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How to Start an Online Store

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The post How to Start an Online Store appeared first on HostGator Blog. Analysts predict that global eCommerce sales will reach $4.9 trillion by 2021—showing a growth of 265%. People are only getting more comfortable buying products online, and entrepreneurs are rushing to provide them more options for doing so.  Starting an online store isn’t just attractive because of the potential profits. In comparison to other forms of business ownership, it also has the lowest barriers to entry.  You don’t have to worry about the real estate a storefront requires. And you don’t have to hire staff to man that storefront. Your startup costs are lower and the initial steps involved in getting started are far less complicated. But there’s still a lot you need to know if you want to start a successful eCommerce business. These are twelve of the most important steps not to skip when starting an online store.  How to Start an Online Store in 12 Steps Step 1: Determine your products. Before learning how to start an ecommerce business, you have to know what product or service you’re going to sell. Picking the right products to sell on your eCommerce website is essential to the success of any online store. Sometimes, people go into business because they already have a great product idea in mind. Other times the desire to start a business precedes the step of choosing products. In either case, you’ll benefit in this step from doing two things: Researching the level of need or interest in products you considerFiguring out how to supply or create them Even if you’re confident the product you have in mind is an awesome idea, if there’s not a market need for it, your business won’t get off the ground. A CB Insights analysis found that 42% of startups that fail do so because they’re trying to sell a product that no one needs. So do some consumer research to make sure there’s an audience that will actually want to buy your product to begin with.  For physical products, you also need to decide who your supplier will be before you start selling through online marketplaces. If you’re creating a new product to sell, that will mean identifying vendors for both the supplies needed to make the product and those for putting it together.  If you’ll be selling products that already exist, you need to find a high-quality supplier that provides items in your chosen categories. You have two options in this stage. You can either order the products to come directly to you—then store, package, and ship them yourself. Or you can use drop shipping, and find a reputable company to store inventory and deal with order fulfillment for you.  For digital products, you need to create them. That could mean creating information products like courses or ebooks. Or it could mean software development, which is more involved and may require hiring skilled help.  Across product types, for new online businesses it’s smart to start small. Pick a focused niche to stick with when starting an online shop. That will make figuring out your marketing and positioning much easier than if you’re trying to sell dozens of products in different categories to an array of audiences. Step 2: Do competitor and industry research. Once you have a firm idea of your products, seek to understand the industry and online marketplaces you’ll be entering into. You want to make sure it isn’t oversaturated, as that will make it much harder to get your foot in the door. Identify who your main competitors are, and spend some time reviewing their websites.  Learn how they price their products, how they position them, and the kind of language they’re using with their online shop. They’ve likely already done audience research and analyzed how certain tactics perform, so you can get a headstart on figuring out what works in your space by paying attention to what they’re doing.  Identify some of the top industry publications as well, so you can learn about the top trends people are talking about and any potential issues to be aware of.  You don’t want to enter an industry only to learn that pending legislation will mean heavy regulations that make it harder to get started. Make sure you have a strong understanding of the space before you take the leap.  Step 3: Figure out your brand and positioning. Understanding the state of the industry will help you figure out how best to position yourself within it. At this stage, you’ll want to develop (or at least start thinking about): Your unique value proposition (UVP) – The line that describes what your online store does and what makes you different from comparable choices. The goal is to be able to sum this up in a sentence. Defining your UVP will help you with many of the steps to come.Your buyer persona – A description of the person most likely to buy your products. Knowing who you’re trying to reach will improve your marketing, since you’ll know who you’re talking to, their priorities, and where they hang out online.Your visual branding – Your logo, color scheme, and the images you’ll use across social media sites. If possible, hire a graphic designer to help you with this part. Your brand name – Go for something short and easy to remember. It’s great if you can figure out something that relates to what you’re selling, but it’s more important that it be original. Check to make sure someone else hasn’t already staked a legal claim on it. And bonus points if the .com is available.  If you have the resources, hiring a marketing consultant or agency to help with the branding is worth it. If you’re starting your online store on a tiny budget though, you can learn a lot about branding best practices through online research.  Step 4: Create a business plan. A business plan will help guide you in your early days of building your online store. It’s how you turn big ideas to specific steps. The research you did in the first few steps will be invaluable to working out all the details of making your business a reality. Some good items to cover in your business plan include: Your budget – Work out your anticipated costs for the first yearFunding sources – Identify how you intend to cover the costs of your budget. Do you have enough saved, or will you look into loans or investors?Timeline – Create a timeline for each of the steps you still need to complete to get your business started. Give yourself deadlines to help you stay on track.Return policy – Returns are an inevitable part of running an eCommerce business, so it’s important to make handling them part of your plan from the outset.Shipping policy – Getting your shipping policy right is a huge part of running an eCommerce  store. You need to figure out if you’ll be passing those costs onto customers (which could lose you sales), or building them into your product costs. Customer service – No matter how big your business will be to start, you want a plan for customer service. Figure out what channels you’ll offer for support (phone, email, social media, etc.), and whether you’ll hire someone devoted to providing it, or handle it yourself to start.  Inevitably, your business plan will undergo some changes. There’s a lot about running a business you can’t predict or plan for. But having a plan in place will help you gain clarity and organize the rest of the process of building your online store.  Step 5: Decide on your pricing. Pricing will often be part of your business plan. But it’s an important enough step that we’re giving it its own section here.  Pricing can be one of the hardest parts of running any business. If you price too low, you won’t make enough money to break even. If you go too high, you’ll lose sales to customers and, well, won’t break even. Finding that pricing sweet spot is essential. Start by revisiting your competitor research. Make note of what your competitors are charging and how much range there is between them. This will give you an idea of what your audience expects to spend, and what the market will bear for the types of products you want to start  selling.  Now think carefully about how your products and positioning compare to your competitors. If you price higher, can you make a case for why in your marketing? Can you promise higher quality, better customer support, or something else that sets you apart?  Try to avoid pricing on the lowest end of the range, as that will make it harder for you to make a profit. But unless you have a strong differentiator for your brand, you also shouldn’t aim for the high end of the range or people will go with someone else.  Consider how much you’ll need to make to cover the expenses in the budget you created. And for each price point you consider, calculate how much you would need to sell to make a profit.  Step 6: Register your domain. Just as soon as you’ve decided on your brand name, snap up that domain! Registering a domain name (if it’s available) is quick, easy, and affordable.  Even if you’re not quite ready to design and launch your website, claim the domain now in case someone else has the same idea and gets there first.  Step 7: Cover your legal bases. While opening an eCommerce  store brings a lot less liability than a physical storefront does, you still need to make sure you do everything required of you by law to set your business up legitimately.  Because laws and requirements differ based on where you live, where your customers will be, and what type of industry you’re in, you should really meet with both a lawyer and an accountant for this step. They’ll help you figure out details like: What business licenses you need to apply forWhat type of business entity to create (e.g. LLC, partnership, S-corp, etc.)How to register for your business trademarkWhat permits you need to getHow much sales tax to apply Applying for a tax IDDeveloping your privacy policyEstablishing copyright for products or content you create If you’re trying to keep costs low in the early stages of your business, hiring a lawyer and accountant may seem like a big expense. But they can potentially help you save money and avoid legal trouble, which makes the cost worth it.  Step 8: Invest in web hosting. For an eCommerce business, your website is the main way people will interact with your brand. And every website requires web hosting to be accessible online. Choosing the right web hosting provider and plan is important, because it influences: How frequently your website will be available (uptime)How fast it will loadHow secure it isYour ability to grow in years to come A good eCommerce web hosting plan for a small business can cost as little as $6 a month. And it’s easy to sign up and get started.  Step 9: Choose how to build your website. Now you’re finally ready to build the website that will serve as your online store. Creating a great website is hugely important for any eCommerce business, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. It’s now easier than ever to build an online store with the help of a website builder.  If you have a really specific vision and you have the resources to hire a professional designer, you’ll have more power over how your website looks and works. But if your priorities are to get your website up quickly and affordably, you can create a functional, professional eCommerce site with a website builder. Put the work you did in the branding step to use here. Make sure the images and color scheme you use match your overall visual branding. And write copy that reflects your UVP, or consider hiring a copywriter who can.  If you opt to use a website builder, you can get an online store up quickly. But you may want to devote some time to getting the look and messaging just right.  Step 10: Choose your eCommerce software. A store builder will help design your overall site, but an online store needs an extra set of features beyond what a typical website has. In particular, it needs: A shopping cartA check-out processSecure payment processing Those are the basics. In addition, you may want some other helpful features: Easy account creation for customers to make future purchases easierA wish list function, so people can mark items they like and offer gift ideas to friendsA recommendation engine to show people other items they may want, based on what similar customers purchasedAbility to offer and process discount codesFeatures to help simplify and/or automate the shipping and sales tax processes Some eCommerce software options are actually free, such as WooCommerce (for WordPress sites specifically). Consider what eCommerce features you consider important, which you consider nice-to-have, and research your options to find the software that seems to be the best fit for your needs and budget. Step 11: List your products. After you use a store builder to set up your online shop, begin adding your products. Any good ecommerce software will make it easy for you to start loading your inventory. Add each item to your  eCommerce site, and fill in product descriptions, as well as details about pricing and availability.  Add high-quality images of your products. And optimize each product page you create for SEO, by adding target keywords into the page title, headings, and image tags.  Step 12: Develop a marketing plan.  Getting to the point where your online business is established and your eCommerce website is ready for launch takes a lot of work. But unfortunately, you’re far from done. If you’re learning how to boost your ecommerce sales, make sure people can find your website. That means marketing. Research your online marketing options, and put together a plan to start getting your website in front of people. That may include content marketing, paid promotion channels like Google Ads, social media integration, or all of the above. Consider promoting your items on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to drive even more consumers to your online shop. Getting those first visitors can be an uphill battle. But if you create and follow a marketing plan, and update your plan based on the results you see as you go, you’ll start to gain traction. Start Your Online Store  l Starting an online shop takes work. But if you develop a strong strategy, build a great site through ecommerce website builders, and put in the work to promote it, you’re likely to see success. And the benefits of eCommerce businesses are plentiful.  HostGator can help you check several boxes on this list. We offer domain registration, web hosting plans, and an online store builder that includes eCommerce themes and features. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Resource Guide — How to Build a Professional WordPress Website Fast

InMotion Hosting Blog -

You need to get online quickly.  You’ve already purchased your hosting and set up your email, but now you need to create your website. The great news is that you can easily create a beautiful website with WordPress.  The open-source platform supports many modern, mobile-responsive themes and with its intuitive dashboard, customizing your website is a breeze. This guide will help you build your professional WordPress website fast.  Plan Your Website Choose a Theme Customize Your Website Launch Your Website Enjoy secure, fast hosting for your WordPress website with optimized WordPress Hosting.  Plan Your Website To make the best use of your time, the first thing you should do before jumping into the build of your website is planning it out. Continue reading Resource Guide — How to Build a Professional WordPress Website Fast at InMotion Hosting Blog.

Tips for Virtual Interviewing

InMotion Hosting Blog -

We all know the usual interview process, maybe a round of phone interviews, an aptitude test or technical assessment, then the onsite invitation. You get dressed up in your “power outfit”, you know, the one that makes you feel like you own the place, and head into the office for an interview. You meet the team, make small talk, tour the building, and if all ends well, you land the job! Well, throw all that out the window…with social distancing now in place, virtual interviewing is becoming the new normal. Continue reading Tips for Virtual Interviewing at InMotion Hosting Blog.

Local Business Temporarily Closed? Try Remote Shopping & eCommerce

HostGator Blog -

The post Local Business Temporarily Closed? Try Remote Shopping & eCommerce appeared first on HostGator Blog. Social distancing and stay-at-home orders are a must to prevent the spread of covid-19, but they’re creating huge challenges for small local businesses. How can you protect your community and your business? Explore your options for doing business without in-person contact with your customers. That may mean local pickup, local delivery or quickly adding eCommerce capabilities. Let’s walk through your options.  First, understand what you can do from your brick-and-mortar location  Social distancing is a smart move everywhere right now, even if there are no official orders to close or stay home. That means moving to curbside pickup and delivery instead of in-store shopping. In some places, temporary stay-at-home orders may require your brick-and-mortar operations to close if your business isn’t classified as ‘essential.’ Each locale will have its own specific wording, but in general, essential businesses that can stay open may include: retailers that sell medical, veterinary and health care suppliesshops that sell food, personal care and cleaning suppliesstores that sell supplies for food gardening, fishing and livestock caregas stations and convenience storeshardware and supply shopslaundromats office supply storesmoving suppliesauto supplies and dealerships Other types of businesses may be temporarily closed, even to local pickup and delivery. Once you’ve reviewed any stay at home rules that apply to your location, you’ll know whether you can offer local pickup and delivery from your brick-and-mortar store. If you can, here’s how. Local pickup, local delivery and shipping If you’re closing to maintain social distancing but can still work in your store, you could offer curbside pickup or delivery (local or shipped).  This is a good temporary step, especially if you don’t yet have eCommerce set up on your website, to keep going without exposing your employees or customers to close contact.  For example, in mid-March, By George boutiques in Austin announced that customers could browse the stores’ website and Instagram and then DM or email to make a purchase for pickup, delivery or shipment:  Home retailer Williams-Sonoma took a similar approach, with in-store pickups where that’s allowed:  Let your customers know what’s up and how to reach you As these stores have done, you need to let customers know about the changes you’re making. If you don’t know how long your physical locations will be closed, that’s OK. An end date is a best guess right now, anyway.  The key here is to let customers know their options for getting their purchases and who to contact to make a purchase and arrange pickup or delivery. You can use our crisis business-update checklist to make sure you get your message out on all your channels. Get your order process in order Next, make sure you have a single point of contact for taking orders over the phone and via email. Put one person in charge of all incoming orders so you’re not fulfilling them (or billing customers for them) twice.  However, it’s wise to designate a backup person or two, with access to all the order information, in case your order taker gets sick or has to stop working to care for loved ones.  Follow safe practices for curbside pickup  Make pickup contactless. Arrange for payments online before pickup, so you and your employees don’t need to handle cards or cash. You can ask your customers to call when they arrive so you can bring their package out and set it down for them to pick it up while you watch from a safe (6 feet or more) distance. Follow safe practices for local delivery Again, contactless is the way to go. Prepaid deliveries can include a tip so you or your employees aren’t handling money or getting within arm’s reach of customers at their door. Call or text when you get there so the customer knows their order has arrived. Depending on the value of the order, you may want to wait at a distance to make sure they claim it. If you don’t have the staff to make deliveries, look at local options like Favor and rideshare drivers, who may be willing to make deliveries from your shop.  Set up a shipping process Setting up a full-blown shipping program for your store takes time and planning. If you’re starting from scratch right now, it’s best to start with a single option, like USPS, UPS or FedEx. Buy and print your labels online and arrange for pickup so you don’t have to go into a post office or shipping location.  Both FedEx and UPS have said that deliveries may be slower than usual in areas that are severely affected by the covid-19 pandemic. Manage your customers’ expectations by letting them know before they order.  Local pickup and delivery are good stopgap measures if you can offer them. But if your location has to close completely, online sales are your only option. Even if you’re still open now, it’s wise to set up or expand your online store now. Adding eCommerce for your local business You can set up a simple eCommerce site for your business in 8 steps with a website builder. This is an ideal option if you aren’t experienced in setting up websites on a platform like WordPress, because you can pick a theme, drag and drop the elements you need to customize it, and use built-in eCommerce tools like inventory management.  You can also build an eCommerce site in WordPress or add eCommerce to your existing WordPress site. With WordPress, you have more themes to choose from and more freedom to set up the site exactly as you want. This can be a good option if you’re already comfortable with site design and have specific eCommerce needs that require an integrated platform like WooCommerce. After you have your website up and running, let your customers know via email and social media. With a website, you can also promote your store on eCommerce marketplaces. This can help you reach new customers and drive more traffic to your store’s website.  Need more information about running your business right now? We’re building a library of covid-19 business tips to help you through. Find the post on the HostGator Blog

How To Change Your WordPress Theme Without Breaking The Website

Pickaweb Blog -

While using WordPress is super-easy, changing your WordPress theme isn’t as straight forward. If you’re planning to get a new theme for your WordPress website, this article will help you migrate smoothly. Changing the theme of your WordPress website comes with big risks. Particularly if you have a lot of content and traffic. You want The post How To Change Your WordPress Theme Without Breaking The Website appeared first on Pickaweb.

9 Stages of Creating More Effective Landing Copy

Reseller Club Blog -

Let’s imagine users searching for your product or service online: They enter a search query and come to your website. What do you have there to grab their attention and turn your website visitors into leads, compelling them to take action? Yes, you know that your offer is awesome, and your service is excellent. But website visitors are unacquainted with this fact. You need a website page that would explain and prove your awesomeness to them. This page is known as landing: It embodies all the information a visitor needs to set his heart upon your offer and “land” at your website to buy from you. In other words, this page optimizes your site for lead generation. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to create a landing page that converts. What is a Landing Page?  It’s the page on your website that a user sees after clicking your pay-per-click advertising. A landing page is tailored to represent your offer and convert visitors into leads and eventually paying customers. A landing page could be the homepage of your site, a separate page within your website, or a standalone page you create for a specific marketing campaign. There are many benefits of a persuasive landing page: It increases conversion rates, revealing all the benefits of your offer and therefore inviting visitors to choose you It helps with e-commerce SEO (because you craft this page to target specific search terms and promote it via Google Ads) It allows you to focus on a particular marketing goal and track the success of selling a specific product or service A stellar landing page makes onboarding more manageable, and your sales funnel — more efficient Before Creating a Landing Page For your landing page to bring results, you need to research and determine a few critical details. First, decide your marketing goal: What do you want to accomplish with this page? Is it for your new business or new product promotion? Or do you want to grow an email list? Second, make sure you know and understand your audience inside out. Who is your ideal customer? What are their needs, expectations, and pain points? The more you know, the easier it will be to come up with a core message and write a critical copy that will compel them to take the desired action. And third, do keyword research. Focus on keywords that are relevant to your offer and SEO goals, while also matching the searcher intent of your target customers. What do they type when they search for solutions to their problem that your product can solve? Let’s say you are a tool that helps marketers see the PPC campaigns of their competitors. So you assume they will use the “advertising research” keyword when looking for your instrument in Google. But the truth is that people are looking for general info about advertising research, not the info about PPC ads when typing this keyword in search.   So it will be a great mistake to target your landing page for “advertising research,” as it doesn’t meet the searcher intent of the audience. Once they come to your page and see that it’s not about what they need, they’ll bounce it, therefore killing your SEO endeavors. How to Create a Landing Page: 9 stages Now it’s time to create your landing page for better sales. What information to mention there? How to represent your business offer? What writing tricks to use so users would get interested in learning more about your product? Here we’ll describe the nine core elements to add to your landing page so it would bring results. Craft a headline A headline is the first thing a visitor sees on your landing page. Headlines should perform two tasks: Grab attention and tell the viewer what they will find on the page.  At the same time, a headline needs to be short but compelling, so a visitor wants to stay on the page and learn more about the offer. Let’s take a look at the example below: “Business Email” is a short but clear phrase telling both visitors and search engine that we’ll talk about business emails here. Limit your landing page headline to 10 words, make sure it gets to the point.  Use active verbs, as well as, power words, so visitors understand what’s in it for them. 2. Choose a hero image Most people are visual learners. They perceive information through images better than through words, so the image on your landing page is a core element that will help them decide if they want to scroll through the page and learn more. A hero image is a banner image on your landing page. It looks like this: There are several things you should remember when choosing a hero image: It should be of high-quality and relevant to your offer It should grab attention and help a visitor understand what the page is about It should fit the overall design of your landing page and shouldn’t distract users from your call to action button It should trigger positive emotions, demonstrating to visitors that they’ll benefit from choosing your service 3. Add subheads A subhead appears just below the headline on your landing page. The subheading provides more details about your offer and persuades a reader to learn more. A subhead appears just below the headline on your landing page. The subheading provides more details about your offer and persuades a reader to learn more. An effective subhead is concise yet informative, descriptive, and punchy. Together with a headline, it’s a landing page element where effective marketers use neuro-copywriting techniques to influence readers: beneficial adjectives, questions, quotes, odd numbers — all trigger a more positive response. Here go some examples: Not a fan of real-time tracking? (Source) — a question Take free online English language courses to improve your English grammar, composition, conversation, and writing skills. Learn effective English communication skills with online classes and courses. (Source) — beneficial adjectives: “free” and “effective” With more than 5,000 essays completed already, only 13 were rejected by students and asked to revise. (Source) — odd numbers. I Tried The Top 9 Proposal Management Software Platforms So You Didn’t Have To (Source) — a quote in the headline 4. Make an offer If you want to initiate the process of lead generation, make sure your target offer is clear. Come up with a straightforward explanation, and integrate it into your headline and subheading. Make it benefit-oriented and use words with positive meaning when answering the “What’s in there for me?” question. 5. Address your audience’s pain points You know your target audience, their needs, and expectations. And you know which pain points will motivate them to do business with you. The biggest motivator is the fear of missing out. Many sales copywriters address this in landing page content, mentioning what we’ll lose if we ignore the offer. Another tactic is to create a sense of urgency: Offer a giveaway, a time-sensitive discount on a subscription, etc. Organize your landing page so visitors will see your product or service as a solution to their problem. 6. Provide an added value Human nature is so that most people crave pleasure and benefits from brands. So why not incorporate both into your landing page for better customer retention? Show that your offer isn’t only about cool functions but also emotions Reward them with some tiny yet cute byproduct of working with you: a gift card, a discount, a free copy of your e-book or subscription to your extra features, etc Think of a lead magnet, such as a free e-book, ultimate guide, or checklist for their subscription 7. Add trust signals Trust signals are elements marketers add to landing pages to help customers feel more secure about buying. They may come in different forms — guarantees, social proofs such as testimonials from loyal customers, the list of prominent clients that work with a business, etc. The goal of trust signals is to make prospective customers feel better about doing business with you. It’s a core element to add to a landing page for conversion rate optimization. So, provide visitors with signals that your brand is trustworthy. Trust signals come in different forms: testimonials, customer reviews, badges, numbers, etc. But regardless of how you present them, they’ll help people feel encouraged to take action while on your landing page. Place trust signals on pages where you ask users for sensitive information (a credit card details, for example). Also, you can strategically place it on a product page below the offer to demonstrate to a visitor that you are worth trust and that they can rely on you. 8. Tell people how to contact you With Google now focusing its Quality Evaluator Guidelines on trustworthiness, you need to provide some proof that you’re real. For that, make sure to include several contact methods to your landing page: a physical address, phone numbers, social media buttons, your email address, and a contact form. As for contact forms, keep them short and clear: The more fields you ask someone to fill out, the lower the chance that someone will complete the form. Only request the basic info you need: While most users are OK sharing their name and email address, they might give you the side-eye if you ask for their physical address, phone number, company, or profession. So, make it short and easy to find, avoid unnecessary fields, and link to your social media accounts to provide visitors with alternative ways to engage with your business. For creating a contact page, use corresponding plugins from your CMS (WordPress, Drupal, or whatever you use) or build one with contact form templates available online. 9. Include a call to action While all the above elements of your landing page grab visitors’ attention and reassure them that your offer is what they need, a Call To Action (CTA) is what converts them into customers. So make sure to design it right. Make it big and the text on it, compelling. “Click here” and “Submit” aren’t the best options. Use words or expressions that are inviting and persuasive. Also, make sure your CTA button stands out from the rest of your landing page elements. Visitors should notice it immediately and understand they need to click on it. Final Thoughts Test it. Test again. And test some more! Testing is what makes landing pages effective.  Try different headlines, hero images, calls to action, and registration forms. Remember to track the page’s performance with heat maps, the number of visitors, the length of visits, and any other marketing metrics. Analyze the results to see what you’re doing right and what you need to optimize for better lead generation. .fb_iframe_widget_fluid_desktop iframe { width: 100% !important; } The post 9 Stages of Creating More Effective Landing Copy appeared first on ResellerClub Blog.

How to Create a Membership Website with WordPress

Pickaweb Blog -

Website owners monetize their web content to earn more revenue. One of the best ways to do just that is to create a membership site, where people have to pay to access premium content. But, aside from making money online, you’re also setting up a strong and committed online community that your product has helped The post How to Create a Membership Website with WordPress appeared first on Pickaweb.

5 Tips For Abiding By Google’s Guidelines And Staying Up To Date With Algorithm Changes

Pickaweb Blog -

There’s no denying that there are lots of differences of opinions among the SEO community. We all have our own thoughts about which techniques work best, how you should come up with an organic search strategy, and where budgets should be spent. However, there are a couple of things we can all agree on: you The post 5 Tips For Abiding By Google’s Guidelines And Staying Up To Date With Algorithm Changes appeared first on Pickaweb.

What Is an API?

InMotion Hosting Blog -

In order to better understand what an API is, it’s easier to first ask: What is not an API? An API can be many things, but these are a few things it cannot be: A singular computer program that runs and executes a defined set of functions and nothing else. A database full of various bits of information. A programming language. All of those things, by themselves, do not amount to an API, but they can be used to interact with an API. Continue reading What Is an API? at InMotion Hosting Blog.

How to Find a Good Free WordPress Theme

HostGator Blog -

The post How to Find a Good Free WordPress Theme appeared first on HostGator Blog. One of the great things about WordPress is that you can create a professional website without investing a ton of money. Beyond the cost of hosting and a domain name, you can build a site pretty much for free. This makes WordPress a very attractive and affordable option for users who want to validate the success of their site before they start investing a ton of money. However, the WordPress free library is massive, and not every theme is worth installing on your site.  Sometimes, a low-quality theme can end up doing more damage than good, and lead to poor website performance and even leave you open to security risks. Still, you can avoid these risks by educating yourself on the steps you can take to find a high-quality free theme. Below we dive deep into how you can find the absolute best free WordPress theme for your needs, the risks you need to look out for, and how you can install and start customizing your shiny new theme.   Free vs Premium WordPress Themes: What’s the Difference, and Does It Matter? The focus of this post is on free WordPress themes, but it’s still important to understand how the premium theme marketplace works and the main differences between free and premium themes. Free themes are easy to understand. They’re an entirely free WordPress theme that you can install on your site and start customizing. Usually, they aren’t as feature-rich as a premium theme, but they can get the job done if you don’t require an extensive set of features. Premium themes typically have a higher-quality design, and a much larger feature set. You’ll also get access to a premium support team to help walk you through any website issues, and you get access to premium theme updates. Free themes are a great starting place for the majority of website owners. They’re often easier to set up and give you the chance to experiment with WordPress without putting any money down.  WordPress Security Tips: What Are the Risks Involved With a Free Theme? Free themes are a great way to get started with WordPress for no money down. But, not all free themes are created equal. Sometimes using a free theme is more hassle than it’s worth. Here are the biggest risks that come with using a free WordPress theme:  1. Bad Code One of the biggest downsides to a free theme is the code might not be high-quality. This means your site will be less secure, might not function properly, and it could leave you open to hacking.  Other issues with bad code include not being able to optimize your site for SEO, and it can be hard to customize. It can also lead to conflicts with other WordPress plugins and even the WordPress core itself. Issues like these can end up taking your site offline.  2. Lack of Theme Support Lack of a dedicated support team can be an issue for some website owners. If you run into an issue with your site and don’t have technical support to rely on, it can be difficult to fix your site.  Instead, you’ll have to turn to Google and try to troubleshoot the issue yourself.  Beyond dedicated support, there also might be an issue with theme updates. Themes are updated regularly to patch for security holes, add new features, and ensure it stays compatible with the WordPress core.  Over time, your theme might become outdated and unable to function with the current version of WordPress.  3. Waste of Time/Money If you run into a bunch of issues with your theme like having to fix things yourself, or even recover from a hack, then you’re going to be investing a lot of time and money into your site.  All of this could have been avoided by using a premium WordPress theme, or a free theme that has higher quality standards.  4. Avoid Pirated Themes Sometimes you’ll find websites that allow you to download free versions of a premium theme. You must avoid these sites like the plague.  It might seem like you’re getting a great deal, but these themes are often infected with malware, ads, spammy links, and redirects.  These can cause a ton of damage to your website and even your online reputation. If something seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is.  How to Find a Safe Free WordPress Theme Even with the risks mentioned above, using a free theme might still be a great choice for a lot of website owners. If you can get around the issue of not having a premium support team behind you, you can mitigate the other risks highlighted above. Here are two steps you should take before you install a free WordPress theme on your site:  1. Verify Your Theme Before Installing Before you install a free theme you’ll want to make sure that installing the theme won’t harm your site. Below we cover a handful of vendors that are known for producing quality themes, but if you’ve already downloaded a free theme, then this section is for you. There are all kinds of tools you can run your theme through that will check the legitimacy of the theme. These include: 1. Themecheck Themecheck is an online tool that will scan your theme for any security issues and issues with code quality. It’ll run your theme through a series of checks to see if there are any problems with the code, or if there are any elements that shouldn’t be there.  To use this tool, you’ll need to upload the zip file of the theme, and the tool will get to work. Once it’s done scanning your theme you’ll get a detailed report, along with warnings of any problems that it’s found.  2. Exploit Scanner Exploit Scanner is a WordPress plugin that will check for any malicious code. Once you install and activate this plugin it’ll scan through your entire site, including any themes that you have installed.  This plugin is very useful, beyond checking for any theme security risks, as it’ll also search through your WordPress databases, posts, comments, and more.  3. Theme Check Theme Check is another WordPress plugin that’ll scan through any themes you have installed on your site. It’ll run through a series of checks to make sure that your theme is up to the latest WordPress standards. If the theme you want to use fails any of the checks offered by the tools above, then it’s a good idea to choose a different theme. The WordPress theme marketplace is so large you’re guaranteed to find a high-quality and secure theme with similar features.  2. Download a Theme From a Reputable Source One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re installing a quality theme is to download it from a reputable source. The origins of your theme are incredibly important.  When you download a theme from a reputable vendor you can ensure that it’s up to the latest quality standards, doesn’t have issues with malicious code, and will support you in your website creation goals.  Here are some trusted websites for finding free WordPress themes: WordPress Theme Directory Here you’ll find the largest collection of free WordPress themes. You can filter the themes by certain features, and every theme listed here has been tested by their internal team, so you’ll know your theme is up to the latest WordPress standards.  Elegant Themes Elegant Themes offers two high-quality WordPress themes. The flagship theme Divi is one of the most flexible themes on the market today and can be used to build virtually any kind of website.  StudioPress StudioPress is the company behind the Genesis framework. You’ll also find a huge library of niche-specific child themes. They have a very strong reputation throughout the WordPress space.  iThemes iThemes is another WordPress theme and plugin development company. They have a wide range of themes that can be used for virtually every niche and are all very high-quality. If you’re in the market for a free theme, then the WordPress Theme Directory will probably be your best bet. While, if you’re looking for a premium theme, then any of the options mentioned above are great choices.  What About the Free Theme That Come Installed With WordPress? On a fresh installation of WordPress, you’ll find a free theme that’s already installed. This default theme is created by the company Automattic, who is the company behind WordPress. Depending on when you installed WordPress, the theme should be called Twenty Nineteen or Twenty Twenty. Twenty Twenty is a very high-quality theme and uses the WordPress block editor to allow you to create custom website pages and layouts.  If all you require is a basic WordPress blogging theme, then this can be a great theme to start with. Most people will opt to go with a different theme, but it’s high-quality and can support your site if you like the overall design.  If you love using the Gutenberg block editor, check out these 10 Free Gutenberg-Ready WordPress Themes. Finding the Best Free Theme for Your Industry When you begin your search for the best free theme you’ll probably be overwhelmed with options. Keep in mind that there really isn’t a “best” theme, but instead, it’s the “best theme for your needs”. Even if you’re in the same industry as another website owner, you could have different overarching goals for your website.  One great place to start in your theme search is Google. Just type in “[your niche] WordPress theme” and you’ll be able to find a series of post roundups that break down the best themes in the niche. We have many of these on the HostGator blog, including: Best WordPress Themes for eCommerceBest WordPress Themes for Small BusinessesBest WordPress Themes for Lifestyle BlogsBest WordPress Themes for Travel BlogsBest WordPress Themes for Food BlogsBest WordPress Themes for FreelancersBest WordPress Themes for Affiliate Marketing You can also use the filters in the WordPress Theme Repository to find a list of industry-specific themes. A lot of themes are very flexible and can be heavily customized to suit any niche. So, often the niche of the theme isn’t as important as liking to overall design and layout.  How to Install a Free Theme on WordPress By now you’re well equipped to find the best free theme for your new website. If you’re not using one of the default themes that come pre-installed on WordPress, then this section is for you. Here are two ways you can install a new WordPress theme on your site. Before you move forward with the methods below you’ll need to be logged into the backend of your WordPress site: 1. Upload a Theme Once you’re logged into your WordPress dashboard navigate to Appearance>Themes. Then on the next screen click the ‘Add New’ button at the top of the page. Then, on the next page click ‘Upload Theme’. A box will drop down and here you can drag and drop your theme’s .zip file, or you can search and upload from your computer.  Note that you’ll need to have your theme downloaded previously to upload your theme in this way.  2. Install from the WordPress Marketplace If you don’t already have a free theme downloaded. Then this is the approach you’ll want to take.  You’ll follow the same steps to the section above by navigating to Appearance>Themes, then select ‘Add New’. On this screen, you’ll be able to access the entire WordPress Theme Repository. You can search for themes if you’re looking for a certain theme name. Or, you can browse by most popular or the newest themes. Finally, you can use the feature filter to search by specific features. Once you’ve found a theme that you like hover over it and click ‘Install’ then ‘Activate’. With the theme activated you can now start customizing the design of your WordPress site, adding pages, and content.  Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how you can find the perfect theme for your new WordPress site. Free WordPress themes can be a great way to build out your website without investing any money into the design. A lot of website owners start their online journeys with free themes and upgrade to a premium theme once they require more features, or are generating revenue to cover the cost. By following the tips above you’ll be able to find the perfect free WordPress theme for your website, and avoid any pitfalls that are commonly associated with other free themes.  Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Tools for Online Collaboration With Teams & Clients When Working Remotely

Reseller Club Blog -

Maintaining business continuity in these unprecedented times of COVID – 19, aka the novel Coronavirus pandemic, can be quite a task. Our lives have suddenly changed, and our schedules messed. It has transformed our personal and professional lives, compelling us to reconsider and reshape it. Nevertheless, with the world being digitally interconnected, a lot of companies have considered work from home/remote working as the preferred means to keep their businesses running smoothly.  In this post, we list down a few key tools that can help minimise the communication gap and help you collaborate with your clients, customers, and team members seamlessly. However, before that, let us see how online collaboration tools can help you run your business without hindrance. How do online collaboration tools help maintain business continuity Online collaboration tools help users connect remotely without impacting business performance. Here are 5 reasons how they aid businesses: Builds trust and rapport within the team and with clients Improves efficiency and helps everyone stay on the same page Promotes transparency  Helps reduce miscommunication and misunderstanding Gives everyone involved a sense of ownership  Having seen the benefits of online tools for better work productivity, let us take you through the tools that you can use for sharing ideas and running processes smoothly. For your convenience, we have divided these tools into 7 key segments viz. customer support, communication, project management, documentation, visualisation, and designer-client. Customer Support Tools Being connected to your customers on a one-on-one basis is extremely important. In fact, this holds true because irrespective of where you or your customers are they expect you to resolve their queries quickly. This can be tricky if you’re working remotely, however, not impossible. Here are two tools that can help you cater to your customers efficiently. LiveChat Your customers want to stay connected to you real-time. Hence, you must invest in a tool that keeps up with your customers demands, and live chat is the answer!LiveChat is a dedicated chat tool that allows you to connect with your customers on a  real-time basis to help them resolve their queries, as well as, improve your sales. It is easy to integrate and supports over 170+ platforms. Key features: Helps you manage and monitor the performance of your customer service and sales team performance Free 14-day trial period Built-in ticketing and analytics AI suggestions to the agents when replying on chats Acquire Acquire is a customer service platform that offers all-in-one customer service 24×7. It supports over 50+ tools for integration. Also, it allows you to track your customer interactions in a single place easily and even supports co-browsing.  Key features: Easy to switch between live chat, chatbots and analytics It is a premium tool Transferring or escalating the chat to another agent is quick and simple Offers live chat, voice calls and video chat 2. Communication Tools Communication between team members is extremely important and more so when working remotely. Using light-weight communication tools that support chat, audio, video, etc. is crucial. Here are two tools which we recommend. Hangouts Hangouts by Google is designed to help teams collaborate effectively. It allows users to create chat rooms, schedule audio and video calls, share files etc.  Key features: Easy to install. It is available as a desktop app, mobile app, as well as, on the browser  Offers 14-day free trial service Supports screen sharing, audio, video and chat room messaging  Allows uploading files, sharing Google drive links, emoticons, maps, add bots, etc.  Zoom Zoom is a web conferencing platform that allows you to conduct audio and video conferences, webinars, meetings, chats and more. All you need is to register and select the plan of your choice.  Key features: Allows you to set up conference rooms and workspaces  Supports screen sharing Offers cloud storage, dedicated phone support, reporting, admin panel, etc based on the service plan you opt for Accessible from any device across the globe 3. Project Management  Sharing to-do lists on a real-time basis with your clients, as well as, team members can help keep a track of the work being done. It also ensures that your projects are completed on time or flagged if something is not working. Here are two popular tools that you can use for better project management.  Trello Trello is an online to-do lists tool that helps you coordinate and collaborate with clients and team members easily. It allows you to create ‘cards’ and insert attachments, tag team members, update due-date, checklists, labels and more in these cards.  Key features: It is a free service Compatible on any device and anywhere  Easy to navigate dashboard  Supports multiple features  Asana Asana is a web and mobile application that enables teams to organise, monitor and manage their work. Asana offers the flexibility of working from anywhere and anytime. Moreover, it allows you to create visual projects plans, set priorities and deadlines, share details, assign tasks, etc. to make the workflow easier.   Key features: Supports basic free version up to 15 team members, as well as, premium plans Helps in visualising milestones Allows you to assign tasks to team members  Allows you to export your projects  4. Documentation Documenting work is important. However, when working remotely, your team members and clients too must have a clear understanding of what you are working on and your progress. Also, documentation helps you keep a track of what you are doing now and what to do next.  G Suite allows you to collaborate with your team members and clients by sharing your documents, presentations, spreadsheets and more. For someone like me, who loves writing and documenting content, this is the best tool ever! You can access G Suite from anywhere and on any devices viz. phone, tablet, computer, and laptop.  Key features: Includes Hangouts, that allows you to work seamlessly even when working remotely  Offers cloud support to sync data easily Provides email and calendaring services Provides end-to-end security and compliance  Some other documentation tools to look out for: Office 365 Bit.ai 5. Visualisation   If you’re a designer or brainstorming ideas be it with the team or client, having a whiteboard helps put across ideas efficiently. But this might seem like a tough task while working remotely. Several online whiteboard platforms allow teams to collaborate easily. One of them being ConceptBoard. ConceptBoard is a visual collaboration tool that offers whiteboard functionalities to enhance teamwork irrespective of the time and place of the team members.  Key features: Supports screen sharing, audio and video calls Free service, as well as, premium with a 30-day free trial Offers file storage  Includes unlimited projects and boards  6. Designer-Client If you’re a design agency, then sharing your work with your clients and getting feedback is a back and forth process. And working remotely should not hamper with your work.  Online presentation tools make it easy for designers and clients to collaborate, share design and feedback.  Prevue is one such tool! This is a great tool to organise images in presentations and share to the client for feedback. It is reliable and offers built-in Google Analytics for tracking your design. Key features: Offers a free 7-day trial period Allows you to brand your designs with easy logo insertion Allows team members to work on a single project simultaneously Is client-friendly with easy image optimisation Some other online collaboration tools: Here are some more online tools for collaboration that you can check out based on your requirements: Mural Mindmeister Slack Podio Conclusion We hope these online collaboration tools prove to be helpful to you, especially in these times when almost everyone is remotely working from home.  Moreover, it is important to remember that these tools come in handy not only when you’re working from home but also if your team is scattered across the globe. Remember that every business needs time management and prioritising of tasks! This holds more true when working remotely. Keep in mind to keep your team members updated all the time and take care of allocating your time effectively. Lastly, remember communication is the key to working together even when apart! .fb_iframe_widget_fluid_desktop iframe { width: 100% !important; } The post Tools for Online Collaboration With Teams & Clients When Working Remotely appeared first on ResellerClub Blog.

7 Steps for Writing E-commerce Product Descriptions that Generate Orders

Pickaweb Blog -

Thinking a little deeper, you can realize that product descriptions on your eCommerce store are like the sales-man in a brick and mortar showroom. They take you to a point closest to your biggest prospects. After all, users go through numerous conversion filters to land on your product page. Only the ones who are most The post 7 Steps for Writing E-commerce Product Descriptions that Generate Orders appeared first on Pickaweb.

11 Free Magento Extensions for your eCommerce Store

Pickaweb Blog -

Magento is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms in the world these days. Furthermore, there is a wide array of Magento Extensions development that provide exceptional services to clients all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of websites today are working on Magento across the globe. There are numerous free Magento Extensions to choose The post 11 Free Magento Extensions for your eCommerce Store appeared first on Pickaweb.

Beginner Tips For Working From Home

InMotion Hosting Blog -

Making the transition from office life to remote life can be very difficult at first. You have traded the standard office distractions for home distractions. And the latter can be difficult to handle alongside the demands of work. You might have kids in need of snacks, a broken kitchen appliance, home chores beckoning to you from across the room or from the backyard. For many people, working from home can be much more challenging than working from within the confines of the office. Continue reading Beginner Tips For Working From Home at InMotion Hosting Blog.

Worried About Business During the Shutdown? Here’s How You Can Keep Selling

WP Engine -

As organizations of all sizes are forced to adapt to a suddenly changed marketplace, millions of small businesses now face an unprecedented cash-crunch: The median U.S. restaurant has just 16 days of cash in reserve and most retailers can only cover another three. There’s no question that the current medical crisis will affect us all… The post Worried About Business During the Shutdown? Here’s How You Can Keep Selling appeared first on WP Engine.

5 Popular Order Tracking Tools for eCommerce Websites

HostGator Blog -

The post 5 Popular Order Tracking Tools for eCommerce Websites appeared first on HostGator Blog. Customer experience is one of the hottest topics in eCommerce right now, and part of a great customer experience is letting people know when their stuff will arrive. Nearly all customers (97%) expect to be able to track their online orders, according to ProShip.  But not all order tracking tools are the same. The more steps your customers must take to see what’s up with their orders, the more friction (or hassle, or work) your delivery tracking system creates. Customers hate friction (or hassle, or work), so the easier your store makes it for customers to keep track of their purchases, the more likely they’ll be to shop with you again.  Here are a few apps and plugins you may want to consider for your online store. Some generate text messages with order updates, some let you create branded shipping updates, and some serve as an easy bridge from your store to your carrier’s tracking information. 1. ShipStation  ShipStation is a comprehensive shipping app that handles orders from all your e-commerce channels, finds the best rates among multiple carriers, updates customers on their order status, simplifies customer returns, tracks inventory and provides analytics.  Which platforms is it compatible with? WooCommerce and Magento both work with ShipStation. So do several marketplace platforms, including Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba, Etsy, eBay, and Jet. ShipStation supports major shipping carriers and offers discounted rates. How does it update your customers? ShipStation lets you build a branded tracking portal for mobile and desktop that shows your customers where their order is and how soon it will arrive. This keeps your customers on your site, where they can shop, rather than sending them to the carrier’s website.  How much does it cost? There are six plans. They range from the $9/month starter plan for up to 50 shipments to $159/month for up to 10,000 shipments. Can you try before you buy? Yes, ShipStation offers a 30-day free trial.  2. Shippo  Shippo lets you fulfill orders, create branded tracking updates, allow easy returns and find the best shipping rates.  Which platforms is it compatible with? Shippo is Gator Website Builder’s integrated shipping partner for eCommerce sites. Shippo also supports Magento and WooCommerce, plus the Mercari, Etsy, eBay and Amazon marketplace platforms. Shippo supports major US and international carriers, with deeply discounted rates available. Shippo also supports national postal services in selected countries outside the U.S.  How does it update your customers? Shippo’s paid plan gives you the ability to brand email and text shipping updates to your customers, and you can create branded tracking pages on your website.  How much does it cost? Shippo offers a no-fee pay as you go service for 5 cents per package, plus postage costs. For Shippo’s branded customer experience, you’ll need the professional plan that starts at $10/month. Can you try before you buy? Yes, Shippo’s pay as you go plan is fee-free, and there’s a 30-day free trial available for the professional plan.  3. Status and Order Tracking  This order tracking plugin for WordPress keeps customers and customer service reps on the same page when it comes to order status and delivery tracking.  Which platforms is it compatible with? This WordPress plugin is compatible with WooCommerce. The upgraded Ultimate Status Tracking version also integrates with Zendesk customer support software. Status and Order Tracking comes with Gutenberg blocks for drag-and-drop formatting on your site. How does it update your customers? You can set up a responsive delivery status page, customize email notifications to your customers, and automatically send email updates when the order status changes.  How much does it cost? There’s a free version, which does not include WooCommerce support. A one-site lifetime premium license costs $35, plus $30/year for support after the first six months. Can you try before you buy? You can test out the free version and then decide whether to upgrade to the premium version. 4. YITH WooCommerce Order Tracking  YITH’s order tracking tool keeps customers up to date in English, Spanish, Italian or Dutch, with WPML support for translation into other languages. Which platforms is it compatible with? The name gives it away – YITH is a WordPress plugin for the WooCommerce platform.  How does it update your customers? The premium version of YITH Order Tracking inserts carrier tracking links in your customer email messages and sends them as soon as orders are shipped. It also auto-fills tracking data in the customer’s order dashboard, so they can click and view the current status without having to copy-paste order numbers or tracking codes.  How much does it cost? A one-year single-site license costs $66.  Can you try before you buy? You can try the free version, then decide if you want to upgrade to access the automated tracking features. 5. YITH WooCommerce SMS Notifications What about your customers who would rather get a text message than check their email? YITH has a plugin for them, too. Like YITH’s Order Tracking plugin, this one is for WordPress and WooCommerce online stores. How does it update your customers? YITH SMS Notifications lets you text-message your customers with order status updates, select the status changes that trigger an SMS message, and incorporate shortened links by Google and Bitly in your messages. You can also use the plugin to manually send texts to individual customers if you have questions about their orders.  How much does it cost? A one-year, single site license costs $64. Can you try before you buy? There’s no free version of this plugin, but you can launch a one-hour live administrator demo from the plugin page. Finding the Right Order Tracking Tool for Your Online Store To get the most out of a trial period or free version, start by benchmarking a few important numbers. How many calls and emails do you get each day or week from customers who want status updates? How many of those customers return to buy more from your store? How are your customer satisfaction ratings, feedback and reviews? At the end of your trial period, review those numbers again. If they’ve improved, you may have found the right tool for your customers. If they’re unchanged, declining or uneven, you may need to keep looking until you find the right order tracking tool for your store.  Want more eCommerce tips? Check out our recommended WordPress plugins for inventory management. Find the post on the HostGator Blog


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