DreamHost Blog

Your Guide to Lead Magnet Creation (53 Easy Ideas)

Take it from me: Acquiring qualified leads for your business is anything but easy. A common strategy for attracting new customers is to develop a strong content marketing strategy, but that is often not enough. Just because people enjoy reading your content doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to hand over their hard-earned cash. (If it did, the content team at DreamHost would be cruising in Lamborghinis by now. Spoiler alert: We’re not.) So, while creating great content is critical to the success of your website, you’ve got to take it a step further and make cultivating leads an ongoing process — one that continues even after a visitor has left your site. By creating effective lead magnets, you can offer something valuable enough to your audience that they’ll be happy to give you their email address in exchange. Then using the best email marketing practices, you can nurture those leads until they turn into paying customers. (Googles the price of a Lamborghini Aventador. Chokes.) OK, ready to get started? In this article, we’ll discuss what makes a good lead magnet, why your business should invest in developing a sales funnel, and how to create your very own irresistible lead magnet to power your marketing machine. Let’s go! Let Us Support Your Lead MagnetsWhatever your goals, we’ll be right there with you, making sure your website is fast, secure, and always up. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan Understanding Lead Magnets (And Why Your Business Needs Them) “Lead magnets” are incentives offered by marketers. They’re provided in return for an email address (or other contact information) from a potential customer. Email marketing has a return of $42 for every $1 spent. That’s a huge return on investment (ROI), and it makes a compelling case for including email marketing as a core part of your overall strategy. This is why lead magnets are so essential — they help you build up your email list more quickly. Lead magnets also give you a way to sell to your site’s visitors over the long term. On average, a visitor will spend less than a minute on your website. This is rarely enough time to convince them of their need for your services, but lead magnets provide you with additional time. The Qualities of an Effective Lead Magnet Of course, it’s not enough to simply create a lead magnet. To get the best return, you’ll need to design one for maximum effectiveness. A great lead magnet is: Free. You have yet to convince your prospective customer of your value to them, so they’ll probably be unwilling to part with their money just yet. Solution-focused. You need to demonstrate how you can solve a very specific problem for your audience. High quality. You’re providing a free sample of what you have to offer, so it has to show your products or services off in the best possible light. Your value proposition needs to be clear. Easy to consume. An effective lead magnet is concise and provides value quickly (a PDF checklist is a popular example). Don’t make it too complicated. Instantly accessible. Your lead magnet should take no more than a click to download — you don’t want your audience to lose interest and move on. The next step is to create a lead magnet that incorporates all of these criteria. Let’s take a quick look at what that involves. How to Create a Lead Magnet Creating a lead magnet can be an involved process. You’ll first need to understand what your audience is interested in. One way to do this is by reviewing your existing content to see what pieces have performed best or had the highest engagement rates. You can do the same for your competitors’ content by using a tool such as BuzzSumo. All you need to do is enter a URL and sort the results by the total engagement metric. This will help you better understand what your target audience cares about. Keep in mind that you’ll likely need to create separate lead magnets for each buyer persona or segment of your audience. Each one should be tailored to meet your audience’s specific interests and provide something they genuinely need. In other words, don’t forget to focus on quality. Related: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy 53 Awesome Lead Magnet Ideas At this point, let’s take a look at some ideas for creating lead magnets. Almost any type of content can do the trick — here are 53 examples. 1. Checklists Checklists are easily consumed and very actionable. They’re also easy to create. You can extract the main points from a few existing posts, and create a checklist from them. Then you can offer the result as a content upgrade. Related: How to Choose a Web Hosting Provider: A 15-Point Checklist 2. Cheat Sheets Cheat sheets typically condense important information into a few pages that can be referenced often. SmartBlogger’s “52 Headline Hacks” is a popular example of this technique in action. 3. Templates Templates provide a starting point or outline with some base content for users to customize. A good example is Rosanna’s free marketing plan template for creative freelancers, which is gated behind a sign-up form. 4. Swipe Files A swipe file is a collection of tried-and-tested ideas, as well as stellar examples of content that you can store for future reference. Here’s a handy article on how to create swipe files using tools such as Pinterest and Pocket. 5. Examples Examples are an effective type of lead magnets. Job seekers search for resume and cover letter templates, while business owners look for sample proposals. Examples can also be offered as content upgrades for relevant posts. 6. Scripts Scripts are valuable if you have an audience that needs help creating speeches, podcasts, and even films. For example, if public speaking is a skill you excel at, you can create a business presentation and offer it as a lead magnet. 7. Toolkits People generally want to know what tools experts and influencers use. Your toolkits can function as lead magnets and generate income through affiliate marketing if you’re recommending third parties. 8. Resource lists Who doesn’t love resource lists? A digital marketer could create a list of books, tools, websites, and more that help them stay productive. These can be offered as content upgrades as well. 9. Calendars When creating a calendar-based lead magnet, it needs to be relevant to your audience. For example, if you’re in the agricultural industry, you could offer calendars for rearing and planting seasons. If you’re in the fitness industry, you might design a workout calendar. 10. Plans/Planners Planners are typically created for very specific use cases. That includes meal planners for diabetics or vegetarians, workout planners for pregnant women, and so on. 11. Worksheets/Workbooks Workbooks are often effective for business planning or creating custom personas. They typically help your audience with something practical and specific. 12. Printables A “printable” is a general term for any resource that can be printed. This might include checklists, cheat sheets, workbooks, and more. 13. Prompts and Inspiration Files Prompts and inspiration files help users generate ideas. For example, if your ideal customer is a web designer, you can offer design inspiration visuals. If your ideal client is a writer, you can provide creative prompts. 14. Calculators Calculators are also useful as lead magnets. For instance, WebStrategies has a Digital Marketing Budget Calculator, which can only be accessed through an opt-in form. 15. Generators From “lorem ipsum” to topic idea generators, these tools are often essential for productivity. You can create a generator that’s relevant to your business and offer it as a lead magnet. For example, Influencer MarketingHub has free generators for business names, Instagram hashtags, and more. 16. Web Apps Web apps are useful if you have the technical chops required or can afford to hire a developer to build one. You could even offer your calculator or generator as a web app that users must log in to. 17. Spreadsheets Even in this age of mobile apps, spreadsheets are still a killer lead magnet, useful for both personal and business use. If you’ve created a useful spreadsheet for yourself, such as a time or expenses tracker, you can offer it as a lead magnet. 18. Recipes Although there are tons of free recipes online, this type of content can still work well as a lead magnet if you offer curated content from across the web. For instance, you could let your audience choose what types of recipes they’re interested in via checkboxes. 19. Gated Content Publishing platforms, such as Medium, gate the majority of their content behind a monthly subscription. To adopt this strategy, you might ask for an email address in exchange for access to the latter half of a blog post. 20. Tutorials and Guides Tutorials are useful for teaching specific tasks and tools. They can be in audio, text, or video series format. Similarly, you can offer definitive guides as educational lead magnets. They’re often used because they’re highly effective, especially for educating potential customers about a particular concept, product, or service. 21. E-books E-books don’t fully satisfy our criteria for effective lead magnets. They are lengthier than a PDF checklist or an infographic. Regardless, audiences who prefer more detail than shorter lead magnets can provide will appreciate them. 22. Reports Reports require you to do research and aggregate data. However, you can also create them from existing research. If you market primarily to B2B businesses in an industry heavily reliant on stats and data, this can be one of your best-converting lead magnets. 23. Infographics Infographics can be used to present dense topics in a visually-appealing format. You’ll want to include facts and relevant statistics. To get started, you can condense some existing blog posts into infographics. These can also be shared on social media to promote the original articles. 24. Educational Videos Videos are an effective marketing tool, as you can give your audience a close-up look at your products. They’re doubly effective if they can be made both informative and entertaining, and these days it’s not hard to quickly put together professional-looking videos. Related: How to Start a YouTube Channel 25. Educational Audio You can also offer educational audio content, for those who don’t have time to watch videos or read articles. You won’t necessarily need to create these from scratch since you can develop audio versions of existing videos or blog posts. 26. Webinars Offers with time limits generally work well, as they play to your audience’s Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Webinars are a great example of this in action, as they can only be watched live at a specific time. 27. Event Tickets You can offer free tickets for live events in exchange for your potential lead’s email address. To promote your opt-in forms, you can even use social media and business ads. Related: Lead Generation via Website Forms: Here’s How to Get Started 28. Email Courses Email courses do not need to be downloaded and can be consumed instantly. Typically, you’ll send automated emails based around a specific topic. Teachable is just one of many tools that can help you create email courses. 29. Free Book + Shipping Offers You can give out physical books as lead magnets and have your receivers cover the shipping costs, too. This is a good way to determine who your potential customers are, since anyone willing to pay to ship a product they consider valuable should be more willing to purchase your paid content. 30. Sample Chapters You may not want to give out your ebooks entirely for free. In that case, you could simply offer sample chapters in exchange for email addresses and require payment for the rest. 31. Sample Audio/Video Clips If you have high-quality videos, you can offer sample clips from them. Audio clips are also viable as lead magnets, even if your product is a video. All you need to do is convert your video into audio, using an online tool such as Zamzar. 32. Free Coaching Sessions If it fits your business model, you can offer free coaching sessions to your audience in exchange for their information. This works out well since your audience will already be expecting a pitch at the end of the session. 33. PDF Versions Another easy technique is to turn existing blog posts into PDFs and offer them as content upgrades. You can create the PDFs yourself using Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or a tool such as PrintFriendly or Beacon. 34. Transcripts Video transcripts may be more accessible for non-visual learners. They’re also useful for those in your audience who have unstable internet connections or simply prefer to learn at their own pace. 35. Summaries/Cliff Notes Versions If you have an ebook or another long piece of content, you can create a summary and offer it as a lead magnet. This isn’t restricted to just your own content. You can also create abridged versions of content written by experts and influencers in your field (just be careful not to plagiarize). 36. State of the Industry Addresses For a unique twist, you can create reports and stats about current trends in your industry and then create a lead magnet out of them. This provides highly-valuable and up-to-date information. Keep in mind, however, that this content will need to be updated regularly to stay relevant. Related: The State of Women in Tech 37. Predictions If your goal is to become an industry leader, one option is to offer insightful predictions about your industry. You can collect these predictions, include associated advice, and bundle it all together into a lead magnet offer. 38. Mind Maps Mind maps make complex concepts easier to digest. They look a lot like visual outlines. While MindMeister is a tool specifically for making mind maps, Canva can also be used for this purpose. 39. Audiobooks Ebooks take a long time to consume and don’t always perform well as lead magnets. However, you can turn your ebook into a more easily-consumable audiobook and use it to drive traffic to your site. 40. Presentations Slideshare offers a lead generation tool for converting audience members into subscribers. This solution enables you to use custom presentations as lead magnets. Related: How to Build a Lead-Generating Landing Page with WordPress 41. Roundups A roundup is a list of tips, techniques, or recommended tools typically presented as an article or blog post. You can start by interviewing experts, asking for insights and advice. Then you can create a post by pulling quotes from the interviews and offer it as a content upgrade. 42. Newsletters Sometimes, your email is the lead magnet. The Hustle is an example of a B2C company whose main service is sending relevant and entertaining emails daily with news from the tech and business industries. 43. Vaults/Libraries If you’ve created a lot of educational content, you can compile it into a dedicated page or archive. Then you can ask for an email address in exchange for a handy all-in-one download. 44. Quizzes A quiz is a series of questions for your website visitor to answer. To get a result, they’ll need to enter their email address. Quizzes are fun and convert well, plus tools such as Interact make them easy to create. 45. Surveys Surveys can be used to solicit feedback from users who’ve been on your website a few times. Although they are more generally used for market research, they can also be implemented effectively as lead magnets, since many people will be happy to give feedback. 46. Giveaways Giveaways help you get the attention of audiences who might have otherwise never looked your way. Using services like ViralSweep and Gleam, you can run giveaways easily. This generally involves offering some of your products for free in exchange for email addresses. Related: How to Run an Online Giveaway on Your WordPress Website 47. Desktop Wallpapers Wallpapers can be inspiring, fun, or soothing. If you’ve made something really unique, you can offer it as an attractive lead magnet. 48. Membership Sites There’s a reason exclusive memberships are so popular. They let you offer your audience the opportunity to join a community where they can access opportunities not accessible elsewhere. 49. Facebook Groups Facebook groups can be used as lead magnets, just like with membership sites. They give you a great platform for building a community around your business. 50. Slack Groups Slack has become popular in the last few years as a way for teams to communicate more effectively. It can also be useful for building communities around your brand and might work better than Facebook for certain industries. Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) 51. Free Trials Generally, before you pay for a tool, you’ll want to test it out to verify whether the cost will be worthwhile. Software companies typically offer a demo or trial copy for this purpose. 52. Coupons Limited-time deals can be very attractive since no one wants to spend more money than they have to. If you’re offering a product, coupon deals will make it much easier to persuade consumers to buy from you. 53. Case Studies Case studies are real-life examples of customer experiences with your products and services. They are especially useful when you’re targeting other businesses. You’ll need to ask your customers for testimonials first if you want to create case studies. Marketing Tips in Your InboxWhether you want to create a lead magnet, set up a Facebook ad, or supercharge a CTA button, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up The Perfect Lead Magnet Although email marketing offers a high ROI, it’s impossible to use it effectively without a strong base of subscribers. Lead magnets offer proven ways to increase your email list, ultimately leading to higher sales and greater profitability. As you’ve read in this article, there’s no end to the types of lead magnets you can create. There are checklists, cheat sheets, swipe files, calendars, reports, infographics, PDF versions, etc. All you have to do is select the option that best fits your business and audience and get to work! Ready to bring your lead magnet idea to life? Keep costs low with one of our shared hosting plans. With many robust features included — think free domain, SSL certificate, professional email address, and privacy protection — our shared hosting gives you everything you need to succeed online for as little as $2.59/mo. The post Your Guide to Lead Magnet Creation (53 Easy Ideas) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

12 Ways to Get the First Sale on Your New E-Commerce Site

You’ve just set up your e-commerce site. The design is trendy, the product descriptions are top-notch, and you’ve set up the perfect payment gateway. You’re officially open for business — boom, mic drop, collar pop! Now you just sit back and wait for the orders to come in, right? via GIPHY Sorry, Charlie. Getting that first sale can be a challenge, even with a solid marketing strategy. Ideally, you’ll want to begin to market your offerings even before your store is launched. However, you can take many of the same steps to promote your shop after it’s up and running. All you need is a little patience and an understanding of which techniques are most effective and affordable. In this article, we’ll discuss 12 ways you can get that first sale on your e-commerce site. Let’s get started! Your Store Deserves WooCommerce HostingSell anything, anywhere, anytime on the world's biggest e-commerce platform.See Plans 12 Ways to Make Your First E-commerce Sale 1. Reach Out to Your Network The first people to be aware of your business will likely be family and friends, and you can solicit their help in getting that first sale. If your product genuinely solves a pain point for anyone in your personal network, sell them on the benefits of buying from you. This is not much different from promoting to strangers online. To get started, ask your immediate family and friends to try out your products. You could even provide free samples. You can also reach out to your personal network on social platforms like Facebook, where you’ll likely be connected to old classmates and colleagues. The key here is to know your products inside and out, be aware of what problems they solve, and sell people on their benefits. Make sure to follow up with anyone interested and take the time to thoroughly answer their questions. Related: 12 Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Local Business 2. Start a Blog A blog offers a way to increase brand awareness and bring new traffic to your website. It’s also a platform where you can better expose your products to your audience. The more visitors you can bring to your site, the higher the probability you will make a sale. Some examples of content you can create on your blog include: Articles that demonstrate how to achieve a goal using your products Roundup posts that showcase your best solutions for solving a specific problem FAQs that answer questions people who might be interested in your products will have To improve your success rate, you’ll also want to do some keyword research. Organically working in some relevant keywords can help your posts rank higher in search engines. Related: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy 3. Build a List of Email Subscribers Email marketing is a proven tactic for customer acquisition and retention. This means it can be a core part of your e-commerce marketing strategy. Signups for newsletters generally indicate interest in your brand. Therefore, an email list can generate one-off sales and drive repeat purchases from customers whose interest you’ll keep active by sending them regular (and relevant) content. Tools like Jackmail (which enables you to send automated emails) and Mailchimp (which provides email templates and tools for tracking metrics) can help you create and manage your own newsletters easily. Get Professional Email @yourdomainPromote your website with every message you send when you set up professional email with DreamHost. Plans start at $1.67/mo.Sign Up Now 4. Solicit Help From Social Influencers As a new brand, it’s vital to keep costs low. One cost-effective strategy for getting your first sale is working with influencers – or to be more specific, micro-influencers. Micro-influencers give you access to small, targeted audiences who already have a connection with the influencer and trust them. These influencers actively cultivate engaged and loyal followers and can get your product in front of that audience with their seal of approval. This is a worthwhile investment because the costs involved are typically low. That also means you can work with multiple influencers to reach increasingly larger audiences as your budget increases. The first step to getting started with this type of marketing is to search for influencers within your niche. You can explore relevant accounts on social media to locate candidates, or use a dedicated influencer database like Socialbakers. Related: How to Build an Awesome Online Store with the OceanWP Theme 5. Host Giveaways Everyone loves free things. When you’re just starting out, you can use this simple fact to your advantage to create awareness of your business and products. Hosting contests and giveaways can bring much-needed attention and help you build trust with potential customers. You don’t have to start big, nor do you need to give out your most expensive products. However, you do need to be willing to offer a few starter products for free. Giveaways can help you generate interest in your brand, as you’re drawing the attention of both participants and winners to your paid offerings. Participants may also share your products or information about the giveaway itself with their friends and networks. Services like ViralSweep and Gleam help you run contests and giveaways online while keeping things simple and professional. There are also dedicated WordPress plugins you can try out, such as RafflePress. 6. Give Discounts Unlike giveaways, discounts do not require you to give away your products entirely for free. Plus, discounts may make it easier to persuade a potential customer to buy from you. It can be difficult for new buyers to justify purchasing from your store at full price, especially when you have no established reputation or past customer reviews. Offering some of your best or most affordable products at a reasonable discount can be a strong incentive, reducing the risks and enticing visitors to give you a chance. Just remember that when setting up discounts, you’ll need to take production and shipping costs into account and make sure you don’t overextend your budget. It’s also a good idea to create sales with time limits, which play to visitors’ Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). Related: Word of Mouth: Why Customer Testimonials Work 7. Simplify Your Site’s Design By simplifying your website’s design, you can make it easier for potential buyers to use your site without any hassle. This is key for turning interested visitors into e-commerce conversions (in other words, your first sales!). One way to simplify your site’s design is by reducing the number of products displayed on its pages. You want to ensure that your site’s interface is not cluttered, and that a visitor doesn’t have to jump through many hoops to find what they want. This is one reason to have a prominent search bar and clear menu options for easy navigation. You’ll also want to use a lot of blank space to help focus visitors’ attention on your Calls to Action (CTAs). That can mean removing distracting and unnecessary elements and avoiding the temptation to include too much information on each product page. Finally, keep in mind that mobile phones far surpass desktops and laptops for making online purchases. Therefore, you’ll want to ensure that your store is fully responsive. Related: WooCommerce Website vs. a Shopify Store: An In-Depth Guide 8. Build Your Brand on Social Media Building a brand makes it easier for existing customers to stay connected. It also helps potential customers find and learn about your business and the people behind it. To this end, you’ll want to create accounts on major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok. By using social media, you can tap into audiences that are already using those platforms. You can grab their attention and create positive feelings towards your brand while creating and sharing relevant (and engaging) content. Attracting an audience through social media is a topic worth several posts of its own. In short, you’ll want to begin by doing some audience research, and deciding what platforms to focus on. Then you can start sharing content and promoting your products, linking followers back to your e-commerce site. Also, don’t forget that many social media platforms have groups formed around specific interests and topics. Joining these groups can help you connect with relevant potential customers and generate interest in your band. A great place to start is by signing up for and posting on Facebook Groups that are centered on your niche or industry. You’re Cordially InvitedJoin DreamHost’s Facebook group to connect with like-minded website owners and get advice from peers and experts alike!Join the Community 9. Market to B2B Clients An alternative way to generate your first sales is by selling to other businesses, rather than (or along with) directly to individual customers. Ultimately, your goal is to get your products into buyers’ hands, whomever they might be. This can be done by selling to wholesale retailers, either on a local, national, or even international level. Selling to businesses might not result in high profit margins, but it is a way to get your products in front of the right consumer audience. Once you have enough brand awareness, you can start to target customers directly. Related: How Your Online Business Can Nail Customer Service 10. Refine Your Product Descriptions You’ll only make a sale if your site’s visitors understand your products and what benefits they offer. This means creating clear and detailed product descriptions. It’s important to include all the relevant details and specifications, as well as high-quality images and other media. Some users might research products beforehand and only visit your store to make a purchase. However, others will begin their buyer’s journey on your site and will be entirely dependent on the information you provide. You want to ensure that those users can learn everything they need to know about your products without having to leave your site to find more information. To make that happen, you’ll want to find out what questions your target audience is asking, and include those details for your products. 11. Streamline Your Checkout Process You may have generated interest in your products, but people aren’t buying because they’re frustrated by your checkout process. For that reason, you’ll want to do everything you can to reduce cart abandonment. If users have to create an account or are forced to answer too many questions during checkout, they may decide it isn’t worth continuing. Each additional step is a chance for your customers to change their minds about following through on their purchases. One practical step to take when streamlining your checkout process is asking only for essential information, such as billing and shipping details. You may also want to include a progress indicator to let customers know how close they are to being done. Related: How to Choose the Right Payment Gateway for Your E-Commerce Website 12. Attend a Trade Show Of course, there are also ways to market your brand offline, such as by attending trade shows. You can likely find both regional and national events that are relevant to your niche and audience. There are plenty of sites that compile trade shows by industry and enable you to search for them, such as 10times, EventsEye, and TradeFairDates. At these events, you’ll get to meet both individual customers and wholesale vendors. You can drum up interest by offering free samples, exclusive coupons, or promo codes to any visitors who come by your booth. While it takes a little more work than some of the other options on this list, trade shows are an excellent way to get some exposure and start building relationships. E-Commerce Insights in Your InboxWhether you need help choosing a domain name, boosting your conversion rate, or creating a Facebook ad, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up Get Those Online Sales Launching your online store is only the first step in starting an e-commerce business. Getting your first sale can be a real challenge. However, by taking a few well-proven steps, you can start your e-commerce store off on the right foot. One of the best strategies for getting those initial sales is to put a lot of high-quality content out there, via your blog and social media profiles. You can also host giveaways and offer discounts to drum up interest or look into less obvious options such as marketing to B2B clients and attending trade shows. If you’re looking to build or grow an online store, our WooCommerce hosting packages make it easy to sell anything on the world’s biggest e-commerce platform. Don’t hesitate to check them out! The post 12 Ways to Get the First Sale on Your New E-Commerce Site appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Line and Grid: Building Brands and Breaking Boundaries

The solid, intersecting lines of a grid are foundational tools of graphic design. Designers use grids as a guide to create visual flow and rhythmic space. Grids keep their projects consistent, balanced, and harmonized. And the best designers know when it’s time to break out of that framework. That’s the concept behind Alex Banman’s Toronto-based business, Line and Grid, which represents the intersection of bold, classic design principles with making a strong impression in connecting to an audience. “The purpose of my business is to multiply the value of my clients’ marketing efforts through brand design,” Banman says. “I usually work with smaller-sized businesses, directly with the owner.” In launching his business just over two years ago, Banman broke out of his own personal grid by pivoting from a promising young career as a talented branding designer to making it as a business owner. “I’ve always felt that I wanted to run my own business,” Banman says. “The pressure was building for years; I had waited a long time for the right moment. I felt that I wasn’t going to start unless I just started at some point.” So he took the leap and created his own one-man branding agency, building up an impressive portfolio of clients in industries from real estate to duct cleaning, designing logos and branding websites, fliers, even trucks. In the process, he’s embarked on a crash course in marketing — both for his own business and his clients — and has found DreamHost, his trusty web host, to be a surprising key partner in his success along the way. Related: How to Tell Your Brand’s Story (And Why You Should) Breaking the Grid A native of British Columbia, Canada, Banman made his way to Toronto after studying design in college. As a large city center, Toronto was a great place to jumpstart a career in graphic design. “I was always interested in starting my own business,” Banman says. “But I spent about seven years working in the industry before [making the leap].” Trained in design for print, Banman taught himself some coding skills and worked several jobs in digital branding before being hired by a real estate agent. “I built his brand from the ground up; I did his print materials — promotional booklets, mailers, and business cards — and also published his websites and digital ads.” Working for others gave him some practical experience in moving beyond the principles of graphic design to seeing for himself how these principles actually help business owners connect with clients and reach their goals, providing context for his skills in creating a visually-stunning graphic. “It helped me see how my work fits into the bigger marketing machine,” Banman says. Even through this success, Banman felt the pressure building to act on his dream to break out on his own. Partway through 2017, he started making plans — wrapped up projects with his employer, rented a coworking space, and in February 2018 finally took the leap. “I was really excited to be doing what I wanted to do,” Banman says. “I was nervous in some ways, but I was also quite confident because I had done reasonably well as an employee. It was definitely a mix of emotions. I wasn’t sure what would happen. There were so many challenges — every single day during the first year and a half of my business. It felt like I was learning something new every day.” Want to Meet More Awesome Site Owners?Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest for inside scoops, expert tips, and exclusive deals.Sign Me Up Selling the Skillset By his own admission, Banman was idealistic, even cocky, when Line and Grid was newly minted. But as he got down to business, he soon enough got a taste of the real-world challenges of going solo in the marketing industry. Fortunately, Banman was able to keep his real estate employer as a client but found that garnering new ones didn’t come easily. He had hoped to get some leads through networking in his coworking office space, but that wasn’t working out. Part of that, he says, was because his business’s services are so intangible — and the other part was how much he had to learn about selling himself. Line and Grid founder, Alex Banman “I realized how niche my skillset is,” Banman says. His work for others had been part of a bigger marketing strategy, allowing him to focus on just one part of that strategy: branding design. As a business owner himself, Banman realized that while he could create an effective logo and crisp website design, he had a lot to learn if he wanted to actually get eyes on that branding. “If you aren’t getting your designs and your messaging in front of people, it doesn’t matter how good it is,” Banman says. “I had to broaden my understanding of marketing and the role my specific services play for a business. So that was a big lesson. And still, I’m still getting a handle on that and learning about the technical side of marketing every day.” Banman discovered that an essential piece to selling himself — and keeping clients — was crystal clear communication. “In the past, I’ve been a bit of a rock star designer — I was confident that I was bringing something super valuable to the table,” Banman says. “Since I’ve become the business owner, the way my clients feel on a day-to-day basis in communicating with me is hugely important.” The clients Banman works so hard to land could drop him at any time — a fact he’s all too aware of in every interaction. “I’m younger, I’m new at this, and what I sell is intangible,” he says. “People are very careful and wary. The quality of my communication with clients has been extremely important. I’m careful about being clear — so they understand exactly what’s happening each step of the way — and making the experience positive and enjoyable.” Related: RetroSupply Co. Creates Vintage Tools for Modern Designers The Power of Branding While Banman helps his clients with some aspects of marketing, his primary work and passion is branding. Branding is anything that defines a business’s ethos, connects with its customers, and makes it stand out among the clutter of competition. This includes logo design, along with any visual messaging across print and digital mediums. “Branding is so powerful because it multiplies the success of a businesses’ marketing efforts,” Banman says. “It helps people remember the business. It generates buzz in the marketplace. It solidifies the business as a market leader, when the message is communicated clearly. Clienteles trust branded businesses more than unbranded businesses.” Banman has seen again and again how effective branding can be at turning around a business. One client, in particular, stands out — a small duct cleaning company in Vancouver. “The project actually failed at first,” Banman says. “I did quality work and what we agreed upon. I made some website changes at a set price, and I did some design work. But I also promised more clients and web traffic. And a month later, we weren’t seeing the results.” So he headed back to the drawing board. “We did some research in the marketplace, and I made suggestions based on that and came up with some new strategies,” Banam says. “The short term, we had positive traction. And he was happy; he was selling more.” The long-term results were even more telling. At the end of the year, the client discovered he made 150% of what he had made the year before and attributed the success to Banman’s work. “He was able to pay off all his debts,” Banman says. “He’d been in debt for years, ever since he started the business himself. He was able to completely get out of debt and was super busy. That was definitely the project I’m most proud of since I started my business.” Banman’s work is all about the design. There’s nothing like pulling up an empty doc on Adobe Illustrator and getting lost in the flow of making art, watching a design take shape. It feels great, he says, to create something and send it out into the world. “My inspiration comes from my client’s goals and their company ethos,” he says. “It’s inspiring to see how passionate the business owners are about delivering a certain quality of service or product and how much they care, and what they do to deliver a quality product or service. And then also their goals and what they want to achieve and what they want to reach with their business for themselves and for their families and for their communities.” Related: How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Website Joining the DreamHost Fan Club Imagine you’re at a restaurant, and you’ve just asked the waiter for a glass of water. Four hours later, he shows up, exasperated, and says, “That will just be a few more minutes.” Banman felt like that waiter when he confidently told his client it would be no problem to migrate a domain — not through DreamHost — for him. Hours later, passed around from support person to support person, Banman came up short on his promise. “It was just making me feel like I look super incompetent,” Banman remembers. “I thought it would take me a few minutes to migrate the domain, and it ended up taking hours. I don’t price by the hour; I give a quote upfront so there’s no unexpected costs. Fortunately, this client understood and asked me to bill him extra. If he hadn’t, I would have lost out on revenue there.” The experience shocked him — a longtime DreamHost customer, he was accustomed to a simpler way of doing customer service. “So with DreamHost, it’s just completely painless, every single time,” he says. “The service is reliable. The user interface is intuitive. And it’s affordable. It just works really well for a business owner like me.” Banman doesn’t remember exactly why he chose DreamHost in the first place, though he does say that the name and design — the branding — spoke to him. It didn’t take long for his web host to grow on him. “I’m just absolutely a huge fan of DreamHost — maybe a little more than the average person for a hosting company,” he says. “Getting things done is easy. The packages are affordable and economical for small businesses like me and the ones that I serve. But the main thing that I think is just so important is the customer service is absolutely incredible. Hands down, I can’t think of any better customer service.” Banman always works with his clients using their system of choice, but when clients are looking for suggestions or building a website from the ground up, he recommends DreamHost. He’s proud of how his own website can act as a portfolio for him, showcasing his design skills and his own brand ethos. “As a graphic designer, you have to have a great website,” he says. “I like the bold, modern look of my site. It’s about communicating boldly with a clean-cut, cold, sharp aesthetic. The work is front and center. I want clients to be able to see exactly the level of quality of what we’ve done in the past and therefore, what we can do for them.” We Support Your DreamsWhatever your goals, we’ll be right there with you, making sure your site is fast, secure, and always up. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan Branding and Rebranding Like many small business owners, Banman is focused on growth, especially since Line and Grid is in its infancy. As part of that growth, he’s planning to rebrand a bit himself, improving his business to better meet his clients’ needs and attract new ones in the future. “My next biggest goal is to just market my agency a little more aggressively,” he says. “I’ve come to the point where clients have a positive experience with me; I’m streamlining the process more; I’m improving my skills all the time. And it’s time for me to get a better handle on the technical sides of marketing in order to reach more clients.” While some new business owners might look forward to hiring employees and delegating some of their work, Banman’s vision is slightly different. “Rather than maintaining a price point and servicing more clients over time with a larger team, I intend to improve the service more and more and serve higher-paying clients as time goes on.” For now, there are more design grid guidelines to follow (and still more to break) as Banman builds his business, outlining his own future. The post Line and Grid: Building Brands and Breaking Boundaries appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

DreamHost Joins MobileCoin Foundation

Today we’re happy to announce that DreamHost has joined the MobileCoin foundation. MobileCoin is a cryptocurrency designed from the ground up with privacy, price stability, and usability in mind. MobileCoin’s low-cost global payment network is key to the continued success of our global customer base looking for an inexpensive, easy-to-use payment platform. What are cryptocurrencies? Put simply, cryptocurrencies are digital currencies. They’re encrypted and decentralized payment systems. And there’s a lot of them out there. You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin — the world’s first cryptocurrency. In all, there are over 6,000 digital currencies trading today with names like Etherium, Dogecoin, and Brettcoin, to name just a few! MobileCoin is simple to use. MobileCoin aims to be as easy and intuitive to use as some of the world’s most popular payment systems. It was created with ease-of-use and a focus on the end-user experience at the heart of every design decision. It’s stable. MobileCoin is designed to be highly resistant to the volatility inherent in most cryptocurrencies. It’s what’s called a “stablecoin,” as its value is tied to actual currency in the world. It’s quite unlike other cryptocurrencies whose value can jump and rise several thousand dollars over the course of just a few hours due to the actions of just a few coin holders. It’s fast. Traditionally, most cryptocurrencies have been very difficult to use. Technical hurdles — combined with tremendously long transaction times that take hours (or days!) to complete — have caused many cryptocurrency enthusiasts to treat it as a long-term investment and not a spendable currency. Due to some smart architecture decisions, most MobileCoin transactions complete in under 10 seconds. It’s secure. MobileCoin is focused on user privacy. As its name implies, MobileCoin is meant to be a mobile-first cryptocurrency that integrates into secure communication apps like Signal and WhatsApp. Our Involvement DreamHost is proud to be a MobileCoin launch partner. We’ve always embraced open source projects that help people own their digital presence, and MobileCoin ticks all the boxes. It’s a low-cost global payment network that helps all our customers, particularly our international customers, transact business safely and securely. DreamHost will be inaugural members of the MobileCoin Foundation, and we’ll be donating our time and resources to run several smartly-designed, highly encrypted MobileCoin processing nodes on our network. These nodes are just a first step. We’ll continue to offer advice and guidance through our seat on MobileCoin’s Technical Advisory Committee and can’t wait to see how our many small business customers choose to take advantage of this new payment technology. The post DreamHost Joins MobileCoin Foundation appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Create a Link Building Strategy

Your website is not an island. While creating top-quality content is important, your website’s relationship with every other site on the vast sea of the internet is just as vital. You won’t get very far if no one is linking to your pages, and you can’t expect many people to do so without some effort on your part. Even if you can’t force people to link to your content (and you shouldn’t because your mama taught you better than that), you can take some simple steps to encourage other sites to send visitors your way. All it takes to generate quality links is a little careful planning and a few proven techniques. In this post, we’ll talk about why you need a fully-developed link building strategy. Then we’ll explore how to create one effectively. Let’s get going! Got Great Content on Your Site?Make sure your hosting can keep up. We’ll ensure your website is fast, secure, and always up so you can focus on building links, not managing downtime. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Give Us a Try What Is Link Building (And Why Does It Matter)? Unless your website is very unusual, it’s going to contain a lot of links. Internal links point towards other pages on your own website, while external links point away from your site to other web pages. Having plenty of both is vital for your site’s User Experience (UX) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, there’s another kind of link that should be on your radar as a website owner. Backlinks are links on other web pages that point towards your website. So if someone writes an article on their news site and includes a link to one of your blog posts, that’s a backlink. Backlinks are just as important as the links you include on your own site because: Links to your site improve your visibility, helping to familiarize people with your brand. They also bring new visitors to your website, including those you might not have had an easy way to reach otherwise. Google and other search engines view backlinks as a positive symbol — they indicate that others find your content useful and worth linking to. Therefore, having plenty of quality links to your site (from relevant websites with high domain authority) can improve your search engine rankings. There’s no doubt that the more people are linking to your site, the better. However, there is one big problem when it comes to backlinks — you rarely control them. This means you’ll need to engage in some link building or take steps to increase the number of backlinks pointing your way. Doing that isn’t always easy. There’s a lot of content for people to link to and they may not even know about yours. So you’re most likely to succeed if you can put together a comprehensive, well-thought-out link building strategy. Related: Don’t Let a Broken Link or These Other Common WordPress Errors Slow Your Site Down The Dos and Don’ts of Link Building In a moment, we’ll walk you through the process of putting together your link building strategy and successfully executing it. First, however, it’s important to cover some basics. For example, there are things you’ll want to avoid (like the plague) while conducting your link building efforts. These include: Avoid paying people to include your links on their sites. That’s generally considered unethical, and if Google finds out you’re doing it, you’ll be penalized severely. Don’t mislead people about your links in an effort to get them featured. This is likely to backfire on you — if people click on a link leading to your site but find out that your content isn’t relevant to them, they’re just going to leave. Never spam other people’s sites with your links manually. It can be tempting to add links to your site’s content to as many other websites as possible. However, doing this too much can harm your credibility and get a lot of your links reported as spam. Opt out of link directories and link exchange schemes. These are shady techniques developed to get a lot of links into the public quickly — like the above methods, they can backfire and get the attention of Google (and not in a good way). Familiarize yourself with “black hat” link building techniques and don’t use them. This mostly means trying to get “hidden” links on pages by cloaking them, making them hard to see, or even hacking directly into other sites. Pretty gross, right? Some of these are obviously bad ideas, while others (such as link exchanges) might initially seem smart until you learn more about them. None are worth the risks involved. So what should you do? We’ll go into more detail shortly, but let’s lay the groundwork with these link building “dos”: Encourage links from high-quality and high-ranking sites. The quality of your backlinks matters just as much to Google as the quantity. So where possible, you want to try and get backlinks from sites that are trustworthy, well-maintained, and visible. Focus on relevant websites. You want to encourage new visitors likely to be interested in what your site has to offer. Backlinks on sites relevant to their needs are much more valuable than backlinks from random pages. Reach out. You don’t have to simply hope for backlinks — you can actually ask for them directly, and there are several effective (and non-intrusive) ways to do so. Use a variety of techniques. One link building method may not get you too far — but a combination of three or four smart techniques can make a big difference. Create awesome content. Your content marketing matters! The truth is the better your content, the more likely people are to link to it, whether as a result of your efforts or simply stumbling across it. At this point, you’re probably wondering how to put all of this into practice. Without further ado, let’s jump into the practical portion of link building 101. Related: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy How to Create a Successful Link Building Strategy (In 5 Steps) First, a caveat: Like any way of promoting your website, there is no “one right way” to do link building. Likewise, there’s no golden ticket that will get you a hundred backlinks by next Thursday (if you find one, hit us up!). However, you can take some basic steps that will greatly improve your chances of successfully increasing backlinks. We recommend starting with the following five steps, molding them as needed to fit your unique needs. Step 1: Take a Close Look at Your Target Audience A lot of successful link building comes down to pursuing backlinks in relevant places. This means you have to be very familiar with your target audience. If you don’t know what they care about and where they hang out, you can’t encourage links they’re likely to see. If you haven’t done so already, this is a perfect time to put together a target audience profile. That’s a detailed description of the visitors you’d like to attract to your website. You’ll want to research them carefully and collect information on their demographics, behaviors, interests, needs, and so on. When it comes to link building, you’ll want to pay particular attention to where your target audience spends their time online. What sites do they visit and which social media platforms do they prefer? These are the places you’ll benefit most from including in your link building strategy. This is also a good point to research your competitors’ backlink strategy. If you can, find out what kinds of sites link to your top competitors. It’s also useful to know what online places and communities your competitors are ignoring, as those can contain audiences hungry for the quality content you’re offering. That’s a link opportunity you don’t want to miss! Related: 13 Simple Ways to Get Started with Search Engine Optimization Step 2: Audit Your Existing Content Next up, it’s time to think like a content marketer. You can’t encourage links to your site unless you know what you want people to link to. Generally, you’ll want to focus on specific content, rather than simply your home page (which can appear more spammy and less authentic). So this is a great time to conduct a thorough audit of your site’s existing content. While doing this, you can: Look for top-quality pages and posts (or even product pages) that you think other sites would want to link to. Add these to a list as you go, so you know what represents your best content. Find any content that could be great but needs a little improvement. With a few tweaks, so-so articles can become a target for a quality backlink. This means ensuring that they’re up-to-date (for example, make sure you don’t have a broken link in the text and that stats are still accurate), match your brand’s style guide, and provide value to your audience. This publication checklist is a good way to make sure you don’t miss anything. Search for “gaps” you can create new content to fill. There may be information or topics that you think other sites would be happy to link to, but you haven’t written about yet. You can follow our guide to writing a blog post to get started. After auditing your content, the next natural step is to start improving and expanding it. Having lots of high-quality content makes link building a lot easier. It’s also worth noting that if you don’t have a blog on your website yet, now is the time to start one! There are few things better than a blog for generating lots of new, timely content that people will want to share with their audiences. If you’re not convinced, check out how these companies are using their blogs to increase brand awareness and build their reputations online. Related: Keep Your Content Fresh: How to Repurpose an Old Blog Post Step 3: Consider What Link Building You Can Perform Yourself As we mentioned earlier, most of link building involves getting other people to link to your site of their own volition. However, there is a little link building you can do on your own, without venturing into spammy territory. Who doesn’t love a little DIY? The first and most important part of this step is internal linking. You need to make sure all of your online presences are connected. This means your social media accounts should point to your site (and vice versa), and if you have more than one website, they should be interlinked as well. You can also include some links to your content on other people’s websites, particularly in forums and comments sections. But be careful — don’t create too many of these links and make sure they’re always highly relevant. You don’t want to be that person shilling Bitcoin on every other post. Your best approach is to find sites and communities your target audience is present on and engage genuinely with them. When organic link building opportunities come up and you can share a helpful link, don’t be afraid to do so. While these links are not considered as valuable by Google as a natural link created by someone not affiliated with your site, they still have an impact. Step 4: Start Conducting Outreach At this point, you’ve done a little link building of your own. You’ve also improved your site’s content marketing efforts, which will hopefully generate more links for you organically (as people stumble across and share your pages and awesome articles). However, the best way to build links is to ask for them. Yep, you can reach out to a website and simply ask them to link to your content. This is a common practice and can be very successful when approached carefully. It can even help create the foundation for mutually-beneficial relationships between you and other relevant sites. So, what does successful outreach look like? Everyone’s strategy is a little different, but the following tips and techniques are key: Reach out to highly-relevant sites. This is where all your research back in Step No. 1 will come in handy. Sites that see your content and audience as relevant to them are more likely to welcome your request, rather than seeing it as intrusive. Offer specific content they can link to. It’s not usually effective to just email blogs and write, “Link to my website, pretty please?” Instead, use the results of your content audit to identify specific pages and posts you’d like to share and request links to them specifically. Share genuinely useful content. A link building request is obviously self-serving, but it doesn’t have to be all about you. Do some research on the site you’re reaching out to and find something you think would really be interesting or useful to its audience. Blog posts, tutorials, infographics, and videos are all great options. Suggest specific places your links could be included. This shows that you’ve done your research and makes accepting the request easier on the target site. You can propose new links where none currently exist or even offer a better piece of content as a replacement for an existing link. Don’t forget to offer up some anchor text to make it even easier for the other site’s admin. Most importantly, remember to be polite and conduct yourself professionally. Never demand that someone include a link to your site — people who manage successful websites learned not to feed internet trolls a long time ago. Instead, create a concise and friendly message that you can send to the sites and blogs on your list and try to personalize it for each one. Step 5: Get Involved in Guest Blogging Guest blogging can be one of the most powerful tools in your link building strategy. Also called “guest posting,” it involves writing a brand-new post specifically to be featured on another website. This post can then contain one or more links back to your site and content. You can often get farther with guest blogging than with simple link requests. After all, you’ll be providing content to another website for free. In return, they’ll link back to your site. This is a very attractive proposition for blogs, in particular, since they’re always in need of fresh content. Just like with outreach, guest blogging is most effective if you follow some simple best practices. These include: Avoid sites that want you to pay them to publish your guest post. Most blogs will accept this kind of content for free, so there’s no need to pay for placement unless you’re desperate to be featured on a specific high-profile blog. Check the blog to see if they have guidelines for guest bloggers. Many will have a dedicated “write for us” page that outlines their requirements, what they will and won’t accept, and so on. By carefully following these guidelines, you’ll increase your chances of getting past a busy blogger’s spam filter. Do your research. Find out what the blog’s style is like and what kinds of topics they cover. This will help you come up with a topic idea that they’re more likely to accept. Reach out with a proposal first. Don’t simply write up a full post and submit it — these will often be rejected and can waste a lot of your time. Instead, reach out to the blog and let them know what topic you’d like to cover, what key points you’ll include, and what link(s) you’re hoping to see. Create quality, unique content. Never copy content from your own site or elsewhere (plagiarism is always a big no-no) and instead take the time to put together a unique, polished post for each blog. Also, avoid getting too “salesy” about your own website or products and focus on providing real value to the blog’s audience. This is the most time-intensive of our link building strategies. Still, it can pay off in increased visibility, improved authority, and links that are perfectly placed to capture your audience’s attention. Plus, you might develop mutually-beneficial relationships with some of these blogs, providing further opportunities for interlinking in the future. Measuring Your Link Building Efforts The above steps should get you well on your way to running an effective link building campaign. However, like other digital marketing tactics, it’s important to measure your effectiveness. Otherwise, you won’t know if your efforts are paying off or if your approach needs to be adjusted. Trying to keep tabs on your backlinks manually can be very difficult — it’s best to use an analytics tool instead. Many solutions can tell you everything you need to know about your backlinks, quickly and with minimal fuss. Related: Improve Your Search Engine Rankings with These Tools If you have a favorite analytics tool already, chances are it can help you out in this area. If not, a perfect place to start is with Google Analytics. This tool is free, accessible to beginners, and full of useful metrics and features. For instance, you can go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals in your Google Analytics dashboard. Here, you’ll see data about the visitors who arrive on your site from external links — in other words, everyone who comes to your website via a backlink. This includes a summary of trends over time, as well as a detailed breakdown of all the links leading to your site and how popular they are. You can use this data to monitor the results of your backlink strategy. It’s also handy for seeing what sites are linking to yours, and which ones drive the most traffic your way. When combined with Google Analytics’ many other data points, this can even tell you how your link building strategy interacts with your other marketing and SEO efforts. SEO Strategy in Your InboxWhether you need help choosing the right anchor text, wrangling inbound links, or understanding Google's algorithm, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up Pass the Link Juice If you want to improve your website’s traffic and attract more of your target audience, link building is necessary. A complete link building strategy helps you encourage relevant sites to share your content with their audiences. It’s a method that takes a little time to master but is cheap, cost-effective, and highly-trackable. Of course, bringing traffic to your website is just the start. You also want those new visitors to have an excellent experience — which starts with high-quality web hosting. Fortunately, our shared website hosting can do the trick! The post How to Create a Link Building Strategy appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

What Is Domain Privacy Protection?

The consequences of a data breach can range from relatively harmless to potentially costly. You may already have multi-factor authentication turned on everywhere, only use strong passwords, and never click on a suspicious link. But if you’ve ever registered a domain name, you may not be as secure as you think. When you register a domain as a website owner, you are required to provide contact info — your phone number, email address, and mailing address. This information isn’t private by default and can be the gateway to some unfortunate outcomes with shady characters on the internet. That’s why we’re here to help you understand the measures you can take to protect yourself. In this article, we’ll discuss domain privacy protection — what it is, why it’s worth investing in, the potential trade-offs involved, and how to enable it. Let’s get started! Free Private Domain RegistrationWe believe you should be able to control how much of your personal information is shared online. DreamHost includes WHOIS Domain Privacy at no cost for the life of your domain.Master Your Domain What Is Domain Name Privacy? Domain name privacy (also called WHOIS privacy) is a service offered by domain name registrars to keep your personal contact information from being publicly displayed in the WHOIS directory. That directory is a public database of all website domain names, which includes contact details about the owner of each domain, and can be accessed by anyone. The WHOIS directory is maintained by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the organization responsible for introducing Top-Level Domains (TLDs). ICANN requires that the following information be associated with each domain: Email Phone Mailing address Let’s take a look at why you’d want to keep your WHOIS information private, beyond just the fact that “it’s exposed.” Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Domain Name Registration Why There’s a Need for Domain Name Privacy Several different websites enable you to do a WHOIS lookup, including the official ICANN site. It’s easy to understand why this directory exists — having a central and public database of domain names and their owners can come in handy if there’s ever a legal dispute over ownership. More than that, however, is the accountability this system affords in cases of cybercrimes and copyright theft. Information acquired from the WHOIS database can be used to limit the malicious behavior of offenders across the internet. Here are some of the most common ways people typically use information from the WHOIS directory: To buy a domain that’s not currently available. Business owners sometimes find that the domain name that matches their unique brand has been taken. The WHOIS directory is one way to find the current owner of the domain and offer to buy it. This is particularly relevant if, for example, that person doesn’t have a live website containing their contact details. For unsolicited marketing efforts. If you have a domain name, you’re probably either looking to build a website or already have one. Therefore, you can expect to receive dozens of emails from marketers offering to help you build or redesign your website. For running scams. Aside from spam emails, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll receive emails from people who’d like nothing more than to scam you out of your website’s data or profits. As you can see, there are ways that those with both good and bad intentions can use the WHOIS database. The bad will outweigh the good for most people, however, especially if you’re not a large corporation that can simply use the public address of its headquarters in its WHOIS details. Related: What’s My Domain Worth? How to Value Your Domain Name The Pros and Cons of Domain Name Privacy At this point, let’s take a closer look at what you stand to gain or lose when you opt for domain name privacy, rather than sharing your information openly. Pros: You protect your personal contact information since all identifying details will be replaced by the domain registrar. You’ll avoid some spam (meaning less work for your spam filters) and attempted scams. You can mitigate the risk of having your site hacked (and your customers’ details compromised) or hijacked completely. Cons: You are sometimes charged a premium for this service, which can be anywhere between $10 to $30 (in addition to usual domain hosting fees). You risk creating a false sense of security. Your protection is still not 100% guaranteed, as disreputable companies may sell your personal information. Ownership of your domain name is less legitimate. The entity whose details is listed in the WHOIS database for a domain is considered its legal owner. It’s worth noting that here at DreamHost, we offer domain privacy for free, which mitigates one of the chief disadvantages. This means that for most users, the positives of keeping their domains private will outweigh the few drawbacks. Before moving on, we should also mention that some TLDs have special circumstances, and domain name privacy may either be attached by default or be forbidden. These include: Privacy by default. Domains such as .al, .gr, .ca, .is, and .uk have varying levels of restrictions placed on them. For some, no information about the owner is disclosed, whereas for others, the owner’s home address may be hidden but not their full name. Privacy is forbidden. This applies to domains like .us, .in, and .it. So when deciding whether or not you want to make your domain private, you’ll also want to consider your TLD and find out if it has any special rules. Related: The History of Internet Privacy How to Enable Domain Name Privacy for Your Website There is no one right answer as to whether you should or shouldn’t enable domain name privacy. It’s a recommended step for most users, but the pros and cons detailed above should also guide your decision-making process. If you do decide to pursue domain name privacy, there are a few ways to do so: Get a secondary email and P.O box. This is a costlier method than paying for domain privacy (around $100 on average), but it is an option. You just replace your own address with that of a P.O box and create a secondary email you don’t use for anything important (so it doesn’t matter how many spam or scam emails are sent to it). Use a domain name privacy service. Entering your personal details anywhere online obviously comes with some risk, but this can be mitigated by keeping that data private. Domain registrars can replace your information with anonymous details so that only they have access to that data. If you have a website here at DreamHost, adding domain privacy is easy! You’ll start by visiting the Registrations page of your DreamHost control panel and using the checkbox to enable privacy for your desired domain. Just check “I want all my contact information private” and save your changes. That’s all you need to do! Related: Didn’t Buy Your Domain With Dreamhost? It’s Easy to Transfer Your Registration Get Domain Protection Today Although the WHOIS public directory has an important role to play, it is often misused for purposes such as scams and identity theft. So while you may be painstakingly keeping your personal details protected everywhere else, you might be sabotaging those efforts by leaving your details exposed in the directory. Investing in domain name privacy is a practical way to protect both you and your website’s visitors. Want a painless process for your next domain registration? Try DreamHost for hundreds of unique TLDs, straightforward pricing, and free WHOIS Domain Privacy! The post What Is Domain Privacy Protection? appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

RocketSTEM Ignites a Love of Space and Science in the Next Generation of Explorers

During the 2009 recession — “I guess we can call that the small recession now,” Chase Clark quips — Clark decided he was ready for a new adventure. A longtime journalist and graphic designer, he was living in South Florida, working for a company that produced NFL game magazines. When the economy started to tank, he decided to look for a change of scenery. Clark’s first stop? Cape Canaveral. Press credentials in hand, he moved to the cape for a few months and landed a front-row seat to the last of NASA’s missions. “It was an amazing time where I was able to photograph the orbiter inside the Vehicle Assembly Building,” Clark says.” I got to walk all around the launch pad while Atlantis, the last NASA shuttle sent into space, was being prepared for launch. I even sat in the cockpit of two of the space shuttles as they were being decommissioned. Those were amazing opportunities that very, very few people have ever been allowed to have.” Clark’s close encounter with NASA’s final launches ignited a passion for all things space and space exploration. In 2012 he teamed up with a group of like-minded volunteers to launch RocketSTEM, an educational resource for students, parents, and teachers that aims to foster interest in scientific fields through the lens of space exploration. “RocketSTEM is a nonprofit educational media organization devoted to inspiring the next generation of explorers,” Clark says. “Easy enough to say, but that can be accomplished a million different ways. In our case, we focus on using the history of space exploration and the wonders of the universe as a gateway to getting students into considering following a STEM-centric career path, whether that be as an engineer, a scientist, a doctor, or an astronaut. Our website tries to offer a variety of content for varying education levels that can be utilized by teachers and homeschooling parents.” Just as the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools around the world, RocketSTEM launched a series of online educational resources — lessons, space-themed math problems, games, and more — to help keep them entertained and learning. Clark has seen a surge in web traffic and has relied on DreamHost to keep the site up and running for the past eight years. Want to Meet More Awesome Site Owners?Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest for inside scoops, expert tips, and exclusive deals.Sign Me Up Launching RocketSTEM Born at the end of the Cold War’s space race, Clark’s earliest memory is of watching a Saturn V rocket launch on his grandfather’s black-and-white television. “I was probably hooked from that point forward without even realizing it,” Clark says. “The space shuttle was an amazing beast of engineering, and I always marveled at NASA being able to launch a spacecraft into space and fly it back as a winged glider. At one point, I wanted to design an orbiting space hotel, but that dream remains unrealized to this day.” Clark’s childhood fascination with space lay dormant until he had a chance to see NASA’s shuttles and rockets up close. He was one of a handful of civilians who got to sit inside Endeavour, NASA’s next-to-last shuttle sent into space, while it was being decommissioned. “It was powered up — there were a lot of humming noises going on, and it was a surreal experience,” Clark says. “I never could have imagined that I would ever get to do that. And no one else ever will, because it is in a museum now.” Endeavour and Atlantis completed their final missions in 2011, and shortly afterward, the NASA space shuttle program was officially retired. But Clark wasn’t ready to let the excitement go. Chase Clark posing with Space Shuttle Endeavour perched atop historic Launchpad 39A in the background. “After the final landing of Atlantis, I found myself wanting to continue sharing what I had seen and learned,” Clark says. “Considering my background in journalism and graphic design, starting a space publication was a natural choice. From there, the decision to create RocketSTEM as a nonprofit educational media organization came about, and a couple dozen fellow space enthusiasts, writers, and photographers joined the cause and helped tremendously in making it a success.” Their first project was creating an online magazine, also called RocketSTEM. The first issue coincided with the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17, the last human-crewed mission to the moon (so far). Clark reached out to Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt — the most recent humans to have left their footprints on the lunar surface — for an interview. He was amazed that, amidst national tours and coverage from national media outlets, both space icons happily spent an hour apiece on the phone with him, giving exclusive interviews for the first issue of RocketSTEM. “Our first issue also included an interview with a current flight director at NASA’s Mission Control in Houston,” Clark says. “From there, we’ve been able to interview a wide variety of individuals – a radio astronomer, theoretical physicist Brian Greene, British astronaut Tim Peake, a Boeing aviation structural engineer, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Buzz Aldrin, and Apollo-era astronauts Al Worden and Ed Gibson.” To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in 2015, RocketSTEM published a special 184-page issue that featured the top 100 images taken by Hubble. Years later, it is still their most popular issue and gets downloaded every single day. A few years ago, each issue of the magazine became so time-intensive for Clark and the RocketSTEM volunteers that they decided to take a hiatus from creating new issues to focus on other web content. “The magazine isn’t over for good,” Clark says, just taking a break for now. “The last issue was published in 2017, but the magazine is still downloaded over 10,000 times per year.” Related: This DreamHost User Is Saving the World — One Seed at a Time Full STEM Ahead STEM — an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math — has been a buzz word for the past decade. Clark’s nonprofit jumped right into national efforts to renew interest in science education. The RocketSTEM website and magazine are full of news, photos, history, and educational material of various levels designed to be used by teachers in the classroom or by homeschooling parents. But there’s one thing you’ll never find at RocketSTEM: advertising. “We’ve never accepted offers to advertise inside the magazine,” Clark says. He also keeps the website free from advertising. “And most importantly, we have always made it available for free to read online or download as a PDF.” RocketSTEM staffers pose with Dr. Jim Green (5th from left), NASA’s Director of Planetary Science (at the time), and the MAVEN spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Alan Walters RocketSTEM was always intended to be a nonprofit endeavor, a labor of love for Clark and the volunteers who have spent hundreds of hours interviewing, researching, writing, taking pictures, and more. Clark has been told by teachers and schools that they prefer content without advertising — and he is happy to oblige. To Clark, learning about space capitalizes on humanity’s natural curiosity, and he hopes RocketSTEM can use that curiosity to foster students’ interest in other sciences. “Our biggest questions as a child are always, ‘Why?’ ‘Why is the sky blue?’ Even into adulthood, that remains. ‘Why are we here?’” Clark says. “The understanding of anything, no matter how tiny, is really just the process of learning about the universe. All of what we know is part of the universe, and our planet is only a tiny speck in a near-infinite reality of time and space. Humanity has always wanted to know what is beyond the next hill. “And reaching out into the cosmos is the ultimate journey, whether it be with a telescope, robotic probes, or boots on the Moon and Mars. Learning about the universe is, at its most basic, the path to learning more about ourselves. I think that it is hard to fathom the universe and not have it foster a desire to learn more about its workings, which requires critical thinking and a better understanding of the sciences.” Exploring the Universe — from Home Without even realizing it, Clark and his team were already preparing for a global pandemic a year before concerns about the spread of COVID-19 sent millions of children home from school. “We had decided to revamp our homepage to focus on our educational content and to make the news articles a secondary focus,” Clark says. “We also began developing more space-related word puzzles, book spotlights, and a new section of the website that we call QuizMe. It contains short 10 to 15 question quizzes, generally on a single topic. In a way, it is similar to the early viral quizzes that BuzzFeed flooded the internet with; however, ours are more educational and do not have any advertisements cluttering the screen.” The RocketSTEM team worked on these resources quietly and planned to launch their new site at once in July 2020, just before the new school year. “When the pandemic took hold in America and students were sent home for the rest of the year, we knew that we had to go ahead and launch the revamp right then,” Clark says. “Since then, we’ve been in a constant rush to keep expanding the educational offerings.” Soon after schools closed, the RocketSTEM team released all the educational content they had already created and is gradually adding more. “While what we offer cannot replace an actual teacher in a classroom full of students, we hope that our content can be a supplement to home learning,” Clark says. “Hopefully, both kids and parents will enjoy the content and be inspired to keep learning about space exploration and the universe.” Related: This DreamHost Customer Is Helping a Generation of Young Women Own Their Power Support for Tinkerers Clark doesn’t remember quite why he chose DreamHost as the online home for his nonprofit, but he’s glad he did. In the early days of RocketSTEM, he started with a simple shared hosting plan. “Our WordPress theme is pretty resource-intensive and the website contains a lot of images so we fairly quickly outgrew that. We upgraded to a VPS, and once DreamPress came out, we moved the website over to that. DreamHost handled the entire process of moving our site between the servers and everything went smoothly.” The best part about DreamPress? The staging site feature gives Clark the freedom to tinker with the back end of the website with total abandon. If something goes wrong in his tinkering, he can replace the staging site and start over without affecting the live site. “Our IT specialist especially loves that as he no longer gets calls from me telling him that I broke the website again and need him to fix it ASAP.” Meteor-Proof Website BackupsDreamPress, our managed WordPress hosting solution, makes it easy to protect and restore your site with automated and on-demand backups.Find Out More Into the Future An Atlas V rocket carrying NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover rises into the sky. This image was captured by a remote camera set up just a few hundred feet from the base of the rocket. NASA is slated to send the Perseverance rover to Mars on July 17, 2020. Tucked in with the rover will be Ingenuity, the first-ever helicopter to be sent to another planet. Even after its eight years, RocketSTEM is still learning to adapt to changes in media and student needs. They’re working on building a social media following, planning video content, and reaching out to leaders in the space industry. Clark says an advisory committee of experts is in the works, and last year he teamed up with astronomer Alan Hale, co-discoverer of the Hale–Bopp comet, who authors a weekly series of articles about asteroids and comets. “Even as a seasoned journalist, covering NASA has been an awe-inspiring journey,” Clark says. “Through RocketSTEM, I am able to pay that privilege forward. Some of our volunteers have been able to attend their first launch or interacted with people such as Bill Nye and Al Worden. Giving others an opportunity to partake in that level of excitement is a joy all its own. That wonderment stays with them forever.” RocketSTEM is funded mostly out of Clark’s own pocket. He volunteers his time with the organization, on top of his day job as a web manager and freelance writer and designer. “I did not have any previous nonprofit experience, and that has definitely shown in the area of fundraising,” he says. “That has limited the expanse of things we can do, and there are many ideas that have remained on the chalkboard awaiting the day we have the funding and staffing. At the same time, I’m quite proud of the content we’ve produced.” As executive director and founder of RocketSTEM, Clark’s daily work has shifted from content creation to coordinating and training volunteers (they’re always looking for more help, by the way), managing the website, coordinating with NASA and other organizations, and planning RocketSTEM’s long game. Another role he found himself stepping into on this journey was that of an educator. “I’ve also come to realize that at its core, journalism is essentially a form of education. Good journalists are curious by nature and love to research a subject or talk to a person to learn more about it or them. They then strive to impart that knowledge to others via their reporting. In essence, a good journalist serves as both a student and teacher.” The post RocketSTEM Ignites a Love of Space and Science in the Next Generation of Explorers appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Tell Your Brand’s Story (And Why You Should)

Once upon a time…. It’s a hallmark of classic storytelling, but the practice is as old as time itself. What began as cave drawings and hieroglyphics developed into oral tradition, alphabets and the written word, and in the last century, technology and media. Storytelling is the key to evolution. People relate to stories. They feel them — it’s science. Good storytelling has the power to inspire, influence, and connect. As a business owner, you also have a compelling story to tell: your brand story. Strong brand stories build trust with your audiences, increase engagement and brand awareness, and lead to more loyal audiences — all crucial to your company’s success. In this guide, we help you define your brand story and understand how to powerfully share it with your site visitors. We’ll cover everything from the elements of great brand stories, the ins-and-outs of your core values (and why they matter), and the most effective ways to share your one-of-a-kind brand story. You ready? Let’s dive in! Need a Brand Advocate?Partner with DreamHost! We'll make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan What is Brand Storytelling? Before we dig in, let’s establish what brand storytelling is. Building connections is at the heart of a business. Brand storytelling facilitates positive customer experiences by helping your business connect with audiences, capture and engage their attention, and stand out. Brand storytelling includes your brand identity: Who you are Who and why your company came to be What motivates you and your team to engage in your work How your product came to be What audiences find value in your brand and what you offer A brand story outlines the how and why of your company’s beginnings and in what ways those elements drive your brand mission today. Your brand storytelling is a key relationship-building tool and can be subtle while still powerfully guiding the concept of your overarching web presence. Your story should be a look into who you are as a business and be something that you — and your entire team — embrace passionately. Ditch your preconceived notions of a long-winded, thesis-like statement or an isolated, one-off blog post telling a dramatic “Once Upon a Time” tale that marketers use to manipulate your customers or feign authenticity. Your brand story is weaved into every fiber of your business, and your approach to brand storytelling will largely influence the success of your business. And even though it appears to be a good story about your company —  it’s really about your customers and the value you offer them. They are the real stars of your story. Your brand is the supporting cast. The development of your approach to your brand storytelling should reflect that. Related: How to Build Brand Loyalty and Why It Matters Why Does Brand Storytelling Matter? Stories not only affect our behavior — they influence our biology. Storytelling holds power, and thus, can greatly impact your business. What’s going on physiologically? Well, storytelling actually increases our brain activity and shapes its neural processes. Of course, stories activate the language processes areas of our brains but also a wide variety of others — the same neural networks that are activated if we were experiencing a story’s events in reality. With this increase in brain activity comes increased retention and resonance, giving businesses the valuable opportunity of connecting with and influencing their target audiences. Neuroscience proves it — strong storytelling is an effective way to capture your audience’s attention and form meaningful connections. Because the brain is naturally wired to respond to engaging and well-crafted narratives, you can leverage your brand story to positively impact your business. So, what makes up a great brand story? Related: 10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business The Components of Great Brand Stories Obviously, your brand’s story is going to look different from that of other businesses’ — and that’s necessary for setting yourself apart. But great brand stories have a few key elements in common. Let’s explore them. Compelling brand stories are: 1. Meaningful Your brand story isn’t just some fanciful tale to tell your audience to get their attention. It’s the story of your brand and what you offer — and that’s vital information. Treat it as such by crafting a narrative that is purposeful and resonates with your audiences and touches people’s lives. 2. Personal There are real people behind your business, not just robots behind a screen. Resonant brand stories showcase not only how a business came to be and why it matters but also who is behind it. Audiences are going to connect with the people in your stories — real, relatable individuals with whom they can identify. Let personality drive your brand story. 3. Emotional Brand stories that capture an audience’s attention make them feel things. Remember the concept of pathos? Without throwing a pity party or pandering to your visitors, you want to appeal to the emotion of your viewers so they’ll more easily connect to you and your story. Highlight the conflict and how it affects you and your audiences. Think: What about your company’s birth and growth gives you the feels? Whatever it is, make sure to incorporate that into your brand narrative. An emotional connection is a powerful one. 4. Simple Don’t get bogged down by the pressure of crafting some complicated or elaborate narrative about your business. Keep things straightforward — simply infuse your narrative with the core values of your brand. 5. Authentic Your audiences won’t listen to — or engage with — a robotic, impersonal brand, and they’ll be turned off by a company that pushes incessant sales talk. Your brand story is an essential channel to showcase the authenticity of your brand. In your narrative, be natural, conversational, personable, and unpretentious. An authentic brand story helps establish trust with your fans and fosters genuine connection. These elements are key for a strong and compelling brand story. Intentionally incorporating them into your narrative will help you connect with viewers and unify your brand presence across platforms. These elements help your audiences become a part of the story — not just a listener. Remember: Storytelling isn’t just about what you say — it’s how you say it. The way you communicate your message will make all the difference for your brand. Related: How to Promote & Market Your Website With Influencers How to Tell Your Brand’s Story Now, let’s dig into the nuts and bolts — that ever-important how of telling your brand story. How can you craft a narrative that resonates? Start with the basics. Define Your Core Values 1. Who Are You? It might seem silly to wax philosophical, but it’s crucial to think about the foundational tenets of your brand, starting with who you are. As the visionary behind your business, you are an essential part of your brand story. Infusing yourself — your beliefs, talents, gifts, skills, qualifications, dreams, and personality — into your narrative will help you identify and attract target audiences, and allow you to craft an authentic and powerful message. 2. What Do You Do? What goods or services do you offer? What purpose does your business serve? Knowing what your brand does is necessary for understanding the value you can provide for audiences. 3. Who Do You Do It For? Who does your brand serve? Think about those who most benefit from your products or services, and why you create or make for them specifically. 4. Why Do You Do It? The why behind what you do is HUGE. What gets you up in the morning? What motivates and inspires you? Why is your business so important to you? Why is it significant to the world? Go ahead, get sentimental. 5. How Do You Do It? How do you accomplish your purpose? This can include the logistics of operations, but also the looking-forward plans of your business’ visions and goals. 6. What Does Your Future Look Like? What does the future growth of your brand look like? Where would you like your business to be? How will you continue to offer value over time? How might your what, why, and how adjust as you grow? Consider your future as a core value of your brand. Know Your Target Audience Knowing who you’re trying to talk with is critical for crafting an effective and powerful brand message. If you widely cast a net, you might gather fish, but they might not be the quality catches that lead to a bountiful harvest. On the other hand, if you cast an intentional net that is focused on catching the right kind of fish, you’ll be much better off. Pescatarian analogies aside, it’s obvious that you need to attract people to your goods and services to build your brand. But with your brand story, you want to attract the right audiences — those targets that will engage, buy, and most importantly — stick around. You need to be smart and intentional about your messaging so that you can identify the right kind of customer to target. Take some time to map out who you’re going after. It might be helpful to establish some buyer personas to imagine precisely who your audiences are. With a fleshed-out idea of your target audience, you can better craft your content to be meaningful and powerful. Related: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy Create Your Brand Messaging Now that you’ve identified and internalized your brand’s core values, you can get to the real deal — crafting your brand story and identifying the best ways to share it. Much like the engaging storytelling techniques of the past, you want your brand messaging to be impossible to resist. Choose Your Format Your brand story should be strategically infused and incorporated into everything you share — your content marketing, your communication with customers, social media posts, your website, etc. It should guide everything you do and be a crucial part of your marketing strategy. But there are different ways to share that brand messaging. Here are a few ideas: Articles Blog posts Case studies Data visualizations E-books Explainer videos Infographics Interactive infographics Microcontent Motion graphics White papers User-generated content Get creative! But above all, in whatever you share — be true to your brand story. Marketing Insights in Your InboxWhether you need help finding your target audience, crafting the perfect social media post, or creating a marketing campaign, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up The Start of a Great Story Gathering visitors around your virtual campfire and drawing them in with captivating and inspiring storytelling is a vital part of your business. The content of your brand narrative — and how you share it — will determine the relationships you create with your audience and the effectiveness of the connections you build. In a few words: It’s time to learn to be a master storyteller. Your brand’s story is valuable. If you’re ready to cement your brand persona with a great website, consider our shared hosting plans. We’ll make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so you can focus on honing your brand personality (not downtime)! The post How to Tell Your Brand’s Story (And Why You Should) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

What Is Microcopy and How Can You Use It on Your Website?

Clean and concise copy on your website can be incredibly powerful. If you have to write an entire novel to convince your site’s users to take action, you’re probably doing something wrong. In many cases, only a few words should suffice to drive conversions. With microcopy, you can quickly direct users to take the actions you want. In some instances, you can even make their lives easier by helping them navigate your website and find the information they need. The best part? All it takes are a few words in the right place! Mastering the art of good microcopy can be difficult, but in this article, we’ll provide you with all the tools you’ll need. Let’s get to work! Shared Hosting to Power Your ContentWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so you can focus on writing clever microcopy. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan What Is Microcopy? Microcopy involves short bits of text that compel readers to take action or guide them in the right direction. The goal is to use the least amount of words possible to achieve your goal (usually due to space constraints). Email campaigns and landing pages are two common examples of long-form copy. They can go on for hundreds or thousands of words, all carefully crafted to convince users to convert. Microcopy, on the other hand, is much more subtle. Some examples include: Calls-to-Action (CTAs) Form-field text User-Experience (UX) messages Loading text CTAs are the most straightforward example of online microcopy. This could include a CTA button that simply reads “Sign Up.” Facebook asking what you’re thinking about is also a great example of this principle in action. In each of these scenarios, writing long paragraphs to explain why users should take action isn’t an option. Let’s talk about why that is. Why Good Microcopy Matters Most modern websites are built around the concept of conversions. You want visitors to take specific actions, such as signing up for mailing lists, making purchases, or even just clicking on particular links. There are a lot of factors that influence how many conversions you get, from traffic to your website’s design. However, since words are the primary way we interact with the web, they’re also our most powerful tools for driving conversions. Consider these two examples of UX writing. First, we have a straightforward subscription button. Second, we have another email sign-up form. The conversion goal is the same, but the copy takes a very different approach. Even minor changes to your site’s copy can drive major shifts in conversions. Some words are known for having a more significant impact on users. For example, asking visitors to “Buy Now” tends to get more clicks than a simple “Shop” button. The right words in the right place make all the difference. Related: 7 Tips for Writing Winning CTAs for Your Website 3 Microcopy Dos and Don’ts The first rule of microcopy is to keep things short. That means one or two sentences at most. With that out of the way, let’s move on to some other key considerations. 1. DO Consider the Location of Your Copy Deciding where to use short copy depends on its context. With buttons, for example, you’re forced to use only a few words. The same applies to error messages and form-field descriptions. Not only are you working with limited space, but you can assume that visitors have an idea of how these elements work already. To increase an email field’s usability, for instance, you might include a short description explaining what information goes inside. Since most of your users will be familiar with contact forms, you don’t need an entire paragraph to get your point across. That’s one of the best ways to decide where to use short bursts of copy. 2. DON’T Use Vague Copy There are two kinds of error messages: Those that give you enough information to take action and those that make you want to throw your computer out the window. The difference? The amount of information they provide you. The goal is to strike a balance, providing just enough information while avoiding clutter. If we return to our contact form example, imagine that its fields return this error when users input a value it doesn’t recognize. This is obviously bad microcopy. It doesn’t provide the user with enough information to help in any way. A much better example would be this message. The second example gives you all the information you need, while also making for a more user-friendly experience. This kind of microcopy lets you give users “clues” about how to navigate your website. 3. DO Write to Your Audience The goal of microcopy is to drive users to perform specific actions. There are examples of this everywhere on the web. If we had a dollar for every “Sign Up” or “Get Started” button, we’d be billionaires. There are cases where that type of generic microcopy works. However, if you know your audience well and understand what they want, you’ll have all the information you need to write better copy. For example, Uber tells new drivers to “Get in the driver’s seat and get paid” and then prompts them to “Sign up to drive.” This is a microcopy one-two punch that gets the point across much more effectively. Most people who visit Uber’s home page are looking for information about how to become a driver. This copy speaks directly to them. Related: 10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Your Small Business Outstanding Examples of Microcopy By now, you’re well on your way to becoming a UX writer and should have a firm grasp of what makes for excellent microcopy. However, let’s go over some examples of what outstanding microcopy looks like in various contexts before you get to work. Sign-Up Forms One of our favorite examples is the microcopy that drives sign-ups on Codecademy. This service has one goal, which is attracting more students. In turn, those students want to learn to code out of curiosity, to get better job prospects, and so on. To drive more sign-ups, Codecademy emphasizes that millions of people already use the service, and that you can get started for free. As far as microcopy goes, you can’t beat the word “free.” One issue that can increase friction in this scenario is that most users don’t know where to start when it comes to programming. Codecademy addresses that sticking point through another excellent example of microcopy. In only two sentences, they establish that they understand your problem. Then they prompt you to address it through a quiz. That is the kind of issue other services might take entire pages to address. Related: How to Get Visitors to Fill Out Lead Forms on Your Website Contact Forms Contact forms are not usually much fun. Most contact forms offer little feedback, are a slog to use, and feel like an afterthought. Some websites have cracked the code, however, by making their contact forms conversational. Yummygum, for example, uses a stylish design for its contact form and livens up the process by breaking it down into two steps. First, you enter your email and tell them what you want to talk about. The use of microcopy here is top-notch, from the “Let’s talk” to the unique choices you can select below. The next page of the process is more traditional, but by that point, you’ve already committed to the process. By taking a boring element and changing the way you approach its copy, you can drastically increase engagement. Take away the conversational microcopy, and you’re left with a pretty contact form that users might easily ignore. Error Messages Error messages are some of the hardest elements to write good copy for. That’s because you want to strike the right balance between providing enough information and not intimidating the user. Some websites like to tackle this problem using humor, such as GitHub. From a technical standpoint, this error message gives little information. However, for GitHub’s audience — and most potential visitors — its copy is enough to convey what the error means. Other websites, such as Amazon, like to play it safer by giving you access to a bit more information. The copy here is still simple, though, and it fulfills an additional purpose. It tells you what to do now that you’ve run into an error. Error messages are intimately tied to a website’s UX. Unless your website is zero percent interactive, users will run into errors. With the right copy, you can guide them through with as little friction as possible. Not all websites handle this as elegantly. If you find that users are running into problems with specific elements on your website, that’s the perfect opportunity to flex your microcopy chops. Extra Resources to Improve Your Microcopy Skills Using as few words as possible to get your point across is a skill that takes time to master. If you already have experience writing traditional marketing copy, switching gears is not easy. We’ve gone over the basics in this article, but if you want to level up your microscopy skills further, we recommend these resources: 700+ Power Words That Will Boost Your Conversions. Some words boast higher conversion rates than others. If you know what they are, you can build your microcopy around them. Start Designing With Goals in Mind. When you design a website around explicit goals, implementing the right copy becomes a lot easier. A/B Testing: How to Improve Your Website Through Trial and Error. Instead of relying on intuition, you can use A/B testing to find out what copy your users respond to best. The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Good microcopy is all about helping you increase conversions and achieve goals, so it stands to reason you’ll need to understand the basics of CRO. Now that you have all the right resources, it’s time to take another look at your website with a critical eye and see where microcopy can improve its UX! Actionable Insights in Your InboxWhether you need hep finding a target audience, crafting the ideal digital marketing strategy, or outlining your brand values, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up Woo Website Visitors with Effective Microcopy The fewer words you have to play with, the harder it can be to get your point across. That’s why great microcopy relies so much on design and context. If you know who your audience is, you don’t need as many words to drive conversions. The first cardinal rule of microcopy is to keep things clear and concise. Beyond that, you’ll want to: Consider the location of your copy. Don’t be too vague. Write to your audience. Are you ready to put these UX microcopy tips into action and start working on your next website? Our hosting plans make it easy to launch a new project, even if you don’t have a lot of experience with development. You can focus on the copy, and we’ll take care of keeping your website running smoothly! The post What Is Microcopy and How Can You Use It on Your Website? appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Start a YouTube Channel

Whether it’s funny cat videos, a repair how-to, a livestream on your favorite gaming channel, or the latest Carpool Karaoke, you’ve likely watched a YouTube video — or several — today. In fact, the site boasts a usership of more than two billion — almost one-third of the internet! Founded in 2005 in an office garage, YouTube has grown into a virtual behemoth, contending against contemporary social platforms and following Google as the second largest search engine and second most visited website. It is navigable in 80 languages and sees hundreds of hours of video content uploaded every minute. Even if you’re not Chewbacca Mom or Justin Bieber (who has YouTube to thank for his mega-success), the video-sharing platform can be a seriously smart way to create and utilize content that elevates and builds awareness of your brand. We’d go as far as to say that for businesses, YouTube is serious business. But before you hit record, consult this step-by-step guide to starting a YouTube channel; we cover everything from equipment to engagement to monetization. Ready to be a (video) star? Read on. Make DreamHost Your YouTube PartnerWe’ll ensure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan Why Create a YouTube Channel? We know you’ve got a lot of balls in the air right now, and creating and managing content on a YouTube channel seems like a lot to add to your already-full plate. So let’s talk about why a YouTube channel is so beneficial for your business. With its massive growth and powerful standing as one of the most trafficked websites, YouTube offers brands the opportunity to boost their visibility as they establish a presence on the site. The content shared there largely influences customer buying decisions: 68% of YouTube users watched a video to help them make a purchase decision, and a majority of them are doing it at the beginning of their shopping journey. Your content potentially wields a lot of influence. What’s more, YouTube can effectively access your audiences. YouTube reaches more 18–49 year olds than any broadcast or cable TV network and flaunts one billion video views per day.  Four times as many people prefer watching video on YouTube than on social media platforms, and they’re doing it for long periods of time — average mobile viewing sessions last more than 40 minutes. Related: Should You Partner With an Influencer to Promote Your Website? Even with the popularity of YouTube, only 9% of small businesses have started their own channels. As usage continues to grow, there remains a largely untapped opportunity for businesses to reach and engage audiences through YouTube videos. What’s more, there is potential for content creators to make money from YouTube, earning a living just by making engaging videos. YouTuber Ryan’s World has majorly monetized his channel — with 24.7 million subscribers and makes $26 million a year. Did we mention he’s eight years old? It’s time to get your business up and running on YouTube. Here are the steps. How to Start a YouTube Channel (12 Steps) 1. Identify Your Target Let’s take a moment to zero in on who (and what) your target is. Do some virtual people-watching in your niche and consider who you’re trying to attract. Think about the following questions when identifying the unique sphere your business operates in. What is your industry? What is your genre/niche within that industry? Who makes up your target audience(s)? Why them? What does your target audience want and need? What problem or pain point are you trying to alleviate? The answers to these questions can help you understand who you’ll want to tailor your content to — and what type of content you’ll want to create. Related: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy 2. Establish Your Type of Content Creating a YouTube channel is an excellent opportunity for your business to increase visibility. So having the right type of content tailored to your audience is essential for engagement and brand-building. Once you’ve pinpointed who your target audience is, you can start identifying the type of content that will resonate with them and meet their needs. And don’t stress over having a Hollywood-level type of video production when creating content. We’ll discuss gear later (see Step 4), but for now, remember that for viewers, relevance to their personal interests is more important than production value. The most valuable content to audiences isn’t necessarily the content backed by a big budget or slick, expensive tech. In fact, YouTube says 60% of people who have watched videos on the site in the past day tuned into content related to their personal interests. Clearly, businesses that have identified their target audience — and pinpointed what their needs are — will be much more successful, not only in building a YouTube presence but also in achieving engagement and building their brand. Based on your own YouTube habits, you know that there are many different types of video content. Here’s a sample list to get the content juices flowing. Think about how you might adapt them to meet the needs of your audience, and above all, how you might offer value. How-Tos/Educational Content (these YouTube searches are growing by 70% year on year!) Interviews Sneak Peaks Unboxings Q&As Reviews Day-in-the-Life Videos Virtual Tours Travelogues Aspirational/Storytelling Tutorials (users are three times more likely to prefer watching a YouTube tutorial video than reading a product’s instructions) Comedy (“relaxing” and “feeling entertained” are the top two reasons visitors list for watching YouTube content) (And remember to keep your content aligned with updated COPPA guidelines.) Related: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest? Choose the Best Social Media Platform for Your Business 3. How to Set Up a Channel Now, let’s dig into the technical details — the how-to of creating a YouTube channel. First, set up a Google Account, if you don’t have one already. This is the account you’ll use to manage your various Brand Accounts — meaning, you can toggle between different channels from one YouTube account. When creating a new channel, you’ll be prompted to create a Brand Account. Give it a name. Your channel is set up! Easy, huh? Now, the fun part: customization. Edit and upload your channel icon, channel art, and custom thumbnails — these are important visual ways to display your brand. Click on the About tab to add a channel description. Take care when crafting your summary, making sure to give a brief but polished outline of your business, your mission, and your products or services. Utilize core keywords that will help YouTube searchers find you. Include relevant contact info and links to your social platforms. 4. Gathering Your Gear Even if you don’t have fancy, high-tech gear, you can still film good-looking YouTube videos. Here’s how to use your $$ to create polished content or DIY it based on your budget. What you’ll need: Camera. Depending on the type of content you’re creating, you’ll want to invest in a camera that is best suited to your needs. This could include a DSLR, an action camera (like a GoPro), or a webcam. You can, of course, use your phone if it’s able to record HQ video. Do your research to find your best tech fit. Before filming, make sure all cameras and batteries are charged and ready. Microphone. You need good audio in addition to good video. An external microphone can help provide rich audio quality to enhance the production of your video. If viewers can’t hear you, they’ll quickly ditch your content (likely for a competitor’s!) Tripod. A tripod is an affordable tool that helps keep your video footage steady (you don’t want viewers getting dizzy!) There are lots of different types that match your camera choice and activity, so do your research. Lighting. If you’re filming indoors or in poorly-lit areas, lighting tools can help provide a better environment for professional-looking videos that are aesthetically pleasing and clear. Video Editing Software. Once you’ve filmed your video, you need a computer program to help you edit and modify your video into an organized, well-composed package. Most computers come with a basic tool, but if you’ve got more experience and want fancier bells and whistles, consider upgrading to software like Adobe Elements. 5. Filming Your First Video Lights, camera, action! With all your gear set-up, it’s time to film. It might help to prepare a storyboard before you film, so you know what you want to cover in the video and the shots you might need. Give yourself plenty of time, and record more material than you think you need — it’ll be easier to sift through a lot of good footage than to have to go back and re-film if you’ve left something out. Once you’ve filmed your shots, upload to your computer, and edit using your software. When piecing together your video, a few editing tips: YouTube has an Audio Library, a fantastic resource for royalty-free music you can use in your videos. Give your opening a captivating hook. With an overabundance of content to choose from, visitors need an enticing — and sustaining — reason to watch your videos. 6. Uploading Your Video Ready to share your polished video with the world? To upload your video to YouTube, visit your channel and click the Upload Video button (you can’t miss it!). It may take some time to upload to the site, so while you wait, take a well-deserved break (you know, before you have to get back to work spreading the news about your brand-spankin’-new YouTube video). 7. Optimize for Search You’ve got a shiny new channel and some killer content. But if your video isn’t primed for search, you won’t be getting the traffic you need to build your brand and your business. To help position your content for better rankings in search engines, utilize keywords. Build your video titles around relevant keywords (no keyword-stuffing!) that will help visitors find you. Follow it with an informative and well-crafted description. Related: The Top SEO Tools to Optimize Your Website for Success 8. Establish a Schedule — and Stay Consistent Vlogging isn’t a one-and-done affair. Meaning, one good video shared on YouTube isn’t enough to boost your business. Sure, it’s a great start. But if you want to build a community and effectively market your products or services, you need to establish a consistent posting schedule so visitors can regularly engage with content from your channel. Create a content calendar and stick to it. It’s also vital to establish a structure on your channel. Instead of just uploading videos haphazardly, create an organization that’s easy and intuitive for visitors to navigate. Group relevant content into sections to create a guiding framework, and consider adding a channel trailer to give viewers an idea of what they’ll find on your page (and why they should follow you). 9. Integrate Your Channel To spread your reach, integrate your YouTube channel onto your website and social platforms, embedding videos and sharing links throughout your site and as a part of your marketing strategy. Rachael Kay Albers of RKA Ink features her business sketch comedy videos as a prominent part of her website, inviting visitors to engage with her content across platforms. 10. Engage With Your Community With so many users, YouTube really is becoming a social hub where visitors are coming to engage. In fact, 70% more users are interacting with creators and channels, making it essential for content creators to get involved with viewers. Casual, once-in-while watchers have the potential to become avid followers — if businesses can effectively connect with them. How to do this? A few ideas: Respond to comments Seek feedback from customers or followers on the type of content they want to see Share user-generated content Subscribe to and engage with other accounts Produce quality content on a consistent schedule 11. Invest in Advertising Even with killer keywords and optimized copy, you should consider YouTube advertising as a way to grow your YouTube channel and boost your business’ reach. We already discussed the opportunity that YouTube provides (remember those billions of per-day views?), so developing a budget-friendly campaign can help you find and connect with more of your target audiences through well-placed ads. YouTube marketing really is smart marketing. Wanna Make Money on YouTube?Join our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to monetize your online presence!Sign Me Up 12. Analyze, Optimize, Repeat Obviously, as you work to create a channel and build your community, you’re going to find things that work — and things that don’t. Hey, that’s part of the learning process! Adjust and tweak your operations as you grow, continuing to optimize not only your content, but your methods. YouTube Studio (formerly Creator Studio) is a valuable tool for helping you manage your channel and access personalized insights that will help you grow. Analyze data to learn the kinds of video titles, lengths, and content types that are most successful. Keep track of your YouTube analytics (watch time is especially important!) and always look for ways to improve. Rack Up Views on YouTube Forget the internet killing the video star. Through starting a YouTube channel, your business can utilize video sharing as a means of content creation and brand building. It’s time to get on board. We’ve covered the ins-and-outs of creating a YouTube channel, everything from brand accounts and analytics to tech gear and types of content. As you create killer videos and integrate them onto your website, consider our shared hosting plans. We even offer a free website migration plugin, so you can easily move to DreamHost and continue working on your YouTube engagement. The post How to Start a YouTube Channel appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

DreamHost Continues to be COVID-19 Ready

As much of the world continues to live under orders to minimize physical interaction, we’ve all gotten a feel for what life looks like in a world where COVID-19 is ever-present. Some have lost jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. Some are wrestling with the anxiety and uncertainty caused by this global crisis. Most horribly, some of us have lost friends and family as this coronavirus has worked its way through our communities. Our hearts go out to all of you. I want to take a minute to update you on the state of DreamHost and reassure you that, in a world where each day brings new concerns and unknowns, we will continue to be there for you as a partner to keep your businesses and websites online and performing. You may recall that the majority of the DreamHost team has been working on a fully-remote basis since mid-March. Our team members will be able to work remotely throughout the remainder of 2020, allowing them the flexibility needed to stay safe at home with their families. We have expanded our employee assistance programs to help support our team during this time, making additional financial and mental health resources available to them. You’ve Been Busy Over the past three months, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of DreamHost customers logging into their accounts and building wonderful things. For many of you, being #SaferAtHome means having more time to focus on your online businesses and projects with DreamHost. This has been an inspiration for all of us at DreamHost to watch and drives home the deep responsibility we’ve always felt to keep you and your data secure and available. We won’t let you down. We have always prided ourselves on delivering extraordinary customer service, and during this time you are turning to us for assistance in volumes we haven’t previously experienced. To provide this additional help with the same quality and speed that you’ve come to expect, we have had multiple “Support Only” days where everyone in the company drops all other projects to focus on our top priority: individualized customer service. Rest assured that truly expert advice is available from anyone on our team, anytime you need it. All Systems Go We know how much you rely on us to keep your projects running. Many of you are using your websites to host online portfolios and resumes while you embark on job searches. Quite a few of you have shared stories of using this time to build new online businesses. Now, more than ever, you’ve got to have a reliable way to share your content with the world. We’re committed to maintaining the integrity of your hosting, the very foundation of your online businesses, blogs, and web apps. Our systems remain online and operational with enough capacity to meet your needs now and into the future. Payment Assistance We understand that everyone’s financial situation is unique, and some of us may be having a difficult time making ends meet. If your DreamHost bill presents a hardship, please reach out to our customer support team to explore your options. We can work with you to find ways to reduce your bill or even work out a deferred payment plan. Helpful Resources You’re not in this alone. We’ve put together a collection of tools and articles to help your business stay open and thrive for as long as we’re all asked to stay home. You’ll find guides on everything from growing your online business to starting a side hustle. We hope you find these resources helpful! We’re Stronger Together After listening to many of your stories over the past few months, one thing has become very clear. We’re all experiencing this crisis very differently. For some, this has provided a much-needed time to regroup and find focus. For others, entire lives have been upended. One thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to you and your websites. We’re here to support you and your businesses, and we’ll be there to help you build new ones too. This Sounds Familiar… If any of this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve heard it hundreds of times by now! Platitudes aside, we are here for you during this difficult time and look forward to a safe recovery. Thank you for choosing DreamHost. We are proud to be your online partner. Be excellent, Michael CEO, DreamHost The post DreamHost Continues to be COVID-19 Ready appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

The 11 Most Important SEO Metrics to Track

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a collection of techniques used in web design and content creation to increase your website’s reach. When done right, your search engine rankings should improve and your website’s traffic can increase. That’s why knowing to what extent your SEO strategy is making a difference is essential. Fortunately, tracking your website’s metrics and analyzing the trends you find helps you understand how users are interacting with your content. Knowing the most crucial SEO metrics to track — such as page views, bounce rates, and conversions — helps you evaluate which strategies might need to be tweaked and which ones are hitting a home run. In this article, we’ll share the 11 most important SEO metrics to track. You’ll learn what they mean and how to apply them to your business. We’ll also offer some helpful tips and tools for making sense of the data you collect. Let’s get started! Looking for a Shortcut to SEO Success?Partner with DreamHost! Our automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on SEO results.Check Out Plans Why You Need to Track the Right SEO KPIs Tracking your SEO data and crunching the numbers so they provide you with insightful information definitely requires an investment of time and often money. However, 63% of marketers actively invest in SEO, as well as tracking the data that results. Without identifying the right key performance indicator (KPI) for your website, your SEO strategy is “flying blind.” This is because SEO metrics tell you exactly how your campaigns are performing, what keywords are getting a response, and which tactics you can stop wasting time on. When you track and analyze your SEO metrics appropriately, you’ll have access to specific data points that can inform your decisions and increase your leads, conversions, and more. All you need to get started is to know which numbers matter most. The 11 Most Important SEO Metrics to Track Websites and their users create a lot of data. To help you sort through the chaos, we’ll take a look at 11 of the most important metrics to track when evaluating your SEO effort. 1. Keyword Ranking Keyword rankings indicate where your website appears in search engine results for specific words and phrases. For example, if you have a construction company, a search including the word building may result in your site only appearing on page three of the results. However, if you’ve used more SEO strategies that focus on the keyword contractor, your site should appear in a better position for searches including that term. The higher your site is ranked for relevant keywords, the more visibility it will have to your audience. This means that in order to improve this metric, you’ll want to do some research to determine which terms and phrases your target audience is searching for. To start tracking keyword rankings and other related data, there are several SEO tools you can use (check out these 15 awesome options). Google Search Console is the best place to start if you have a small (or nonexistent) budget, while the other products offer scalable pricing depending on your needs. If you’re looking for a more robust tool, we recommend SEMrush, an SEO suite that’s trusted by 5 million marketers around the world. Its Position Tracking tool makes it easy to see how your site is ranking for target keywords and paid results each day. Plus, you get in-depth insights into your competitors’ top terms. The good news? We’ve worked out a special two-week trial with SEMrush so you can see if this tool is a good fit for your site! 2. Backlinks Backlinks are links to your website from another site. Many backlinks operate like citations, noting where the information came from and referring readers to the original source. Search engines tend to give preference to sites with lots of backlinks, especially if they’re coming from high-quality sources. Building backlinks can be tricky since you don’t have direct control over who links to your site. Most of the tools out there related to backlinks are focused on tracking existing backlinks and using that information to help you build better content strategies. For example, Linkody is a backlink-specific tool that delivers a lot of useful features. This backlink tool enables you to not just track who is linking to you, but also identify and correct any link errors. It can also be connected to Google Analytics. Just remember that when it comes to getting a backlink, quality matters just as much as quantity. So while it’s good to see the overall number of backlinks going up, you’ll want to make sure that as many of them as possible are coming from relevant and highly-ranked websites. Related: 13 Simple Ways to Boost Your SEO Performance 3. Organic Search Traffic Organic search traffic includes visitors who arrive at your website from search engine results rather than through other channels such as social media, paid advertising, or backlinks. One of the easiest ways to track this type of traffic is with Google Analytics. Organic search is significant because users who find your site this way are typically searching with a specific goal in mind. In fact, 51% of all web traffic comes from organic search, and over 40% of revenue is generated from it. In other words, growing this metric is one of your best options for improving conversions. Generating organic traffic requires sharp SEO tactics and effective audience targeting.  This means that tracking this metric over time is vital, so you can see immediately what strategies are working and which need to be amended. 4. Top Exit Pages for Organic Traffic Another common analytic you can track is the last page each user was on right before leaving your website. This is called the “exit page.” Having this information at hand can be just as important as monitoring your overall organic traffic. This is because the more you understand why users choose to leave your website, the easier it is to convince them to stick around longer. If the top exit pages share certain elements in common, such as a particular type or style of content, this can be a clue that your target audience is looking for something different. Google Analytics is one of the best tools for tracking your site’s top exit pages. You can easily access an Exit Page report and see a breakdown of all the related data. Related: The Top 11 Domain Best Practices to Improve Your Search Traffic 5. Breakdown of Organic Traffic from Search Engines There’s a lot more to discover about your organic traffic data than simply how many users found you through keyword searches. In fact, Google Analytics offers a detailed breakdown of this traffic. Under the Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels menu, you’ll find keywords displayed in context with a number of other key data points. This includes how many new users used certain keywords, how long they viewed pages, and whether they generated revenue for your site. Learning about where your organic traffic is coming from and what they’re doing enables you to pinpoint problems to be fixed (such as a high organic traffic rate with few resulting conversions). 6. Page Views Per User Next up: page views. Page views measure how many times the pages on your site have been viewed in a given period of time. This isn’t the same as your traffic number, since many users may visit more than one page. This means that page views is a metric best considered in context with other numbers. For example, average page views per session or user can tell you how engaged most visitors are with your site. You can also look at this metric in combination with the length of time users spend on your pages. This provides valuable insight into how your content is performing. Are people moving from page to page too quickly, or spending time with each new piece of content? If any of these numbers appear troubling, reviewing your content and revisiting your market research are two steps you can take to create a more engaging experience for your users. 7. Average Time on Page Tracking your website users’ average time on page can be tricky. This is because there are many factors that influence user behavior. For example, a tab left open but idle in a browser for hours shouldn’t really be counted as part of the user’s “time on page.” According to CrazyEgg, 15 seconds is the average time users spend on a web page. If you find that your numbers are below this benchmark, it might be worth doing some market research to make sure you’re targeting the right audiences. Technical issues can also lead to difficulty keeping users on your site. If you suspect this is a problem, you can try checking your page loading speed with a tool like Pingdom. You can also use one of several optimization tactics for boosting the performance of your website. 8. New vs. Returning Users Keeping an eye on your number of new and returning users can be a good indicator of how your audience is responding to your marketing and SEO efforts. For example, if you have more returning customers than new users, that likely means you’ve successfully built some trust and loyalty among your visitors. However, this might also mean that while your existing customer base is steady and reliable, you may need to spend more time and resources on attracting new customers. One way to do this is to revisit your target market research and see if anything has changed, or if new markets have emerged where you can focus your SEO effort. Alternatively, high numbers of new users are a great sign that your promotional strategies are working. However, if the number of returning visitors is low, you may need to do some work on your site to better capture the attention of those new users. 9. Bounce Rate Your bounce rate is a metric that represents how many visitors leave your website without engaging in any content at all. A user might land on your home page, look around but not click on anything, and leave. If no other actions are taken or pages visited, that’s considered a “bounce.” This rate is found by dividing the number of “no activity” users by the number of overall visitors to the website during the same time frame. Alternatively, you can use Google Analytics’ Behavior > Overview report to get a quick view of your site’s bounce rate. Normal bounce rates vary by industry and website type. As a general rule, however, a bounce rate higher than 50 to 60% may indicate a problem with your site’s content. You can take a look at some of the other metrics we’ve discussed, such as the top exit pages and average time on page, to see what’s causing users to bounce away. Then you can make adjustments to your content and strategies in order to keep them around. Related: How to Build a Lead-Generating Landing Page with WordPress 10. Page Speed A slow page loading time can have negative consequences on your overall success online.  Whether you’re running a blog or an e-commerce page, no one wants to wait around for your content to fully load. In fact, one Google study found that a wait time of just one to three seconds increases the probability that users will bounce away from your website by 32%. The golden rule is to keep your page loading times under two seconds, but the lower they are the better. Fortunately, you can easily optimize your website for speed. A great place to start is by testing your site’s performance with a tool like Pingdom or GTmetrix. These solutions will also help you identify aspects of your site that may be hurting its performance. Related: 12 Reasons Why Your Website Is Slow and How to Fix Them 11. Conversion Rate In many cases, conversion rates are the most crucial SEO metric to track. A conversion happens when a visitor to your site completes an action you’ve prompted them to do. For example, if you have a blog, a conversion might happen when a follower signs up for your newsletter. For businesses, a conversion is often measured as a completed sale. Whatever your goal might be, conversions are a great way to directly investigate whether your SEO strategy is working. If you’re not happy with your rates, you can use your analytics tools to look closely at your conversion data and see where improvements might be necessary. In Google Analytics, for example, you can set up “goals” in your dashboard. These are the specific actions that will count as conversions and be tracked. This enables you to focus on your unique objectives and gather a robust and comprehensive set of conversion data. Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) How to Keep Your SEO Momentum Going With Quality Control Checks It’s necessary to keep in mind that your metrics are a reflection of the work you put into improving your site and growing your audience. This means there are several other elements not directly related to SEO that you’ll still need to keep an eye on. Here are a few other elements that can have an impact on how well your website performs in search engines: Crawl errors can mean that your site’s data is not being indexed correctly by search engines. Pages crawled per day is information available in Google Search Console, and can be used to keep tabs on your site’s health in terms of SEO. Duplicate titles and descriptions can hurt your rankings in search results, but you can use a tool like Yoast SEO to clean them up. Local visibility means focusing your SEO strategy on your local area, such as by registering with Google My Business. Click-Through Rates (CTRs) typically pertain to advertisements or email marketing efforts and are an important measure of the effectiveness of your campaigns. All of these pieces are key parts of the SEO puzzle. Of course, the quality of your content also has a significant impact on how well your site performs in the rankings, so that’s a factor to keep in mind as well. SEO Expert in Your InboxWhether you need help picking the right engagement metric, understanding digital marketing, or creating an SEO campaign, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up Improving SEO Performance Now that you have an idea of which metrics are most important for SEO, it should be easier to develop a solid web analytics plan. Your unique goals will also affect what numbers are most relevant to you and your site. Google Analytics is a great place to start when it comes to navigating key data such as conversions, page speed, user behavior, and more. If you’re using WordPress, it’s even easier to integrate analytics tools right into your admin dashboard, using plugins like Google Site Kit and MonsterInsights. Here at DreamHost, we offer many reliable WordPress hosting plans. Whether your site is big or small, we’ll handle the hosting so you can focus on your favorite SEO metric to track the data you need to succeed! The post The 11 Most Important SEO Metrics to Track appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels: Treasured Beauty, Sustainably Crafted

Talk about the American dream: Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels started from Sofia Kaman’s one-bedroom apartment and now has a Los Angeles store and a website that caters to customers around the globe. Initially, Sofia started making jewelry simply for fun. In 2001, she had just married her husband, Geoff Kaman, who encouraged Sofia to launch her own business. “I had been furiously designing jewelry as a hobby,” Sofia recalls. “He pushed me and said you should do this. My passion went from a hobby to working in a jewelry store to working on my own collection. We started the business from a wholesale line and grew it over the last 19 years and turned it into a retail store. Our website was always a part of it and grew with us organically over the years.” Though their web business has become a dominant avenue for Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels, their creative home is their building in Santa Monica. It houses their showroom, office, design space, and even their marketing and photoshoots are done there. In addition to showing their own collection, they also showcase antique and vintage jewelry. Everything is designed by Sofia and locally produced in Los Angeles by their team of artisans. Having the line made locally is a key part of its sustainability mission. Going Green A cornerstone of Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels is their commitment to using sustainable materials. “It’s definitely been a passion of mine since the beginning to figure out ways to be more and more sustainable,” Sofia says. “In this day and age, it’s not a question of can you be sustainable, but how can you be — what are the ways and how much. There is mining involved in the jewelry business, so it has a big impact on the earth. Loving and respecting nature — that’s so much of an inspiration for the designs and the motif — and being sustainable goes hand in hand.” They offer a range of green opportunities for clients, from lab-grown diamonds to small scale mined gemstones to antique diamonds repurposed into new pieces. Being more green is their ongoing goal, which is why they are on the hunt for more eco-friendly packaging. They use recycled gold whenever casting their own work, and they’re also looking into gold that has been ethically mined. “Fair mining impacts economics and communities,” Geoff says. “Those people live a hard life and don’t get much back. It’s difficult because we’re a half a world away from them, but we figure out how to give back to them. We’re looking for an ongoing process to find new ways to make our jewelry sustainable. Sustainability and luxury don’t really go hand in hand. That’s the combination we are trying to define.” Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels showcases jewelry beyond the pieces made in their studio. “Geoff and I travel and source from all over the world,” Sofia says. “Our focus is on wedding and engagement, with vintage pieces too. We have a little bit of everything. One of the terms I use to describe our aesthetic is “bohemian elegant.” It’s very inspired by nature and has a bit of a vintage influence. My passions always come through in my own designs. Our own collection is antique and modern combined — it’s very textural.” Want to Meet More Awesome Site Owners?Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest for inside scoops, expert tips, and exclusive deals.Sign Me Up Rock Solid Sofia truly knows her way around the stones she works with. “She is really well versed in this because she went to the Gemological Institute of America and graduated as a gemologist — she’s not just a designer,” Geoff says. “It’s more than just being able to say it’s a recycled stone. She can give all the details on how it is that.” Though she has professional training as a gemologist, Sofia is mostly self-taught as a jeweler. While she was a college undergrad, she took a wax carving jewelry making class and still employs that method, sculpting all of her models in wax. Tech Whiz Sofia was working as an elementary school teacher when she first met Geoff, who is now the Technical Director for Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels. It turned out their skill sets perfectly complemented one another’s, making it ideal for them to start the business together. “I’ve had a long road,” Geoff says. “I was in the Marine Corps right after high school and served in Desert Storm. I did some traveling after that and ended up in California.” The self-taught software engineer has taught a software class at Santa Monica College and worked in Apple’s advertising during the company’s most substantial growth period, engineering their online presence. During that time, he also created websites for Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels. While Geoff was working at Apple, he had used a web hosting company he was unhappy with because it was overpriced and didn’t have a lot of options for users. A co-worker recommended DreamHost, and he’s stuck with it ever since 2005. “Everything about it I love,” Geoff says. “The support I get is unmatched by any other service I’ve ever used, and there have been quite a few. Their support team is knowledgeable, quick to act, and they’re all polite. Whenever you get on that chat queue, my issue is resolved. For all the years we’ve been using DreamHost, we’ve probably been down maybe an hour total, and those are from upgrades — they’re super reliable.” Another reason Geoff is a dedicated DreamHost customer is that he appreciates the scalability. “Any time we need to make our database bigger or use more memory, we are set,” he says. “I started off with a shared server and moved to a private server. I can use a sliding scale to match my needs.” Get DreamHost’s Most Powerful HostingOur dedicated hosting plans are the ideal solution for high-traffic sites that require fast speeds and consistent uptime.See Plans Back in 2005, they started off using Flash on DreamHost for their website. After that was closed down, they moved to a WordPress site hosted on DreamHost, but it wasn’t scalable for the amount of activity they needed, so they moved on to Zen Cart to boost their e-commerce capabilities. One of Geoff’s areas of expertise is SEO, so he’s turned their site into what he calls an “SEO monster.” Now about half of their business comes from their website. “We have a lot more reach with the whole world than we do locally with our store,” Sofia says. As Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels has grown, so has their site. They’ve added enhancements to make it more personal, such as their virtual try-on. Mainly for rings, the virtual try-on allows you to take pictures of your hand on your phone and try on practically any of their rings through a couple of clicks. It acts like an app, but it’s hosted through DreamHost, so people don’t have to actually download a standalone app. Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels has fun with the feature. Recently they had a contest on Instagram and challenged people to build the best ring stack. The winner, selected by a popular vote, was gifted their stack, and a runner up received a gift certificate. Best in Store “The website is so robust that people use it as a catalog — they can basically shop all of our items online,” Geoff says. “We have all the details and different views, so the virtual try-on has always been a really big part of it. It takes a special person to drop $5,000 online without seeing it in person, so our main goal is to make them feel comfortable about their purchase.” Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels offers plenty of ways for clients to get in touch, including contacting a stylist, booking a virtual appointment, and online chats. “There are lots of ways to reach us, so it’s not a mystery on the other end,” Sofia says. Geoff adds, “They can book a virtual appointment using Skype or Zoom. We make ourselves available through whatever means they want.” Many people will peruse their website and then come into the store. “It’s really nice to have a physical presence,” Sofia says. “It’s very intricate, small work that sometimes is hard to capture in visuals. The online store and the showroom really work hand in hand for an experience for people. They might be introduced through social media, start exploring, find something they really love, and have to see in person.” People will even travel from out of state to visit their showroom. Meanwhile, their website brings shoppers from across the globe, particularly Australia, Singapore, and Europe. Related: 10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business For Sofia and Geoff, the most rewarding aspect of Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels, aside from seeing it grow, is working with clients. “We do a lot of wedding and engagement jewelry, so we tend to get involved with people’s lives,” Sofia says. “It’s a wonderful time; you can watch families grow, and it’s always really cute to see them come back later with their babies.” Ultimately, buying jewelry is a celebration. “Everybody who is coming in is celebrating something — a birthday, engagement, anniversary,” Geoff says. “With young couples who come in, they’re in L.A. and most are away from their family. We get this maternal relationship with them. It’s a friendship and almost a family that we build with our long-term clients. We stay in touch with them, and they come back over and over.” The post Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels: Treasured Beauty, Sustainably Crafted appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

10 Ways to Move an In-Person Service Business Online

We know you’ve been adapting to a new normal these days.  You’re a slave to your in-home wifi, your social interactions are taking place behind a screen, and your work “watercooler” moments are happening online, not around the office Keurig. But if you’re a business owner, those aren’t the only ways your working life has been transformed over the last few months.  Businesses are being profoundly affected by the global state of affairs. This is an unprecedented time for everyone, and as such, we’re learning to adapt and pivot how we do business. “It’s absolutely critical for businesses to pivot right now because the economic environment has completely changed,” says Jeremy Knauff, CEO of Spartan Media. “You can’t keep doing what used to work because everything is different right now. We’re facing a Darwinian business event unfolding.” Service professionals especially have been feeling the strain of how to transform their in-person business models into streamlined digital operations. Difficult? Absolutely. Impossible? We don’t think so. In this guide, we’re outlining 10 creative and lucrative ways that your service-based business can continue to make money and provide value during quarantine, while still planting seeds for future growth.  Web Hosting Shouldn’t Be Your Biggest ChallengeWe’ll make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan 10 Ways to Move Your In-Person Biz Online 1. Analyze Your Business Plan Before you jump into a new money-making effort, it’s helpful to take a look at your business as it currently operates (or did, pre-pandemic). With that in mind, consider: What will pivoting really look like for your business? “It could be a very small change in your business model, such as how you’ll deliver your services,” says Susana Fonticoba of Clear Path Marketing. “Or it could be a major change that disrupts the who, what, where, and how. Whatever changes you make in your business model, it must always satisfy the revenue you need to survive, the income you want to thrive, the type of clients you’ll serve, the clients’ deep goals, and the offers you’ll sell to fulfill it all.” Take the restaurant industry, which has been hit particularly hard during quarantine. Many have pivoted by offering curbside and delivery service but have still faced massive loss. Na’ama Moran, co-founder and CEO of the restaurant supply company, Cheetah, took a unique approach to deal with her industry’s changing business landscape due to COVID-19. Moran switched from serving as a wholesale restaurant supplier into a grocery delivery service, selling direct to consumers. “Moran leveraged Cheetah’s infrastructure, staff, inventory, and technology to provide a streamlined way for people to purchase food and cleaning supplies without any contact with other people,” Knauff explains. “This unique pivot enabled the company to continue moving their inventory while supporting their local community. Related: How to Set up Curbside Pickup and Delivery Through Your Website 2. Adapt Your Services Even if your business offers in-person service, there can be ways to safely continue providing those services — with necessary modifications and added digital provisions.  Take the recent adjustments made by lawn care company GreenPal. “We have changed up processes for how our vendor partners interact with their clients,” says Bryan Clayton, GreenPal co-founder. “We now have instituted a contactless procedure for when a homeowner hires a lawn care professional to mow their yard.” Because of these adjustments in operations, GreenPal has “seen a 17% conversion rate in many of the markets that we operate in,” Clayton adds. If your target audience is more hesitant to loosen the purse strings during an uncertain time, you can utilize digital tools to yield future growth. “More than anything, people are afraid to spend money right now,” says Bri Henke, owner and Design Director at Dig. “Because everything that used to be guaranteed just isn’t anymore — jobs, food, school, toilet paper — nothing feels safe about our world right now. So spending money on a luxury, like design, is slowing down. Right now, people are thinking about what they want to change about their home, and for that, I am trying to build up an e-design/concept package level to my business where we don’t have to physically interact, but we can make some positive changes to their space” Related: DreamHost’s Ultimate Small Business Resource Guide 3. Offer One-on-One Training or Tutorials Even when you’re taking your business online, you can still provide that essential person-to-person experience indispensable to service-based businesses. “A service is a personal experience,” says Jermaine Amado, photographer and owner of J Amado Photography. “It’s about building on the relationship with your client. So why not find a way to offer one-on-one support to your client through a video call? You could guide them through the process of taking photos, planning meals for the week, or a pedicure.” And pivoting your business for COVID-19 helps you not only prepare for future economic challenges but offers you a chance to target new audiences. “By offering one-on-one online photography courses and camera training, I feel like I was able to reach a new client base,” Amado says. “Adapting my services has allowed me to venture into an all-digital world where I don’t have to travel to offer my services.” No matter what field of industry your business occupies, you can adapt to bring offerings online. Related: How to Build an Awesome Online Store with WooCommerce 4. Offer Value Through Online Learning In addition to providing virtual services, you can make the most of the digital landscape by sharing your hard-earned knowledge, while establishing yourself as an authority and building your brand visibility. This strategy can help your business remain viable during a crisis and attract clients. For example, as a result of COVID-19, Southern Tax Preparation & Services moved from providing educational resources as part of its paid services to making those materials readily available through social media platforms and online communities, email campaigns, live video conferencing, and a podcast. This strategy shift is boosting the business in big ways. “We are establishing ourselves as an authority in the accounting and finance industry, and our audience’s desire to establish and maintain a stable financial structure has also increased,” says Jasmine Young, MBA, CPA, CFE, andSouthern Tax founder. “The increase in revenue from client referrals to purchase services that assist in creating a stable financial foundation is an obvious indication that our decision to pivot . . . was a step in the right direction for our company, as our gross income for the past quarter was 75% of last year’s gross income for the entire year.” The knowledge you have is valuable. Utilize it! Related: Easily Set Up an Online Course on Your WordPress Website  5. Curate Customized Product Kits Pivoting your traditional business in difficult times is necessary to establish multiple revenue streams to compensate for the loss of income from main offerings. This has been especially vital for hair salons in the UK, as governments may limit their re-opening for another six months.  HairCraze by Naomi, a salon in Wales, has innovated new strategies to offer value and boost its online business. They filmed a video on DIY haircutting, and a banner ad was placed on their website and Facebook page notifying visitors that the video is accessible to people who subscribe to their email or newsletter. According to their marketing company, this tactic has helped the business build up a stack of email addresses from potential customers to hit up and market to once the lockdown ends. HairCraze by Naomi has also contacted their current clients that regularly utilize hair coloring services, offering to make dye for them based on their individual hair profile. These dyes can be mailed or delivered to customers at a discounted cost, helping them maintain color between salon visits — a better-than-boxed-dye solution at a cheaper-than-a-salon-visit price.  Now that’s creative innovation. 6. Learn and Incorporate New Tech The health and fitness industry is seeing creative solutions to the prohibition on in-person gatherings as they seek to incorporate innovation and recoup lost earnings through digital offerings. Soofi Safavi, an entrepreneur and hot yoga enthusiast, pivoted his yoga business to operate virtually during the pandemic. When COVID-19 caused him to close his studios, instructors struggled with online class logistics and lost income, and his customers were without the habits they needed for their physical and mental health. Safavi acted quickly to create Wizard.fit, an integrated fitness app that allows instructors to virtually teach classes, collect payment, and instruct in a way that simulates a live studio.  Adapting to offer your business’ services on a digital platform doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. With the right network and tools, you can get virtual offerings up and running fast. “There are a myriad of opportunities available online for service-based workers,” said James Dyble, Managing Director of Global Sound Group. “For example, if you’re a personal trainer, jump on YouTube and start providing your services with that method. Possibly, even have a membership website or a mentoring program. . . . If the content is right, then the revenue will follow.” 7. Improve How You Engage Running a business behind a screen can be a challenge for service-based companies that rely on an in-person relationship. Use this time as an opportunity to refine and improve the ways that you engage and connect with audiences. First, update your website during this crisis. Make sure your customers are aware of what new or adjusted services you’re providing during social distancing. Then, take connection a step further. “As an events producer, I enable entrepreneurs, speakers, and organizations to have engaging events. Wow, did COVID-19 ever change that!” says Connie Zeller of C.Zeller Events. “I’m fortunate that I have amazing clients who could see the value of a pivot. While a virtual event can’t deliver the energy, physical connection, gift bags, food, and the overall live experience, it can still deliver an impactful message and reach the goals and visions of a live event.” Thoughtfully consider and plan how you’re going to provide your winning service in digital environments. Without the in-person connection, your business needs to use available tech in innovative ways to prioritize your audiences and nurture relationships. “Technology is allowing connection in such a productive way without having to leave your home,” Henke says. “So the opportunity to offer your clients your time still exists; it will just be through a screen. Reassuring your clients that they still get you, I think, is key in all of this — rather than just them feeling that they are only worth an email. [Clients] need to know that we are still there with them, it is just in a different capacity than before.”  Related: 20 Ways to Stay Social in an Age of Social Distancing 8. Expand Your Virtual Marketing Techniques As a professional organizer, Diane Eisenstein, founder and “Chief Organization Officer” of The Tidy Abode, has been experimenting with the addition of virtual services to her in-person business, offering coaching via FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom. “The most exciting part of it is that I have reached people from all around the country this way,” she says. “So many people staying at home want to be productive and get organized, but they get stuck on one part of the project. That’s where I come in! I give them advice on potential solutions and the products they need to get it done. I don’t get the big reveal moment at the end of a project, but I do see the ‘aha moments’ when I give my clients a suggestion that would work for their space.” Social media is likely already a part of your marketing strategy, so continue to expand your social media techniques to boost business! Host live tutorials on Instagram, Facebook, Zoom, or Youtube Live so you can communicate with your supporters in the comments in real-time. You can then upload these videos online to boost engagement and visibility. As a writer and vocal teacher for MusicGrotto.com, James Croad has been utilizing YouTube Tutorials to continue his vocal and guitar lessons remotely. “As a service professional, the transition hasn’t been easy, but it wasn’t impossible either,” Croad says. “It just takes a little bit of ingenuity! Regardless of the service you provide, we live in a digital age where there are multiple online platforms that can improve your business regardless of the quarantine. If you’ve got some grit and are willing to experiment, you can find a goldmine of efficient and profitable business practices online.” As you pivot and find things that work, market them vigorously.  “We are offering both free training and paid virtual 30-day masterminds to help businesses creatively explore their options and accordingly tweak or pivot their services,” says Janis Pettit, CEO of The 10x Zone. “For example, one company provides in-home occupational therapy for special needs children, and their business was down 70%. They decided to try teletherapy and it was approved by the insurance companies. After testing it and getting great results, we developed an aggressive marketing plan to promote it. It’s working, and weekly visits are going up quickly. And the best part? They can now serve clients not just locally as before but in the entire state!” Taking advantage of every opportunity to make $$$ (and build a loyal audience) can serve you well and help you develop the creative entrepreneurship needed to run a successful business, no matter the conditions. Related: 12 Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Local Business 9. Expand Your Offerings Why not try something completely new? Offering a novel service to clients can expand your business — and your audience. “Since lockdown, I have recorded myself making healthy meals and putting them in the Whatsapp group that I have set up with my clients,” says Elliott Reimers, a certified nutrition coach at Rave Reviews. “They’re contributing a small amount each per month for these tips. In addition, I am making up batches of the meals I recorded and then dropping them outside clients’ houses once a week.” By supplying unique offerings, checking in with clients, and keeping a positive attitude, you can meaningfully connect with your audiences and provide value. How can other businesses do this? Nail salons can curate and send clients boxes of supplies with illustrated (or video) instructions on how to care for their nails.  A massage therapist can film a video of how to pinpoint trouble spots in muscles and how a tennis ball or foam roller can alleviate the pain. Then they can sell and schedule a private one-on-one session via Zoom to walk through this process with the client.  An esthetician can schedule private video sessions to examine clients’ skin and recommend and order specific products for the client. Physical trainers can provide virtual workouts or home-workout tips, creating video tutorials or doing it with them virtually to boost both of your physical activity and gains. They could also sell different protein shakes or guided meal plans. Cleaning companies similarly can sell their cleaning products, supplied with step-by-step tutorials on how to clean various home spaces.  And all businesses can offer gift cards! Related: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy 10. Continue to Incorporate Digital Options Bringing parts of your business online can be a massive benefit to you as you target new audiences and expand your offerings. So don’t stop that momentum when things return to business as (mostly) usual. Keep utilizing the power of tech to boost your business.  “One valuable aspect of a digital service-based business is the convenience factor,” Eisenstein says. “In-person services require travel time, prep time, and schedules that need to be matched up. Even after COVID-19 conditions end, I will most likely conduct consultations over video calls, plus I plan to incorporate more virtual coaching into my schedule so I can reach more people around the world.” Looking for Remote Work Tips?Whether you want to stay focused at home or increase team engagement, we can help! Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up Re-Homing Your Business in a Digital Landscape Pivoting your business into a digital landscape isn’t just valuable — it’s essential right now. Not only can virtual adaptation help you keep your business afloat, but it can ultimately help you run a better, more successful business in the future as you refine how you market, engage, and incorporate technology.  “The economic environment and marketplace have shifted, and the ‘new normal’ will not go back to the way things were,” Pettit says. “Businesses that don’t have a way to serve their customers’ needs as they are now will struggle or even fail. Look at businesses in the past that didn’t — Blackberry, MySpace, Sears, and many more. There is great opportunity here if you can creatively embrace it.” If you want to get your business up-and-running online and flex those creative muscles, you need to start at the beginning: partnering with a great web host for your site. We can help you set up your online presence — at a safe, virtual distance. The post 10 Ways to Move an In-Person Service Business Online appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Set up Curbside Pickup and Delivery Through Your Website

COVID-19 has had severe ramifications, not only from a health standpoint but economically as well. With most people staying home and practicing social distancing, businesses that rely on in-person transactions are moving online. We’ve already outlined how to pivot your business model, update your website, and lead a team remotely during the coronavirus outbreak. But there’s something else small business owners will want to consider as part of their crisis management plan: offering curbside pickup and delivery options for customers. By enabling shoppers to place orders online and receive their items with minimal contact, you can do your part to keep your community safe, while also continuing to bring in revenue. In this post, we’ll take a look at some alternative shopping options for local businesses. Then we’ll show you how to set up either curbside pickup or a delivery option for your customers using WooCommerce. Let’s go! Related: DreamHost’s Ultimate Small Business Resource Guide Alternative Shopping Methods During the COVID-19 Pandemic In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued several public health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These suggestions include: Stay home as much as possible. Keep six feet between yourself and others. Avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more. Unfortunately, these guidelines make it difficult for small local businesses to welcome customers and conduct sales normally. To maintain even a limited revenue stream, most retailers and restaurants have had to develop alternative methods for serving customers. Curbside pickup is one of the best and most popular ways of doing that. It enables customers to purchase products online, and then visit your store to receive their items. Rather than having them go into your building, you or one of your employees brings the customer’s things out to their car. Think of it like takeout. With local delivery, your customers stay home while you bring their orders to their doors. Both methods go a long way towards minimizing contact between people since shoppers won’t be gathering in your store. However, you can take further precautions as well, such as: Wearing gloves when packing customers’ orders. Requiring online payments to avoid contact with customers when exchanging cash. Place pickup orders directly in customers’ trunks. Leaving delivery orders at customers’ doors, and calling or texting them to let them know their packages have arrived. Providing face masks and hand sanitizer to employees involved in pickup and delivery orders. Fortunately, the risk of transferring or contracting COVID-19 via an object is very low. By setting up curbside pickup and delivery and minimizing contact between your employees and customers, you can significantly reduce the health risks for all involved. Related: The 10 Most Popular Online Payment Gateways for Your Website, Compared How to Set Up Curbside Pickup and Delivery Through Your Website (In 4 Steps) Below, we’ve outlined steps for setting up both curbside and local delivery options for your small business. Note that these instructions assume you already have WooCommerce installed and configured on your store’s website. If that’s not the case, please check out our tutorial on getting started with WooCommerce, and then you’ll be ready to get rolling! Trust Us, You Can Build a WebsiteWhether you want to start a blog or run a small business, DreamHost makes it easy to begin your online journey. Our shared hosting plans give you everything you need to thrive online at an affordable price.Learn More Step 1: Configure a Local Shipping Zone The first thing you’ll need to do is pick a WooCommerce shipping zone for your local area. This will prevent a shopper who is outside your service area from placing an order for pickup or delivery. In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to WooCommerce > Settings > Shipping. Click on Add Shipping Zone. Add a descriptive name for the shipping zone and then select your region. Click on Limit to specific ZIP/postcodes to narrow your pickup and delivery range. Remember to save your changes when you’re done. Related: How to Create a Restaurant Website Step 2: Enable Local Pickup as a Shipping Option Next, while still on your local shipping zone page, select Add shipping method. WooCommerce includes a local pickup option out of the box. Select it from the drop-down menu, then click on the Add shipping method button. That’s all you have to do to enable curbside pickup for your local business. However, if you would like to refine this option, you can purchase and install the Local Pickup Plus WooCommerce extension. This optional add-on enables you to specify a pickup location, set hours, offer discounts to customers who select curbside pickup, and more. Step 3: Add a Flat Rate Shipping Option WooCommerce no longer offers a “local delivery” shipping option. However, you can still configure one without the need for an additional plugin. On your local shipping zone page, add a second shipping option and select Flat rate. Then click on the Edit option for that shipping method. Change the Method title to “Local Delivery” (or however you want to present this option to your customers at checkout). If you want, you can also add a flat rate delivery fee. Finally, click on Save changes. Your local pickup and delivery options will now both appear on your site’s checkout page, where customers can select their preferred methods. At this point, you’re ready to start offering curbside pickup and delivery to your customers. However, you may want to take a few extra steps to make managing your orders easier. Related: 20 Ways to Stay Social in an Age of Social Distancing Step 4: Install Order Delivery Date for WooCommerce to Manage Requests While you can technically set up curbside pickup and delivery for your business using WooCommerce alone, its native features don’t enable you to manage or schedule orders. This could lead to problems if you have multiple customers placing pickup and delivery orders at the same time. One way to solve this issue to enable customers to schedule their pickups and deliveries. Order Delivery Date for WooCommerce can help with this. After you install and activate this plugin, navigate to Order Delivery Date in your WordPress dashboard. Then configure the following settings: Select the checkbox next to Enable Delivery Date capture on the checkout page. Choose which days you’re available for delivery. Set the minimum number of hours you need to prepare an order for delivery. Specify how many days in advance customers can schedule an order. Select the checkbox next to Selection of the delivery date on the checkout page will become mandatory. Set the maximum number of deliveries you can handle per day. Select the checkbox next to Enable default sorting of orders (in descending order) by Delivery Date on WooCommerce > Orders page. You may also wish to make additional adjustments in the Appearance and Holidays tabs. Remember to save your changes when you’re done. Now, when customers reach your checkout page, they’ll have to choose a delivery date. Once the maximum number of orders for any particular day has been reached, that date will become unavailable in the calendar. This will prevent you from receiving more orders than you can physically manage at one time. On your WooCommerce Orders page, you’ll be able to see the customer’s specified delivery/pickup date listed for each order. Note that you’ll still need to contact customers to inform them what time their orders will be ready (especially for curbside pickup). Looking for Remote Work Tips?Whether you want to stay focused at home or increase team engagement, we can help! Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up Curbside Takeout or Home Delivery? Curbside pickup and delivery options enable your customers to purchase their favorite products from you with minimal contact. This could help your business survive the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic side effects and is a valuable strategy for building customer loyalty. Fortunately, you can enable both local pickup and delivery using WooCommerce in just four steps: Configure a local shipping zone. Enable local pickup as a shipping option. Add a flat rate shipping option. Install Order Delivery Date for WooCommerce to manage requests. The foundation of any successful e-commerce site is a reliable hosting plan. At DreamHost, we provide quality shared hosting services for small businesses at affordable prices. Check out our plans today! The post How to Set up Curbside Pickup and Delivery Through Your Website appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

11 Things Website Owners Should Update During a Crisis

Ever since the coronavirus crisis hit, it can sometimes feel like it has affected every area of our lives. Anyone who is now homeschooling kids or suddenly spending way too much time over a hot stove can vouch for that! Of course, that includes business too, and if you’re a business owner, there’s a good chance you’ve really felt that impact. “In my 13 years as a marketing agency owner, I never dreamed of this time, when my team and I are assisting hundreds of struggling small businesses to understand how best to market and communicate now to save their businesses,” says Wendy O’Donovan Phillips, CEO of Big Buzz. “Re-evaluate your vision statement to focus the team’s efforts through this time,” she advises. “Revisit your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis with a particular focus on opportunities. Your clients and community have different needs now than they did even a month ago and will have different needs in another month. This approach will help you more readily hit your revenue and profit projections. Take the right action, and you will survive!” It’s time to create a crisis management plan. One of the most crucial things you’ll need to tackle as a small business owner is updating your website and social media channels. To keep your small business on the up and up, we’ve identified 11 things website owners should update during a crisis. Let’s dive in. Related: 11 Ways Small Businesses Can Pivot to Survive a Crisis How to Update Your Website During a Crisis 1. Create a new landing page. When people visit your website, your homepage is likely the first thing they’ll see. That’s why keeping it fresh is always crucial, but with things in flux during a crisis, that’s even more important. To show that your business is on the ball and staying up to date, you’ll want to create a landing page for crisis-related content. Make sure to change the page often, especially when new information is released or policies evolve. If those affect your business, outline how you’ll be implementing anything new and how that will impact customers. Every time you update it, you can spread the word on social media by sharing a link. Another reason to continue refreshing your landing page is that search engines will recognize it’s a key page on your site for the crisis, which will boost SEO. Related: How to Build Lead-Generating Landing Pages with WordPress 2. Update your FAQ page. If you don’t have a FAQ section on your business website yet, it’s time to add one! The COVID-19 crisis is changing every day, so a FAQ section is a great place to address that and share your updates. Local businesses especially need to answer common questions about their crisis management and how your company is adapting because of restrictions due to COVID-19. To ensure that clients are aware of your FAQ section, you can spotlight a link to it on your homepage. Continue to add relevant information to your FAQ page, such as how you’re keeping employees safe, who comes into contact with your products, and policy changes, for instance. The FAQ section is also an opportunity to share any changes in your supply chain, offerings or any potential product fulfillment delays. “Always ensure you have the right resources to deploy readily available,” says Bob Minhas, Founder and Lead Trainer for eSchool for Entrepreneurs. “Whether documents or videos, walk through your customer journey and understand what they might need to know to complete a transaction with you online and have the right FAQ ready for them.” 3. Change your menu/navigation. To make it easy to find your crisis content, it’s a good idea to add a link in your main navigation or an alert bar that sits above the navigation to your crisis landing page. Be sure to keep the title of the new navigation item short. Plus, regardless of the status of a crisis situation, it’s always a good idea to update your navigation to keep it timely and relevant, which should be part of a best practices strategy for your website. 4. Review your product descriptions. Have your offerings changed in any way since the crisis started? Then you’ll want your website to reflect that. Change the text accordingly and add item availability information to postings. “A lot of small businesses that we work with are looking to add new services or products that are complimentary and interesting to the audiences they have built both online and in previous customers,” says Chris Sica, Chief Revenue Officer, The Ronin Society. “We encourage business owners to step into their customers’ shoes, think about the new buying journeys they are going to be on, what new pain points they will be experiencing and attempt to solve those using the resources they already have available to them.” Related: How to Write Product Descriptions That Really Sell 5. Check your events page. If your business hosts events of any kind, you’ll want to give updates on how the schedule has changed, including if they’ve been cancelled, postponed or are going virtual. To avoid confusion, continue to list the original event date so that clients can confirm the event. For events that have been changed from in-person to digital, be sure to link to the virtual location for easy access. Related: 20 Ways to Stay Social in an Age of Social Distancing 6. Make a homepage hero. In the midst of a crisis, everyone could use some good news. If you’ve realigned your business to help in any way, make it easy for customers to find out by updating your homepage. For example, if you’re now doing carryout or delivery, be sure to spread the word. “A delivery option is absolutely essential now,” Sica says. “Lots of customers still want to get out of the house and curbside pickup gives them a bit of a break from being at home. [Another element to expand is] payment options to make it easy to afford your product or service.” 7. Utilize pop-ups or banners. One of the easiest ways to catch your clients’ attention and update them is to add a pop-up or banner. It’s an easy way to spread the word about reduced hours, limited inventory, shipping delays or changes in service availability. Make sure that it visually grabs people’s attention. 8. Refresh local listings. If your hours have changed, the world needs to know. Be sure to update your website. Additionally, you’ll need to adjust hours and temporary closures on platforms where customers go to find your hours, such as Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp. Related: Create a Marketing Strategy to Promote Your Local Business 9. Update your scheduled messaging. If you regularly send out pre-scheduled emails or social media updates, be sure to adjust them to fit the current situation. Otherwise, if you send out the same old communication, it can make you appear tone-deaf and not up to speed. “Customers are used to coming by your shop, seeing your advertisements, or whatever your traction channel is,” Sica says. “Their entire user experience with your brand has been removed or changed. Their fears and pain points have been altered. As a result, you need to make sure that you stay top of mind in a useful way. The easiest solution is by creating or updating your newsletters. We’ve also seen businesses create how-to videos for clients based on in-store or online products they like, and we’ve also seen customer happy hours.” 10. Change your social media accounts. At the minimum, ensure that your business hours, closures, and product availability information remains updated for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak. Just to be on the safe side, it’s best to post more than once on your regular social media channels about any business changes, since we all know how quickly a Tweet can disappear to the bottom of a Twitter feed. This increases the odds that customers will see the news. Related: How to Promote Your Website With Influencers 11. Increase crisis communication. Ensure everyone is up to speed by sending updates via email, texts or blog posts — communicate with your customers in the way that is best for them. “It is important to stay in touch with customers,” says Jaryd P. Kase, Principal at Kase Consulting, LLC. “First off, if you are open, your customers might not know and they should know you are open. Second, your customers are dealing with the same crisis as you. By communicating how you are working to mitigate risk factors in the pandemic or working hard to continue bringing them a great product or service (or pick up where you left off if you are closed), it helps put the customer at ease that their favorite store or an important supplier isn’t going out of business.” However, there is a fine line between communicating too much and too little. “Communication with customers should be tempered,” says Deborah S. Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. “It is important to not over-communicate or be too sales-y. Share information cautiously. Share content and information, but don’t try to sell. Inform and educate.” Looking for Remote Work Tips?Whether you want to stay focused at home or increase team engagement, we can help! Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up Your Crisis Management Team The coronavirus pandemic — and the resulting economic downturn —  is making things tough for small business owners. At DreamHost, we’ve provided digital homes for small businesses for more than two decades. In that time, we’ve learned that entrepreneurs are scrappy, smart, and savvy. We believe in you and your business and are here to help. We’ve written a lot of small business guides and tutorials over the years — from building a great website to creating a digital marketing strategy. To make this content easier to use, we’ve compiled it all into a small business resource page. Please reach out on Twitter or Facebook if there are other small-biz topics that you’d like us to cover. If you run a brick-and-mortar operation and need to build a website for the first time, check out our guide to setting up an online store in an hour. Our shared hosting plans (starting at just $2.59/mo) are an affordable way to get into the e-commerce game. Already have a website? We now offer free WordPress migrations so you can move over to DreamHost without any hassle. We’re here to help. If you have any questions about your site — big or small — reach out to our support team. We’d love to help. The post 11 Things Website Owners Should Update During a Crisis appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

DreamHost’s Ultimate Small Business Resource Guide

We see you, small business owners! You bring character and diversity to your hometowns and spice to your niche on the internet. You create jobs. You build local economies and provide unique products and services with a personal touch big corporations can only try to replicate. Plus, you are living your dream: turning your passion into a money-making venture that improves the world and gives you the chance to be your own boss. We know how hard you work to make this dream a reality. It’s never easy to run your own business, but the current COVID-19 global pandemic has been a particular plague on small businesses. Governments around the world have social distancing guidelines to stop the spread of this coronavirus, bringing global economies to their knees. With people stuck at home, non-essential businesses closed, and millions out of work, the customers you rely on to stay afloat either can’t come to your shop or are short on cash for anything outside living expenses. None of this is your fault, and it is happening despite your diligent work and vision for your business. Even National Small Business Week — an annual springtime celebration of your essential place in the U.S. economy scheduled for this week — has been postponed thanks to COVID-19. But we are going to celebrate you anyway! Here at DreamHost, we believe in small business, and we are proud to provide a platform and digital home for so many of you. The pandemic will let up eventually, and we are still rooting for you. To help you get some ideas for how to build and boost your business, we’ve collected our best advice for small business owners — all in one place. Read on to find essential tips about: Building a Small Business Website Building an Online Store Small Business Advice Small-Biz Tools and Resources Ways to Make Money Online Small-Biz Marketing Tips Feel free to use the links above to jump around to the most pertinent articles for you and your business — or read straight on through for an overview of all the advice we have to offer. You Can Build a WebsiteWhether you want to start a blog or run a small business, DreamHost makes it easy to begin your online journey. Our shared hosting plans give you everything you need to thrive online at an affordable price.Learn More Building a Small Business Website In the small-business world, your website is everything. It’s your homestead on the frontier of the web. It declares your brand to the world and is often the first impression potential customers have of your business. For many of you, your website is your business. Even if your business is a brick-and-mortar operation — such as a restaurant or antique store — your company’s website needs to be helpful, optimized, and updated and maintained regularly. Your website provides valuable info, including where to find you and when, and drives customers off their couches and into your stores. The internet is where your customers spend most of their time, especially right now. Use these resources to learn how to get going on WordPress, build a beautiful website from the ground up, and tailor it to fit your own business. Want to Build a Website? Here’s Your Game Plan How to Start a Website in 5 Minutes with WordPress How Long Does it Take to Build a Website? How Much Does It Cost to Set Up a Website? How to Create a  Freelance Writer Website How to Create a Real Estate Website How to Create a Restaurant Website How to Start a Fitness Blog How to Start Your Own Food Blog How to Start a Photography Blog How to Create an Online Portfolio How to Start a Review Site Related: 16 Ways to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home Building an Online Store If you have an online business — or if you want to start selling your products online in addition to your physical store — a reliable and attractive online shop is what you need. Your customers want to browse, find the products they want, and check out without a glitch. To make that happen, you need to build an online store with a trusted platform in addition to your business’s WordPress website. It’s surprisingly easy to get an online shop up and keep it going — you just need the right tools and tips. We love WooCommerce and Shopify, and you’ll learn about both, plus more tips and tricks for selling online, in the helpful guides below. How to Start an Online Store in 1 Hour with WooCommerce WooCommerce vs. Shopify: An In-Depth Guide 11 Ways Your Online Store Can Compete with Mega-Retailers 5 Amazing WooCommerce Templates to Increase Sales How to Add a Quick View Option to Your WooCommerce Products How to Build an Awesome WooCommerce Store with OceanWP How to Run a Successful Sale on Your WooCommerce Website How to Use Printful to Sell T-Shirts and Other Swag with WooCommerce How to Write Product Descriptions That Really Sell: 8 Simple Tips Small Business Advice You small business owners are a scrappy bunch, and much of what you know you learned through good, old fashioned experience. There’s no education like the one that comes from getting out there and making your own mistakes. As valuable as mistakes and failures are, we want to set you up as much as possible for success and triumph. In this section, you’ll find a roundup of our best advice for entrepreneurs — learn how to manage everything from your stress to your small business website and beyond. Building Your Own Business Website? Don’t Make These 10 Mistakes The Top 15 Benefits of a Website for Small Businesses 20 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses Ready To Start an Online Business? 5 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs 8 Ways Small-Business Owners Can Manage Stress 6 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs a Website Now Related: 10 Ways You Can Create ‘Watercooler Moments’ While Working Remotely Small-Biz Tools and Resources You want your small business to reach its full potential — and so do we! No person is an island, and the same goes for businesses. We all need a little help and support sometimes, and when we use available tools, we can get more done in less time. There are so many tools out there to help you manage and grow your business, and to optimize the whole enterprise for success. Stop doing things the hard way. Here you’ll find all of our favorite tools, apps, plugins, and more for making the work of running your business a little easier. 11 Best Web Management Tools for Small Business 30 Best Small Business Apps 15 SEO Tools to Optimize Your Website for Success 10 WordPress Plugins to Maximize Your Lead Generation 5 WordPress Plugins to Drive More Conversions on Your Website 15 Essential Plugins and Features For Your WordPress Website 10 Handy WordPress Plugins For Improving Your Workflow 10 of the Most Popular WordPress Plugins Related: 20 Ways to Stay Social in an Age of Social Distancing Ways to Make Money Online Thanks to the internet, there’s never been a better time to start a side hustle. Money-making opportunities abound online, from blogging to affiliate marketing. Whether you want to build up an extra income source on top of your full-time gig or are looking for ideas to build up your business, we got you. Let’s walk through our favorite — not to mention lucrative and legitimate — ways to make money online. How to Monetize Your Blog: 14 Top Strategies 25 Legit Ways to Make Money Online 13 Lucrative Side Hustle Ideas Set up an Online Course With WordPress How to Start a Podcast with WordPress How to Create a Crowdfunding Campaign Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing Small-Biz Marketing Tips There are more than 1.5 billion (and counting) websites on the internet today. So how does your humble food blog or photography portfolio get noticed, by the right people, amid all the noise? One word: marketing. “If you build it, they will come” is an adage that doesn’t hold up so well when it comes to your business’s presence online. Merely having a website just isn’t enough; you need to draw people to it for it to do any good. You need some smart strategies to bump your website up to the top of search results, find and engage social media followers, and encourage positive reviews. Do you want your brand to get noticed? Find your target market. Drive traffic to your website. Do some smart social media and email marketing. Create killer content and optimize your site for top search engine results. How? We thought you’d never ask: Learn or brush up on these skills with our handy dandy guides to marketing your small business. How to Find Target Market for your Business How to Create a Media Kit for Your Website How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website How to Get Your Website Visitors to Fill Out Lead Forms How to Run an Online Giveaway on Your Website How to Add Customer Testimonials to Your Website The Website Owner’s Guide to Email Marketing How to Create an Email Newsletter 12 Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Local Business The Ultimate Guide to Website Localization How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks Create a LinkedIn Company Page to Promote Your Small Biz 5 Ways to Pick the Best Social Media Platforms for Your Business 10 Social Media Tips for Small Businesses How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy Want More Small-Biz Hacks?Whether you need marketing advice or a heads-up on the latest web design trends, we’ve got content for that! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up You’ve Got This There you have it — everything we’ve ever written to guide, inform, and inspire small business owners in one handy guide. We know that you’ve got what it takes to make it through this crisis, and we hope these resources can help you get there. Now, we have a question for you: How can we help? What small-biz related questions are keeping you up at night? Holler at us over on Twitter to let us know which additional topics and resources you’d like us to cover for small business owners. Are you wondering where to get started? You can easily build an online presence for your small business with shared hosting. Our plans, which start at just $2.59 per month, offer all the tools you need to build your business and reach your customers. The post DreamHost’s Ultimate Small Business Resource Guide appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Expert Advice: 11 Ways Small Businesses Can Pivot to Survive a Crisis

Every entrepreneur knows that starting a small business is never easy. There are a few challenges that are to be expected — from building the perfect team to discovering exactly who your customer is, to creating a social media presence, just to name a few. One thing we never expected? Dealing with the economic blowout from a global pandemic. No matter what type of small business you have, everyone has experienced consequences from the coronavirus outbreak. That’s precisely why small businesses must be able to pivot in order to survive a crisis. “It is important to always listen to customer needs and to respond, but at a time when customer needs and demand is changing, it is critical for small businesses to pay attention to what customers are saying, how they are responding and what their needs are,” says Deborah S. Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com. “For small businesses to continue to remain relevant, they have to listen and respond. It is an opportunity to learn and grow as a business owner and to leverage entrepreneurial skills when they are most needed.” So, how can you be nimble these days? While every type of business has to act according to their market, there are a few universal rules that apply. Here are 11 ways small businesses can adapt to pull through the coronavirus crisis — and practically any crisis. 11 Ways Your Small Biz Can Pivot to Survive a Crisis 1. Adjust your offerings based on new customer demands and needs. It might seem obvious that entrepreneurs will need to switch up their business model to stay afloat during this crisis. The tricky part is figuring out how to change. “These shifts should be made in changing customer choices and industry trends and not simply in response to changes in economics,” says Bob Minhas, Founder and Lead Trainer for eSchool for Entrepreneurs. “Of course, shifting in economics will always lead to shifting customer choices, so they are generally aligned. However, a shift in economics is reactive, whereas a shift from purposeful research is proactive.” To figure out how to begin, Minhas suggests starting with market research. First, study what the economic experts are saying and learn what has changed in the national, regional, and local economies. Think about your industry and what the experts in your field are saying about its shift. Finally, talk to your existing and potential ideal customer base to determine what they need and if your skillset can support that. “Compiling all the information here will allow you to put something together and then just offer, offer, offer,” Minhas says. “Get people in to test your offer so you can continue to refine until it’s working and bringing in the revenue you need. Keep in mind that in this specific economic situation, it’s not a good idea to make a hard pivot you cannot come back from. You only want to pivot enough so that you are still within the realm of your expertise as that credibility of what you do is needed for customers to still trust you.” Plus, once the economy bounces back, you’ll want to be able to return to your initial business, or at least a modified version.  Potentially, this pivot can also stay as a new revenue source. Web Hosting Shouldn’t Be Your Biggest ChallengeWe’ll make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan 2. Always be prepared to work remotely. As a small business owner, you’ve most likely learned that planning ahead is key to success. “I always advise companies to plan for certain risks and make contingency plans, one of which is typically being forced to work from home,” says Jaryd P. Kase, Principal at Kase Consulting, LLC. “Of course, you don’t always have the benefit of being able to plan in advance. I would take advantage of cloud-based storage options such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft One Drive, etc. so that employees can access files from home computers. Take security precautions into consideration and don’t allow sensitive material to flow freely, but you should allow people enough access that they can do their jobs.” If your team is struggling with how to stay focused while working from home, these 16 strategies can help. Video conferencing enables people to work on team projects and keep the office on the same page. There are plenty of options from companies like Microsoft, Google, and Zoom, among others. “Some are free, some cost a little money,” Kase says. “Compare the features and pick what is best for you.” Related: The Best Web Management Tools for Small Businesses 3. Keep up daily team meetings. With everything in flux, it’s even more important to keep your employees up to speed. “Normally, team members can sync outside of their regular meetings with a quick desk visit or a water cooler visit,” says Chris Sica, Chief Revenue Officer of The Ronin Society. “Because these no longer exist in a work-from-home situation, you need to supplement them with increased meetings to make sure people get unstuck or remove blockers in their projects.” Plus, meetings can actually be a morale booster when the going gets tough. If your team is feeling isolated while working from home, you can even create watercooler moments while working remotely. Plus, chatting on Facebook Live, for example, can be a much-need way of staying social while social distancing. “Virtual team meetings let people see that they are still part of a team and not just stuck in solitude,” Kase says. “I usually allow a bit more leniency for going off-topic and joking around just because people have that need for human interaction that they are not getting from working in the office. When it comes to discussing work, though, this is where everyone can give updates on where they are on their tasks, ask for help, and congratulate a team member on a job well done.” 4. Boost your communication with customers. “Communication is an important factor during this time to help maintain your customers’ feeling of confidence,” Minhas says. “However, I find that a number of businesses focus on outbound communication, meaning they’re talking more than they are listening. Communication with customers needs to be a balancing act. Listen to what the most common questions coming in are and create outbound communication related to that.” Keep communication lines open during this time. For example, create a space such as a FAQ page and quickly respond to any outreach from clients. “Be sure to invest in a ticket system to track communication effectively among your team,” Minhas advises. 5. Stick to a daily schedule. With the world feeling upside down right now, it’s hard to remember what day it is. But that’s even more reason you should create a schedule — and be strict about following it. “It’s difficult to stay on track with so much going on (and not going on),” Sweeney says. “Hence, it’s critically important to plan and strategize and have an organized structure for your day. Have a schedule — wake up, exercise, eat healthfully, stay organized, get work done, communicate with team members and customers, and save time for strategy and organization of yourself for the upcoming day.” 6. Work on what can be done in the present. One of the many challenges of the coronavirus crisis is not knowing when things will return to normal. Since we can’t predict the future — even when we’re not in a global pandemic — focus on the now. “Small business owners need to prioritize the survival of their company,” Kase says. “That means making sure that proper financing, communication, staff retention, customer outreach, etc., are occurring. Beyond that, business leaders cannot forget about their longer-term goals. Goals for 2020 might be shot at this point; you likely will not hit your revenue numbers. Your 5- to 10-year goals, however, should be able to absorb a bump in the road, and you need to make adjustments to your strategy and tactics to ensure that you are still on course for reaching those goals.” 7. Improve your skill set. Just like people are using their newfound time to learn a language or start meditating, that self-improvement can trickle over to your business too. There are many areas where small businesses could use a boost. “It’s time to learn how to write great articles and emails,” Sica says. “It’s important to learn how to get good pictures and videos of yourself, your team, and your product or service. It’s time to learn digital marketing, how to use social media, and how to build an audience organically. It’s time to learn how to vet digital marketing agencies. It’s time to learn how to manage your finances more seriously so you can be more competitive with your pricing and sales offerings.” Related: The Best Online Resources to Learn How to Code) 8. Continue to network. It might seem counterintuitive to prioritize networking while social distancing, but it’s a great way to keep your business going strong. “Right now everyone is in a similar situation: The economy is struggling, unemployment is high, customers have been told not to leave their houses and businesses have been told to close,” Kase says. “Networking in a time like this can be both therapeutic and educational. It’s therapeutic in the sense that you can commiserate with other small business owners who are dealing with similar problems and educational in the sense that you may be able to learn what has worked well for someone else and try it for your own business. Meeting for coffee may now be talking on LinkedIn or Zoom, but the concept is still the same. There are plenty of places online where small business owners congregate, and a large portion of them would love to network.” 9. Get feedback. It’s always important to know what your colleagues and clients think, but now you might have more time to implement changes based on their suggestions. “Feedback right now is the best market research tool,” Minhas says. “Consumers are going through a shift in their buying behavior, so to understand the gap of what they need and what we are delivering is an important way to maintain relevance to them and, in turn, having them continue to spend money with us.” It’s not just your clients that you should be touching base with — hearing from your staff is equally important. “Feedback from team members ensures you’re able to maintain productivity as a team and that team members are invested in the success of what your company is trying to achieve,” Minhas says. “They buy into your common goal and mission when they feel heard.” Finally, you can also reach out to leaders and mentors within your field for suggestions on how to improve your own personal skill sets. Related: 12 Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Local Business 10. Stay positive. Looking on the bright side is especially challenging during tough times, so remind yourself that there is always a silver lining. “Silver-lining observations are often a hallmark of entrepreneurs,” Sweeney says. “Learning to take the opportunities from challenges is a critical aspect to adapting to change and growth. Business owners need to find order out of chaos … and be the voice of reason, observation, and opportunity when others cannot or do not see it.” To help your staff feel more optimistic too, empower them during this difficult time. For example, encourage team members to develop their skills during their downtime. “If you have an employee who is looking to grow in the company, this might be a great time to suggest reading up or training on some specific skills,” Kase suggests. “They can come back to the office when the economy is back open and use those skills in their work, showing you not only their dedication but also that they might be ready for that promotion.” Another critical way to empower employees is by listening to them. “Your employees might have some great ideas on how to weather this storm, so don’t feel like you as the owner need to have all of the answers,” Kase suggests. “Set up a virtual brainstorming meeting. Even if nothing comes of it, just being invited to sit at the table is an empowering gesture.” Looking for More Remote Work Tips?Whether you want to stay focused at home or increase team engagement, we can help! Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up 11. Ask for help. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the economic landscape and created a financial crisis, so there are new government resources available to small business owners. Consider taking advantage of them to stay afloat. “Additionally, there are a few other programs that are potential options,” Sica says. “The Main Street Lending Program is a four-year loan with interest and principal payments deferred for one year. There are a number of large corporations offering special grants, and federal taxes have been delayed until July 15th for both personal and business. Each individual city seems to have a list of solutions applicable to their citizen businesses; search ‘[your city + COVID resources + small business].’” Ready for a Successful Pivot? No doubt about it — this is an uncertain time for small businesses. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from hosting websites for the last two decades, it’s that entrepreneurs are a scrappy (and smart!) bunch. You’ve got this, and we’re here to help. We’ve compiled our best small-business resources for you, with helpful guides on everything from building a great website to marketing your products. Please hit us up on Twitter or Facebook if there are other small-biz topics that you’d like us to cover. For those of you looking to build a business website for the first time, check out this helpful guide to getting an online store up and running in less than an hour. If you’re having trouble with your current web host and want to move your site during this time, we’ve got great news! We now offer free WordPress migrations. Have questions about your site? Our support team is always available to answer your website queries — big or small. The post Expert Advice: 11 Ways Small Businesses Can Pivot to Survive a Crisis appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

RetroSupply Co. Creates Vintage Tools for Modern Designers

In the days of sleek digital design, there’s nothing quite like the look of art inked fresh onto paper. Dustin Lee has always thought so, from the time he was a boy living with his grandmother in California, exploring her catch-all closet piled high with “junk” from her past: mid-century board games, comic books, matchboxes, and catalogs. “Even though my childhood was in the 1980s, I grew up around a lot of stuff from the ‘50s and ‘60s,” Lee says. “I’m a really big fan of mid-century, postwar American commercial art — I love the illustrations on cheesy mail-order ads in comic books and old toy packaging. I love when stuff looks like beautiful frameable art in retrospect, and it was totally just made originally to be disposable, to try to sell a product — the kitschy, crappy, but-accidentally-beautiful design of things that people probably did on assignment, never knowing that it would be recorded in history.” As a graphic designer, Lee pulls inspiration from his mid-century nostalgia. To create an authentic analog look, he had to build brushes, fonts, textures, and other tools to use on design programs Photoshop, Illustrator, Procreate, and Affinity. “And I found that it was very hard to do that if you didn’t know how — there’s a lot of intricacies to making that come off as convincing and not cheesy or weird.” Lee uploaded his custom design kits to sell online as RetroSupply Co. The business has since made a name for itself in the design world, becoming successful enough to support Lee’s family, build a dream home in Washington state, and help weather the COVID-19 outbreak. “We are a provider of brushes, textures, fonts, and other effects for creative illustrators who want to add analog touches to digital work, pulling from history to provide resources that can make it so things feel a little more like they used to,” Lee says. He’s been in business for eight years now and has trusted DreamHost to provide a steady foundation for his website from the beginning. “It’s almost a cliché to say at this point. I think most designers — and probably just people in general — feel like doing so much stuff online makes everything so clean and sterile,” Lee says. “I think people miss holding comic books in their hands or reading the newspaper that gets delivered to the door. A lot of the reason I started this business is because I would love to see people recreating that look of something really screen printed or printed on paper.” Want to Meet More Awesome Site Owners?Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest for inside scoops, expert tips, and exclusive deals.Sign Me Up Starting from Rock Bottom Lee’s business took off when he was at one of the lowest points in his life — and he ended up stuck there by trying to do everything right. As a teenager, Lee attended an arts high school, developing talents for visual arts and music. He had even secured a spot at Berklee College of Music to study guitar and songwriting. But afraid of becoming a starving artist, he switched gears. “I thought I needed to know business to make money from creativity. And I thought, ‘I’ll learn business from a bank! That’s where you learn business.’” So he got a job at a bank — and hated every minute of it. Inspired by Timothy Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Work Week” (a manifesto for escaping the traditional 9-to-5 grind), Lee quit the bank gig and went into graphic design. He studied it for a few years in college, tried to freelance, and had a “real” job here and there designing blogs and websites. But his dream of working for himself just wasn’t playing out as he’d wanted. “It was a dark time in my life,” Lee recalls. He couldn’t get work as a graphic designer so he started drinking, in his words, “a little too much.” “It was just horrible timing because my wife and I were about $35,000 in debt, living with my grandma — I mean we were helping her, but we were still living with her. It was so embarrassing,” Lee says. “I wasn’t doing well as a designer. A baby was going to be born in nine months, and we barely had any money. I just felt stuck; I was really in a corner.” Dustin Lee and his oldest child, Elah, who helped inspire RetroSupply. Lee’s tight spot forced some quick thinking. He had already developed specialty design tools — brushes, textures, shading — inspired by his love of mid-century art to bring that look into his own projects. He bundled these tools into kits he could sell online. Every morning, Lee woke up at 5 a.m., headed to the coffee shop around the corner, and uploaded kits to Creative Market, a marketplace of resources for graphic designers. It took less than a minute to coin the name of his fledgling shop: RetroSupply Co. Slot Machine Day Lee’s retro-inspired design tools made some money here and there but nothing close to what he needed to tackle that pile of debt. “And then there was a day that I think of as Slot Machine Day,” Lee says. “One day I’m at the coffee shop. I’m working on something for RetroSupply for about two hours, and then I shift to my regular work. And all of a sudden I got those notifications on my phone —  bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing.” Each “bing” represented a sale — $6 or $7 straight into his bank account. Why the sudden popularity? Lee discovered that Creative Market had featured a few of his products in their email newsletter, and it immediately racked up hundreds of sales. He grabbed his laptop, not even bothering to pack it up, and ran home. “I probably looked really, really silly. I ran home with this manbag flopping beside me — I wanted my wife to see the phone going off.” By the end of the day, he had pocketed about $1,500. “It was amazing to me — this was the beginning of a lot.” He realized quickly that he needed to build his own website to start collecting customer email addresses and created a site on Shopify, soon hosted by DreamHost. By the time Lee’s daughter was born, he had made enough to repay his debt and pad the savings account, leaving him and his wife free to enjoy time with their new daughter in peace. Related: WooCommerce vs. Shopify: An In-Depth Guide “We weren’t worried about money, and I was doing something I loved,” Lee says. “It was amazing. I stopped drinking, I quit smoking, I got out of debt — it really was a life-changer. I was really blessed.” RetroSupply has become a full-time business well-known in the industry. Lee collaborates with prominent designers, hires employees and contractors, frequently speaks at conferences, and contributes on a design podcast that’s approaching 2 million downloads. In addition to design tools, RetroSupply offers courses and tutorials. He’s even created a side business, Passive Income for Designers, to teach others how to leverage their creativity. “I’ve helped designers make $500 or $1,000 extra every month without having to do additional work,” Lee says. “And surprisingly, it feels almost better than anything, because I know I know what it feels like; I know how far 500 extra bucks can go.” Despite his success, Lee is quick to point out that his lucky break was just that — lucky. “Luck is involved,” Lee says. “So I hate when people try to start businesses, and they punish themselves when it doesn’t do as well as they wanted. It’s good luck, perseverance, and, you know, adapting and making changes. But I think people are too hard on themselves. Making a business is hard and there’s luck involved. No doubt about it.” Bringing Retro to Life RetroSupply eventually faced a crossroads, one that forced Lee to grapple with how to strike a balance between following his passion and following market trends. When Lee started his website, the vintage style he loved was trending, and then almost overnight, hand-lettering and watercolor became the rage in graphic design. He saw a dip in his sales as greeting cards and home decor featuring hand-lettered fonts popped up at major retailers. Lee faced a conundrum: “Do I keep selling the retro stuff I love, or do I listen to the market and make hand-lettered fonts and watercolors?” He decided to stay the course. “I wanted to be that guy who does the retro stuff, so I doubled down,” he says. The choice has paid off. What’s most compelling about Lee’s products is his devout dedication to accuracy. Every color, brush, and texture is taken directly from a period-authentic piece. Once, an eBay search led Lee to a “beautiful Army surplus catalog from like 1959,” he says. “And it had these beautiful halftones in it and gorgeous illustrations. And I ended up getting in a bidding war over this thing and paid about $200 for it.” Lee and his team use high-resolution scanners and attempt to recreate the original art, creating the tools they need to make an identical digital piece. To make brush kits, he partners with artists who specialize in that style. Each product is tested by partner illustrators before going up for sale. “I’ve literally bought 50-year-old crayons and pencils, scanned them in, and sampled little pieces until I could recreate that look. So it’s kind of fun — it’s like a license to buy as much old junk as I want and justify it because it’s a business expense.” Building a Solid Foundation Lee built his Shopify site fast out of necessity, with a simple logo and bare-bones design. But with RetroSupply’s revenue increasing every year, Lee decided to hire his favorite designer to do the branding: Chris de Lorenzo, the designer behind Boston’s Johnny Cupcakes and a frequent illustrator for the New York Times. “I’m a designer, but I definitely have no problem in having someone better than me to do something for the business.” Related: How to Design a Logo for Your Website That Visitors Will Love In addition to converting sales, Lee hopes that his website makes life a little more interesting for anyone who visits. “I read once that whenever someone is looking at your website, they’re sitting there most likely sitting all by themselves, staring at a screen without any company, desperately looking for someone to break their boredom. And so whenever we put something on  RetroSupply, we think, even if they’re not going to buy something, what can we do to make it interesting whether it is an image or blog post.” Lee has been with DreamHost since the beginning. “I just love DreamHost, which is weird to say, because I always think of a hosting company as something that, if they’re doing the job right, you don’t notice.” But he does notice DreamHost — not because he’s had problems with the service — because “the customer support is so freaking good. Whenever I want to buy a domain or need to resolve something, it’s easy to get someone on. They always answer my question, and things are taken care of immediately. I never feel passed between a bunch of different departments. They are willing to take the initiative to get it figured out. I’ve even asked someone on support once, ‘How did they find you guys?’ Because everyone’s always so nice.” Lee recognizes the role of a great web host in keeping an online business afloat. “Some places may offer hosting for a little less money, but a business is built on the hosting — it’s not the place to be worrying about a few dollars, because a lower price doesn’t mean reliability. You will lose sales if your web host doesn’t have the infrastructure or the staff to keep your site up all the time. Your web host is the plot of land your site is on; you want it to be a solid platform.” We’ll Support Your DreamWhatever your goals, DreamHost will be right there with you. We’ll make sure your site is fast, secure, and always up. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan Facing an Uncertain Future A global pandemic and crumbling economy makes this an uncertain time for everyone — especially for small business owners. Lee and his collaborators had a few new projects up their sleeve for 2020, but any plans for growth have been put on hold for the time being. “What comes next will have to be informed by how everything plays out in the next months or even year,” Lee says. “What’s next right now is really listening to customers. I’m not trying to plan anything; my sales goals are out the window. This is an opportunity, I feel like, to communicate to our customers that we care about them and that we want to support them and that we’re not going to try to maximize revenue during a time when people are anxious and struggling. This whole situation has been very humbling.” Lee is grateful to feel like he and his family are in a good place to make it through. He already works from home, in an office lined with guitars and piled high with philosophy books. Living in a farmhouse atop a mountain makes social distancing simple — though the virus has postponed their backyard homesteading plans — and RetroSupply is strong enough to survive potential downturns in revenue. “With everything that’s happening right now with the coronavirus, we still need to make money to stay in business, and we certainly will try to do that,” Lee says. “But I feel like this is the time to take care of people. I’m not worried about paying my rent; the business has been successful enough that I don’t have to worry about that. I realize I’m super blessed and super lucky.” The post RetroSupply Co. Creates Vintage Tools for Modern Designers appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

17 Ways to Build a Massive Following on Instagram for Your Website

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms among younger users. Even so, “Gen Z” might still be ignoring your image feed. While this may be frustrating, it’s not an insurmountable problem. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to take a well-rounded approach to Instagram infamy. This means you can take advantage of the 200 million Instagram users who visit business-niche profiles daily — including the key 18–24 demographic. In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes Instagram such a hot property for marketing right now. Then, we’ll show you how to create a strategy and highlight 17 growth tactics you can put to work. Let’s get started! What Makes Instagram a Valuable Marketing Tool for Your Website Instagram continues to be one of the fastest-growing social media platforms available. In fact, it’s grown 5–6% in terms of users in the United States over the past year, continues to trend upward, and is actually more popular among teenagers than adults. Given this, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using the Instagram app as a marketing platform: It’s visual. We all know the phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words” — it almost applies to Instagram itself. Your images can reach millions of people on the platform and can quickly deliver valuable visual messages about your business. You can start for free. You can jump on Instagram within seconds to start an account at no cost. While advanced features and Instagram ads have a price tag, you can still use the platform to build a following and post brand-relevant content. Integrations are easy. Integrating with other social channels (such as Facebook) is a snap. This means you can post to multiple platforms with a minimum of clicks. Additionally, when it comes specifically to dedicated advertising features, you can also use Instagram’s popular Stories ads option. In fact, Clif Bar did this — and when they used quirky, memorable videos across all formats, it resulted in a 28-point lift in ad recall among followers. Your Instagram Bio Needs a Website LinkWe’ll make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy When it comes to marketing on Instagram, some best practices can help enhance your results. As a foundation, note that establishing a strategy is not the equivalent of posting pictures when you feel like it. Some helpful starting points for setting your strategy include: Identify Your Instagram Goals. SMART goals are valuable when it comes to creating a measurable plan. In this case, it’s best to set your goals so they fall within the strengths the Instagram platform offers. Research Your Target Audience. The more you know about your potential customers, the more likely you are to deliver content they’ll be interested in. Google’s Consumer Insights tool can help you gather valuable audience research data. Set Your Instagram Theme. This should support your brand and overall business mission and vision. All of your content should then tie into that theme. Choose Your Growth Tactics. Keeping up to date with Instagram trends can help you implement your next steps with the platform. By doing this, you’ll be much better prepared to take the next level with Instagram marketing, when your business shows signs it’s ready to grow. With the above in mind, some specific tactics can help you build a massive following on Instagram. After all, you want as many targeted followers as you can get for your marketing efforts to pay off. Related: 10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business 17 Ways to Build a Massive Following on Instagram Instagram offers some unique, visual opportunities that are not as prevalent on other platforms. Given this, here are 17 tips to help as you begin marketing with Instagram. 1. Use the Best Filters Instagram filters are a way to apply corrective or artistic features to your images without the need to use editing software. These are applied before you post an image to your feed. Instagram offers quite a few filters already built into the app. These typically play with the color and light in your images. However, filters can be used to help create a cohesive look for your feed. By including in-house guidance regarding which filters can and can’t be used by your marketing team, followers will begin to associate it with your brand. 2. Post Consistently Posting consistently lets your followers know they can always rely on fresh content from you. This means they’ll also be more likely to make your feed a regular stop when they get online. One way to do this is to create a content calendar like the example Instagram provides. When it comes to posting content, consistency can also help build trust with users. This is one way you can use Instagram to build and maintain relationships with your customers. 3. Use Relevant Hashtags The “hashtag” — also called the “pound” sign or “octothorpe” — is used to make certain phrases or words in a post searchable. This helps categorize them and makes it easier for visitors to find the content they’re looking for. Hashtags are meant to be used often, but you do have to watch for those not representing your brand well enough. For the right hashtags, using the same ones consistently can lead to higher rates of engagement with your visitors. Additionally, if you use an Instagram business account, you can access data about your hashtags and see which ones perform the best. 4. Organize Your Stories into Highlights on Your Profile Instagram Stories enables you to combine images and videos together into a dynamic slideshow on your feed. To give you more control over your stories and how viewers see them, Instagram introduced the “Highlights” feature. Highlights remain visible until you take them down, so they’re akin to pinned posts on other platforms. This is a dynamic way to make sure users who are new to your feed get the most critical information front and center — for example, Highlights relating to your brand story or goals. Related: Instagram Tips for Your WordPress Website 5. Utilize Video Overall, marketers overwhelmingly agree that video ads give them a worthwhile Return On Investment (ROI). It can also help you develop leads and directly increase sales. While your videos are limited to 60 seconds (with the exception of IGTV), you can enhance them with filters, hashtags, text, and location tags. Although it started out strictly as a photo-sharing platform, Instagram quickly added the ability for users to share short videos. These videos can be used to leverage content such as influencer interviews or product demonstrations as a way to engage with your followers. Related: Customer Testimonials and the Power of Social Proof 6. Geotag Your Instagram Photos Instagram uses geolocation technology to afford users the ability to tag their posts with their exact location. This can be helpful when trying to build a following. For example, if your business doesn’t have a listed location on Instagram, you can use your connected Facebook account to create one. Once you’ve done this, visitors to your business can tag their posts with your location. This gives you a lot of visibility throughout Instagram and also allows you the opportunity to use geotagging to run contests, promote events, or find influencers in your area. Related: How to Run an Online Giveaway on Your Website 7. Post at Ideal Times Saying that there is one definitive “best time” for posting on Instagram is not simple. Data collected by different marketing firms shows a wide variety of peak times. However, collecting some of your own data is likely the best way to target the ideal time for your audience. Instagram Business accounts can view insights for their account in three main areas. This includes content, activity, and audience. Keeping track of these stats can help you determine the best time to post so you reach more followers. Additionally, the days you post also have an impact on how well your posts and promotions are received. 8. Cross-Post on Other Platforms Cross-posting is a technique used to easily push your Instagram posts out to other platforms. For example, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable you to connect Instagram to your WordPress website using a plugin such as Blog2Social. With this, you can send your blog posts to Instagram or vice versa. Even if you cross-post your content manually, it’s an excellent way to reach users who only use one particular platform and would miss out on your content otherwise. 9. Socialize With Your Followers Instagram gives you a great way to connect with your followers. It has very few on-screen distractions, and you can guide the conversation with the imagery you use. Even more importantly, customers want brands to connect with them — they’re more likely to purchase from brands with a strong social media presence. In fact, 76% of people said they are more likely to choose a brand they feel connected to over other choices. 10. Invite Your Followers to Share Posts With Friends Whether you encourage your followers to share your content through contests or by simply asking them to, social sharing is a powerful tool. This is mainly because, unlike other forms of advertising, social sharing can grow exponentially. For example, what if one of your followers, who happens to have 1,000 followers of their own, shares your post? Of course, there are additional views up for grabs — not to mention what happens if each of those users shares your post too. This is a time-honored technique that’s tailor-made for social media. In fact, it should be foundational to your overall approach. 11. Share User-Generated Content User-Generated Content (UGC) does what it says on the tin. This kind of engagement can be very exciting for loyal customers and employs simple hashtags, submission forms, and more. One example of UGC is Wayfair’s #wayfairathome campaign. With over 43,000 posts from users, you can see how UGC can be an effective way to fill out your content calendar and get your users excited to engage with your Instagram feed. With a concept users can get behind, it’s one of the more successful ways to build an Instagram following. 12. Collaborate With Other Users and Brands in Your Niche When you reach out to collaborate with other users and brands in your niche, you can accomplish a couple of major goals. This is a good way to find a potential instagram influencer who might want to promote your business. Finding brands in your niche market not directly competing for the same customers can be mutually beneficial. You can essentially double your reach by joining forces with a complementary brand to market both products collaboratively across both feeds. Related: New to Influencer Marketing? Learn How to Partner Up to Promote Your Website 13. Engage With Your Competitor’s Followers Contrary to what you may think, it’s OK to leverage your competitor’s followers. First, establish your niche and gather some valuable search data. To do this, you can use tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner or your own Instagram Insights. Once you know what to search for, you can begin reviewing your competitor’s feeds. The idea is to look for popular hashtags that are used by your competition’s followers and then follow their feeds. Many people have their accounts set to “auto-follow” their own new followers, which potentially means you’ll gain some new visitors. 14. Run a Giveaway We’ve mentioned giveaways previously, but it’s worth dedicating more time to the concept. There are a lot of applications available to help you create and run giveaways on your Instagram account. Most require users to share the post in addition to either inviting a friend or reposting content. There are plenty of steps to consider here. You’ll need to set a deadline and outline the actions the user needs to take in order to be eligible, before choosing a winner. Overall, this method is a frontrunner for boosting shares, engagement, and visibility among your users. 15. Pay for Sponsored Posts If you’re familiar with Facebook’s post-boosting options, you can achieve the same thing on Instagram. Sponsoring a post means you can pay to have it placed in feeds outside your follower list. This means you won’t have to create new content to sponsor. Another benefit of using this method is that you’ll also be able to choose relevant targeting criteria to make sure it’s delivered to your chosen audience. This can include age, location, and interests. 16. Hop on Viral Trends Making your own version of a popular meme is a fun way to take advantage of viral trends. One example of this is the celebrity reaction to the “Dolly Parton” meme. Celebrities took up the challenge and posted their own versions. Brands can do this too, using sites such as Digg. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your company’s humor in a way that can remain relevant to your brand. 17. Use Analytics to Measure Success Remember those SMART goals we mentioned earlier? Don’t forget to use your data to measure your success and set your sights on where to improve. Since it’s not really feasible to implement all of these tactics at the same time, you’ll want to monitor performance to see which ones garner the best outcomes based on your goals. You can use the built-in Insights option to collect data or try a free, third-party collection tool. Ready to Hone Your Social Media Strategy?Whether you want to increase Instagram followers, understand Facebook ads, or get more out of Twitter, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter so you never miss an article.Sign Me Up Build Brand Awareness With a Successful Instagram Strategy As you can see, there are many tactics you can implement on Instagram to create a strategy that will gain your target market’s trust and a massive following. It might seem overwhelming, but Instagram is also fun, engaging, and worth the effort to market to users. A cohesive theme throughout your feed is one of the cornerstones of the strategy. Additionally, you can easily leverage concepts such as UGC, as well as collaborations with other brands in your niche, to gain followers. Ultimately, you’ll want to aim to create an attainable set of goals and make sure your tactics line up with those. It can be easy to lose sight of your goals once you’re in the trenches using all the tools we’ve discussed. One thing you shouldn’t have to worry about, though? Your web host. Check out our shared hosting plans today so you can focus on becoming the next Instagram sensation! Image credits: Instagram The post 17 Ways to Build a Massive Following on Instagram for Your Website appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Pages

Recommended Content