant advantage of this type of hosting is that it’s the least expensive option since it provides the fewest resources and the least amount of storage space.
Your web hosting provider will manage the server for you on a shared plan, so you don’t have to worry about any of the technical aspects of hosting your site. If you’re not very experienced with managing a website yet, not having to worry about your server is helpful.
Unfortunately, sharing a server also means that the other websites stored on it could affect your site. For instance, your site will be more vulnerable to malware attacks. It could even crash if another site experiences a traffic spike that overloads your shared server.
Plus, if other sites on your server are blacklisted for spam or similar activities, your website can also be penalized. However, all of this doesn’t mean that shared hosting is a bad option in all scenarios. It’s a popular solution for new sites that are just starting out, or for very small websites.
With that in mind, if you’re brand new to owning your own website, we’d say that a shared hosting account is the right way to go. You can then work on building your site without having to invest a lot of money upfront. Our Starter Shared Hosting plan costs just $2.59 per month.
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2. Dedicated Hosting for High-Traffic Professional Sites
Dedicated hosting is the exact opposite of shared hosting. With this type of plan, you’ll have an entire server reserved just for your website. You won’t have to worry about other websites impacting your performance, security, or disk space.
Of course, good things come at a price. Dedicated hosting plans tend to be expensive, with some running up to hundreds of dollars per month. If you have a small website that isn’t going to use a dedicated server’s resources to the fullest extent, this could be overkill.
Also, dedicated hosting plans often require you to manage your server yourself. Therefore, it’s best to hold off investing in a dedicated hosting plan until your site has grown enough to warrant having its own server, and you’re comfortable maintaining it. High-traffic, professional websites will benefit most from this hosting.
At DreamHost, we provide dedicated hosting with enough space to handle any size website. Our plans start at just $169 per month and are managed, so you don’t have to worry about maintenance.
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3. Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting for Websites That Are Growing
If you’re concerned about the drawbacks of shared hosting, but you don’t need an entire web server to yourself, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) solution provides a nice middle ground. While you’ll still share your server with other websites, each site has an allotted and virtually-partitioned amount of space.
This prevents one or a few sites from eating up the shared server’s resources. It can also keep a single user from overloading your server or hurting your site’s performance. However, because it’s still a shared server, plans run much cheaper than dedicated hosting.
If you’ve had your site up and running for a while and have started to build a dedicated audience, upgrading from shared to VPS hosting can help your server keep up with your users’ needs. However, you’ll also be able to keep costs down.
Starting at $10 per month, our VPS hosting plans can handle unlimited amounts of traffic. You can easily upgrade whenever you need more storage, and we’ll manage security and performance for you.
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4. Managed WordPress Hosting for Simplified Maintenance
If you’re a WordPress user, you not only have to worry about whether your server is secure and up-to-date. You also have to manage your site’s security and perform WordPress core updates. A managed WordPress hosting plan can make all of those tasks easier.
Due to the platform’s popularity, some hosting providers have created special plans just for WordPress users. In addition to storing your site on a server, they offer other services such as WordPress updates, additional security, and automated backups. Some even install WordPress for you.
Related: The 2019 Guide to Managed WordPress Hosting
These managed plans can be available for shared, dedicated, or VPS servers. For this reason, managed hosting plans vary widely when it comes to pricing. Here at DreamHost, for example, we offer managed WordPress hosting on a cloud instance, which is much more powerful than shared. With three different managed WordPress plans to choose from, DreamHost offers robust hosting solutions for every WordPress site.
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5. Other Hosting Services for Specific Purposes
In addition to these more popular types of hosting, there are a few specialized hosting services that could be relevant to your site. Cloud hosting, for example, is becoming more and more popular. It involves storing your website on many servers, which all function together as a single server.
This arrangement means that it’s very easy to scale your website as it grows. What’s more, you typically only pay for the amount of server space you use, rather than pre-paying for space you may not fill.
The drawbacks are few, although cloud hosting can be expensive and is sometimes less secure than traditional hosting. Still, it may be worth looking into if you have a highly reputable provider and a website that is likely to grow very quickly.
You can also find hosting plans specifically your e-commerce site. For example, our WooCommerce plans come with WordPress and WooCommerce pre-installed. We also offer WooCommerce-specific support, so you can get an e-commerce website up and running quickly.
E-commerce hosting plans, including ours, are typically configured for optimal security and uptime to make sure your online store is available and safe for your customers. They’re similar to managed WordPress plans but focus on additional features that appeal to online retailers.
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How Do I Choose the Right Type of Hosting for My Site?
Even when you know what all the options are, choosing the right hosting plan isn’t always that straightforward. Generally speaking, when selecting a web hosting plan and provider, there are five things you’ll need to consider.
The first is the features available on each plan you’re considering. This includes hosting services such as the amount of storage and traffic levels your server can handle, as well as additional features like those available with a managed WordPress or e-commerce plan.
Customer support is another critical aspect to think about. Your relationship with your hosting provider will likely be a long one. You’ll want a host who’s available to help you fix server-related errors on your site, as well as provide specific help with your server, website, or WordPress installation.
Additionally, you should look into your potential host’s server performance. Being able to serve your site’s content quickly is critical to maintaining a successful website. You can run performance tests or look for others’ test results, and note if the provider offers performance-related features such as caching and Content Delivery Network (CDN) access.
Ease of use will also likely factor into your decision. A hosting company with an easy-to-use control panel will help you manage your hosting account and website more easily. Plus, plans that make WordPress installation simple or handle it for you can save some time when it comes to getting your site running.
Finally, you’ll need to think about price. The rest of these considerations don’t matter if you can’t afford a particular option. Starting with a shared plan and upgrading down the line can help to keep your budget in check. It’s also wise to shop around and see which hosts offer the best price for a similar feature set.
The Right Web Hosting Company for Your Site
Hosting is one of the more complex aspects of creating a new website. However, learning about the different types that are available can help you make an informed decision. In this post, we examined five types of hosting that website owners can consider:
Shared hosting for new and small websites.
Dedicated hosting for high-traffic professional sites.
VPS hosting for websites that are growing.
Managed WordPress hosting for simplified maintenance.
Other hosting options for specific purposes (such as cloud or e-commerce hosting).
Are you interested in reliable hosting for your website? DreamHost plans are an affordable solution and include performance and security management features. Check out our hosting packages today. We have a feeling DreamHost could be the right hosting company for you!
The post What Kind of Hosting Do I Need for My Website? appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
It was 2 a.m. in Paris, and 7-year-old Ava Bailey-Klugh was wide awake. Jet lag is hard, especially when you’re too young to understand why an entire country is sleeping when your circadian clock says it’s time to play.
And it’s also hard when you’re the parent of said bright-eyed 7-year-old. Ava’s exhausted dad Jon Bailey sat up with her in the hotel while the rest of the family slept. Father and daughter marked time together until just before 5 a.m. when Bailey escorted his little early bird to the bakery across the street in search of the day’s first batch of pain au chocolat.
It’s these one-on-one moments that kept Bailey and his husband, Triton Klugh, braving the perils of traveling abroad with children since their daughters — Ava and Sophia, now 15 and 17 — were young.
“When you travel long distances with your kids, there’s a lot of focus time,” Klugh says. “You’re on a plane with them, waiting in lines with them, and you have nothing to do but talk and interact. It’s really bonding to get to know your kid better and experience new things together. I’ve found that to be really valuable — you don’t get a lot of that during the day-to-day when you’re so distracted by everything else.”
This family of four, based in San Diego, has seen the world together from Istanbul to Puerto Vallarta to London. Exposing their kids to history and culture — with plenty of adventure and beachside luxury thrown in — has been a key part of their parenting. “We wanted to be with them and not leave them at home and do all these things without them,” Bailey says. “After all, we had worked really hard to become a family.”
For the past three years, Bailey and Klugh have been documenting their adventures on a travel blog, 2 Dads With Baggage. With the help of a Virtual Private Server (VPS) from DreamHost, they’ve found a reliable home for their site, where they share stories along with travel tips and tricks — with a focus on charting the course for other LGBTQ+ families.
Starting a Family
For Klugh, family life was always the plan. He loved growing up with his brothers and sisters, so a future with children just felt right. “I wanted a family, but being gay, I wasn’t quite sure how I would get there,” Klugh says. “I just figured that when I was financially secure, I would do it by myself if I didn’t have a partner.”
On their second date, as he sat with Bailey on a beach in Coronado, Klugh casually broached a topic that most shy away from early in a relationship: children.
“It didn’t scare me,” Bailey remembers. “But it was not something I ever thought I would do. He brought it up again, many times, but he didn’t pressure me; he let me warm up to the idea.”
Once both were ready to become parents, they started the open adoption process and were told as a same-sex couple to expect 12 to 18 months.
But just two months later, they were shocked to get a phone call about an interested birth mother, and two months after that, they brought their new baby girl home from the hospital. Soon after Sophia’s first birthday, they talked about finding her a sibling — and because adding Sophia to the family so quickly was a fluke, they started early. This time it took only five months. Having two so close in age was definitely a surprise, but a good one.
“I think any parent would tell you that having two in diapers and two in a stroller is more than double the work,” Bailey says. “It makes you cross-eyed trying to keep an eye on them at the same time, but it was super fun.”
Life With Two Dads
Today, between 2 million and 3.7 million children are estimated to have an LGBTQ+ parent with 200,000 of them raised by a same-sex couple.
But when Sophia and Ava were little, it was a novelty to see two dads parenting babies. “We would often get comments: ‘Oh nice, you guys are giving mom a break,’ like we were babysitting or something,” Bailey says. “Or women would say, with love, ‘Do you need help with that?’ assuming that a man wouldn’t know how to change a diaper or give a baby a bottle.”
Instead of taking offense, Bailey and Klugh gave these people the benefit of the doubt. Most people, they reasoned, don’t mean to be insensitive — they just don’t understand. “We choose to take it as a teaching moment,” Bailey says.
Bailey and Klugh never shied away from telling the girls how their unique family came to be, but soon Sophia and Ava were old enough to understand the probing questions from strangers — and to be teased by other kids.
When the girls were about 8 and 10 years old, “both of them were having struggles at school with kids who didn’t understand that families can be different than the traditional,” Bailey says. “It made them feel different.”
Related: How to Design an LGBTQ+-Inclusive Website
A Heartfelt Letter
One day, Sophia had enough. So she appealed to the highest authority she could think of — the President of the United States.
Klugh and Bailey were sitting at their dinner table when Sophia presented them with a letter she had written to President Obama. “She read us this really beautiful, heartfelt letter about how kids had teased her for having two dads, and it hurt her heart, and how she was happy he was in favor of same-sex marriage,” Bailey says. The letter wished Obama luck in his reelection bid, asked him how he would handle the teasing, and ended with an empathic request: “Please respond!”
In tears, Bailey snapped a photo of the letter written out in Sophia’s 10-year-old handwriting and posted it to Facebook. It went viral in a matter of hours. “It was like a tidal wave,” Bailey remembers. “We immediately started getting calls from [the] press wanting to do interviews. It was crazy!” Wanting to protect the family’s privacy, they said no to every interview request — although a reporter did pass along an address that would get Sophia’s letter directly to President Obama.
They sent it, and soon “a special delivery letter that I had to sign for was delivered to the front door,” Bailey says. “It was a personal response from President Obama; beautiful that he took the time to do that.” That letter too went viral, feeding the spotlight already shining on the family. The attention was overwhelming but also “affirming and amazing,” Bailey says.
After things had died down a bit, they agreed to appear on The Katie Couric show to express support for the Supreme Court case that ultimately made it legal for Bailey and Klugh to marry. That TV appearance was followed by an invitation to attend the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll.
The Bailey-Klughs visit the White House.
“We went to Washington, D.C. for about a week as guests of the White House; it was great because the girls were starting to understand the significance of all of this,” Bailey says. “We went to the Supreme Court building and stood on the steps, and I was able to tell Sophia that her letter was being read on the floor and that it was influencing their decision. It kind of made it all full circle for her to see how this mattered; that this 10-year-old wrote something that became really important.”
Before unintentionally becoming a poster family for same-sex parenting, the Bailey-Klughs were already bona fide world travelers. Their first big international flight together came on a trip to the European classics — London and Paris — when Ava was 4 and Sophia was 6 years old.
“They were very intrepid little travelers,” Bailey says. “We made it all in one piece, and they took everything in stride.” It all came together for Bailey when the family stood atop the Eiffel Tower, catching snowflakes — a rare sight in Paris — on their tongues. “It was beautiful and surreal,” he remembers. “Afterward, we had a snowball fight in front of Notre Dame.”
Sophia and Ava on their first transatlantic trip.
They kept traveling, hitting family-favorite destinations in Hawaii, Mexico, Italy, and Costa Rica. Bailey and Klugh soon got questions from friends, both gay and straight, about how to travel with kids and ideas for family-friendly activities at various destinations. Bailey, who had already started blogging about their experience with Sophia’s viral letter, gradually started shifting to writing about their family travels. Bailey and Klugh soon used their blog as a platform to encourage other families to travel, especially ones that looked a little different than the traditional.
“There’s a very large interest in families like ours finding places to go where we are welcome around the world,” Bailey says. “LGBT family travel experiences really resonated with people. There’s a lot of families who have kids younger than ours and don’t quite know how to navigate everything, so we also share stories about parenting our kids. It’s been kind of like a digital mentorship.”
The blog gained traction quickly, both building a wide readership and attracting sponsors. “Brands recognized that we have a voice and a connection to an audience that they want to talk to.” These interested brands opened the door to even more family travel, including a 2017 road trip to the Grand Canyon in a Kia Sorento — because, as Bailey put it, “Gays do not RV.”
The blog has also been a great creative outlet outside their day jobs. Bailey works in public relations and Klugh in graphic design — specifically, in the Halloween costume industry (yes, the girls were always kept well-supplied with princess costumes). So Bailey writes the posts and plans the content, while Klugh is in charge of the visuals: design, pictures, and video. “Our blog is very visual,” Bailey says. “We are very visual people, and the stories we have to tell require a lot of photos and video so the website was designed with that in mind.”
They’ve used DreamHost for their hosting since the beginning, now using VPS Hosting to keep up with the web traffic. “I think it was the most reliable resource; it came highly recommended by my most trusted advisors,” Bailey says. “It sort of happens behind the scenes, which is nice because I don’t have to worry about it.”
Lately, he’s been experimenting with the WordPress plugin Mapify to create a visual archive of their photos and adventures. “We are in the process of outfitting a map of the world with all the places we’ve visited, so if people want to learn about a destination, they can just click on the map to see pictures and blog posts.”
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Traveling While Gay
Despite their website’s success, traveling as a non-traditional family hasn’t always been easy. When Sophia was about a year old, her dads took her along to Cabo San Lucas, in the days before passports were needed to enter Mexico. After a wonderful trip, the three settled down for the return flight and waited for take-off. And waited. And waited.
Suddenly, armed Mexican Federal Police officers burst onto the plane and removed them from the flight. They found their luggage strewn across the tarmac and were shepherded to an interrogation room. Both Sophia and Ava are Latina; “They thought we were trying to smuggle a child out of Mexico,” Bailey says. “It was scary and insulting.” Luckily, they had the paperwork to prove they were Sophia’s parents.
The family’s No. 1 tip for LGBTQ+ families traveling abroad? Bring your papers.
“I’ve heard of other families having issues where people didn’t understand that two men or two women can be the parents of children,” Bailey says. “But I don’t think an experience like ours would happen in today’s world — that was 16 years ago, and Mexico has come a long way; the world has come a long way.” You never know though, he adds, if you’ll cross a flight attendant, customs agent, or pilot who doesn’t understand.
“I wish it wasn’t the case, but it still is; some people are not comfortable with families like ours,” Bailey says. “And we’ve never in all our travels had anyone overtly say something to us or do anything to us that was violent or insulting, but we can tell when people don’t approve by the look on their faces or the way they interact with us.”
He also recommends that same-sex parents do their research before picking a destination for family travel — in general, avoid Middle Eastern countries, where homosexuality is often illegal — and look for a more liberal neighborhood to stay in.
“Things are improving around the world,” Bailey says. He feels like they have been pioneers, increasing exposure to non-traditional families. “I feel good about being a part of that, just being visible and showing people that we are just like anybody else, just here parenting kids, doing our thing.”
Klugh and Bailey are getting ready to send their teenage daughters out into the world as they graduate from high school in the next few years. They believe traveling has brought them closer as a family and exposed their children to different ways of living.
“The world is a giant place, and there’s many different kinds of people and all shapes and sizes and cultures and languages,” Bailey says. “What’s happening here in San Diego or California or the United States is just a slice of the bigger picture. We very much wanted to raise our daughters as citizens of the world.”
Giving them the chance to help plan trips, get around foreign countries (both girls are bilingual and happily help their dads navigate in Mexico), and experience the logistics of travel has helped Bailey and Klugh raise a pair of confident, well-adjusted kids.
“Travel gives them a sense of empowerment,” Klugh says. “I want them to be familiar with travel, to know they can do it, and not be afraid of it. The other day Sophia was talking about wanting to fly somewhere by herself, and she was confident about traveling and not afraid to go to new places. It’s inspired that wanderlust in them.”
The post 2 Dads With Baggage: Adventures in Family Travel with a Gay Twist appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
Congratulations! You’ve done the hard marketing work to lead your target customer right to your product pages. They are currently reading through a product description to decide whether or not they will purchase something from your e-commerce business.
The million dollar question: will they buy what you’re selling?
The answer, in large part, depends on how much time and effort you put into your product description. It may seem drastic to weigh product descriptions so heavily, but stats show that a well-written product description is a surefire conversion tool. Here’s a closer look:
87% of consumers ranked product content extremely or very important when deciding to buy.
Millennials are 40% more likely than other adults to say product content is extremely important to their purchasing decisions.
Consumers purchasing clothing and online groceries ranked product descriptions as the second most influential factor in their decision to buy — just after price.
20% of purchase failures are potentially a result of missing or unclear product information.
The stats don’t lie. If you want to increase sales, it’s time to polish your e-commerce product descriptions.
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8 Ways to Write an Excellent Product Description
But what actually makes a good product description? In this guide, we’re giving you eight tips (along with winning examples) that provide a comprehensive look into what makes an effective product description. Let’s go!
1. Identify Your Buyer Personas
It can be difficult to write a product description if you don’t know who your target audience is. To successfully write about product features that resonate with your potential buyers, you have to know who they are.
This means you need to reference your buyer persona(s) — a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research. If you don’t already have a buyer persona to guide the copywriting on your website, the time to create one is now.
A buyer persona should answer all of the following general questions:
What is the demographic information of your buyers?
What are their interests?
What is their native language?
What kind of language appeals to them? (e.g., Does industry jargon appeal to them or turn them off?)
How do they spend their free time?
How do they find your website?
Why are they interested in your store?
If you have the luxury of big data at your hands, collect data on your current customers to also understand:
Access to this data will help you fine-tune your buyer personas. Once you know who you are selling to, it will be easier to write product descriptions that resonate well with them.
Related: How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Website
2. Focus on Product Benefits and Features
As crucial as it is to speak the language of your buyers, your buyers don’t come to your page to connect. They come to learn precisely what your product can do and how it will meet their needs and fulfill their pain points. To accomplish this, you need to write an extensive list of your product’s features and benefits.
Start with the features. For example, if you sell shoes, include size information, material, color information, the weight of the shoe, etc. Your features section should be comprehensive and tell consumers everything they need to know about what makes your product special.A list of features is a great start, but it’s only half the battle. Potential customers also want to know the benefits of your particular product. And, this is where your product description can shine.
With the shoe example, benefits would include things like comfort, flexibility, odor-resistance, wet and dry traction, etc.
Allbirds does a fantastic job showing off the benefits of their shoe without being verbose. Their advantages are spelled out in short, sweet blurbs that get right to the point.
Allbirds clearly identifies its products’ main benefits for customers.
Benefits are your main selling points, your differentiators, and the reasons why customers will end up selecting your product over your competitors. Don’t neglect clearly identifying them.
3. Stay True to Your Brand’s Voice
If your brand’s voice is professional, your product descriptions should be professional. If your brand is snarky and sarcastic, then your product descriptions should match. Is your brand funny? Be funny when writing your product descriptions.
Everyone is familiar with the hilarious Poo-Pourri advertising videos. You know, the videos that took Poo-Pourri from a $10 million company to a $30 million company almost overnight?
Poo-Pourri has a unique brand identity and tone of voice, which they stay true to even when describing their products.
Poo-Pourri stays true to their brand’s unique voice in product descriptions.
4. Tell a Full Story
Every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Unless, of course, you’re one of the writers on Game of Thrones, but I digress.
With product descriptions, the formula for good writing is no different. You need to present a complete story that engages your readers. This doesn’t mean you need to write a novel, but at the same time, your product description shouldn’t just be a list of features and benefits either.
Instead, show (not tell) your customers how the product will improve their lives. Help them visualize a real-life scenario where your product solves a problem. The goal is to create a narrative arc in which the reader is the hero and your product is the tool that enables them to succeed.
For example, check out the impressive product storytelling of Malicious Women Candle Co.
Customers aren’t just buying a candle at Malicious Women Candle Company. They are purchasing a product that promotes empowerment with a side of hustle and energy. Now that’s a product story.
5. Use Active Language to Persuade Buyers
Your mom was right; the words you use make a difference — especially with product descriptions. The truth is that some words are just more persuasive than others. In fact, experts have roadtested all kinds of language to come up with 189 words and phrases that actually improve conversion rates.
Consider these 20 tried-and-tested words recommended by David Ogilvy, the proverbially ‘Father of Advertising’:
The common theme? Persuasive words encourage consumers to take action.
Jon Morrow of SmartBlogger.com has his own list of 600 power words that will tap into your customer’s emotions, making them more likely to engage with your message.
Sample of Jon Morrow’s 600-word list
Since many companies use awe-inspiring (see what we did there?) power words in their product descriptions, it’s easy to find good examples — even for seemingly bland products. Here’s one about shaving cream from Ulta Beauty.
Ulta Beauty utilizes power words to make shaving cream seem swanky.
When writing product descriptions, take a moment to scan through your copy and make sure each word is pulling its weight.
Related: 7 Tips for Writing Winning Calls to Action for Your Website
6. Make Text Scannable with Bullet Points
Making your text scannable is one of the most critical elements of writing a good product description. Studies suggest humans have an attention span that’s shorter than that of a goldfish — a bleak eight seconds.
This means it’s essential to make your content easily digestible. The solution to packing a narrative punch in a relatively small space? Create a bulleted list.
J. Crew does this well. Customers can click on a picture to see the item of interest and quickly read the scannable bullet points for more information.
Bullet points make it easy for J. Crew customers to scan the fine print.
The more you can do to make a product description scannable, the better.
7. Optimize Copy for Search Engines
Copywriters have a unique challenge when it comes to writing product descriptions. They must persuade readers, but there’s another audience to keep in mind too: search engine algorithms.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — including identifying and using the appropriate keywords for your products — should be a critical part of your product description writing process.
The SEO world is constantly changing, along with Google’s algorithms, so what works one day might not be ideal the next. However, there are still some keyword strategies that stand the test of time, such as avoiding duplicate content and including keywords in the following places:
The keywords you use in your copy help Google and other search engines identify what the page is about. This information then used to determine how to rank your site on the search engine results page (SERP) so that relevant results to served up to people imputing related search queries.
For example, when you type “shaving cream” into Google, Google offers a list of products.
Google displays popular products when you search for ‘shaving cream.’
There are literally hundreds of shaving cream products on the market today, but these five products have the best SEO keyword strategy.
Take Cremo Shave Cream, for example. When visiting their product page, it’s clear they have maximized the use of keywords, such as shave cream and shave.
Cremo focused on incorporating keywords into its product descriptions.
Additionally, when you check out the page source, you can see the back-end (e.g., alt tags) are optimized with the keyword as well.
8. Add Images and Video
It should go without saying that a great product description must include images. If you need extra persuasion, remember that 63% of consumers believe good images are more important than product descriptions.
If your e-commerce store can afford to hire a product photographer, awesome! If not, there are lots of DIY product photography tutorials to help get you started. Of course, good photos start with good equipment, including:
White bounce cards made of foam board
Once you’ve gathered your gear, you’ll need some tips on how to actually take stellar photos. This guide from Bigcommerce provides beginner-friendly tips at budget-price: how to shoot exceptional product photos for under $50. Suggestions include:
Using a light-colored backdrop so it’s easier to touch up images.
Creating your own lightbox to distribute light evenly.
Using a tripod to steady your camera.
Retouching images before posting them.
If you don’t think a smartphone will do the trick, think again. All you need for affirmation is to take a gander at some of the DIY photographers on Instagram. Jennifer Steinkop of @aloeandglow, for example, uses an iPhone 8 Plus, the Lightbox app, and some of the tips mentioned above to create gorgeous beauty shots.
@aloeandglow Instagram account
Looking for a more corporate example? iRobot has excellent product photography on its website. The company includes at least four images and often a video (bonus!) to show consumers exactly how the product works.
iRobot’s Roomba i7 product page.
With a few clicks of a button in a second or two, consumers know exactly what they are getting when they buy a Roomba.
Another tip courtesy of iRobot: consider adding customer reviews to your product description. In addition to quality imagery, social proof can be hugely motivating for prospective buyers.
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How to Create a Product Description Template
While we’ve just outlined eight tips for writing product descriptions that really sell, it’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s because all products have different features, benefits, and selling points.
However, if you have a list of similar products and you don’t want to start from scratch every time you write a product description, it can be beneficial to create a template.
There are lots of handy product description template examples you can download from e-commerce websites. To really maximize their value, though, we’d recommended you focus on the 8 tips we outlined above. Start by asking:
What are your buyer personas?
What are the pain points of your customers?
How does your product solve customer pain points?
What power words can you use in your copy?
Do you have a unique story or brand voice?
Is your language accessible and free of industry jargon?
What are the main features and benefits of your products?
Do you have an image and video library?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can tweak your template and test it with your audience. If you find a specific template is outperforming others, then you’ve found your winner.
Your Products, Our Hosting
Ready to revolutionize the way you write product descriptions and how you display them on your website? At DreamHost, we offer low-cost shared WordPress hosting, and a variety of other resources to help you build the perfect custom website for your online store. Check out our shared hosting plans today!
The post How to Write Product Descriptions That Really Sell: 8 Simple Tips appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
Site speed plays a crucial role in the success of your website. It affects a variety of key metrics, for example, including your site’s visibility and conversion rate. Optimizing your website’s speed is clearly a necessity, but figuring out how to do it can be tricky.
Fortunately, there are several easily-accessible speed tests you can use to determine how your site’s performance measures up. Although there are several reasons your site may be slow, you can resolve many of them with free WordPress plugins and quality web hosting.
In this post, we’ll explain why site speed is so vital to your website. Then we’ll share solutions to 12 common issues that can lead to poor website performance. Let’s dive right in!
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Why Your Website’s Loading Speed Matters
These days, users expect websites to be fast. When pages take longer than expected to load, it negatively impacts your site’s User Experience (UX). This matters because any time your UX takes a hit, so does your conversion rate.
You’ll likely see higher page abandonment and bounce rates as well. To be more specific, studies show that an additional two seconds of loading time can increase your site’s bounce rate by 103 percent. Plus, just 100 milliseconds of extra loading time can cause a 7 percent drop in conversion rates.
Even fractions of a second count, so optimizing your site’s performance as fully as you can is crucial. What’s more, website speed not only influences whether users stay on your site and convert; it also affects whether or not they can find it in the first place.
Site speed is now a Google ranking factor for both desktop and mobile sites. If you don’t maintain decent website performance, your site’s visibility on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) may decrease, leading to lower traffic levels.
With your website’s success on the line, speed can’t be ignored. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a smart place to start is by testing to determine where your site stands now. You can run load time tests to see how long your users are waiting and then get to work on decreasing those numbers.
12 Reasons Your Website Is Slow (And How to Fix Them)
Once you know the current state of your site’s performance, you can start optimizing key factors that influence site speed. Let’s look at 12 of the most common problems that contribute to slow websites and discuss how to resolve them.
2. You’re Not Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) consists of several servers that are placed in strategic geographic locations. You can store copies of your website on them so its pages can be quickly loaded by users who are located far away from your main server.
There are several CDN options for your WordPress site. Cloudflare is one of the most popular solutions, as is the Jetpack CDN for images and videos. For customers on our DreamPress Plus and Pro plans, you’ll get unlimited CDN usage powered by Jetpack.
3. There’s Excessive Overhead in Your Database
‘Overhead’ refers to extraneous items in your site’s database — things like logs, transients, and other entries from plugins or themes can build up over time. Too much of this ‘overhead’ can cause database queries to take longer than necessary. In some cases, it can even cause your web server to time out while waiting for a response from your database.
Optimizing your database by removing overhead will help prevent this. Most web hosts allow you to access the database management platform phpMyAdmin via your hosting account. If you aren’t able to optimize your tables in phpMyAdmin, you can use the WordPress Command Line interface (WP-CLI).
4. Your Site’s CSS Isn’t Optimized
If you have several external CSS files, combine them into one or a few files.
Remove external CSS and use inline CSS instead.
Use ‘media types’ to specify when certain CSS files should be loaded.
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5. OPcache Isn’t Enabled
OPcache is a built-in caching engine for the coding language PHP. If you use PHP on your site, having OPcache enabled can speed up its loading and the loading of your pages as a result.
If you host your website with one of our Shared WordPress or DreamPress plans, OPcache is enabled by default. If your site is hosted using one of our other plans or with another web host, you’ll likely need to enable it manually.
6. Caching Issues Are Preventing Optimized Page Loading
Caching is when browsers store static copies of your website’s files. Then when users access your site, their browsers can display the cached data instead of having to reload it.
There are several caching solutions available for WordPress users, including using a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache.
Our DreamPress customers have the advantage of built-in caching, which is included with your hosting account.
This makes third-party caching plugins unnecessary. However, we do recommend using the Proxy Cache Purge plugin to manage your DreamPress cache.
The plugin automatically sends requests to delete cached data for a page or post after you’ve modified it. This can help prevent some caching issues that may result in slower site speeds.
7. Large Media Files Are Increasing Loading Times
Media files, such as images and videos, tend to be quite large. Optimizing them through compression can help to decrease their size and, therefore, improve your loading times.
TinyJPG is a free online tool that compresses images. There are also several plugins you can use to compress media files within WordPress, including Smush Image Compression and Optimization.
Compressing videos is a little trickier, so it’s usually better to host them externally on YouTube or another platform instead. You can then easily embed your videos on pages or posts.
Related: Guide to Gzip Compression in WordPress
8. Poorly-Written Scripts Are Conflicting With Other Site Elements
You can then investigate these files more closely to determine how you can improve them. It may also be useful to turn potentially problematic scripts off temporarily, to see how your performance scores change without them enabled.
9. Your Site’s Code Is Too Bulky
The more code your user’s web browser has to load, the longer it will take for your website to become visible. If your code is too ‘bulky’ or contains unnecessary characters and line breaks, your site may be slower. In response, you can ‘minify’ that code by removing the elements that aren’t needed.
Both plugins are solid choices. You might consider trying out each one and seeing which increases your performance test scores more.
Related: WordPress Minification: What It Is and How to Do It
10. Missing Files Are Causing Errors
In some instances, your WordPress installation may be missing files. If this happens, users will experience longer loading times as additional requests are made in an attempt to find the files. This process will eventually result in a 404 error if the files can’t be found.
The causes behind this issue are numerous and varied. Instead of trying to track down the source of the problem, the fastest solution is to restore your site from your most recent backup. This should replace the missing files with the versions saved in your backup.
11. Plugins Are Weighing Your Site Down
Having too many plugins — or even a few very bulky ones — can weigh your website down and cause poor performance. It’s wise to always completely remove any plugins you’re not using to minimize the chance that this will happen.
Additionally, some plugins can interfere with the caching of your site’s pages. If you’re using the Proxy Cache Purge plugin we mentioned earlier in this article, you can pinpoint which plugins are causing the problem by navigating to Proxy Cache > Check Caching.
12. Internet Issues Are Hurting Specific Users’ Performance
Finally, poor website performance can be due to an issue with a user’s Internet Service Provider (ISP), rather than with your site itself. Slow site speeds can result from network congestion, bandwidth throttling and restrictions, data discrimination and filtering, or content filtering.
If you notice slow speeds when visiting your site, you can run a traceroute between your computer and your website to test the connection. This should give you an idea of whether or not the problem is related to your ISP or is a more significant site-wide concern.
Lighten Your Website Load
Your website’s performance and response time are closely tied to its success, so taking every available opportunity to improve it is worth the effort. Figuring out why your website has lagging load times can help boost both its Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and UX, resulting in better visibility and a higher conversion rate.
We’ve covered twelve common causes of slow site speeds throughout this post. While ideally, you’ll want to optimize your site in all the ways we’ve mentioned, pinpointing specific areas for improvement — such as enabling caching or compressing your media files — can help you tackle the biggest issues first.
Looking for a hosting service that can keep up with your site’s performance needs? Our Shared Hosting plans are a convenient, low-cost solution that’s optimized for WordPress and ideal for new users. Check them out today!
The post 12 Reasons Why Your Website Is Slow (And How to Fix Them) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
With the rise of social media marketing and the prevalence of social networks in our day-to-day lives, having a presence on a variety of platforms is a must for your company. That means creating and managing multiple accounts, which can be time-consuming.
Fortunately, building and maintaining a company page on LinkedIn only takes a little extra time and effort. By adding an air of professionalism to your online presence and showing off your products or services, a well-rounded LinkedIn page can help polish and promote your company’s identity.
This article will explain the many benefits of creating a company page on LinkedIn. Then we’ll show you how to launch one, pointing out the important requirements you’ll need to meet along the way. Let’s dive on in!
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The Benefits of Having an Outstanding LinkedIn Company Page
As a social media platform designed to help people build their professional networks, LinkedIn is a crucial resource for any business that’s hoping to grow and expand. It can help you get plugged into industry-related news and even share valuable content that promotes your company.
When compared with individual employee profiles, a LinkedIn company page can be much more effective at showcasing your business as a whole. Of course, your employees’ profiles are still useful as well. They can act as indirect company ambassadors and help build your connections organically.
Related: 10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business
On the other hand, a company page is a useful outlet for showing off your business’ latest news, along with your specialized products or services. LinkedIn will help deliver this content to other professionals in your industry to generate buzz and business.
Another handy feature of the platform is that you can easily monitor the impact of your page. Notifications and visual analytics reports will keep you apprised of how often your company is mentioned on LinkedIn so that you can see the effects of your presence there.
Plus, this will help you create effective promotional content for your page. You can keep track of trending content to see what’s working, and use custom Call to Action (CTA) buttons to send traffic towards your website. In other words, a LinkedIn company page offers a lot of potential advantages.
How to Create an Award-Winning Company Page on LinkedIn (In 6 Steps)
There are quite a few things to consider if you want to create a company page and successfully promote your business on LinkedIn. However, with a little careful planning, it can be worth the investment of time and energy. The steps below will help you effectively plan and build your page.
Step 1: Ensure That You Meet LinkedIn’s Requirements for Creating a Company Page
One potential roadblock when it comes to creating your LinkedIn company page is that there are a handful of requirements you must meet to access this feature. For instance, you’ll need to have a personal LinkedIn profile of your own. That account also has to:
Be at least seven days old
Have a profile strength of Intermediate or All Star
Show that you’re currently an employee at the company you wish to create a page for
List your company position on your profile
Have several first-degree connections (there’s no specific number you must reach, but the more you can include, the better)
Be associated with a company email address that has a unique company domain
In short, if you’re not an active LinkedIn user already, it can be challenging to get a company page started. Fortunately, anyone who’s an employee at your business can create and manage your company page. As long as you have at least one active LinkedIn user, meeting these requirements shouldn’t be too hard.
The one criteria that might get a little tricky is providing a company email address with a unique domain. Gmail, Yahoo, and other accounts won’t work for this purpose. You’ll need an address like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fortunately, we offer an affordable solution.
At DreamHost, we provide professional email plans for creating addresses with unique domains. They start at just $1.67 per month per mailbox. You don’t even have to register your domain or host your website with us — this service is available to anyone!
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Step 2: Add Your Company’s Details to Launch Your New Page
Once your profile (or an employee’s profile) meets all of LinkedIn’s requirements for creating a company page, you can do so by clicking on the Work icon in the toolbar. Then scroll down and select Create a Company Page.
On the next screen, choose the tile that best describes your business. After that, you’ll be able to fill in some basic details about your company. Start with your company’s name and then create your custom LinkedIn company page URL. Don’t forget to add your website’s address as well.
Next, you can select your company’s industry, size, and type. You have to choose from several drop-down menu options, so you may need to pick the available choice that’s most relevant, especially when it comes to your industry.
After that, scroll down to upload your company’s logo and add your tagline. These elements are essential for promoting brand recognition through your profile.
Keep an eye on the Page Preview section to get a peek at how your company page will look. When all your information is correct, check the box to agree to LinkedIn’s terms and then hit the Create page button.
Step 3: Spruce Up Your Company’s Profile to Attract and Inform Visitors
After you’ve officially created your company page, you can start adding additional information and brand elements. First and foremost, you’ll probably want to include a banner image. This is a large image that will be displayed at the top of your page, similar to a cover photo on Facebook.
You can use the small blue pencil icons to edit various features on your company page, including your banner image. You might use a team photo, a picture of your brick-and-mortar location, a popular product image, or a relevant decorative visual.
Additionally, you’ll want to write a compelling summary of your company for the Overview in your About section. LinkedIn provides limited space here — just 2,000 characters, including spaces — so you’ll want to make every word count. Be sure to highlight what makes your company unique and better than the competition.
Then head over to the Jobs section of your page. Here you can provide career-related information and job postings.
Since many LinkedIn users take advantage of the platform’s job hunting features, this can help to boost your page’s visibility. Just make sure to keep it updated so you don’t have people applying for positions that are no longer available.
Step 4: Post Regular Updates to Generate Industry-Related Content
Now that your page is up and includes all your company’s information and some key branding elements, it’s time to start filling it with content. There are a few ways to go about this. One of the easiest is to use LinkedIn to promote blog content you’ve already created for your business website.
This doesn’t require you to generate any new long-form content, and it can drive visitors to your website via your blog. Simply include LinkedIn as a part of your blog promotion strategy, and you’ll have a regular source of content for your company page.
However, you can also include recent business news, upcoming events, and other company-specific posts to keep your followers in the loop.
This can be a smart and simple way to demonstrate your authority in your industry, promote events, and even attract more followers. Just remember that, as with a blog, your LinkedIn company page will thrive when filled with relevant content that your followers want to see and read.
Related: How to Start a WordPress Blog: A Comprehensive Guide
Step 5: Promote Your LinkedIn Company Page to Gain Followers
Your company page isn’t very useful if no one knows it exists. Especially when you’re first getting it off the ground, promotion will be vital to gathering followers. One of the easiest ways to get started is by adding your company’s location to your page’s About section.
This makes your company and job postings more discoverable on LinkedIn. Your page will be more likely to show up in searches as a result. Using relevant keywords in your page’s content can also help to increase your reach.
Another key promotional tactic is engaging your employees on LinkedIn. Invite them to list your company page on their own profiles and claim it as their place of employment. This will help you tap into their already existing networks to make connections with others in your industry.
Finally, it never hurts to promote your LinkedIn page on other social channels. This may mean including links to your company page in your Twitter bio or your Facebook About section. You could also include LinkedIn among your social sharing icons on your website and blog posts.
Step 6: Showcase Individual Products or Services on Their Own Pages
So far, we’ve covered all the basics for creating and maintaining a LinkedIn company page. However, you can take your profile to the next level and use it as a way to promote specific products or services, by creating showcase pages as well.
These are pages dedicated to your company’s products or services. They appear on your company page in the right-hand sidebar, under Affiliated pages.
You can write a description, share a link, and even post content on each of your showcase pages. If you offer a wide range of products or services, this is a way to provide targeted content for each of your audiences. In some cases, this technique may be more effective than offering generalized content on your company page itself.
If you’d like to create more traditional, campaign-based content for LinkedIn, you might also consider using the platform’s advertising options. LinkedIn ads are highly targeted and can help you reach other professionals in your industry, generate leads, attract job applicants, and more.
You have a lot of options when it comes to promoting your business on social media. With its professional audience and unique opportunities for showing off your products and services, LinkedIn can prove well worth your time.
This guide has demonstrated how to create a high-quality LinkedIn company page in just six steps:
Ensure that you meet LinkedIn’s requirements for creating a company page.
Add your company’s details to launch your new page.
Spruce up your company’s profile to attract and inform visitors.
Post regular updates to generate industry-related content.
Promote your LinkedIn company page to gain followers.
Showcase individual products or services on their own pages.
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The post How to Create a Company Page on LinkedIn to Promote Your Small Business appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
Think you hate history? You’re probably wrong, says Jamie Jeffers, founder of The British History Podcast.
The problem, he says, isn’t that history is dry or boring — the problem is that it is taught that way, with rote memorization and little relevance to the modern world.
“People are people,” Jeffers says. The stories of history, even ancient history, “are relevant and compelling on their own. They are only made irrelevant by poor storytellers who forget that simple truth — that history is the story of humanity. It’s about all of us.”
With his podcast, which has been in production for almost a decade and has cultivated a loyal fan base over hundreds of episodes, Jeffers tells the stories of British history by tapping into that humanity. In his chronological retelling, you won’t hear lists of names, treaties, and battles, but rather tales of the cultural underpinnings behind the actions of kings and the day-to-day lives of the people of Britain.
In Jeffer’s words, it was a happy convergence of “transatlantic immigration, global financial collapse, and ancient human traditions” that took him from unemployed lawyer to full-time podcaster creating the ultimate passion project, one that draws on his own personal history, builds his future, and connects us all to the past.
Related: Step-by-Step Guide: How to Start a Podcast With WordPress
History Through Storytelling
It’s all his grandfather’s fault, Jeffers says.
Jeffers, who moved to the US from the UK when he was a kid, learned the history of his homeland from his grandfather, who wanted to make sure young Jeffers heard stories of his ancestors alongside his American education.
“He took it upon himself to teach me what he knew about British History as I was growing up,” Jeffers says. “He was an amazing storyteller, and so my first experience with history was through hearing about amazing events and figures. It was learning history as people traditionally taught it, as an oral history.”
His grandfather’s storytelling taught Jeffers to love history — at least until he actually studied the subject in school.
“I went to high school, and history was suddenly reduced to memorizing dates and names for a test,” Jeffers says. “No context, no nuance, no wonder at our shared past. It was such a disappointing experience that I lost interest in the study of history.”
Eventually, Jeffers went on to study English in college and then become a lawyer. For the most part, Jeffers tabled his interest in history — that is, until the recession forced it back into his life.
Global Financial Collapse
The 2008 financial crisis wasn’t kind to most people — Jeffers included. As money got tight, he looked around for cheap sources of entertainment, leading him straight into the world of podcasting.
“The first show I found was The Memory Palace, which is still going, and it became a regular companion when I was at the gym or taking my dog, Kerouac, for a walk. The host, Nate DiMeo, couldn’t have known it, but the way he talked about little odd stories from history made me feel like I was reconnecting with part of my childhood.”
But a search for podcasts about British history was disappointing, to say the least. It brought him to a “show that was done by a guy who seemed to be reading random entries off Wikipedia. Incorrect entries, for that matter.” Back in those pre-Serial days, podcasting was a new thing — it was “pretty punk rock,” he says. “Few people knew about it, and even fewer people did it, which meant that many topics weren’t being covered and those that were weren’t being covered well. Quality was definitely a problem.”
Jeffers did find a history show or two but occasionally found himself wishing for a good podcast that took on a chronological history of Britain.
Then one day the financial collapse hit closer to home, and Jeffers lost his job as an attorney.
“The part that people rarely talk about with unemployment is how boring it is,” he says. “So I decided that any time that I wasn’t job searching would go towards making that show I always wanted.”
The podcast launched with its first season in May 2011, beginning with the Ice Age and prehistoric Britannia and moving into the Roman conquest of Britain. At first, Jeffers’ vision was nothing more than a fun hobby that only his parents would listen to.
“Eight years later, it’s my life’s work,” Jeffers says. “Oh, and my parents still don’t listen to it. But a lot of other people do.”
Today, the podcast boasts more than 3,000 reviews on iTunes and shows up on lists such as recommended podcasts for fans of Serial and Parade’s list of top history podcasts.
Beyond the Battle
Search your favorite podcasting app these days, and you’ll find history shows aplenty.
But the British History Podcast (BHP) isn’t your run-of-the-mill history podcast, Jeffers says. “Many history podcasts are dry accounts that only perk up when they can talk about men swinging swords. They skip over the culture of the time, other than as it pertains to kings and generals, and then give you incredibly granular details of men killing other men in battle.”
What interests Jeffers (and his audience) are the stories behind the conflicts. To truly understand and care about an action-packed battle, audiences need to appreciate the stakes. “There’s a reason why The Phantom Menace sucked, and it wasn’t the fight choreography,” he says. “Context is king, and that’s where our focus is.”
That’s why the BHP discusses at length through the political, social, and cultural realities that drive the “action scenes” of history. Another way the show’s different: “We talk about women. It’s strange how often they’re written out.”
Jeffers cites one of his favorite little-known figures from history: Lady Æthelflaed of Mercia, who reigned in an era when women we so overlooked, even vilified, that there weren’t any queens — just women known as “the king’s wife.”
“And then you have the noble daughter of Alfred the Great, a woman named Æthelflaed, who ruled Mercia on her own after her husband died. She led armies. She fought off a massive force of Vikings at Chester by throwing everything, up to and including the town’s beehives, at them. This woman was so influential that after she died, even though the culture was deeply misogynistic, the Mercians chose to follow her daughter.”
Jeffers’ favorite era of British history is the Middle Ages — “which I’m sure most of our listeners already know since we’ve spent about seven years in them so far.” The BHP is currently detailing the reign of King Æthelred Unræd (aka King Ethelred the Unready), who is often blamed for the downfall of the Anglo Saxons — “though I think there’s plenty of blame to go around.” Jeffers is most looking forward to covering the 15th-century Wars of the Roses, a series of English civil wars: “the diaries we have out of that era are stunning and show the real human toll that this conflict was taking on the population.”
The planned finish line is the dawn of WWII, which could take another decade to reach. Until then, Jeffers is dedicated to dissecting and retelling as many stories and cultural tidbits as he finds relevant — a quest that fits nicely in the podcasting sphere.
“Can you imagine The History Channel allowing me to do over 300 episodes of British History and spend literally hours just talking about how food was handled in the middle ages? Part of what makes podcasting so amazing is that it allows for niche shows like the BHP to exist.”
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Behind the Scenes
Jeffers is quick to remind his audience that he isn’t a professional historian, though his “magpie approach to education” serves him well as a “history communicator.”
“My educational background has a common throughline of narrative building and research,” Jeffers says. “I studied storytelling in college, getting a degree in creative writing while also spending a lot of time taking courses in subjects like critical and cultural theory. As for law, my focus was as a litigator. What many people don’t realize about litigators is that a lot of what you do is tell stories to the judge or jury. You do a lot of deep research and then turn it into an easy to digest narrative for why your side should win. Turns out that these skills serve very well for teaching history — especially little-known history.”
Each 25- to 40-minute episode takes about 40 to 50 hours to produce. As for structuring the stories, Jeffers rarely finds a clear “pop history narrative” to build around because the history of medieval Britain he aims to create simply doesn’t exist elsewhere. Instead, he digs through secondary sources, fact checks primary sources, scans and fact checks scholarly articles for alternative theories, and then looks into “any rabbit holes that pop up during the research.”
The lengthy editing process is a collaboration between Jeffers and his partner and co-producer Meagan Zurn — or Zee, as she prefers. “Then I finally record the episode, do sound editing, and launch. It’s quite a process.”
There’s no way Jeffers could juggle a full-time job with all of the research and planning involved. But thanks to a dedicated community of listeners, the podcast moved from passion project to day job. He doesn’t even need to run ads — it’s funded entirely through donations and a membership, which grants paying listeners access to exclusive content.
“I’ve really lucked out in the community that has developed around the podcast,” Jeffers says. In fact, he says his favorite part of producing the podcast is connecting and collaborating with the community. “They’re really supportive and enthusiastic people.”
The British History Podcast official web page, complete with membership content and a full archive of eight years worth of podcasting, is proudly hosted by DreamHost. Like the podcast itself, the website has been a DIY project: “When you’re a small project like this, anything you can do yourself, you do.”
The site uses DreamPress Pro with Cloudflare Plus, “which has allowed us to have a rather stable user experience even during high load times like on launch days,” Jeffers says. “The tech support team has been really helpful in finding solutions to some of the more thorny problems of running a podcast site with a membership component.”
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A Romance for the Ages
Jeffers says he’s met some incredible people through the podcast community, including his producer — and now wife — Zee.
In addition to co-producing the BHP, Jamie (left) and Zee (right) are partnering up for a new venture: parenting.
Back in the early days of the BHP, Jeffers used an “old clunky Frankenstein computer that kept breaking down. I had a hard drive crash, a power supply short, a motherboard fry. I swear that damn computer had gremlins, and as a result, I repeatedly had to go on our community page and apologize for episodes getting delayed.” The community ganged up and insisted his problems stemmed from using a PC — all except one person, who stood her ground against the Mac fans.
“I believe her exact phrase was, ‘You’re all caught up in a marketing gimmick,’” Jeffers says. A few months later, when he had an idea for a side project and wanted honest feedback, he remembered this listener’s well-researched uncompromising arguments.
“And half a world away, in Southern England, Zee got a message out of the blue,” Jeffers says. “It ended up being the smartest thing I’ve ever done. The person I reached out to was a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and media with a background in anthropology and archaeology. She understood on an intrinsic level the ethics of the show, the long-term strategy, the purpose of it, and what it could be going forward.”
And just like that, Jeffers had a collaborator: “One day, I was doing the show entirely on my own; the next day I was running all my ideas by her, and I structured my life so that I could work with her.” They discussed the show daily; Zee reviewed Jeffers’ scripts and prompted heated debates over the content. “And through that, the show dramatically improved in tone and style. She also became my best friend. Truth be told, I think she was my best friend from the first time we talked.”
“Much later, we met in person, and it was clear my ferociously intelligent best friend was also really attractive. Eventually, we started dating. Then she proposed to me one Christmas morning, and now we’re expecting our son this July.”
By the way, Jeffers still uses a PC.
Overall, creating the podcast has been a rewarding creative outlet for both Jeffers and Zee — but the work can be draining. “It’s very satisfying but very intensive work to hit the quality we demand of ourselves.”
For now, outside the show, his and Zee’s primary focus is preparing for parenthood. The podcast is likewise approaching a monumental milestone: the Norman Conquest of 1066.
“This invasion changed everything, and it’s going to usher in a whole new era of the podcast as well,” Jeffers says. “We have a whole new culture to talk about, along with larger-than-life characters to introduce. The story is about to get a whole lot bigger.”
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The post Meet The British History Podcast: “History, the Way It’s Meant to Be Heard” appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
Since the Block Editor is now the default tool for creating new WordPress content, site owners are having to address the question of what will happen to their older posts and pages. This content will inevitably need updating since the Classic Editor plugin won’t be around forever.
Fortunately, there are methods in place for handling this exact situation. If you need to make changes to an old post, you can easily do so without any help from the Classic Editor. This makes it much easier to bring your old and new content into alignment.
In this post, we’ll discuss the Block Editor (you might know it by its nickname: Gutenberg) and then we’ll show you two methods for updating your old posts using this new tool. Let’s get started!
Understanding the Differences Between the Classic and Block Editors
For many years, WordPress users created new content for their websites in a visual editor, now known as the Classic Editor. It consisted primarily of one large field where you could add text, images, and other media.
The main downside to the Classic Editor was that some elements — such as tables and content columns — required coding or extra plugins to implement. This arguably made the publishing process more complicated and time-consuming than it needed to be.
To address that issue, the Block Editor was created. It enables you to use a system of ‘blocks’ to create content in WordPress. Each block holds a specific type of content, such as a paragraph, an image, a table, a list, or just about any other element you might want to add to a post or page.
With blocks, WordPress users can create more complex content without the need for coding. Each block has individual settings so you can customize specific elements. Additionally, you can more easily move content around the page to create columns or other unique layouts.
Generally speaking, the Classic Editor is considered the ‘simpler’ of the two options because of its interface. There’s just one field where all of your content goes, as opposed to many separate blocks. However, the Block Editor is built for ease-of-use and can be more user-friendly — especially for those new to WordPress.
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Switching Over from the Classic Editor to the Block Editor
The Block Editor has been ‘live’ since December 2018 and now serves as the default editor for anyone running WordPress 5.0 or later. However, some users have chosen to disable it in order to continue using the old – or Classic – editor.
If you’ve been using WordPress for some time and are familiar with the Classic Editor, using the Block Editor may not seem very appealing. After all, it still has compatibility issues with some plugins and themes, and learning a new interface isn’t the most fun way to use your time.
However, there are a few reasons to embrace the change. To start with, the Block Editor should streamline your content creation. Once you get past the learning curve, adding blocks can be much faster than stopping to code a table or columns by hand. More importantly, you may want to make this transition for the sake of your site in the long term. While right now you can keep the Classic Editor in place using a plugin, WordPress plans to stop support for that system eventually.
For now, support is promised until 2022. However, once updates are no longer being released, having this plugin installed on your site could pose a security risk. At a certain point, moving over to the Block Editor will be in the best interests of your website.
What the Block Editor Means for Your Existing Content
Fortunately, old posts and pages created in the Classic Editor are preserved in their current format with the Block Editor. Each one features a single, large block called a Classic block. All of your text, images, and other content will be found inside this block, unchanged.
The Block Editor’s effect on your theme and plugins is a little more complicated. There have been compatibility issues between the new editor and some themes and plugins, so it’s possible that enabling it will cause problems on your site.
In particular, page builders and other plugins that affect the way the WordPress editor looks and functions tend to have trouble with the Block Editor. However, updates have been released for many of these plugins to fix these issues. It’s a good idea to check each of your major plugins (especially any that affect the editor) to see if they are compatible.
The Block Editor should be useable with just about any theme. That said, it works better with some than with others. Ideally, you’ll want to use a theme that has been updated for use with the Block Editor or a theme that was created after the new editor’s release and built with compatibility in mind.
The best way to avoid any potential issues is to create a staging version of your site. Then you can thoroughly test for any problems before updating your live site.
How to Update Your Old WordPress Posts With the Block Editor (2 Methods)
Of course, you may not want to leave your old WordPress content as-is. Fortunately, you can update your old posts, pages, and other content types in the Block Editor. There are two primary methods you can use, and each has its pros and cons.
Before you can use either of them, you’ll need to make sure you have the Block Editor enabled. For most sites, this is already the case. In other words, if your site is up-to-date and you haven’t done anything to disable the Block Editor, it should be currently active. Therefore, you won’t need to do anything.
Otherwise, either deactivate the Classic Editor plugin or upgrade to WordPress 5.0 or above to automatically switch your site over to the new editor. Then, you can use one of the following two techniques to work on your existing content.
Method 1: Continue Editing Your Posts in a Classic Block
As we described earlier, existing posts and pages will be converted into Classic blocks. If you want, you can edit your content inside these blocks, just as you would in the Classic Editor.
All you have to do is open the post you wish to update, and click on the Classic block. When you do, you’ll see the TinyMCE toolbar appear at the top of the block. It should look very familiar.
You can edit within this block exactly as you would in the Classic Editor. If you need to access the Text Editor, you can do so by clicking on the three-dot icon to the right of the toolbar, and selecting Edit as HTML.
When you select this option, the block’s content will be shown as code, and you can edit it as needed.
To return to the Visual Editor, simply click on the three-dot icon again and select Edit Visually. That should be all you need to update your old posts using the Classic block.
Method 2: Convert Your Old Content into Blocks
The other option you have available is to convert a post or page’s Classic block into new blocks. This will divide up your content up into individual elements, just as if you had created it using the Block Editor.
To do this, click on the three-dot icon and select Convert to Blocks.
Your post should then split up into separate pieces. Each paragraph will become its own block, as will every heading, image, list, video, button, and element.
You can click on an individual block to edit the content within it. While this process usually goes off without a hitch, you’ll want to make sure that each element of your post has converted to the correct type of block.
For example, if a pull quote from your old post has converted into a regular paragraph block, you can change it by clicking on the leftmost icon in the block toolbar.
You can then select the correct block type from the options listed. Once all of your blocks are set to the correct types, you can use the toolbar at the top of each to make any specific changes related to alignment and placement within the post. You can also make edits related to each block’s type, such as by altering text styling or image size. In other words, you can now use the Block Editor’s full range of capabilities to work on your content.
New Kid on the Block (Editor)
Updating old posts is a smart way to freshen up your content and give your site a facelift. If you’re worried about how your old posts will fare in the age of the Block Editor, however, never fear. You can easily make changes to your old posts and pages.
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The post How to Update Your Old WordPress Posts With the Block Editor appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
It’s been a year since the European Parliament turned the GDPR proposal into active legislation.
The General Data Protection Regulation was created to protect the privacy rights of European Union members. Thanks to the GDPR, EU internet users now have the power to control where and how their personal information is used online.
Related: DreamHost is GDPR Compliant
The battle to respect individual freedoms and privacy isn’t new. Humans have been fighting for our right to privacy since the first loincloth accidentally ripped off in a heated saber-tooth tiger hunt over 300,000 years ago. The Gronk Decision of 320,532 BC was a landmark ruling guaranteeing a right to secondary, backup loincloths to both hunters and gatherers alike.
We’ve compiled a brief look back on some milestones in the history of privacy starting in the 1800s and ending at the internet of today. Check it out!
The History of Internet Privacy
The post The History of Internet Privacy appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.
The Industry Buzz section is divided into three major sections, which is then subdivided into smaller sections.
Corporate Blogs which include official blogs from web hosts, registrars, search engines and other related sites.
Magazines & Blogs include interesting websites related to the hosting industry, but not necessarily from official company blogs.
Industry Leaders include personal blogs from important industry leaders, such as employees from Google and WordPress. These blogs sometimes include insights on how industry leaders think, but also may contain topics not related to hosting.