A few years ago, no one knew what chatbots were. Today it seems like every third website has a robot in the corner. That’s not a coincidence.
Chatbots have proven to be an effective way to increase revenue in businesses of all sizes. The typical chatbot’s click-through rate ranges from 15-60%. The large range in click-through rate is because chatbots have many uses which, of course, affects the CTR.
If you had a click-through rate from email marketing as high as 60% how would that affect your business? It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
This article looks at how chatbots are changing the digital landscape and a few use cases to increase your conversion rates while reducing your costs.
What are chatbots?
A chatbot is a software program – which may or may not be powered by artificial intelligence – that can conduct conversations with human beings.
This definition leaves a lot to be desired because many applications can conduct conversations but don’t qualify as chatbots. So where do you draw the line between app and chatbot?
Qualities of a chatbot
You can differentiate chatbots from other applications based on how interactions take place. A chatbot has a conversation sequentially. They talk and wait for your reply before continuing. Most applications don’t work like that.
Another way to differentiate a chatbot from another application is the fact that it has an identity. You can build a chatbot and name it whatever you want and it’ll maintain that identity. For example, if you have sales and customer service chatbots, you could give each of them a different name.
The sales chatbot could be Zig and the customer service chatbot could be zag. Anytime a user needs help in either channel, the correct bot would take over the conversation.
For example, 1-800Flowers.com named their chatbot GWYN. Each time someone has an interaction with the chatbot, they’re talking to GWYN.
Benefits of chatbots and conversational marketing
With each day that passes, people are discovering more benefits associated with chatbots. I’ll focus on the ones that have a direct and immediate business impact.
Larger salesforce at a lower cost
A major challenge with sales is prospecting. You have to properly vet and qualify people. If you don’t, they won’t be a good candidate for your service and a lot of time will be spent without a return.
Chatbots can step in and qualify visitors on your website by asking specific questions and appending tags to them depending on their answers.
According to BI Intelligence, chatbots can save up to $39 billion a year in salaries across sales and customer support.
Get feedback from users that otherwise wouldn’t engage
Many people will visit your website, look around, and leave because they couldn’t find what they were looking for. A chatbot goes a long way towards bridging the gap between visitor and conversation.
For example, if someone is on your services page and can’t find what they’re looking for, a chatbot makes it easy for them to ask. If the same question keeps coming up you know it’s something that needs to be answered on the page.
Conversely, you could ask users if the page their on answered all of their questions. For example, someone is on the pricing page and your chatbot asks them whether pricing is clear. If they select the no option, the chatbot would continue by asking them to tell it what information they were looking for or whether the page was confusing. You can use that feedback to further optimize the pricing page.
How to use chatbots plus examples
Now, let’s focus on three effective ways to use chatbots to increase conversions across the board.
Customized shopping experience
It can be daunting for customers to find what they need when you have a large collection of goods or complicated services. A chatbot is able to bridge this gap by asking questions about their wants and needs and segmenting them based on that information.
Once segmented, it’s possible for the chatbot to show them specific products or packages from within the chat UI.
This is what 1-800-FLOWERS.com did with their chatbot GWYN. As of June 2016, 70% of chatbot powered orders were from new customers.
Funnel users to specific pages
It’s not always possible to close a sale from within the chatbot interface. Sometimes, your visitors need a bit more information or a nudge in the right direction.
With chatbots, you’re able to set welcome messages to find out what a visitor needs and proactively give it to them.
Leadpages was able to use chatbots and human interactions to boost their conversion rates by 36%. They started off slowly with only live chat then moved on to automating a lot of the process to cut down on the strain their team was feeling.
It’s important to note that they supplemented their chatbot usage with a human touch. While I was reading the Leadpages case study, the drift chatbot popped up and did the exact same thing I’m describing here.
After a bit of back and forth, it introduced me to the proper page.
One of the most prevalent challenges for rapidly growing companies is maintaining a high level of customer service. It’s not easy to find, hire, and train reps.
At the same time, the good ones are expensive. Chatbots are able to step in and serve customers for all but the most complicated issues. They can answer the questions directly or send people to the right resources.
This creates a positive experience and keeps your current customers happy (and can encourage people to convert to customers).
Amtrak used a chatbot named Julie to answer 5 million questions a year, save $1,000,000, and increase bookings by 30%. The bookings through the chatbot produced 30% more revenue.
This is an outlier but it shows how effective chatbots can be for customer service.
Chatbots, like it or not, are here to stay. Every day, they’re getting cheaper and smarter. Soon, the question won’t be whether or not you should get one but what’s the best way to use it.
We’ve only scratched the surface of how you can use chatbots to increase conversion rates.
You can either use them directly like 1-800Flowers and Amtrak did or you can utilize them as part of a larger initiative that combines chatbots with a human touch just like Leadpages did.
Choose one and test it out for your business. When you start seeing results, add other methods and watch as your conversions continue to rise.
A DIY website builder may seem like a daunting option, but nothing could be further from the truth! Today’s website builders are user-friendly, intuitive, and easy-to-use.
DIY Website Builder
In fact, more business owners today are choosing to build their own websites than ever before. Why? Because businesses today need a website – there’s no way around that – but hiring a pro can be expensive.
Building your own site is an economical option; plus, it gives you total creative control, allowing you to customize design and functionality however you see fit.
Continue reading DIY Website? Why Choose To Do This? at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.
Every week we share Typepad blogs that have caught our eye and been shared over social media. Check them out! All That Sparkles is about life. Everything that life has to offer and one woman's...
The Typepad Team
If you’re thinking about building a website, it’s likely you’ve heard the term “web hosting.” Your website can’t go live on the Internet without it.
But as we’ve learned from dealing with countless clients – just because you’ve heard of web hosting doesn’t mean you know what it is. In a nutshell, hosting services give you the tools you need to get your site up on the web and ready to receive visitors.
Continue reading What is Web Hosting? at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.
As technology involving the cloud grows and increases its function, Cloud VPS hosting has become an excellent choice when considering hosting options for your website. Using this guide, you will learn the difference between hosting plans, and why Cloud VPS Hosting is better than most of the others.
What is Web Hosting?
To start off we need to understand web hosting and the role it plays. Web hosting is the act of storing your website’s data onto a server.
Continue reading What is Cloud VPS Hosting? at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.
Web hosting provides customers and visitors access to your website. While there are multiple options, one of the most popular forms of web hosting services is shared hosting.
As the name implies, shared web hosting allows multiple users with individual Internet domains to share and utilize one web server. Multiple websites can also be set up under one user account.
This is especially beneficial for small businesses, blogs, and personal websites looking for cost-efficient, easy to use and safe hosting services.
Continue reading Benefits of Shared Hosting at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.
Where can you buy a domain name? If you find yourself wondering that, you’re not alone. Many business owners don’t know where to buy a domain name, or even what a domain name is.
We’re going to lay the whole process out for you from start to finish. By the end, you’ll not only understand what a domain name is and why you need one, but you’ll know how to find the best deal (and avoid getting scammed into a shady contract).
Continue reading Where Should I Buy a Domain Name? at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.
The post They Like Us! Reviews of HostGator’s Website Builder appeared first on HostGator Blog.
HostGator affiliates had the first chance to review and demo our new Gator Website Builder before it was released to the public in early 2019. Here are some of their reviews and thoughts on the products…
1.Gator Website Builder handles all the software, updates, and backups.
“Gator is a fully hosted platform, so you don’t have to worry about the software, updates, or backups…Since Gator is a paid product, they don’t sell your data or show any ads on your website.” – WPBeginner
If you’re trying to build your very first website (or if you’re short on time), the thought of researching software, learning how to do software updates, scheduling software updates, and managing regular website backups…it can all feel overwhelming.
The simplicity of an all-in-one package is one of the biggest benefits of HostGator’s new Gator Website Builder. The website builder package handles all the software updates and backups so you can focus on a great website.
2. The drag-and-drop editor gives you perfect control.
“We especially appreciate how Gator’s drag-and-drop interface gives users pixel-perfect control while still suggesting guides and grids for appropriate spacing. Throughout the customization and design phase, users can seamlessly switch between desktop and mobile views to understand how your site will appear to all visitors…sit back and enjoy the confidence in having such a well-rounded tool at their design disposal.” – HostingAdvice.com
The drag-and-drop editor that comes with Gator Website Builder gives you full control of where to add elements on a page, and even makes grid-like suggestions on ideas of where elements may fit best.
All design templates are mobile-friendly, meaning the design automatically adjusts to the screen size of your website visitor. The drag-and-drop editor allows you to switch between the desktop and mobile view, and you can edit content in each view independently if you want.
3. So many buttons…
“There are a good range of elements in most of the key areas, though: six button types, multiple live feeds (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram), various PayPal buttons (Buy Now, Add To Cart, Donate, Check Out) and a range of social media features – social links, sharing icons, Like buttons, Follow buttons and more.” – Techradar
All of the design templates come with pre-populated pages that you can customize for your needs. You can add as many elements as you need, from buttons, Google maps, contact forms, and more. No need to know coding languages or go out to various websites for the API code you need, it’s all built into the website builder.
4. Impressive unlimited bandwidth and storage.
“Impressively, HostGator – being a top hosting provider – covers its website builder with unlimited bandwidth and storage. This means that there’s no limit on the amount of content, or visitors, your site can handle. In our eyes, this makes Gator a perfect choice for websites that need big image galleries, such as real estate brochures.”
That’s right! You’ll be surprised that the low cost includes unlimited pages on your website, plus unmetered storage space and unmetered bandwidth. Unmetered means you aren’t charged for the amount of space that you use. Other website builders put a cap on your storage or charge you to move up in storage space. HostGator’s Website Builder is equipped to handle the amount of content and photos you can throw at it!
5. Robust photo repository and free stock photos.
“You can upload multiple images at a time, and everything you upload is stored in an online repository to reuse…If you don’t have pictures of your own, Gator includes a healthy selection of stock photography…Even more impressive, it’s all royalty-free. Several other site builders…charge you for much of their stock photography.” – PCMag
Check out the PCMag review for examples of how Gator Website Builder compares to its competitors.
Gator Website Builder comes with a robust photo gallery of stock images that you can use royalty-free on your website. The photos are organized into 18 categories, including architecture, cars, hotels, and sports. No need to go search for photos on the internet, wondering if they are free. These photos are already loaded with your account to use throughout your website as you need.
The website builder also includes photo storage to import your own business photos or embed photos via a website link. You can build photo galleries as well.
6. The premade templates are a “blessing in blogging world.”
“These pre-made templates will prove to be a “blessing in blogging world” as it will save you tons of time and money…Many other platforms give you only one choice of either a basic website or a blogging platform but Gator gives you both. This is probably the biggest plus of this program that makes Gator stands out more than others…Blog away and start a side hustle that can actually generate a steady income for you.” – Speaking of Cents
Gator Website Builder comes with more than 200 professionally-designed templates. The templates are organized by categories such as music & entertainment, pets & animals, and photography so you can quickly find a theme that suits your needs.
The website builder has an integrated blog. But you don’t have to start a blog right away, the option is always available and is free to add on whenever you are ready.
Thanks to these affiliate team members for reviewing the Gator Website Builder!
What about you? Have you tried Gator Website Builder yet? What feature are you most interested to try?
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VPS hosting, cloud hosting and shared hosting providers–when deciding what form of web hosting service to purchase, the first thing you should ask is, what type of an online presence will your business have?
Are you a small business or entrepreneur looking to use your website to advertise and supplement an already established shop? Or will your website be the main focus of your business?
The next question is whether your business will be starting out small, building up to more visitor traffic as you grow?
Continue reading What Is the Most Affordable Hosting Option? at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.
The post Responsive Web Design Examples appeared first on HostGator Blog.
When building a new website or considering a new design for a site you already have, one of the best ways to clarify what you want and get some inspiration is to spend time looking at examples of other websites.
For web designers, looking at the layout or design of other websites can spark ideas for how to approach the website you’re working on. And for business owners or amateur website owners who struggle to communicate what they want visually, it’s much easier to analyze what you like and don’t like about another website than it is to figure out what you want from scratch.
For modern website design projects, it’s not enough to spend time perusing website examples on desktop alone. A majority of web users today do their searching, browsing, and shopping on mobile devices.
When you’re building your website, you have to think about mobile. And that means when you’re searching for inspiration you should as well. What you need is to look for responsive web design examples.
What is Responsive Web Design?
Responsive web design is the dominant trend in web design today. Responsive websites are designed to look good on all possible screen sizes, while still providing the same information and page elements no matter the device.
Designers pull this off by changing the way page layout elements are organized on the website, rather than changing what elements are included. For a simple example, a website that has text and and an image show up side by side on a desktop screen could have the text move below the image when the same page loads on a mobile device.
In the coding, designers tell websites how to recognize the type of device or screen size the site is loading on, and change how it appears accordingly. Hence the name “responsive website design”—the website responds to the screen size it’s being viewed on.
Responsive website design has become the norm because it’s Google’s preference, which makes it good for search engine optimization (SEO), and because it provides a straightforward way to ensure your mobile visitors get a good experience without having to design a separate mobile website.
Having one responsive website versus different websites for different devices saves you the trouble of having to do twice as much work during the initial design phase and for ongoing maintenance. And it means your website will work on the growing range of device types and screen sizes that have now come onto the scene.
In short, whatever type of website you’re looking to build, responsive web design is widely considered the best choice.
Why Look at Responsive Web Design Examples?
Looking at examples of responsive web design with a flexible layout is a valuable way to come to your own website design project with clearer idea of how you want your website to look. In particular, reviewing examples will help you do a few things.
1. You can see different organization styles.
One of the challenges of responsive web design is figuring out how to organize both your website in general and each individual page in particular in a way that remains intuitive and useful no matter the device type. You shouldn’t assume your own experiences and preferences are good enough for this.
By looking at the choices other skilled designers have made, you’ll gain an understanding of the overall best practices in responsive website organization.
2. You’ll see how different types of websites approach responsive web design.
Different types of websites have different goals. An eCommerce website has the goal of driving sales, while an entertainment site wants to you spend time on the site consuming content. When you view a lot of different responsive websites, you’ll start to see how the different design choices are influenced by a website’s particular goals. That’s good information to bring into your own website’s design.
3. You’ll get a feel for how a good website hierarchy works.
Designing your website with a visual hierarchy means thinking through which parts of each page are most important and making sure the design centers them. A common website building mistake is not creating a mobile-responsive web design. It’s especially important for responsive web design, where many of the visitors viewing your website on smaller devices will see less of the page they’re on at a given time.
You want to make sure that the most important parts of the page are placed higher up in the design, and that key features and links like your main menu and call to action (CTA) are easy to find.
4. You’ll gain insights into why designers organize things the way they did.
As you browse different websites, think about why pages are organized the way they are. Analyze the design choices made in each case: consider how images are used, and where different links, buttons, and other features are placed. Think about the usability of the site and how the overall viewing experience is compared to others.
Don’t just take in how the website looks on different devices, think about why. Asking those questions will reveal insights that help you make better design decisions for your own website.
5. You may see examples of design choices to avoid.
You can learn a lot from good responsive web design examples, but you can learn just as much from those that don’t work for you.
As you browse a website and click around to see different pages or take different actions, pay attention to anything that’s harder to do on a small screen than a desktop. Consider any page elements that don’t look quite right on some screen sizes, because they were clearly designed for others. Those insights will help you determine what not to do.
How to Look at Responsive Web Design Examples
You don’t have to go out and buy a multitude of device types to see how responsive websites look on all of them. A number of handy responsive design testing tools will let you see how websites look on different screen sizes all from the same device.
If you have a computer, tablet, and smartphone you can use to supplement your research, it’s always good to get that more direct experience as well. But to see a larger number of examples in a more efficient way, a tool like Resizer (which we used for all the screenshots below) will make the process more efficient.
15 Responsive Web Design Examples
Now that we’ve laid out a convincing argument for why you should pay attention to a variety of responsive web design examples, we’ll help you get right to it. We’ve compiled a list of responsive websites with a variety of website types and subjects covered.
Business Responsive Design Examples
Every business needs a website these days, and every business website should be responsive in order to reach prospective customers no matter how they come to your site. Here are a few examples of businesses that got the message and created responsive business websites.
1. CliftonLarsonAllen LLP
Finance, outsourcing, and tax firm CliftonLarsonAllen is a good example of visual hierarchy in a website. You’ll notice all three of the main versions of their responsive website center the same image, message, and call to action (CTA) button. Can you tell what action they want visitors to take?
Each website version also provides a number of clear links to learn more based the types of services the visitor is interested in, all of which are easy to spot as you scroll (or right there on the first screen in some cases).
2. The Living Well
Women’s health and wellness company, The Living Well, has a simple image-focused website that provides the same information across device types. The initial logo, tagline, and menu items are visible on all versions and communicate what the business is all about.
And prospective customers can learn more about the women behind the business and the specific services available by scrolling down, clicking on the relevant links obvious on the page, or following the social buttons that are visible on all screen sizes.
3. Yard Bar
The dog park bar and restaurant Yard Bar also has a responsive website that centers images. The sliding images prominently feature the main things you need to know about the business: it’s all about food, drinks, and dogs.
Across devices, scrolling down provides more information about those three main categories, plus happy hour times. Anyone visiting the site from any device can quickly learn what the business is about and the main information they need to know before heading over.
Freelance business software company Bonsai has a clean and clear responsive website. Like CliftonLarsonAllen, they make the main message and CTA clear on the site across devices.
The website offers a good example of moving or removing certain elements that are less important on the smaller screen. While for the most part, the page is the same across the devices, the larger screens have a form for providing your email right there on the page. To save space, the mobile version moves the form off the home page, but keeps the CTA there (once you click, you get to a form field). It makes the space look cleaner, while still providing the same basic information and options.
5. Salt Lick Cellars
The winery Salt Lick Cellars is another business website that centers images, which makes sense for a business in an industry that often draws customers in with beautiful views.
While the cut of the main image on the smartphone screen is smaller—you don’t see as expansive a view of the photo, you still get the main idea of it, along with intuitive access to the menu (a hamburger menu in the top right), and an image directing you to scroll down for more information.
eCommerce Responsive Design Examples
While business websites have an ultimate goal of trying to sell a product or service, eCommerce websites are trying to make the sale in a more direct fashion—right there on the website itself. It’s worth seeing some examples of how different eCommerce sites use their responsive design to do that across devices. When designing an eCommerce website, it’s especially important that you make your site mobile responsive and easy to use.
6. Paper & Ink Arts
Paper & Ink Arts has all the same elements on its mobile homepage as on the desktop and tablet versions, but because of the way the same elements take up different amounts of space, the homepage has a bit of a different feel between devices.
The image slideshow that dominates the screen on the larger devices, becomes a smaller banner on mobile in order to make room for other promotions. And the menu is squished into a hamburger menu in order to make space at the top for easy access to search, contact information, and the shopping cart. The choices make clear the company’s priority to make sales, and make it easy for visitors to get in touch.
Penzeys looks like they designed their main menu with the mobile experience in mind. With four simple categories that take up a narrow amount of space on the larger screens, the menu fits perfectly on the smartphone-sized screen.
All three screens make the checkout button in orange and free shipping offer in red in the top right corner obvious. While all versions let the central image that dominates the screen be the tasty-looking images of recipes you can make using the company’s spices (a compelling reason to buy).
8. Bon Bon Bon
Like many of the business websites, chocolate shop Bon Bon Bon puts an image with an obvious CTA front and center. It has an image slider, so the image and CTA change, but the CTA is always in a bright red button.
As with Paper & Ink though, Bon Bon Bon lets the main image get smaller so it’s more like a banner ad, in order to let some of the other page elements onto the screen on mobile. And the shopping cart and Information link to find contact information remain clear at the top on the mobile screen.
The online pet supply store Chewy.com looks very similar across the three devices, with the main difference being the common responsive choice to make the menu into a compressed hamburger menu. This is a rare example of a responsive website where the main image on mobile doesn’t load to fit the screen—you notice it’s cut off, but visitors have the option to scroll left to right to see the parts of the photo you can’t see here.
All three versions prominently feature the search bar, to make it easy for visitors to find specific products. And all have the obvious 30% off offer in orange.
10. Pacha Soaps
Pacha Soaps has a pretty similar look across devices. As is common in the other websites we’ve seen, they have sliding images that dominate the screen in all three versions. Unlike some of the other examples, the image takes up more screen real estate rather than less on the smartphone screen.
While small, they keep the brown menu with their free shipping and social handle information present throughout screen sizes, while switching to a hamburger menu for their main menu on the smaller screen.
Personal Website Responsive Design Examples
Even if you’re building a personal website to share your passion, rather than sell products or promote a business, it’s worth making your website responsive. Here are a few responsive web design examples from personal websites people have built around their passions.
11. The April Blake
April Blake’s blog is primarily focused on sharing recipes she cooks and occasional musings.
Her website looks very similar across screen sizes, with just a couple of small differences. The social icons at the very top of the page on desktop are removed on the smaller screens, and the main menu is compressed to a hamburger menu. Otherwise it’s simply a matter of re-arranging the elements on the page to better fit the screen.
12. House of Hipsters
Kyla Herbes home design blog, House of Hipsters, changes little between device types. The menu switches to a drop-down menu, the title banner at the top becomes smaller, and the right-side menu moves down the page on the smaller devices. But otherwise, the site’s essentially the same no matter where you’re coming from.
13. I Am Aileen
Lifestyle and travel blogger I Am Aileen’s responsive website centers a image slideshow on all device sizes, with an obvious search bar and social icons above it. The main menu becomes a hamburger menu on mobile, and the boxes of content and images below the main image become stacked on the smaller screen.
14. The Frugal Girl
The Frugal Girl blog keeps the logo and tagline visible at the top across website types, and centers the top blog post in all three versions. The main menu becomes a hamburger menu on the smallest screen, and the information and images in the right-side menu get pushed to the bottom.
15. Budget Bytes
Finally, the recipe site Budget Bytes centers the image and details of the most recent recipe on all device sizes, but moves the details and name below the image on the mobile device. The logo and website name show up at the top in all three versions. And, as is common in our examples, the main menu is replaced with a hamburger menu in the mobile version, along with a search icon to make more space at the top of the screen.
While the images and names of additional recipes show up side by side below the main image on the two larger screens, they become stacked on the mobile device.
Ready to Create a Responsive Website?
As all these examples demonstrate, there are a number of ways to organize a responsive website that works equally well on all device types. And you don’t have to be a big business with a large budget to create a responsive website—many of these examples are of small businesses or individuals.
If you want a simple, affordable way to create a responsive website, the Gator Website Builder has over 100 responsive templates that provide a headstart to putting together a website that looks good and works across device types. To get started with building your website, give our professionals a call at HostGator to find the right web hosting option for you.
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We’ve been in the web hosting business for a long time. And we’ve found one of the most consistent benefits of web hosting is being able to control your own destiny.
Learning how to do your own coding gives you the greatest level of control over what you can do with your hosting.
So where can you learn how to code?
The web is a great place to start.
Continue reading Power Up Your Web Hosting With Your Own Code at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.
Guest post by AWS Container Hero Tung Nguyen. Tung is the president and founder of BoltOps, a consulting company focused on cloud infrastructure and software on AWS. He also enjoys writing for the BoltOps Nuts and Bolts blog.
EC2 Spot Instances allow me to use spare compute capacity at a steep discount. Using Amazon ECS with Spot Instances is probably one of the best ways to run my workloads on AWS. By using Spot Instances, I can save 50–90% on Amazon EC2 instances. You would think that folks would jump at a huge opportunity like a black Friday sales special. However, most folks either seem to not know about Spot Instances or are hesitant. This may be due to some fallacies about Spot.
With the Spot model, AWS can remove instances at any time. It can be due to a maintenance upgrade; high demand for that instance type; older instance type; or for any reason whatsoever.
Hence the first fear and fallacy that people quickly point out with Spot:
What do you mean that the instance can be replaced at any time? Oh no, that must mean that within 20 minutes of launching the instance, it gets killed.
I felt the same way too initially. The actual Spot Instance Advisor website states:
The average frequency of interruption across all Regions and instance types is less than 5%.
From my own usage, I have seen instances run for weeks. Need proof? Here’s a screenshot from an instance in one of our production clusters.
If you’re wondering how many days that is….
Yes, that is 228 continuous days. You might not get these same long uptimes, but it disproves the fallacy that Spot Instances are usually interrupted within 20 minutes from launch.
With Spot Instances, I place a single request for a specific instance in a specific Availability Zone. With Spot Fleets, instead of requesting a single instance type, I can ask for a variety of instance types that meet my requirements. For many workloads, as long as the CPU and RAM are close enough, many instance types do just fine.
So, I can spread my instance bets across instance types and multiple zones with Spot Fleets. Using Spot Fleets dramatically makes the system more robust on top of the already mentioned low interruption rate. Also, I can run an On-Demand cluster to provide additional safeguard capacity.
ECS and Spot Fleets: A Great Fit Together
This is one of my favorite ways to run workloads because it gives me a scalable system at a ridiculously low cost. The technologies are such a great fit together that one might think they were built for each other.
Docker provides a consistent, standard binary format to deploy. If it works in one Docker environment, then it works in another. Containers can be pulled down in seconds, making them an excellent fit for Spot Instances, where containers might move around during an interruption.
ECS provides a great ecosystem to run Docker containers. ECS supports a feature called connection instance draining that allows me to tell ECS to relocate the Docker containers to other EC2 instances.
Spot Instances fire off a two-minute warning signal letting me know when it’s about to terminate the instance.
These are the necessary pieces I need for building an ECS cluster on top of Spot Fleet. I use the two-minute warning to call ECS connection draining, and ECS automatically moves containers to another instance in the fleet.
Here’s a CloudFormation template that achieves this: ecs-ec2-spot-fleet. Because the focus is on understanding Spot Fleets, the VPC is designed to be simple.
The template specifies two instance types in the Spot Fleet: t3.small and t3.medium with 2 GB and 4 GB of RAM, respectively. The template weights the t3.medium twice as much as the t3.small. Essentially, the Spot Fleet TargetCapacity value equals the total RAM to provision for the ECS cluster. So if I specify 8, the Spot Fleet service might provision four t3.small instances or two t3.medium instances. The cluster adds up to at least 8 GB of RAM.
To launch the stack run, I run the following command:
aws cloudformation create-stack --stack-name ecs-spot-demo --template-body file://ecs-spot-demo.yml --capabilities CAPABILITY_IAM
The CloudFormation stack launches container instances and registers them to an ECS cluster named developmentby default. I can change this with the EcsCluster parameter. For more information on the parameters, see the README and the template source.
When I deploy the application, the deploy tool creates the ECS cluster itself. Here are the Spot Instances in the EC2 console.
Deploy the demo app
After the Spot cluster is up, I can deploy a demo app on it. I wrote a tool called Ufo that is useful for these tasks:
Build the Docker image.
Register the ECS task definition.
Register and deploy the ECS service.
Create the load balancer.
Docker should be installed as a prerequisite. First, I create an ECR repo and set some variables:
ECR_REPO=$(aws ecr create-repository --repository-name demo/sinatra | jq -r '.repository.repositoryUri')
VPC_ID=$(aws ec2 describe-vpcs --filters Name=tag:Name,Values="demo vpc" | jq -r '.Vpcs.VpcId')
Now I’m ready to clone the demo repo and deploy a sample app to ECS with ufo.
git clone https://github.com/tongueroo/demo-ufo.git demo
ufo init --image $ECR_REPO --vpc-id $VPC_ID
ufo current --service demo-web
ufo ship # deploys to ECS on the Spot Fleet cluster
Here’s the ECS service running:
I then grab the Elastic Load Balancing endpoint from the console or with ufo ps.
$ ufo ps
Now I test with curl:
$ curl develop-Elb-12LHJWU4TH3Q8-597605736.us-west-2.elb.amazonaws.com
The application returns “42,” the meaning of life, successfully. That’s it! I now have an application running on ECS with Spot Fleet Instances.
One additional advantage of using Spot is that it encourages me to think about my architecture in a highly available manner. The Spot “constraints” ironically result in much better sleep at night as the system must be designed to be self-healing.
Hopefully, this post opens the world of running ECS on Spot Instances to you. It’s a core of part of the systems that BoltOps has been running on its own production system and for customers. I still get excited about the setup today. If you’re interested in Spot architectures, contact me at BoltOps.
One last note: Auto Scaling groups also support running multiple instance types and purchase options. Jeff mentions in his post that weight support is planned for a future release. That’s exciting, as it may streamline the usage of Spot with ECS even further.
Digital agencies have the difficult task of finding the latest technologies and using them to help their clients win online. But that’s an increasingly hard thing to do, especially as these businesses are asked to do more with less, and create digital experiences that are faster and more dynamic than ever. Today, a growing number…
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Every website is as unique as a rainbow. No matter the purpose of your site, you don’t want your visitors...
The post Maintaining Site Organization: 3 Ways To Restructure Your Menu appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.
Your website is growing, traffic is increasing daily, you’re thinking about getting a new hosting plan, but what about a domain name transfer? Often overlooked in general website upkeep, who you host your domain with is a vital part of the security of your website. We’re going to go over some reasons why a domain transfer should be your next move.
When starting off, you bought your name from a Registrar. A Registrar is a company that allows you to register a domain name so that it is unique only to you and your website.
Continue reading 5 Reasons Why You Might Transfer a Domain Name at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.
Welcome to Part 2 of our series, Getting Started with Drupal 8. Go here for Part 1. You’ve installed Drupal, updated it to the most current version, and know how to back it up. Next up is learning the basics of how to navigate the interface and manage your content. Let’s jump in! Contents… Continue reading →
Have you decided to start a business?
That’s great news and an even better reason to celebrate. However, along with the excitement of a new venture comes serious anxiety. What can overshadow a new business owner’s elation? Concerns about money.
Many of us worry about money and finances on a regular, if not daily, basis. But those concerns take on a new depth where starting a business is concerned. Fortunately, you can lessen those fears by learning about the expenses you’ll face as a budding entrepreneur and planning for them.
Stay tuned as we discuss the basic expenses when starting a business and provide you with resources for planning.
It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com.
The Expense List
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “My expenses can’t be the same as everyone else’s, my business is unique!” And you’re right — sort of.
When you start a business, chances are it’ll fall into one of the following categories: Online Business, Brick-and-Mortar, or Service Provider. Each type has its own unique costs, challenges, and rewards. Here, we’ll list the expenses that will likely be common to all three business types.
Legal Fees – Legal expenses can include things like incorporation fees, licenses, and permits. These fees are usually standard and can be anticipated.Technology – It’s not easy to run a business for a luddite. You’re going to need technology and it’s a good idea to prepare for those costs. Set aside funds for things like: a good computer, a website, and software to help you manage your customers and sales. Office or retail space – Obviously, a brick-and-mortar can’t exist without a physical location; but don’t skip over this as a service provider or online business. Unless you plan on working from home every day, you need to account for the cost of a work space for you and any potential employees. Employees – If you hire employees you’ll need to pay them and have money for payroll taxes, too. If you plan on offering your employees health insurance then that will be an added expense. Marketing and Consultations – Your business doesn’t exist in a bubble. To be successful, you’ll need customers or clients to bring in revenue. Plan on having funds to execute a marketing strategy. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top (so no jumping in with a nationally syndicated commercial on prime time TV.) If marketing isn’t your forte you should consider hiring a consultant who has experience with marketing small businesses.
Budgeting and other tips
As we stated earlier, every business will face its own unique expenses in addition to those listed above. The Small Business Administration created a helpful budgeting worksheet that breaks down additional expenses into two columns: one-time expenses and monthly, or recurring, expenses. Keep this document handy.
Plan on starting your business with six months’ worth of expenses at hand. This is a great tip from the folks at Fundera. A lot can happen in six months, especially as you embark on this exciting business journey! Don’t count on customers flooding through your doors (either physical or digital) in the early days as a way to cover business expenses. We have all the faith in the world that you can be successful and will end up with more customers than you know what to do with, but don’t push your luck as you get started.
According to a study done by Jessie Hagen at U.S. Bank, 82% of small business fail because they’ve mismanaged their cash flow. If you’re going to be a statistic, aim for a better one. Planning and preparation will help ease you through those first six months and beyond.
It all starts with the right domain. Get yours today at Domain.com.
Where to find funds
If you don’t have six months worth of expenses at hand, don’t panic. We’ll let you in on a little secret — you’re in good company. The vast majority of people starting small businesses don’t have that kind of money in liquid assets or in savings.
Depending on where you live, you’ll have a variety of lending options. You can get a loan from large national banks, smaller banks and credit unions, or even third party lenders. Make sure to read the terms of the loan and ask questions if you don’t understand what you’re signing.
How much money can you expect to take out as a loan? Various things can affect the amount of your loan, like your personal and business credit history. However, we can look at reported average loan amounts, differentiated based on lender type, to get a ballpark number.
The average small business loans in 2017 are as follows:
Large National Banks – $564KSmaller Banks – $184KSmall Business Administration – $107KAlternative Lenders – $80K
Do your research before taking out a loan to get the best financing and so that you don’t end up with a loan that’s insufficient to cover your expenses.
It’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur
Starting a small business is no easy feat, but it’s certainly rewarding, and there’s no better time to start than now. According to a U.S. Bank Survey, economic uncertainty is no longer small businesses #1 concern.
So what are you waiting for? Crack open those spreadsheets (or paper and pencil if that’s what you prefer) and figure out what your exact expenses will be. Once you’ve determined that number you can start saving or seek out a loan.
Do you have any other tips or insights for budding entrepreneurs and small business owners? Share them in the comments, we’d love to hear them.
The post The Basic Expenses When Starting Your Own Business appeared first on Domain.com | Blog.
When WooCommerce is first installed, it includes everything you need to start selling. But you can also take advantage of hundreds of extensions to add new features and customize your store — modularity is a strength of both WordPress and WooCommerce. Once you have finished setting up your new WooCommerce store, it’s worth taking a… Continue reading →
Starting a new podcast presents a whole host of challenges. Not only do you have to battle any potential nerves that come with recording your voice for thousands of people to hear — but you’ll also have to set up a way to publish and share your new content.
Fortunately, you can easily launch your new podcast with WordPress, the world’s most popular Content Management System. Several plugins can help you display your new show right on your website. That way, you can start expanding your brand to a new audience and even tap into an additional source of income.
In this article, we’ll discuss what podcasts are and how you could benefit from starting one. Then we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to start a podcast with WordPress. Let’s jump in!
An Introduction to Podcasts
Podcasts are audio files that you can download or listen to on the internet. In some ways, they’re similar to radio shows, since they rely on the podcaster’s ability to engage the audience with sound, usually through speaking.
Podcasts are often presented in a series of episodes, and there are several different styles and types. Some focus on telling true or imagined stories, while others offer commentary on specific subjects. It’s also common to bring guests onto a podcast, for interviews or panels.
The Benefits of Starting Your Own Podcast
Whether you’re looking to expand your existing brand or launch a podcast as a first-time content creator, there are many benefits to starting one. For some people, a podcast is a chance to dig deeper into subjects that interest them and can become a fulfilling hobby.
Others find ways to turn their podcasts into a business through monetization. You can work with brands through advertising deals or even sell memberships and content. If you offer products or services, you could also use your podcast to promote sales.
As far as branding goes, a podcast is an effective method for engaging with consumers. With a podcast, it’s easy to sit down and speak casually to your target audience, so you can really show off your brand’s personality and encourage trust and loyalty from your listeners.
Of course, you’ll also have the chance to reach new audience members. While content such as blog posts or videos work for some people, others find audio preferable. People with long commutes, for example, may not have time to read a blog. However, they can listen to a podcast while they drive to and from work.
How to Start a Podcast With WordPress (In 9 Steps)
With WordPress, you can create a website that will both promote your podcast and enable your audience to find new episodes. Plus, WordPress integrates with the media hosting service Blubrry, which makes maintaining your podcast easy. In the following nine steps, we’ll show you how to get started!
Step 1: Create a Plan for Your Podcast’s Content
Without careful planning, you could end up in a sticky situation with your podcast. You don’t want to publish your first couple of episodes, only to realize that you’re out of ideas for content. Likewise, if you want to successfully monetize your podcast, having a strategy is key.
To begin with, it’s necessary to find a specific topic or niche your podcast will fit into. This can make it easier to grow your audience and keep them engaged by providing content they’ll find relevant and interesting. The bigger your audience is, the easier it will be to get advertising deals.
For example, the podcast Welcome to Night Vale shares eccentric fictional stories from an imagined town called Night Vale in the form of realistic radio broadcasts. This entertaining show attracts listeners who are interested in comedy and storytelling.
It’s also helpful for listeners if you have a regular posting schedule, so they know when to expect new content from you. By posting consistently, you’ll have a better chance of maintaining and growing your pool of listeners.
What’s more, it’s essential to take time to gather your resources. While it’s tempting to jump right into your first episode and worry about the rest later, that could cause problems later on. You don’t want to be in the middle of recording and realize you don’t have the sources or material you need for the episode.
Finally, it’s especially vital to plan ahead when you’re working with others. For example, before you can do an interview, you’ll need to ask the interviewee’s permission and coordinate schedules. You may want to outline your first five episodes before going any further and make note of what you’ll need to have prepared before each recording.
Step 2: Set Up Your Podcast Website
While you could technically set up a podcast without a website, it’s not recommended. A site makes it easier to promote your podcast, share information about it, and build a community of listeners. You can also direct your audience to other relevant locations for your brand, such as your blog or specific product pages.
To set up a new website, you’ll need a domain name and a hosting provider. You can quickly register your domain name with us at DreamHost. Just check the name you want in our Domains Search Tool to ensure that it’s not taken, then purchase and register it.
As for web hosting, a managed option such as our DreamPress plan is ideal for self-hosted WordPress sites. With a managed WordPress plan, your hosting provider will take care of maintenance tasks such as backups and updates for you, so you can focus on creating your podcast and communicating with your audience.
A managed WordPress hosting plan should also make it easy to install WordPress. At DreamHost, WordPress comes pre-installed on our DreamPress plans — right out of the box. If you opt for a different plan, you can easily add WordPress through our one-click installer. Just log in to your DreamHost account, navigate to WordPress in the sidebar, and select One-Click Installs.
On the resulting page, select the WordPress icon from the list, and the installation options will open in a pop-up window. Click Install it for me now!, and you’ll soon have your WordPress site up and running.
Then, all that’s left to do is customize your site with a theme, plugins, and any other features or content you want to add. Once your site is ready to go, you can start getting it prepared for your podcast.
Get More with DreamPressDreamPress Plus and Pro users get access to Jetpack Professional (and 200+ premium themes) at no added cost!Check Out Plans
Step 3: Host Your Podcast With a Media Hosting Service
While your website is critical to the success of your podcast, it won’t do a very good job of hosting your audio files. This means you’ll want to look into a podcast hosting service that can store your files for you. As we mentioned before, Blubrry is an excellent option.
Its plans start at $12 per month for 100MB of storage. You’ll receive an additional 100MB every month (for example, you’ll get a total of 200MB during your second month with Blubrry, 300MB during your third month, and so on). This is enough storage for a weekly podcast of about 20 minutes per episode.
Additionally, you’ll be able to add a media player to your website so your audience can listen to episodes directly from your site. The player is ‘white-labeled’, so you don’t have to worry about third-party branding on your site, and you can customize the player to blend with your site’s design.
Related: How to Start a WordPress Blog: A Comprehensive Guide
Step 4: Acquire Your Podcasting Equipment
With everything ready to store your podcast’s files, it’s time to actually create your content. First, you’ll need the right tools to do this. Creating a podcast involves both recording and editing audio, so you’ll want equipment that can handle both of these tasks.
Using the right equipment ensures high-quality audio for your show, which in turn impacts how listeners perceive your podcast. If there’s too much background noise or it’s hard to understand what you’re saying, you’ll have a difficult time maintaining a following.
To get the ball rolling, you’ll want a microphone that can capture your audio. If you’re brand-new to podcasting and want something easy to use, the SamsonQ2U is worth considering. You could also look into the Rode Podcaster, a mic designed specifically for podcasting.
You’ll also need editing software. Podcast episodes can be fairly long, and you’re not expected to record each one in a single take. Having the ability to edit your audio will prove helpful since you can cut out any unexpected sounds (such as sneezes or coughs), take breaks, or fix mistakes.
Garageband is free for Mac users and gets the job done with basic editing features. It’s a great tool for beginners because it’s easy to use and doesn’t require a financial investment.
If you don’t use a Mac, or you want something with more advanced features, you can try Audacity. The downside is that it has a fairly steep learning curve and can be tricky to use when you’re first starting out.
If you’re willing to pay for your editing software, Adobe Audition is another option used by many podcasters.
It’s capable of producing professional-quality audio. However, at almost $21 per month, you might want to consider using a free platform until your podcast starts making money.
Step 5: Prep, Record, and Edit Your First Podcast
You’re probably itching to record your first episode by now. Before you do so, however, you’ll want to consider putting in some prep work. Creating an outline or even a full script for your podcast episodes can help you save time, by ensuring that you have enough content for the entire episode.
If you’re going to be doing an interview or a panel on your podcast, preparing questions for your guests keeps you focused and is courteous to the people you’re working with. You don’t want to waste others’ time because you don’t know what to talk about at your own interview, after all.
Once your preparations are complete, you can finally sit down to record. To ensure good sound quality, record in a small room and maintain a consistent distance from your microphone. It’s also a good idea to wear headphones, such as the ATH-M50x by Audio Technica, to prevent audio feedback.
During the editing phase, you can also add interest to your podcast with background or intro music. For example, you can upload music clips to your editing software and combine them with your recording. Just make sure to avoid copyright infringement by using royalty-free clips.
Step 6: Publish Your Podcast With WordPress
The Blubrry PowerPress plugin makes publishing your podcast on your website simple. By installing and activating PowerPress, you’ll also be able to upload your podcast to Blubrry’s hosting platform via your WordPress site.
Once you’ve activated the podcast plugin, simply configure its settings by filling in the required fields. You can also link the plugin to your Blubrry Media Hosting Account, which will streamline the rest of the process.
To publish your first podcast episode, navigate to Posts in the WordPress dashboard and select Add New. Enter your episode’s title and any notes on the episode into the editor and then scroll down to the section labeled Podcast Episode.
Here, you can drag and drop to upload your podcast to your site. Simply click on the folder icon next to the Media URL field, and select the podcast file from your computer. Once the file has finished uploading, scroll back up and click on Publish to add the episode to your site.
You’ll still need to add the file to your Blubrry hosting account, which you can easily do within WordPress by navigating to PowerPress > Migrate Media. Click Select Media to Migrate, and choose the correct audio file from the list. Then click on the Request Migration button.
Depending on the size of your file, it could take some time for your episode to migrate. Therefore, you’ll want to check back in on the migration page every so often. Once “Step 2” is shown as complete, click on Update Your Episodes to finish the process.
Related: The WordPress Blogger Checklist: 10 Things to Do Before Hitting Publish
Step 7: Submit Your Episodes to Podcast Directories
While featuring your podcast on your WordPress website is important, it’s also beneficial to tap into the pre-existing audiences on a podcast player, such as iTunes or Stitcher. These directories are where many listeners look for new popular podcasts and can help you expand your audience and gain more subscribers.
To submit a podcast to iTunes, you’ll need an Apple ID. Log in or create one, then navigate to the Podcasts section and click on the Submit a Podcast link.
You’ll be asked to supply an RSS feed, which you can find via PowerPress. In the plugin’s settings, navigate to the Destinations tab, and select the Submit to iTunes link. You’ll be directed to a page on Blubrry’s site, which will display your RSS feed’s URL. Copy and paste that into iTunes.
After that, you can review your podcast information and then click on Submit. It can take up to ten days for your podcast to be approved, although most are up in the Apple Podcasts directory within three days.
If you want to submit your podcast to Stitcher, you’ll need to sign up to be a partner. Once you’ve submitted your contact information, Stitcher will contact you and help you create a partner account, which you can use to submit episodes.
Apart from those platforms, you might also want to submit your podcast to SoundCloud, Spotify, or Google Podcasts. The more platforms you use, the wider reach you’ll have. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that this will also require more maintenance since you’ll have to update each platform with new episodes and other updates.
Step 8: Promote Your Podcast to Gain Followers
Now that your podcast is up and running, you’re ready to start promoting it to gain subscribers and grow your audience. While you’ll hopefully gain some followers organically through podcast directories, it’s difficult for a show to take off without a marketing strategy.
Posting about your podcast on social media can make it easier to spark some interest. You might also try running a giveaway or special promotions for listeners, to encourage them to tune in regularly. Having guests on your show is especially helpful, as it lets you tap into pre-existing audiences.
Finally, consider providing your podcast content in other formats.
Some podcasters film videos while recording their podcasts, and post those videos on their websites, YouTube, or other social media platforms. Transcripts can easily be turned into a blog post, which makes your podcast’s content more accessible.
Step 9: Monetize Your Podcast
Once your podcast is off the ground and has started to gain traction, you can start thinking about monetizing it. There are several options when it comes to generating revenue from your podcast, and you can implement any or all of them to turn your show into a business.
Ads are a very popular way of monetizing podcasts. You can reach out to sponsors and negotiate deals on your own or you can become part of an advertising network such as Blubrry’s.
If your audience seems to be invested in your podcast, you can consider creating bonus content and charging for access to it. If people really enjoy your show, they may be willing to pay for more of it. You can also charge membership fees through platforms such as Patreon.
Additionally, if your podcast is part of a larger brand, it can give you space to promote other content, products, and services. Just remember that the podcast itself shouldn’t become an ad, and should provide valuable entertainment and/or information (rather than solely promoting your business).
Ready to Go On Air?
Starting a new podcast can be both exciting and stressful. Fortunately, using WordPress to publish your podcast can help smooth out the process of launching your new show. With the help of a few plugins and the right equipment, you’ll be ready to take your brand to new heights.
Do you have any questions about starting a new podcast with WordPress? Connect with us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts!
The post Step-by-Step Guide: How to Start a Podcast With WordPress (2019) appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.
So you’ve decided to create a website and you’re ready to move on to picking your website builder of choice. There are so many options for both a website builder and hosting. When it comes down to hosting, and knowing which plan is best, many people have a hard time deciding which company to go with.
We believe that it’s not only convenient but beneficial to bundle your hosting with the website creator of your choice.
Continue reading Why You Should Bundle Your Website Builder and Hosting at The Official InMotion Hosting Blog.