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What Is Shared Hosting? The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

When you’re tackling the launch of your very first website, hosting is one of the most critical but potentially confusing aspects. Understanding the differences between various hosting types and plans is crucial for your site’s success, as well as the health of your budget. Fortunately, when you break it down, hosting isn’t as complicated as it first seems to be. After doing just a little research, you’ll be well equipped to choose the best hosting plan for you and your website. In this post, we’ll focus on shared hosting, a popular choice for first-time website owners. Then we’ll discuss some things you may want to consider when determining whether shared hosting is the right choice for you. Let’s get started! Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan What Is Shared Hosting (And How Does It Work)? The secret to understanding shared hosting lies right there in the name. With this type of hosting, your site shares a physical server with one or more other websites. To understand what that means and why it’s important, let’s discuss how servers and hosting work. Every website on the internet is stored — or ‘hosted’ — on a server (a type of computer). This is how it becomes publicly available to users. When someone types a website’s URL into their browser, the browser uses that address to determine where the site is stored. Then the browser requests information about the website from the server. The server provides all the necessary data, and the web page appears in the browser. After that, the user can interact with the site by navigating to other pages, clicking on links, filling out forms, and so on. With shared hosting, one server stores all the files for several sites at once and is responsible for serving up information about them. This is the opposite of a dedicated server — a server that hosts just one specific website. Since sites on a shared hosting server take up fewer resources than those on dedicated servers, shared hosting plans tend to be a lot less expensive. The host who owns the server also takes on the responsibility of maintaining it, which means less work for you. However, there are disadvantages as well, since sites can end up essentially competing for resources. Still, shared hosting plans are a popular choice for beginners looking to host their first sites, and for good reason. The small monetary investment and lack of maintenance requirements make this type of hosting an intriguing option. Is Shared Hosting Right for You? (4 Key Considerations) Knowing what shared hosting is and how it works is one thing. Determining if it’s the best hosting solution for your website is another. Below, we’ve outlined four key considerations you should think about when deciding whether or not to go with a shared hosting plan. 1. What’s Your Budget, and Which Features Do You Need? As we mentioned earlier, shared hosting plans tend to be less expensive than other types of hosting, such as a Virtual Private Server (VPS), cloud hosting, or dedicated hosting. Since you’re only using part of a server’s storage space and resources on a shared plan, your hosting provider can afford to offer lower costs. For example, consider our shared hosting plans at DreamHost. The least expensive option starts at just $2.59 per month. This is highly affordable, even for those who have little to invest in their website upfront. Compare this with our dedicated hosting plans. While these costs are still affordable when compared to other hosts’ dedicated hosting plans, they’re much more expensive than shared hosting. If your site isn’t very large and doesn’t drive enough traffic to use up the disk space and resources on a dedicated server, it’s probably not cost-effective to purchase a dedicated plan just yet. It’s also important to consider what features are available with any hosting plan you’re considering. For example, our shared plans come with a free domain, which makes setting up your site simpler. You can also add email services for as low as $1.67 per month. When you consider the savings on these services, in addition to the low monthly cost of the hosting itself, a shared plan is by far the most budget-friendly option out there. If you don’t have a lot of money to throw at your site or you simply want to stick to a strict budget, shared hosting may be right for you. Related: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website? 2. What Are Your Technical Skills? How Easy-to-Use Is the Hosting Dashboard? As a beginner, it’s possible that you may not be very experienced when it comes to managing a server. With a shared hosting plan, this responsibility is usually handled for you. This is helpful if your technical skills aren’t very advanced, or if you simply want to devote all of your time to maintaining the site itself. You’ll also want to check out your potential web host’s control panel. It will be vital for performing troubleshooting, managing billing, upgrading your plan, and other significant tasks. Making sure yours is easy to navigate can simplify your site management process and save you from a lot of headaches down the line. At DreamHost, our clients benefit from a custom control panel. Its navigation is intuitive and easy to pick up. Even beginners shouldn’t have much trouble learning the ropes and getting their accounts set up just the way they like. Finally, another consideration to think about when it comes to ease of use is the plan upgrade process that’s provided by your host. While shared plans are a smart place for most websites to start, as they grow, they usually need to be moved to another (more robust) hosting plan. At DreamHost, we offer a simple one-click plan upgrade process. It’s accessible right from your control panel so that you can reach it at any time. Hosting is a fundamental part of running your website, and you’ll likely have to access your hosting account frequently. Choosing a hosting provider that makes managing your account and maintaining your server easy is crucial if you want to use your time efficiently. Related: When Should You Upgrade Your Hosting Plan? 3. How Large Is Your Website, and What Resources Does It Require? As you now know, shared hosting involves two or more websites sharing a single server. Unfortunately, this can lead to a few problems that may have a significant impact on your website and its ability to succeed. To start, shared hosting accounts provide limited storage space. If your website is somewhat large, shared hosting may not be right for you. What’s more, other sites on your server can grow and take up more storage space as well, pushing your website to the fringes. The same applies to your website’s traffic level. If you start getting a lot of visitors to your site all at once, it’s more likely to overload your shared server than it would on a dedicated server. Likewise, a traffic spike on another site that shares your server could temporarily put your site out of commission. Finally, other websites on your server can also affect your site’s performance. Their size and traffic levels could lead to slow loading times for your visitors, even if your pages are highly optimized. For all of these reasons, you may want to look into Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting plans as well. As with a shared hosting plan, websites on a VPS share a server. However, each site has an allotted amount of space and resources, minimizing the impact other sites can have on your own. That makes it a balanced option in terms of price vs. resources. 4. What Restrictions Apply to Shared Hosting Plans? In an attempt to prevent any one site on a shared server from using up more than its fair share of resources, your hosting provider may have usage restrictions. While they’re primarily in place to help users, in some cases they can cause issues if you don’t know what your site requires. To be more specific, a website on a shared server will typically be subject to: Memory limits. Many web hosts constrict the bandwidth and other resources, such as server memory, that one site can use. If your site grows to the point where it’s taking up more than its share of resources, you may need to upgrade your hosting plan. File restrictions. In some cases, shared servers can become a security issue. If malware infects one site, it’s possible that it could spread to all the sites on the server. To prevent this, some providers place restrictions on the types of files you can upload to your site. Spam and hacker activity. Many web hosts carefully monitor activity on shared servers for security and performance reasons. If there is evidence of spam or hacker activity taking place on your site, your host may decide to temporarily or permanently disable it. These restrictions could interfere with your ability to download specific plugins or carry out tasks such as sending emails directly from your server instead of through a third-party provider. However, if your site is an ideal candidate for shared hosting, these limitations shouldn’t be too much of a problem. With that in mind, it’s important to remember that shared hosting is best for: Small business sites Blogs Portfolios Personal sites Database-driven sites If your site falls into one of these categories, the restrictions placed on shared hosting shouldn’t impact you significantly. Selecting a Shared Hosting Package As a beginner, it can be confusing to sort out all the different kinds of web hosting that are available. Learning more about shared hosting providers and how this particular type of hosting works is essential if you want to make an informed decision when purchasing your first hosting plan. Do you think a shared hosting plan is right for you and your site? Whether you’re a small-business owner, blogger, web designer, or developer, DreamHost offers one of the best low-cost, secure, and high-performing shared hosting solution on the market. Our robust features include unlimited bandwidth and storage, access to our powerful 1-click installer, free privacy protection, a free SSL certificate, automated backups, and an instant WordPress setup. And if you upgrade to Shared Unlimited, we’ll also throw in a free domain name and a personalized email address to match. Choose your plan today! The post What Is Shared Hosting? The Ultimate Guide for Beginners appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks (5 Key Tips)

Search engines can make or break websites. Getting your site to show up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) often isn’t enough. You also have to get people’s attention, so they’ll click on your links over the hundreds of other options. At their core, meta descriptions give potential visitors an overview of what kind of content they can expect. They tend to be just a few lines long, so small differences in the way you write your meta descriptions can be enough to boost your click-through rate significantly. In this article, we’re going to talk about what meta descriptions are, why they’re necessary, and what elements they should include. Then we’ll walk you through five tips to ensure that your meta descriptions hit home every time. Let’s get to it! Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan An Introduction to Meta Descriptions Meta descriptions are the snippets of text you see underneath the title within SERPs, as in the example below. The main goal of a good meta description is to give you an idea of what the page is all about. Naturally, titles also play a vital role here, but there’s only so much information you can fit into a single headline. Meta descriptions provide you with up to a couple of sentences to expand on your page’s content. You can either write them yourself or have search engines generate them automatically based on each user’s search query. As convenient as having search engines do the work for you sounds, however, we strongly recommend that you write your own meta descriptions. That way, you get full control over what shows up on the SERPs and on social media sites while also increasing your chances of engaging users. Let’s take a look at some meta description examples for a specific line of shoes. You can tell the meta description below was generated automatically, and it doesn’t give you much to go on. Here’s another result for the same product search, this one using a stronger meta description. It’s important to understand that meta descriptions only give you a limited number of characters to play with. On desktops, that can be up to 158 characters, whereas mobile users will only see 120 of them. Roughly speaking, that means you get about two lines of text. Why Meta Descriptions Are Important Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about competition. You compete against every other site that appears within the results pages for a given search, each hoping to get the lion’s share of the clicks. When it comes to the SERPs, several factors determine how many views your links get, including: The title you use Whether it’s a rich snippet or not If it appears within an answer box The position of your pages Your meta descriptions Out of all those factors, you get full control over three of them: your title, schema markup, and meta descriptions. It’s only logical that you should optimize those elements as much as possible. If you take another look at the previous section, you’ll notice just how much of a difference a good meta description can make. Letting search engines generate yours will often result in descriptions that look like gibberish. Related: SEO Trends to Improve Your Ranking in 2019 What to Include in a Meta Description Two lines of text aren’t much, but more often than not, it’s enough to cover a few key elements. Most often, this should include: What your page is about How it can benefit the reader If a meta description is too vague, then you’re not selling users on the idea of visiting your website. You’ll still get clicks, of course, but not as many as you might have otherwise. Let’s say, for example, that you wanted to write a meta description for this article. Here’s a not-so-good example: Have you ever wondered what meta descriptions are? Wonder no more, because we’ll tell you everything you need to know. While it hits on the article’s primary topic, it doesn’t do a good job of previewing the page’s actual content. Now let’s give it another go, keeping in mind the fundamental elements we want to include: Meta descriptions are key to any site’s SEO. In this article, we’ll break down why and help you optimize your own descriptions. Read on to find out more! This is short and to the point, and we even had enough characters left over to include a simple Call to Action (CTA). It may not win any literary awards, but it will get the job done. Related: 7 Tips for Writing Winning Calls to Action for Your Website How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks (5 Key Tips) At this point, you know the basics of what a meta description should include. However, if you want your descriptions to really hit home, here are five tips to help you optimize them further. 1. Use Relevant Keywords If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the concept of keywords. Ideally, you’ll use them organically throughout all of your content, and that includes metadata such as your descriptions. Let’s say, for example, that you’re writing a recipe and you want to optimize it for the search term “how to cook a healthy lasagna.” That’s an easy to term to work into a meta description: Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. Let’s go over a recipe you can cook in under two hours! Including keywords within your meta descriptions is a smart SEO practice. It gives search engines a better idea of what your content is all about. However, as always, make sure to work those meta keywords in organically. That means not stuffing your descriptions full of keywords; make your description still reads like something a human (not a bot) would write. Related: 10 SEO Tools to Optimize Your Website for Success in 2019 2. Don’t Obsess Over the Character Count So far, most of the examples we’ve shown you have come in well under the maximum character count for the major search engines. You want to get some mileage out of your meta descriptions, but in practice, obsessing over the character count isn’t as serious as you might think. To build on our earlier example of a healthy lasagna recipe, you could easily expand on its description to cover more information: Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. For this recipe, we’re substituting meat with eggplants, which means it will cook faster and feed up to four people. That example goes over the character limit for both desktop and mobile meta descriptions in Google. In practice, it would get cut off and look something like this: Learning how to cook a healthy lasagna is easier than you might imagine. For this recipe, we’re substituting meat with eggplants, which means it will cook … That snippet still provides plenty of information, so you don’t necessarily need to change it. What matters is that you include the essential details early on, so whatever does get cut off is just supplementary information. 3. Optimize for Rich Snippets Most search results look pretty dull — a sea of titles, meta descriptions, and URLs. However, in some cases, your results will look a bit more lively. Those are examples of rich snippets. To create them, you add structured data markup to your pages, providing more information on what their content includes. Search engines can recognize that information and structure your results accordingly. This practice offers two key benefits: Your pages will look more engaging within the SERPs. You get to add a ton of extra information to your results, without needing to count characters. For a real example, let’s take a look at the results for “how to cook a healthy lasagna.” Two of the top results are featured snippets. Without even clicking on them, you can see an image, cooking time, rating, and even the number of calories in the recipe. Keep in mind that not all types of content lend themselves well to rich snippets. However, they’re pretty easy to implement, once you know how to add the right structured data markup to your pages. 4. Avoid Duplicates When it comes to meta descriptions, there are two kinds of potential duplicates. It’s good practice to avoid both of them: Mimicking other sites’ descriptions Having several of your pages use the same description Overall, duplicate content is almost always bad news when it comes to SEO. Moreover, it can hurt your click-through rate if you have several pages competing for the same search terms. For practical purposes, there’s no reason all of your pages shouldn’t have unique meta descriptions. If it takes you more than a couple of minutes to write one, then you’re probably overthinking it. 5. Use Interesting Words Most meta descriptions are pretty boring, at least linguistically speaking. The need to cover so much information in such a limited space doesn’t lend itself well to innovation. One way to make your meta descriptions stand out is by using compelling language. To do that, take a look at what other websites are writing for the keywords you want to rank for. Let’s say, for example, that you’re looking for a cast iron pizza recipe. A lot of the content will be similar, which means their meta descriptions will share elements as well. However, not all descriptions are equally effective. Some of our favorite hits from the above example include the words ‘crispy,’ ‘buttery,’ and ‘chewy.’ There are five results here, but the first and last stand out due to their word choices. Think about it this way — if you’re staring at that page trying to decide which recipe to follow, you’ll probably pick the one that sounds more delicious. At that stage, you don’t know how good the recipe will be, so your only indicators are the title tag, picture, and word choice in the meta description. Search Result Focus When you boil it down, SEO is a competition. You’ll never be the only website within a niche, so you need to look for ways to make your pages stand out in the SERPs. Fortunately, an informative, unique meta description is a great way to catch potential visitors’ eyes. Are you looking for a hosting plan that can handle all the traffic your improved meta descriptions will send your way? Check out our shared hosting options! The post How to Write Meta Descriptions That Get Clicks (5 Key Tips) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Choose a Web Host: A 15-Point Checklist

Choosing a web host can be challenging — especially if you’re just starting your first website. There’s a lot of information to digest about hosting your site, and it’s easy to forget something important when you’re weighing the pros and cons of various providers. However, if you know the right questions to ask, you can navigate the waters of web hosting without fear. There are many excellent plans to pick from. Making the right choice is simply a matter of considering your needs alongside what each service provider has to offer. In this post, we’ll discuss why it’s necessary to determine your site’s hosting needs before you begin shopping. Then we’ll share a 15-point checklist to help decide which web hosting provider is right for you. Let’s get going! Why It’s Vital to Identify Your Hosting Needs Upfront There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all web hosting. Every website has different needs when it comes to storage, performance, features, and price. So before you start looking at plans, you’ll want to determine your site’s hosting requirements. By knowing what you need ahead of time, you can narrow down your choices more quickly and avoid making costly mistakes when selecting your host. Some questions you might ask include: How large is your website and what are its storage needs? On average, how much traffic do you expect each month? What’s your hosting budget? What are your current website management skills? What might you need help with? Apart from storing your site, what services will you need from your hosting provider? Your answers to these questions will eliminate some hosts right away. Then, you can use the checklist below to determine if other hosting options are a smart match for your site. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up How to Choose a Web Host (A 15-Point Checklist) There are many aspects to consider when choosing a hosting provider, and the process can seem overwhelming at first. That’s why we’ve listed out the 15 most important questions to ask when evaluating a hosting provider: How Reliable Are the Host’s Servers? Is It Easy to Upgrade Your Plan? Can You Easily Add a Domain? Are There Significant Differences in the Sign-Up and Renewal Costs? Does the Host Have a Generous Refund Policy? Is There a One-Click Installer? Will Your Host Provide Email Addresses for Your Domain? Will You Have Easy SFTP Access? How Difficult Is It to Find and Edit .htaccess? What E-Commerce Features Are Included (If Any)? Can You Easily Navigate and Use the Control Panel? Are SSL Certificates Included? How Often Will You Have to Renew Your Subscription? Does the Web Host Offer Easy Site Backups? Can You Quickly Access Support 24/7? Now, let’s dive into each question in more detail to guide you towards the best host for your situation. 1. How Reliable Are the Host’s Servers? Performance and uptime can make or break your website. Your website’s performance influences Search Engine Optimization (SEO), bounce and conversion rates, and how trustworthy your site appears to visitors. We’re not exaggerating when we say that the reliability of your server has a direct impact on your website’s bottom line. Any provider you consider should have an uptime guarantee of at least 99%. At DreamHost, our uptime guarantee is 100%, as per our Terms of Service. It’s also wise to check out what performance-related features a given host offers. This can include built-in caching, access to a Content Delivery Service (CDN), and more. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan 2. Is It Easy to Upgrade Your Plan? If you’ve created a website with all the elements it needs to succeed, chances are it’s going to grow. With any luck, you’ll see an increase in traffic and conversion rates. This will likely mean you’ll have to upgrade your web hosting plan. Related: When Should You Upgrade Your Hosting Plan? Most new sites start on a shared, low-cost plan. As your online presence expands, however, you’ll need more resources, bandwidth, and disk space to maintain your site for all its users. A host that offers easy upgrades to a Virtual Private Server (VPS), Managed WordPress, or Dedicated Hosting plan can make this process smoother. If you choose a host that makes it difficult to change your plan, you could find yourself migrating to a new provider just a few months after launching your site. Already Have a Website? We’ll Move It for You!Migrating to a new hosting provider is a pain. Sit back and let our experts do it! We’ll move your existing site within 48 hours without any interruption in service. Included FREE with purchase of any DreamPress plan.Move My Site 3. Can You Easily Add a Domain? As your digital brand grows, you may find that you not only want to expand your current site but start a new one as well. Alternatively, perhaps you simply like collecting domain names or you want to get into website flipping. Whatever the reason, if you’re going to purchase additional domains, you’ll need a host that makes it simple to acquire and manage them. Choosing a provider that offers unlimited domains ensures that you won’t ever run out of space. Related: The Complete Guide to New Top-Level Domains (TLDs) 4. Are There Significant Differences in the Sign-Up and Renewal Costs? It’s important to choose an affordable host. However, be careful when signing up, as you don’t want to get roped into a plan that’s more expensive than it seems on the surface. Some companies will offer attractive sign-up deals for new customers. Then, when it comes time to renew, they’ll raise the price. Make sure to look into your potential host’s renewal fees as well as the initial sign-up cost. Some difference between these two is an industry norm. However, you’ll want to keep the contrast as low as possible and avoid a higher renewal rate entirely if possible. 5. Does the Host Have a Generous Refund Policy? In an ideal world, you’ll choose the perfect host the first time around, your website will flourish, and you’ll never need to cancel your service. However, things don’t always go according to plan. If you need to cancel your hosting for any reason, you’ll want to avoid excessive fees. It’s also wise to choose a host that offers a trial period so that if things don’t work out in the first few weeks of service, you can cancel without penalty. 6. Is There a One-Click Installer? As the most popular Content Management Service (CMS) on the web, WordPress often receives additional support from hosting companies. Managed WordPress plans and WordPress-related features can be especially helpful if this is the platform you intend to use. A particularly useful feature that some hosts offer is a one-click WordPress installer. Better yet, some hosts will pre-install WordPress for you. This can save you a lot of time during the initial setup. You can also find one-click installers for other platforms, such as Joomla and Zen Cart. Related: What Is a WordPress One-Click Install? 7. Will Your Host Provide Email Addresses for Your Domain? Whether you have a business site, a blog, an e-commerce store, or some other type of website, your visitors will probably need a way to get in touch. Having an email address that’s associated with your site’s domain (i.e., zoe@mysite.com) appears more professional and is easier for users to remember. Checking out a potential host’s email services is a must if you want to incorporate this feature into your online presence. Choosing a host that includes this service in its web hosting packages or provides it for a low cost means you won’t have to set up custom email addresses manually. 8. Will You Have Easy SFTP Access? File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) are vital tools for website maintenance. At some point, you’ll likely have to use one or the other to resolve an error, customize your site, and carry out different tasks. Your host should provide credentials so that you can use FTP or SFTP via a client such as FileZilla. This information should be easy to locate so that you can access it at any time. Additionally, some hosts will provide their own FTP clients for your use as well. This is a nice bonus and can be an easier and more secure option than third-party FTP clients. 9. How Difficult Is It to Find and Edit .htaccess? For WordPress users, the .htaccess file is a crucial part of your site. It contains a wealth of configuration information that influences permalink structure, caching, 301 redirects, file accessibility, and more. You may need to edit .htaccess at some point to resolve an error, tighten security, or carry out other tasks to improve your site. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy, since .htaccess is a hidden file. Even if you can find the file, editing it via SFTP can be risky. It’s helpful if your web host provides a file manager for editing .htaccess, to minimize the risks to the rest of your site. 10. What E-Commerce Features Are Included (If Any)? All websites have the same basic needs. However, if you’re running an e-commerce site, you’ll need some unique features. For instance, you’ll probably want more frequent backups and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to reach customers around the world. A specialized e-commerce website hosting plan can help you get the support your online store needs at an affordable rate. Some plans — including our own e-commerce plans — will even pre-install WooCommerce and the Storefront theme for WordPress retailers. Related: How to Start an Online Store in 1 Hour with WooCommerce 11. Can You Easily Navigate and Use the Control Panel? You’ll be spending a lot of time in your hosting control panel. Being able to navigate around your account easily can make managing your website much less challenging. Plus, you won’t have to rely on support as much when you’re figuring out tasks such as billing and upgrading. Choosing a host that offers a custom control panel can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Our control panel, for instance, offers clear navigation menus. That way, you can easily find information on your site, contact support, or edit your account information. 12. Are SSL Certificates Included? Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates are vital for keeping your site and its users safe. This is particularly true if you’re dealing with sensitive information such as credit card details, SSL certificates, and the like. Adding an SSL certificate to your site is usually an additional expense. However, some hosting providers will include one in your plan at no extra cost. Choosing one of these hosts can save you a little extra money while helping to keep your site secure. 13. How Often Will You Have to Renew Your Subscription? Many hosts require a monthly subscription from their customers. There’s nothing wrong with that model, and if your fees are low enough, you might not mind having to pay monthly. However, this option isn’t always the most cost-effective. Other hosts will offer one or even three-year plans. By paying for a longer term upfront, you can often save some money down the line. When comparing prices between hosts, make sure to consider this. Don’t forget that you’ll have to renew your domain name as well. This is usually an annual occurrence, although you can find options for two- and three-year registrations here at DreamHost. You can also sign up for an auto-renewal program to avoid forgetting to renew your domain. 14. Does the Web Host Offer Easy Site Backups? We all like to think the worst will never happen to us. However, it’s best to be prepared. Accidents and attacks happen, and if you’re in a position where your site has been destroyed, you’ll want a way to restore it. Backups ensure that you have a way to bring your site back if it’s lost. While there are many methods available for backing up a website, one of the easiest is to do it through your web host. It’s even more convenient if your host offers automated daily backups for your site, along with one-click on-demand backups. 15. Can You Quickly Access Support 24/7? Your relationship with your web host will hopefully be a long one. Reliable customer support is key if that relationship is going to be mutually beneficial. Making sure any host you’re considering has multiple contact methods and a 24/7 support team can guarantee that someone will be available whenever you need help. Additionally, specific support for WordPress, e-commerce, or other niches can come in handy. Choosing a host with a team that is knowledgeable about the tools you use will ensure that your site has the best support possible. For example, if you opt for DreamPress, our WordPress-specific managed hosting, you’ll get priority access to our elite squad of in-house WordPress experts. Finding the Right Web Hosting Service When it comes to choosing a web host, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. There are many factors to consider, and your decision could ultimately determine your website’s success or failure. However, if you go into your web hosting search with your needs clearly outlined, you’ll eventually find the best provider for you. Asking careful questions about the quality of the host’s services and equipment, the additional features it offers, and its pricing will steer you in the right direction. If you’re a WordPress user, that direction just might be DreamHost’s Starter Shared Hosting plan. This plan is a low-cost option that’s ideal for small business owners or those just starting out. With Shared Hosting, there’s no limit to the amount of disk space you can use for your site. Unlimited bandwidth means when your site goes viral, you don’t have to stress about storage space. Most importantly, with any DreamHost plan, you’ll be able to answer “Yes!” to each of the questions on this checklist. The post How to Choose a Web Host: A 15-Point Checklist appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Should I Switch Web Hosts? How to Know When It’s Time to Migrate Your Site

When it comes to starting a website, web hosting is one of the most crucial yet most confusing aspects to tackle. With dozens of providers on the market, it can be hard to cut through the noise and figure out which one offers the best plan for you. Fortunately, several signs will make it clear when it’s time to move to a new host. While they’re not so pleasant to deal with in the moment, these issues may lead you to a better service provider that can help you boost your site’s success. In this post, we’ll discuss these signs and how to spot them on your website. Then we’ll explain how to migrate your site to a new web hosting platform. Let’s get started! Have a website? We’ll move it for you!Migrating to a new web hosting provider can be a pain. We’ll move your existing site within 48 hours without any interruption in service. Included FREE with any DreamPress plan.Choose Your Plan How to Know When It’s Time to Migrate (6 Tell-Tale Signs) It’s possible you’ve been experiencing problems with your website for a while now without really knowing why. In some cases, it may be that your web hosting provider isn’t a good fit for your website. These six signs will let you know it’s time to switch web hosts. 1. You’re Experiencing More Downtime Than Usual Any time your website is unavailable to users, it’s considered ‘down.’ Even if your site is only unavailable for seconds at a time, it could cause serious problems. For starters, downtime makes your website appear unreliable and low-quality to both users and search engines. If your site is experiencing frequent outages, your users will come to find they can’t rely on it to be available when needed. The Google algorithm will account for this, and your search engine rankings will fall as well, hurting your site’s visibility. Plus, if your site generates revenue, you’ll be missing out on income every time your site has an outage. If your site is down often or for long periods of time, you could be losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. When you’re running an online store, uptime truly affects your bottom line. Web hosting is one of the most common causes of website downtime, as there are many ways in which your server can impact your site’s availability, including: The quality and reliability of your hosting equipment The type of server your website is on, as shared servers tend to become overloaded more quickly than other types of servers. Your host’s security features, since malicious attacks can lead to downtime. So, if you keep finding your website is down, there’s a fair chance your host may have something to do with it. Moving to a more reliable server is the best thing for your site in a situation like this. 2. Your Website’s Loading Speed Is Slow Site speed is also key to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), users’ opinions of your site, and your conversion rate. It’s wise to test your site’s speed every once in a while using tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom to make sure your loading times are staying low and to fix any performance issues. While a crowded server can certainly slow your loading times, your server’s location also plays a role in how fast your site delivers information to visitors. Servers located far away from end users aren’t able to serve them content as quickly. An easy way to determine if this is the case for your website is to use Pingdom to test your site speed from a variety of locations. If your site loads quickly from some places yet takes a long time to load in others, you’ll know server location is causing speed issues for users in those regions. If your host only has servers in one location and doesn’t offer a Content Delivery Network (CDN), it’s almost guaranteed that some portion of your users will experience less-than-ideal site speed. It may be worth looking into hosts with more or different locations, or ones offering a CDN. 3. Customer Service Isn’t Helpful A solid relationship with your web host is priceless. For starters, there are going to be times when server-related errors occur on your site. In these instances, you’ll need to be able to get ahold of your host quickly to resolve the issue and get your site back up. Plus, you may sometimes have questions about billing or other account details. However, the best hosts also offer support in other areas of website management. For example, many hosts provide troubleshooting guidance for different types of errors on your website or support for platforms such as WordPress. If your host is difficult to get in touch with, provides inadequate solutions, or doesn’t offer support in areas directly related to your hosting account, consider switching to a new provider. While you may be able to get by without quality customer support, at some point, you’ll have to reach someone for help with a server-related problem, so you’ll want a reliable team at your back. 4. You Need More Space Than Your Current Provider Can Offer Most websites start small and grow over time. Your current host may have been a great fit when you were first launching your site, but if your traffic levels have increased significantly, this may no longer be the case. As your site accumulates more recurring users, you’ll need a server that can handle more traffic as well as more and larger website files. Moving from shared hosting to a dedicated server can help, but switching hosts can often provide a greater benefit. Some providers specialize in shared or Virtual Private Network (VPN) hosting and may not offer dedicated servers. As such, if your site continues to grow, you’ll need a dedicated web hosting service at some point — so a switch may be inevitable. Other hosts may have dedicated servers available, but still not offer as much storage as you need. Ultimately, you’ll want to compare plans between companies to see which one offers the most space for the best price. Related: The Ultimate Guide to Dedicated Hosting 5. It’s Getting Too Expensive to Stay With Your Current Host Web hosting is a recurring expense. It’s also sometimes the largest expense associated with running a website, especially for WordPress users working with a free Content Management System (CMS) and mainly free plugins and themes. It’s true that you often get what you pay for with hosting. However, there are also times when an expensive plan isn’t necessary. If your site is still small and not using the amount of server space you’re paying for, or if your current hosting plan comes with several features you never touch, you’re probably paying too much. There’s no sense in breaking the bank to host your website when there are plenty of affordable options available. For example, we offer high-quality managed WordPress hosting plans for as low as $16.95 per month. If you’re shelling out more money for web hosting than what your website brings in, you might want to consider downsizing or switching hosts to stay within your budget. Plus, it never hurts to pocket a little extra cash each month. 6. Server Security Is Sub-Par As we mentioned earlier in this post, hosts are responsible for securing their servers. Not every provider is as diligent as they should be when it comes to security, and hackers will sometimes exploit weaknesses in your server to gain access to your site. This can be detrimental to your website for multiple reasons, including: The loss of parts or all of your site due to a malicious attack that destroys key files and data. Compromised user data, including sensitive information such as private records and credit card details. Decreased credibility, as users will see your site as less reliable if it’s hacked. Investing in secure hosting is a smart move. Even if you have to pay a little extra or go through the trouble of migrating to a new host, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble down the line. Some security features you may want to keep an eye out for are Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, malware scanning, and server firewalls. Of course, no matter how secure your server is, you should always follow security best practices for your site itself, too. How to Migrate Your Website to a New Hosting Provider If you’ve considered the signs mentioned above and determined you should switch hosting providers, you’ll need to migrate your website. This requires you to copy all your website’s files and move them to your new hosting account. Typically, the migration process is pretty involved. You’ll have to contact your current host, back up your site files, then use Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) and a client such as FileZilla to connect to your new server and upload your files. You’ll also want to consider transferring your domain since there are benefits to keeping your domain registration and web hosting under one roof. Related: How to Transfer Your Domain to DreamHost As you might imagine, there are a lot of things that could go wrong during this process. For example, corrupted backups are always a possibility, and using SFTP still poses a risk to your site’s files as you could mistakenly delete some or all of them (we recommend users always have a recent backup of their site on hand). These things considered, it’s helpful if you can get an expert on board to migrate your site for you. Fortunately, if you’re a WordPress user and have decided to switch to DreamHost, our managed WordPress hosting plans include free website migration services. We’ll handle moving your site at no extra cost. If you’d prefer one of our shared hosting plans or have a website built without using WordPress, never fear. You can still take advantage of our migration service for just $99. Our migration experts will get your site moved to your new hosting account within 48 hours of your request. You’ll also avoid downtime altogether, so you don’t have to worry about negatively impacting your users’ experience while you move your site and get acquainted with the DreamHost control panel. Looking for a New Hosting Provider?We make moving easy. Our hassle-free, high-performance WordPress hosting includes a FREE professional migration service ($99 savings)!See DreamPress Plans Switching Web Hosts Hosting can be one of the most confusing aspects of owning a website. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know if your web hosting provider is the best one available for your needs. If you’ve noticed these issues on your website and have decided it’s time for a change, consider checking out our DreamPress hosting plans. Our managed WordPress hosting service will provide you with the speed, support, and security your WordPress site needs. Plus, you’ll be able to use our site migration services for free. The post Should I Switch Web Hosts? How to Know When It’s Time to Migrate Your Site appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Wireframe a Website (In 6 Steps)

If you’re in the process of creating a website, either for yourself or a client, you’re likely concerned about User Experience (UX). After all, your site won’t be very successful if visitors can’t figure out how to navigate it and find the information they need. Fortunately, there’s a handy strategy you can use to work on improving UX before your site ever hits the web. By using a wireframe, you can test drive user flows and page layouts, so you know exactly how they’ll work on your live website. In this post, we’ll discuss what wireframes are and why they’re essential in web design. Then we’ll share six steps to help you create mockups for your own site. Let’s get started! Professional Website Design Made EasyMake your site stand out with a professional design from our partners at RipeConcepts. Packages start at $299.Get a Free Consultation An Introduction to Wireframes (And Why They’re Useful) A wireframe is like a UX blueprint for your website. It maps out certain features of your site, such as menus, buttons, and layouts, while stripping away the visual design. This gives you an idea of your site’s underlying functionality and navigation, without distracting elements such as its color scheme and content. The purpose of a wireframe is to maximize a site’s UX potential before it’s even available to visitors. By creating mockups of your site’s UX on paper or with a digital wireframing tool, you can troubleshoot issues before they become a problem for your users. This can save you time and money down the line. Whether you’re planning a small one-page site, a huge company portal, or something in between, wireframing can be a beneficial part of the planning process. Unless you’re reusing a tried-and-true template with a UX design you’re confident in, wireframing could provide significant benefits to your site. After all, effective UX design focuses on getting your site’s key functionality just right. Without a design that supports a strong, positive UX, you run the risk of higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. A wireframe will not only smooth out your creative process; it could also help promote your site’s overall success. Related: How to Optimize Your Website with Responsive Design How to Wireframe a Website (In 6 Steps) Creating a wireframe can become a time-consuming process, especially if things don’t go well during the testing stage. However, taking the time to iron out UX issues ahead of time will give your site a much better chance of success down the line. The six steps listed below will help you get started. Step 1: Gather the Tools for Wireframing There are two main methods for creating wireframes — by hand or digitally. If you’re going with the former option, all you’ll need is a pen and paper to get started. Some designers begin with a ‘low-fidelity’ paper wireframe for brainstorming and then create a ‘high-fidelity’ digital version later. As far as digital options go, there are a wide variety of wireframe tools available. If this is your first wireframe, or if you’re a single Do It Yourself (DIY) site owner and not a designer, you might try a free tool such as Wireframe.cc. This simple wireframing tool keeps your drafts from becoming cluttered by limiting your color palette. You can create easy designs with its drag-and-drop interface, and annotate your drafts so that you don’t forget important information. Another option is Wirify, a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser. This tool’s interface turns existing web pages into wireframes. Rather than helping you draft UX design for a new site, it’s most helpful for website redesigns. If you’re willing to spend a little money, on the other hand, you might look into Balsamiq mockups. It boasts an easy-to-use, collaborative wireframing interface that’s great for teams and professionals who need real-time collaboration. However, it is limited to static wireframing. If you’d like a more comprehensive tool that can also be used for prototyping (which we’ll discuss later in this post), you might try out Prott. Step 2: Do Your Target User and UX Design Research Before you start drafting your wireframe, it’s helpful to do some research. For starters, you’ll want to know who your target audience is. This can help you determine which features need to be most prominent on your site so that visitors can find what they need. User personas can be a helpful design tool for this part of the process. Try creating some for your potential user groups, so you have a reference you can return to throughout the wireframe design process. Personas can also help create a marketing strategy later on, so hang on to them. It’s also wise to research some UX design trends and best practices. This can provide insight into elements such as menu layouts, the positioning of your logo and other significant branding elements, and content layouts. Users find it easier to navigate a website that follows convention when it comes to these features. Step 3: Determine Your Optimal User Flows A ‘user flow’ refers to the path a visitor takes to complete a specific goal on your website. So for example, if you have an e-commerce site, one user flow might be from a product page to the end of the checkout process. Determining the key tasks users will need to complete on your site can help you create the most straightforward user flow for each potential goal. This will help maximize UX by making your website easy and enjoyable to use. That said, it can be hard to get into the mind of a hypothetical user. Asking yourself these questions can help when you’re trying to work out your primary user flows: What problems do you intend to solve for users? What goals might they be hoping to achieve by coming to your site? How can you organize your content (such as buttons, links, and menus) to support those goals? What should users see first when they arrive on your site, which can help orient them and let them know they’re in the right place? What are the user expectations for a site like yours? What Call to Action (CTA) buttons will you provide, and where can you place them so users will notice? Each of these answers will suggest something vital about the way you’ll need to design your pages. Related: 7 Tips for Writing Winning Calls to Action for Your Website Step 4: Start Drafting Your Wireframe Now that you’ve gathered your tools and key information for your wireframe, you can start drafting. Keep in mind that the purpose of this task is not to create a complete design for your website. You’re focusing solely on UX, and how you can create a page that is easy to navigate and understand. To that end, your wireframe should include features and formats that are important to how your users will interact with and make use of your website. These might include: A layout noting where you’ll place any images, branding elements, written content, and video players Your navigation menu, including a list of each item it will include and the order in which they will appear Any links and buttons present on the page Footer content, such as your contact information and social media links Your answers to the questions in the previous step will likely help with this stage of the process as well. Remember to consider web design conventions, user expectations, and information hierarchies when placing these elements on your page. There are also several elements that aren’t appropriate for a wireframe. Visual design features, such as your color scheme, typography, and any decorative displays, should be left off of your wireframe. In fact, it’s best to keep your wireframe in grayscale so that you can focus on usability. You also don’t need to insert images, videos, written content, or your actual brand elements such as your logo and tagline. Placeholders for these features will get the job done. The idea is to avoid incorporating anything that could provide a distraction from user flows and navigation elements that are fundamental to UX. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up Step 5: Perform Usability Testing to Try Out Your Design Once you have your initial wireframe completed, you’ll need to carry out some testing. This will help you determine if it has accomplished its goal of mapping out the simplest and most natural user flows and UX for your site. There are several ways to go about this. If you’re working with a team, your first round of testing will probably take place internally. Each team member should spend some time with the wireframe to see if it makes sense. Have everyone work independently so as not to influence one another, and take notes on any issues they run into. However, there are also tools that can provide more objective usability testing for your wireframe. These tests are meant to imitate actual users, which can be particularly helpful. Just because your team of web designers finds your wireframe logical doesn’t mean that the average site user will. UsabilityHub is a platform that connects designs with real users to give you feedback on how the average visitor perceives your wireframe. It offers a free plan so that even small sites and non-designers can put this tool to good use. For professional designers and teams, there are also plans that provide advanced features to help with more extensive and in-depth testing. Related: Top 6 Basic Elements of Web Design Step 6: Turn Your Wireframe Into a Prototype After your wireframe has undergone testing, and you’ve determined the best possible UX design for your site, it’s time to turn it into a prototype. Unlike wireframes, which are static, prototypes include some basic functionality so that you can test out user flows more realistically. As we mentioned in the first step, it can be helpful to choose a platform that can turn your wireframe into a prototype. Prott, for instance, enables you to create interactive, high-fidelity prototypes from your wireframe. However, if you prefer a different wireframing tool, some platforms focus specifically on prototyping. InVision is a high-quality platform that makes it easy for teams to work together and communicate about mockups. Whichever tool you choose, you’ll want to put your prototype through another round of user testing once it’s complete. After your prototype has passed, you can get to building your actual site with the confidence that your UX will be top-notch right from your launch date. Making Wireframes to Improve UX When it comes to designing a website, solid UX is crucial if you want to set your project up for success. Wireframing your website before you start building pages can help you get UX right before you’ve even launched your site. After you’ve finished designing your site, you’ll need a hosting plan that can keep up with your stellar UX. At DreamHost, we provide high-quality shared hosting plans that won’t let your users down. Check them out today! The post How to Wireframe a Website (In 6 Steps) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Create a  Freelance Writer Website That Actually Gets You Writing Gigs

The future is freelance. Did you know? By 2020, 50% of the U.S. workforce will do some type of freelance work — and it’s predicted that by 2027, freelancers will make up the majority. Whether you work exclusively freelance or take on additional side projects in conjunction with your full-time work, you’re joining an ever-growing population of successful, flexible, untethered, and creative craftspeople. What’s more, the innovation and growth of technology have made the work environment more fruitful for freelancers: 64% of freelancers found work online — a 22-point increase in the last five years. And you freelance writers, bloggers, and web content writers — we see you. We know you’re out there, coloring the world with your beautiful language and lightbulb ideas. But because freelancers must do their own marketing legwork, you need to take advantage of every tool available to you in building a prolific writing business. One of the biggest weapons in your arsenal? A relevant web presence. Forget scouring the wanted ads to find work — establishing an online presence and showing off a strong virtual CV is vital for getting seen and earning $$$. How to put your best foot — and word — forward online? A top-of-the-class website. For writers, a killer freelance writer website is a make-it-or-break-it tool for getting you leads on quality writing gigs. And we’re going to show you how to do it. Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide (in case you want to jump ahead): Why Having a Freelance Writer Website Is Important How to Build Your Freelance Writer Website Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your Website Handy Resources for Starting a Writer Website With a website, you can flaunt your talent and personality, create sustainable sales, build your writing portfolio, and connect with potential and return customers, building your business and financial success — all in one place. Build Your Online Portfolio with DreamHostWe make sure your freelance writing website is fast, secure and always up so you never miss a gig. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan Why is Having a Good Freelance Writer Website Important? You’re a writer — you know, good ‘ol pen and paper. Why do you even need a website in the first place? With a well-built freelance writer website, you can: Showcase Your Online Portfolio. One of the most significant advantages of creating a freelance writer website is having a living, breathing portfolio that is easily accessible online. Prospective clients can access your work, and through a broad range of content, get a feel for your style, voice, and writing ability. They can view your previous work and a wealth of relevant content that will help them trust their business to you. Increase Brand Visibility. Your website is a visible showcase of your writing ability and a crucial tool for establishing awareness of your brand. With a powerful online presence, visitors don’t have to go digging around to discover info on your offerings. Not only do you make it possible for people to find you online, but your website also helps you build likability. With great content and engaging content, visitors start to care about you and your work and will entertain the prospect of working with you. It illustrates your legitimacy as a writing professional and helps you position yourself as an authority in your field. By making your work accessible, you broaden your visibility and provide social proof which, in turn, increases your chances of getting rewarding freelance writing work. Strengthen Brand Legitimacy. Let’s be real. Companies without a website or an internet presence tend to raise some red flags in the e-commerce ecosystem, right? Everything’s on the web. These days, a dot com is an essential requirement in the biz world. If internet users can’t find your virtual corner of the web, customers seeking out a particular product or service will instantly think: can we trust that business if they’re not online in an everything-digital age? It’s a no-brainer that if you want to do business and market a product or service in the world we live in, potential clients need to be able to find you with just a couple of clicks from their browser. So on a very basic level, having a website helps establish your brand as a legitimate business, rather than just operating amateur or letting customers rely on what they gather from your social media presence. What’s more, the better you are at outfitting your site with great content and strong visuals, the more that legitimacy will increase and work in your favor. To bless your bottom line and earn trust from internet visitors, it’s crucial to demonstrate not only your tech-savvy web skills but also your ability to establish a professional and valuable web presence. We know you’re wondering: Do I have to have a freelance writer website if I’m just getting started? The short answer: No. BUT — having an established site for your freelance writing (your services and a showcasing portfolio) is the best way to build a marketing funnel and establish a legitimate, cohesive, and authoritative brand. It’s a clear way to put your best foot forward and secure quality writing jobs. OK, but hold up. It’s 2019, you say. Can’t I just use social media, like a LinkedIn company page, instead of a website to promote my writing business? Sure. But a website, even a simple one, is a good idea. With a well-established freelance writer website, you build authority as a brand, and increase your chances of getting seen by potential clients. Plus, you’ll own all the content on your site — something that isn’t always true on social media sites. Perhaps building a high-performing and snazzy-looking freelance writer website seems like an overwhelming task. But putting in the effort to set up a website is an investment with guaranteed returns.  A site to be admired — and get you hired. Related: Want to Build a Website in 2019? Here’s Your Game Plan How to Build a Great Freelance Writer Website (7 Steps) Like we said, creating a great-looking freelance writer website doesn’t have to be rocket science or overly time-intensive. We’ll show you how to set up a website in seven easily-manageable steps. 1. Brand Your Business Time to pick a name, business owner! If you’re branding yourself and marketing your skills, you can use your own name, but ask yourself a few of the following big-picture questions before nailing down a moniker: Would you ever sell your business? Even if you’re not entirely sure of your long-term business plan, you probably have an idea if you ever intend to pass the torch on your writing business or include others’ services or products in conjunction with your business. If you’ve entertained the idea of selling your brand one day or partnering up, don’t brand yourself with your own name. Obviously, that is unique to you and won’t transfer. Also, if your name is difficult to spell, pronounce, or remember, consider the possible confusion using your name might cost your business. But then again, your personal name might help brand you uniquely as potential clients can differentiate you from other common-name writing businesses. So consider your options before jumping into a brand or business name haphazardly. You never know how you’ll grow, adapt, and change in your freelance writing business. You’ll want to choose carefully in order to set yourself up for long-term success. 2. Choose a Content Management System Now that you’ve got your brand’s fancy new name tag, you need a content management system (CMS) to facilitate the creation and publication of your content on the web. The best part? You don’t have to know how to program a single line of code to use one! Take WordPress, one of the web’s most popular content management systems out there (it powers 30% of the internet!) Related: What Is WordPress? Everything You Need to Know About the Platform With the WordPress platform, you can create and manage your web content without the pressure of a deep learning curve — you can get a website set up with little-to-no technical know-how. 3. Register a Domain and Set up Hosting  OK, you’ve decided you want to use WordPress, and you’re full of great content ideas. Good to go, right? Well, first, you need to find your site a home on the web so that visitors can actually view and engage with your content. All those great ideas won’t amount to anything if your website isn’t available online. That means you need two very critical components: a domain and a hosting provider. A domain is the unique web address where your website can be found. This is what visitors will type into their browser to navigate to your site (for example, www.dreamhost.com). Your domain is unique to your website and should match your brand or business name. You should also consider your choice of top-level domain —  meaning .com or .blog or dot-whatever —  in order to position yourself as an authority in search engine rankings. Whatever domain name you choose, you purchase it through a registrar. Next, you need a hosting provider. Hosting companies sell unique-to-you plans that include space on a server so that your website has a place to live online. Without a server, your website won’t be available to visit. For the best chance at scoring quality gigs, you need a quality hosting provider. There are a lot of providers out there, but only DreamHost can offer you the best of the best: one-of-a-kind features, high-performance tech, and responsive support. Plus, we make things easy: domain registration and hosting services under one roof and one-click WordPress installs. With Shared Hosting, just check the “Pre-Install WordPress” box during sign-up and boom! We install it for you. Shared Hosting provides ambitious WordPress beginners everything they need to create a killer freelance writing website that gets them hired. Even better? Our Shared Hosting plans start at just $2.59 per month. 4. Choose a WordPress Theme Time to outfit your website with a WordPress theme. The theme you select doesn’t just dictate the overall appearance of your site (though it does do that), but it also determines what sort of functionality your site will have. The right theme will allow you to control and customize your website to your exact specifications and niche. Browse the WordPress Theme Directory or search WordPress theme developers to find and install your perfect theme. 5. Decide What Content Your Site Needs So what does your freelance writer website need? What are the must-have content and features relevant to your niche? Time to make a plan. While you have the freedom to customize your website according to your brand and personality, there are a few essential pages that your site should have to set you up for the best possible business success: Homepage: An easy-to-navigate and attractive landing page that can direct visitors and potential clients to important parts of your website. Online Portfolio: Your website should be a solid, structured way to demonstrate your skills as a professional writer. A vital feature — nay, asset —  of your website is an easy-to-find, specially-dedicated portfolio section where you can showcase relevant published work and prove your capabilities as a writer. Services: Nearly 50% of website visitors check out a company’s product or services page before any other sections of the site. That’s big. What do you offer? Give potential clients a clear and detailed description of the specific writing services you offer. About: Don’t be a robot behind the computer screen. Demonstrate your writing chops, let potential clients and visitors get to know you, and help them get acquainted with your unique voice with an engaging and humanizing Get-to-Know-Me section. Showcase your accomplishments and passion for what you do but also share what makes you unique. Contact: How can potential clients get in touch with you? Make your contact information easy to find and use. Now that you’ve got your essential pages set up, you can go above and beyond to bring your freelance writer website to the next level. While you should avoid non-essentials, you can consider adding the following optional (but helpful) pages: Clients: Name-dropping your current clients on your website is a great way to demonstrate social proof and establish your authority in the field. Think of it as a virtual word-of-mouth recommendation. Speaker, writer, and consultant Hillary Weiss proudly displays the well-known brands that believe in her work. Testimonials: The power of a good review cannot be overstated, especially in an online environment. Confidently showcasing positive feedback you’ve received from clients in your field about your writing services can be great fodder for snagging new clients and more writing jobs. It’s OK to toot your own horn. Writer and speaker Colleen M. Story inspires confidence with a visible display of reader testimonials. Blog: In addition to your portfolio, you can showcase your writing chops and your unique voice with a content-rich blog. The extra effort and value you’re providing your visitors with relevant blog content can be an investment with rich returns. Resume: Allow visitors and potential clients to check out a bulleted list of your skills and achievements with an easy-to-view CV. FAQs: If you want to answer potentially common questions about your work or services or provide more specific details to potential clients about what you offer, consider adding a FAQ section. Downloads/Freebies: Making free, downloadable goodies available to your visitors on your site shows that you’re going above and beyond to offer value, demonstrating the high-quality nature of your freelance business. Lastly, consider pricing: if you want to be explicit on your site about the cost of your services, be transparent, upfront, and confident in the value of your work. Or if you have adjust-to-fit service options, you can keep costs mum and invite interested visitors to contact you for a quote. 6. Create the Content Time to get creating! You know the adage: content is king. Live by it. You need to fill your website with rich content to attract traffic and prove your worthiness as a business. Fill the content on your must-have pages first, then continue to provide valuable content regularly. Of just as much importance as creating content is creating it smartly — meaning, using it to get found by potential clients. How to do that? Using keywords. Consider: what are relevant topics and search terms related to your field? Being smart about how you use phrasing and common search terms in your content will allow you to position yourself for good rankings and stronger search engine optimization. So do your research and incorporate common search terms into your content. Use tools like Google’s comprehensive (and free!) Keyword Planner to create high-traffic website content with smart keyword research and build a strong content marketing strategy. Also, consider the tone of your content. Does it appropriately and uniquely represent your brand? Does it showcase your expertise and/or personality? One of the most marketable tools in your writer repertoire is your voice — use it smartly. 7. Launch Celebrate! Toast to yourself, do a little dance, pat yourself on the back. You did it! Your website is up and running! You should be proud. We know that having something living, breathing out there on the web can be nerve-wracking. Don’t worry about your website not being perfect. The important thing is that it’s out there. Remember, you can always perfect and tweak over time. Most importantly, people can start finding you — and you have something you can improve on. 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your Writer Website When you’re starting out with your website, it’s inevitable to face a learning curve. Some things just take time to learn. You will improve over time. But guess what? We want you to succeed —  as soon as possible. So we’re giving you some inside knowledge: a list of thou-shalt-nots when setting up your freelance writer website. Avoid these major whoopsies, and you’ll be one step ahead in attracting quality writing jobs. 1. Bad Visuals Let’s talk a little science. Did you know 90% of the information processed by the brain is visual? What’s more, 80% of people remember what they see (compared to 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read.) Lastly, know that visuals help grow traffic — content creators who feature visual content grow traffic 12 times faster than those who don’t. Not having visuals as a part of your freelance writer website is a BIG no-no. But even more, having bad visuals can torpedo your chance at building a successful freelance writing business. Judgments on a company’s credibility are 75% based on the company’s website design, so take seriously the first impression you’re making with your visuals. Your visuals should be reflective of the quality work you offer, proving you trustworthy to potential clients and their money. To benefit from the traffic-building and engaging powers of excellent visuals, select quality images, a robust visual structure, and remember: white space is good space. 2. CTA Issues When visitors come to your website, you want them to do something. But if you don’t ask them to do anything, they will click away and you won’t get any business. Not ideal. Even if you have kick-butt writing skills and excellent website design, having confusing, conflicting, or nonexistent CTAs (70% of small biz websites lack a CTA) will damage your chances of growing your business. So think: what do you need visitors to do to get writing gigs for your business? Whether it’s subscribing to an email list, filling out a contact form, or viewing your portfolio of work, make sure that your CTA is visible, clear, and focused. Elna of Innovative Ink has a clear CTA front and center — visitors know just what to do. 3. Sloppy Formatting You’re not just a freelancer — you are a brand. As such, your potential clients expect a level of professionalism from you, so they need to see that the minute they click onto your site. Along with clear navigation, focused visual structure, and a frictionless contact funnel, your website needs to be fine-tuned, sleek, and polished. Even as a freelancer, an entrepreneurial free spirit, you need to channel those suit-and-tie vibes on your website to gain the trust of potential clients. No sloppy formatting, no error-filled copy, or overly-casual design. Concern yourself with the details. If you want people to trust you with their dollars, you need to be professional. Not only does meticulous formatting help your site design make a killer first impression (remember the eye-opening stats about visuals?), but it helps people view you as a trustworthy business. Related: How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Website 4. TMI (Too Much Information) Don’t get us wrong; it’s great to be personable and relatable. A critical part of your brand’s success is your likability. You want to be a person to visitors and potential clients, not just a robot writer behind a screen. But your website is not your online diary. Refrain from sharing too much personal info or content irrelevant to your field. Focus your content and be strategic about what you choose to share, making it all in the aim of building your business and earning clients. 5. No Target Audience You have a brand-spankin’-new freelance writer website and are ready to bring in traffic, and ideally, new business. But who are you trying to reach through your website? What kinds of people are you looking to attract? In simple terms: who is your target audience? Your success is hugely determined by how you focus your efforts on building a business. If you cast too wide a net, you won’t be able to effectively target the high-quality clients that you want. So before you start seeking to build traffic, identify your target. 6. Weak Copy You’re a writer. Skilled wordsmithing is your talent, your money-making tool, and your passion. That being said, every aspect of your website should reflect your abilities as a writer. Weak, lackluster copy will not earn you clients, build trust, or engage visitors. In fact, it will send potential clients to your competitors. Take special, even meticulous care in making sure that your copy is strong, engaging, and polished. Whether you’re writing blog posts, articles, or landing page copy, don’t just wing it — write and rewrite, seek a second pair of eyes for outside observation, and edit, edit, edit. The strength of your copy will make or break your business. 7. Infrequent Updates Reality check: creating a money-making freelance writer website isn’t a one-and-done affair. Just like software needs regular updates, so does your website. Not only do periodic refreshes help you out SEO-wise, but they keep things relevant and professional. Update blog content, test plugins, solicit feedback, and use site analytics frequently to adjust how it operates for maximum UX. Know that you won’t always get things right the first time — continually be looking to improve all aspects of your website. Related: The Complete Guide to Cleaning Up Your WordPress Website Handy Resources for Starting a Writer Website Don’t worry — we’re not going to just throw you out to the web’s wolves without a few more top-tier tools for your burgeoning freelance writer website. Here, we offer you a well-curated roundup, a well-stocked toolbox of handy virtual resources destined to help you reach your goals. Web Hosting We know we’ve mentioned this before, but a good web hosting provider can make all the difference for the success of your freelance writing business. It’s true. Not only can a reliable hosting provider help make creating content easy, but it can make the management of your website a snap, leaving you to focus on the most crucial aspects of running your writing business. With DreamHost Shared Hosting plans, we offer you those benefits and more — including 24/7 support, high-performance tech, and budget-friendly options. Choosing a hosting provider is one of the first choices you’ll make on your journey — make it a smart choice with DreamHost. Logo Like we’ve said, your freelance writing business is just that: a business. And most companies out there are easily identified by a unique marker — their logo. Think about any famous company: Nike, Apple, McDonald’s — you can quickly think of their logo just by seeing the name, right? Or you’d be able to pick it out easily if you just saw the logo’s telltale visual? Having your own logo is an integral part of establishing and building your brand. It’s essential for consistency, visibility, and growth. But don’t worry; making one that your visitors will love isn’t hard to do. Brand Colors In addition to your logo, you should establish a color palette that is unique to your brand. This will help your website and materials feel cohesive and professional and can even help you grow your business by highlighting relevant sections or CTAs with specific colors. Picking your brand colors is as easy as 1-2-3, but remember to be intentional about your personal branding choices. Stock Images We’ve already emphasized how significant visuals are for helping bring in traffic and engage visitors. So where do you get professional-looking images and other visuals? Try Pexels or Unsplash for high-res, royalty-free photos, or find a photographer to take some for you. If you’re ambitious, follow a DIY at-home photography guide to snap your own for cheap. And remember, copyright rules rule, so keep things legal. Give credit where necessary and don’t steal. Photo Editing You don’t have to be a Photoshop master to give your images that extra oomph. Crop, adjust, and enhance your photos to improve composition and make your website visuals a powerful tool in earning your business. Try a few simple photo editing tricks on the software of choice. Icons As another type of visual, icons or symbols on your website can make it easy for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for — whether it be your social media pages, your portfolio, or contact form — without even having to navigate menus or copy. They’re a universal language! Get great-looking icons on sites like The Noun Project, Creative Market, or for free on Flat Icon. Design Your freelance writer website should have its own unique feel. After all, you are your unique brand. Your design incorporates not only your layout, but the style of your copy, visuals, and navigation. A well-designed website is carefully thought-out for ultimate functionality and aesthetic, and we’ve got the guide to help you make it look snazzy. If you don’t have an eye for design, DreamHost can help. We’ve partnered with the experts at RipeConcepts, a leading web design firm, to offer professional web design services to our users. Professional Website Design Made EasyMake your site stand out with a professional design from our partners at RipeConcepts. Packages start at $299.Get a Free Consultation The Final Word Now, we’ll reveal the results of our crystal ball reading: we see a bright (and prolific) freelance writing career in your future! Getting quality writing gigs may take some website-building legwork, but with a well-built site, you’re well on your way to new clients and a growing portfolio. Because your success is our success, DreamHost offers you the perfect beginning-of-the-journey hosting packages to get you on your feet. Check out our comprehensive Shared Hosting plans to start taking your career to the next level with a freelance writing website. The post How to Create a  Freelance Writer Website That Actually Gets You Writing Gigs appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

What Kind of Hosting Do I Need for My Website?

For first-time website owners, figuring out which type of web hosting is right for you can be one of the most challenging parts of getting started. It can be hard to know the differences between each variety and how their features will impact your site. Fortunately, once you break down the different kinds of web hosting, it should become clear pretty quickly which one your site needs. You can then find a top-notch provider and get your site up and running quickly. In this post, we’ll discuss what web hosting is and then break down the main types of web hosting that are available for website owners: Shared Hosting Dedicated Hosting VPS Hosting Managed WordPress Hosting Other Hosting Options for Specific Purposes We’ll also provide some advice on how to choose the best web hosting company for your site. Let’s jump right in! What Is Web Hosting? Every website is stored on a server. Your site’s server is what makes it available to users on the web, and what delivers your content to them. In turn, web hosting is simply the service of storing a website — or ‘hosting’ it — on a server. Your ‘web host’ or ‘hosting provider’ is the company that owns and maintains the server that hosts your site. These companies often provide helpful resources, support, and other services such as domain registration and custom email addresses as well. Typically, a provider will offer a variety of plans (sometimes called hosting packages) you can choose from. These plans may encompass different types of hosting, which will often determine the price and additional features available for each one. Selecting the right web hosting services for your site is an important process. Your server impacts your site’s security, availability, and performance. This means that choosing the wrong plan or web host could affect your site’s ability to expand and build a user base. Similarly, your hosting company plays a crucial role in keeping your site safe and making sure it stays up and running. If your host offers poor customer support or doesn’t maintain its servers well, your website will likely suffer for it. What Types of Web Hosting Can I Choose From? When we speak about different types of web hosting, we’re generally referring to how a hosting provider uses the storage space on a specific server. Below, we’ll explain the most common ways websites are stored, as well as a few specialized types of hosting for sites with particular features. 1. Shared Hosting for New and Small Websites Shared hosting is exactly what it sounds like — your website shares a server with other users. The most significant advantage of this type of hosting is that it’s the least expensive option since it provides the fewest resources and the least amount of storage space. Your web hosting provider will manage the server for you on a shared plan, so you don’t have to worry about any of the technical aspects of hosting your site. If you’re not very experienced with managing a website yet, not having to worry about your server is helpful. Unfortunately, sharing a server also means that the other websites stored on it could affect your site. For instance, your site will be more vulnerable to malware attacks. It could even crash if another site experiences a traffic spike that overloads your shared server. Plus, if other sites on your server are blacklisted for spam or similar activities, your website can also be penalized. However, all of this doesn’t mean that shared hosting is a bad option in all scenarios. It’s a popular solution for new sites that are just starting out, or for very small websites. With that in mind, if you’re brand new to owning your own website, we’d say that a shared hosting account is the right way to go. You can then work on building your site without having to invest a lot of money upfront. Our Starter Shared Hosting plan costs just $2.59 per month. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan 2. Dedicated Hosting for High-Traffic Professional Sites Dedicated hosting is the exact opposite of shared hosting. With this type of plan, you’ll have an entire server reserved just for your website. You won’t have to worry about other websites impacting your performance, security, or disk space. Of course, good things come at a price. Dedicated hosting plans tend to be expensive, with some running up to hundreds of dollars per month. If you have a small website that isn’t going to use a dedicated server’s resources to the fullest extent, this could be overkill. Also, dedicated hosting plans often require you to manage your server yourself. Therefore, it’s best to hold off investing in a dedicated hosting plan until your site has grown enough to warrant having its own server, and you’re comfortable maintaining it. High-traffic, professional websites will benefit most from this hosting. At DreamHost, we provide dedicated hosting with enough space to handle any size website. Our plans start at just $169 per month and are managed, so you don’t have to worry about maintenance. Get DreamHost’s Most Powerful HostingOur dedicated hosting plans are the ideal solution for high-traffic sites that require fast speeds and consistent uptime.See Dedicated Plans 3. Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting for Websites That Are Growing If you’re concerned about the drawbacks of shared hosting, but you don’t need an entire web server to yourself, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) solution provides a nice middle ground. While you’ll still share your server with other websites, each site has an allotted and virtually-partitioned amount of space. This prevents one or a few sites from eating up the shared server’s resources. It can also keep a single user from overloading your server or hurting your site’s performance. However, because it’s still a shared server, plans run much cheaper than dedicated hosting. If you’ve had your site up and running for a while and have started to build a dedicated audience, upgrading from shared to VPS hosting can help your server keep up with your users’ needs. However, you’ll also be able to keep costs down. Starting at $10 per month, our VPS hosting plans can handle unlimited amounts of traffic. You can easily upgrade whenever you need more storage, and we’ll manage security and performance for you. We Know You've Got Lots of VPS OptionsHere’s are a few ways DreamHost’s VPS offering stands apart: 24/7 customer support, an intuitive panel, scalable RAM, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited hosting domains, and SSD storage.Get Your VPS 4. Managed WordPress Hosting for Simplified Maintenance If you’re a WordPress user, you not only have to worry about whether your server is secure and up-to-date. You also have to manage your site’s security and perform WordPress core updates. A managed WordPress hosting plan can make all of those tasks easier. Due to the platform’s popularity, some hosting providers have created special plans just for WordPress users. In addition to storing your site on a server, they offer other services such as WordPress updates, additional security, and automated backups. Some even install WordPress for you. Related: The 2019 Guide to Managed WordPress Hosting These managed plans can be available for shared, dedicated, or VPS servers. For this reason, managed hosting plans vary widely when it comes to pricing. Here at DreamHost, for example, we offer managed WordPress hosting on a cloud instance, which is much more powerful than shared. With three different managed WordPress plans to choose from, DreamHost offers robust hosting solutions for every WordPress site. Power Your Site with Managed WordPress HostingHassle-free, high-performance WordPress hosting can help you grow your business. Plans start at $16.95/mo.Choose Your Plan 5. Other Hosting Services for Specific Purposes In addition to these more popular types of hosting, there are a few specialized hosting services that could be relevant to your site. Cloud hosting, for example, is becoming more and more popular. It involves storing your website on many servers, which all function together as a single server. This arrangement means that it’s very easy to scale your website as it grows. What’s more, you typically only pay for the amount of server space you use, rather than pre-paying for space you may not fill. The drawbacks are few, although cloud hosting can be expensive and is sometimes less secure than traditional hosting. Still, it may be worth looking into if you have a highly reputable provider and a website that is likely to grow very quickly. You can also find hosting plans specifically your e-commerce site. For example, our WooCommerce plans come with WordPress and WooCommerce pre-installed. We also offer WooCommerce-specific support, so you can get an e-commerce website up and running quickly. E-commerce hosting plans, including ours, are typically configured for optimal security and uptime to make sure your online store is available and safe for your customers. They’re similar to managed WordPress plans but focus on additional features that appeal to online retailers. Your Store Deserves WooCommerce HostingSell anything, anywhere, anytime on the world's biggest eCommerce platform.Ready to Woo? How Do I Choose the Right Type of Hosting for My Site? Even when you know what all the options are, choosing the right hosting plan isn’t always that straightforward. Generally speaking, when selecting a web hosting plan and provider, there are five things you’ll need to consider. The first is the features available on each plan you’re considering. This includes hosting services such as the amount of storage and traffic levels your server can handle, as well as additional features like those available with a managed WordPress or e-commerce plan. Customer support is another critical aspect to think about. Your relationship with your hosting provider will likely be a long one. You’ll want a host who’s available to help you fix server-related errors on your site, as well as provide specific help with your server, website, or WordPress installation. Additionally, you should look into your potential host’s server performance. Being able to serve your site’s content quickly is critical to maintaining a successful website. You can run performance tests or look for others’ test results, and note if the provider offers performance-related features such as caching and Content Delivery Network (CDN) access. Ease of use will also likely factor into your decision. A hosting company with an easy-to-use control panel will help you manage your hosting account and website more easily. Plus, plans that make WordPress installation simple or handle it for you can save some time when it comes to getting your site running. Finally, you’ll need to think about price. The rest of these considerations don’t matter if you can’t afford a particular option. Starting with a shared plan and upgrading down the line can help to keep your budget in check. It’s also wise to shop around and see which hosts offer the best price for a similar feature set. The Right Web Hosting Company for Your Site Hosting is one of the more complex aspects of creating a new website. However, learning about the different types that are available can help you make an informed decision. In this post, we examined five types of hosting that website owners can consider: Shared hosting for new and small websites. Dedicated hosting for high-traffic professional sites. VPS hosting for websites that are growing. Managed WordPress hosting for simplified maintenance. Other hosting options for specific purposes (such as cloud or e-commerce hosting). Are you interested in reliable hosting for your website? DreamHost plans are an affordable solution and include performance and security management features. Check out our hosting packages today. We have a feeling DreamHost could be the right hosting company for you! The post What Kind of Hosting Do I Need for My Website? appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

2 Dads With Baggage: Adventures in Family Travel with a Gay Twist

It was 2 a.m. in Paris, and 7-year-old Ava Bailey-Klugh was wide awake. Jet lag is hard, especially when you’re too young to understand why an entire country is sleeping when your circadian clock says it’s time to play. And it’s also hard when you’re the parent of said bright-eyed 7-year-old. Ava’s exhausted dad Jon Bailey sat up with her in the hotel while the rest of the family slept. Father and daughter marked time together until just before 5 a.m. when Bailey escorted his little early bird to the bakery across the street in search of the day’s first batch of pain au chocolat. It’s these one-on-one moments that kept Bailey and his husband, Triton Klugh, braving the perils of traveling abroad with children since their daughters — Ava and Sophia, now 15 and 17 — were young. “When you travel long distances with your kids, there’s a lot of focus time,” Klugh says. “You’re on a plane with them, waiting in lines with them, and you have nothing to do but talk and interact. It’s really bonding to get to know your kid better and experience new things together. I’ve found that to be really valuable — you don’t get a lot of that during the day-to-day when you’re so distracted by everything else.” This family of four, based in San Diego, has seen the world together from Istanbul to Puerto Vallarta to London. Exposing their kids to history and culture — with plenty of adventure and beachside luxury thrown in — has been a key part of their parenting. “We wanted to be with them and not leave them at home and do all these things without them,” Bailey says. “After all, we had worked really hard to become a family.” For the past three years, Bailey and Klugh have been documenting their adventures on a travel blog, 2 Dads With Baggage. With the help of a Virtual Private Server (VPS) from DreamHost, they’ve found a reliable home for their site, where they share stories along with travel tips and tricks — with a focus on charting the course for other LGBTQ+ families. Starting a Family For Klugh, family life was always the plan. He loved growing up with his brothers and sisters, so a future with children just felt right. “I wanted a family, but being gay, I wasn’t quite sure how I would get there,” Klugh says. “I just figured that when I was financially secure, I would do it by myself if I didn’t have a partner.” On their second date, as he sat with Bailey on a beach in Coronado, Klugh casually broached a topic that most shy away from early in a relationship: children. “It didn’t scare me,” Bailey remembers. “But it was not something I ever thought I would do. He brought it up again, many times, but he didn’t pressure me; he let me warm up to the idea.” Once both were ready to become parents, they started the open adoption process and were told as a same-sex couple to expect 12 to 18 months. But just two months later, they were shocked to get a phone call about an interested birth mother, and two months after that, they brought their new baby girl home from the hospital. Soon after Sophia’s first birthday, they talked about finding her a sibling — and because adding Sophia to the family so quickly was a fluke, they started early. This time it took only five months. Having two so close in age was definitely a surprise, but a good one. “I think any parent would tell you that having two in diapers and two in a stroller is more than double the work,” Bailey says. “It makes you cross-eyed trying to keep an eye on them at the same time, but it was super fun.” Life With Two Dads Today, between 2 million and 3.7 million children are estimated to have an LGBTQ+ parent with 200,000 of them raised by a same-sex couple. But when Sophia and Ava were little, it was a novelty to see two dads parenting babies. “We would often get comments: ‘Oh nice, you guys are giving mom a break,’ like we were babysitting or something,” Bailey says. “Or women would say, with love, ‘Do you need help with that?’ assuming that a man wouldn’t know how to change a diaper or give a baby a bottle.” Instead of taking offense, Bailey and Klugh gave these people the benefit of the doubt. Most people, they reasoned, don’t mean to be insensitive — they just don’t understand. “We choose to take it as a teaching moment,” Bailey says. Bailey and Klugh never shied away from telling the girls how their unique family came to be, but soon Sophia and Ava were old enough to understand the probing questions from strangers — and to be teased by other kids. When the girls were about 8 and 10 years old, “both of them were having struggles at school with kids who didn’t understand that families can be different than the traditional,” Bailey says. “It made them feel different.” Related: How to Design an LGBTQ+-Inclusive Website A Heartfelt Letter One day, Sophia had enough. So she appealed to the highest authority she could think of — the President of the United States. Klugh and Bailey were sitting at their dinner table when Sophia presented them with a letter she had written to President Obama. “She read us this really beautiful, heartfelt letter about how kids had teased her for having two dads, and it hurt her heart, and how she was happy he was in favor of same-sex marriage,” Bailey says. The letter wished Obama luck in his reelection bid, asked him how he would handle the teasing, and ended with an empathic request: “Please respond!” In tears, Bailey snapped a photo of the letter written out in Sophia’s 10-year-old handwriting and posted it to Facebook. It went viral in a matter of hours. “It was like a tidal wave,” Bailey remembers. “We immediately started getting calls from [the] press wanting to do interviews. It was crazy!” Wanting to protect the family’s privacy, they said no to every interview request — although a reporter did pass along an address that would get Sophia’s letter directly to President Obama. They sent it, and soon “a special delivery letter that I had to sign for was delivered to the front door,” Bailey says. “It was a personal response from President Obama; beautiful that he took the time to do that.” That letter too went viral, feeding the spotlight already shining on the family. The attention was overwhelming but also “affirming and amazing,” Bailey says. After things had died down a bit, they agreed to appear on The Katie Couric show to express support for the Supreme Court case that ultimately made it legal for Bailey and Klugh to marry. That TV appearance was followed by an invitation to attend the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll. The Bailey-Klughs visit the White House. “We went to Washington, D.C. for about a week as guests of the White House; it was great because the girls were starting to understand the significance of all of this,” Bailey says. “We went to the Supreme Court building and stood on the steps, and I was able to tell Sophia that her letter was being read on the floor and that it was influencing their decision. It kind of made it all full circle for her to see how this mattered; that this 10-year-old wrote something that became really important.” Digital Mentorship Before unintentionally becoming a poster family for same-sex parenting, the Bailey-Klughs were already bona fide world travelers. Their first big international flight together came on a trip to the European classics — London and Paris — when Ava was 4 and Sophia was 6 years old. “They were very intrepid little travelers,” Bailey says. “We made it all in one piece, and they took everything in stride.” It all came together for Bailey when the family stood atop the Eiffel Tower, catching snowflakes — a rare sight in Paris — on their tongues. “It was beautiful and surreal,” he remembers. “Afterward, we had a snowball fight in front of Notre Dame.” Sophia and Ava on their first transatlantic trip. They kept traveling, hitting family-favorite destinations in Hawaii, Mexico, Italy, and Costa Rica. Bailey and Klugh soon got questions from friends, both gay and straight, about how to travel with kids and ideas for family-friendly activities at various destinations. Bailey, who had already started blogging about their experience with Sophia’s viral letter, gradually started shifting to writing about their family travels. Bailey and Klugh soon used their blog as a platform to encourage other families to travel, especially ones that looked a little different than the traditional. “There’s a very large interest in families like ours finding places to go where we are welcome around the world,” Bailey says. “LGBT family travel experiences really resonated with people. There’s a lot of families who have kids younger than ours and don’t quite know how to navigate everything, so we also share stories about parenting our kids. It’s been kind of like a digital mentorship.” The blog gained traction quickly, both building a wide readership and attracting sponsors. “Brands recognized that we have a voice and a connection to an audience that they want to talk to.” These interested brands opened the door to even more family travel, including a 2017 road trip to the Grand Canyon in a Kia Sorento — because, as Bailey put it, “Gays do not RV.” The blog has also been a great creative outlet outside their day jobs. Bailey works in public relations and Klugh in graphic design — specifically, in the Halloween costume industry (yes, the girls were always kept well-supplied with princess costumes). So Bailey writes the posts and plans the content, while Klugh is in charge of the visuals: design, pictures, and video. “Our blog is very visual,” Bailey says. “We are very visual people, and the stories we have to tell require a lot of photos and video so the website was designed with that in mind.” They’ve used DreamHost for their hosting since the beginning, now using VPS Hosting to keep up with the web traffic. “I think it was the most reliable resource; it came highly recommended by my most trusted advisors,” Bailey says. “It sort of happens behind the scenes, which is nice because I don’t have to worry about it.” Lately, he’s been experimenting with the WordPress plugin Mapify to create a visual archive of their photos and adventures. “We are in the process of outfitting a map of the world with all the places we’ve visited, so if people want to learn about a destination, they can just click on the map to see pictures and blog posts.” We Know You've Got Lots of VPS OptionsAt DreamHost, we’ve never been comfortable fitting in with the crowd. Here’s how our VPS stands apart: 24/7 customer support, an intuitive panel, scalable RAM, unlimited bandwidth, and SSD storage.Choose Your VPS Plan Traveling While Gay Despite their website’s success, traveling as a non-traditional family hasn’t always been easy. When Sophia was about a year old, her dads took her along to Cabo San Lucas, in the days before passports were needed to enter Mexico. After a wonderful trip, the three settled down for the return flight and waited for take-off. And waited. And waited. Suddenly, armed Mexican Federal Police officers burst onto the plane and removed them from the flight. They found their luggage strewn across the tarmac and were shepherded to an interrogation room. Both Sophia and Ava are Latina; “They thought we were trying to smuggle a child out of Mexico,” Bailey says. “It was scary and insulting.” Luckily, they had the paperwork to prove they were Sophia’s parents. The family’s No. 1 tip for LGBTQ+ families traveling abroad? Bring your papers. “I’ve heard of other families having issues where people didn’t understand that two men or two women can be the parents of children,” Bailey says. “But I don’t think an experience like ours would happen in today’s world — that was 16 years ago, and Mexico has come a long way; the world has come a long way.” You never know though, he adds, if you’ll cross a flight attendant, customs agent, or pilot who doesn’t understand. “I wish it wasn’t the case, but it still is; some people are not comfortable with families like ours,” Bailey says. “And we’ve never in all our travels had anyone overtly say something to us or do anything to us that was violent or insulting, but we can tell when people don’t approve by the look on their faces or the way they interact with us.” He also recommends that same-sex parents do their research before picking a destination for family travel — in general, avoid Middle Eastern countries, where homosexuality is often illegal — and look for a more liberal neighborhood to stay in. “Things are improving around the world,” Bailey says. He feels like they have been pioneers, increasing exposure to non-traditional families. “I feel good about being a part of that, just being visible and showing people that we are just like anybody else, just here parenting kids, doing our thing.” Raising Globetrotters Klugh and Bailey are getting ready to send their teenage daughters out into the world as they graduate from high school in the next few years. They believe traveling has brought them closer as a family and exposed their children to different ways of living. “The world is a giant place, and there’s many different kinds of people and all shapes and sizes and cultures and languages,” Bailey says. “What’s happening here in San Diego or California or the United States is just a slice of the bigger picture. We very much wanted to raise our daughters as citizens of the world.” Giving them the chance to help plan trips, get around foreign countries (both girls are bilingual and happily help their dads navigate in Mexico), and experience the logistics of travel has helped Bailey and Klugh raise a pair of confident, well-adjusted kids. “Travel gives them a sense of empowerment,” Klugh says. “I want them to be familiar with travel, to know they can do it, and not be afraid of it. The other day Sophia was talking about wanting to fly somewhere by herself, and she was confident about traveling and not afraid to go to new places. It’s inspired that wanderlust in them.” The post 2 Dads With Baggage: Adventures in Family Travel with a Gay Twist appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Write Product Descriptions That Really Sell: 8 Simple Tips

Congratulations! You’ve done the hard marketing work to lead your target customer right to your product pages. They are currently reading through a product description to decide whether or not they will purchase something from your e-commerce business. The million dollar question: will they buy what you’re selling? The answer, in large part, depends on how much time and effort you put into your product description. It may seem drastic to weigh product descriptions so heavily, but stats show that a well-written product description is a surefire conversion tool. Here’s a closer look: 87% of consumers ranked product content extremely or very important when deciding to buy. Millennials are 40% more likely than other adults to say product content is extremely important to their purchasing decisions. Consumers purchasing clothing and online groceries ranked product descriptions as the second most influential factor in their decision to buy — just after price. 20% of purchase failures are potentially a result of missing or unclear product information. The stats don’t lie. If you want to increase sales, it’s time to polish your e-commerce product descriptions. Shared Hosting to Power Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan 8 Ways to Write an Excellent Product Description But what actually makes a good product description? In this guide, we’re giving you eight tips (along with winning examples) that provide a comprehensive look into what makes an effective product description. Let’s go! 1. Identify Your Buyer Personas It can be difficult to write a product description if you don’t know who your target audience is. To successfully write about product features that resonate with your potential buyers, you have to know who they are. This means you need to reference your buyer persona(s)  — a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research. If you don’t already have a buyer persona to guide the copywriting on your website, the time to create one is now. A buyer persona should answer all of the following general questions: What is the demographic information of your buyers? What are their interests? What is their native language? What kind of language appeals to them? (e.g., Does industry jargon appeal to them or turn them off?) How do they spend their free time? How do they find your website? Why are they interested in your store? If you have the luxury of big data at your hands, collect data on your current customers to also understand: Product preferences Behavioral patterns Purchasing patterns Access to this data will help you fine-tune your buyer personas. Once you know who you are selling to, it will be easier to write product descriptions that resonate well with them. Related: How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Website 2. Focus on Product Benefits and Features As crucial as it is to speak the language of your buyers, your buyers don’t come to your page to connect. They come to learn precisely what your product can do and how it will meet their needs and fulfill their pain points. To accomplish this, you need to write an extensive list of your product’s features and benefits. Start with the features. For example, if you sell shoes, include size information, material, color information, the weight of the shoe, etc. Your features section should be comprehensive and tell consumers everything they need to know about what makes your product special.A list of features is a great start, but it’s only half the battle. Potential customers also want to know the benefits of your particular product. And, this is where your product description can shine. With the shoe example, benefits would include things like comfort, flexibility, odor-resistance, wet and dry traction, etc. Allbirds does a fantastic job showing off the benefits of their shoe without being verbose. Their advantages are spelled out in short, sweet blurbs that get right to the point. Allbirds clearly identifies its products’ main benefits for customers. Benefits are your main selling points, your differentiators, and the reasons why customers will end up selecting your product over your competitors. Don’t neglect clearly identifying them. 3. Stay True to Your Brand’s Voice If your brand’s voice is professional, your product descriptions should be professional. If your brand is snarky and sarcastic, then your product descriptions should match. Is your brand funny? Be funny when writing your product descriptions. Everyone is familiar with the hilarious Poo-Pourri advertising videos. You know, the videos that took Poo-Pourri from a $10 million company to a $30 million company almost overnight? Poo-Pourri has a unique brand identity and tone of voice, which they stay true to even when describing their products. Poo-Pourri stays true to their brand’s unique voice in product descriptions. 4. Tell a Full Story Every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Unless, of course, you’re one of the writers on Game of Thrones, but I digress. With product descriptions, the formula for good writing is no different. You need to present a complete story that engages your readers. This doesn’t mean you need to write a novel, but at the same time, your product description shouldn’t just be a list of features and benefits either. Instead, show (not tell) your customers how the product will improve their lives. Help them visualize a real-life scenario where your product solves a problem. The goal is to create a narrative arc in which the reader is the hero and your product is the tool that enables them to succeed. For example, check out the impressive product storytelling of Malicious Women Candle Co. Customers aren’t just buying a candle at Malicious Women Candle Company. They are purchasing a product that promotes empowerment with a side of hustle and energy. Now that’s a product story. 5. Use Active Language to Persuade Buyers Your mom was right; the words you use make a difference — especially with product descriptions. The truth is that some words are just more persuasive than others. In fact, experts have roadtested all kinds of language to come up with 189 words and phrases that actually improve conversion rates. Consider these 20 tried-and-tested words recommended by David Ogilvy, the proverbially ‘Father of Advertising’: Suddenly Now Announcing Introducing Improvement Amazing Sensational Remarkable Revolutionary Startling Miracle Magic Offer Quick Easy Wanted Challenge Compare Bargain Hurry The common theme? Persuasive words encourage consumers to take action. Jon Morrow of SmartBlogger.com has his own list of 600 power words that will tap into your customer’s emotions, making them more likely to engage with your message. Sample of Jon Morrow’s 600-word list Since many companies use awe-inspiring (see what we did there?) power words in their product descriptions, it’s easy to find good examples — even for seemingly bland products. Here’s one about shaving cream from Ulta Beauty. Ulta Beauty utilizes power words to make shaving cream seem swanky. When writing product descriptions, take a moment to scan through your copy and make sure each word is pulling its weight. Related: 7 Tips for Writing Winning Calls to Action for Your Website 6. Make Text Scannable with Bullet Points Making your text scannable is one of the most critical elements of writing a good product description. Studies suggest humans have an attention span that’s shorter than that of a goldfish — a bleak eight seconds. This means it’s essential to make your content easily digestible. The solution to packing a narrative punch in a relatively small space? Create a bulleted list. J. Crew does this well. Customers can click on a picture to see the item of interest and quickly read the scannable bullet points for more information. Bullet points make it easy for J. Crew customers to scan the fine print. The more you can do to make a product description scannable, the better. 7. Optimize Copy for Search Engines Copywriters have a unique challenge when it comes to writing product descriptions. They must persuade readers, but there’s another audience to keep in mind too: search engine algorithms. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — including identifying and using the appropriate keywords for your products — should be a critical part of your product description writing process. The SEO world is constantly changing, along with Google’s algorithms, so what works one day might not be ideal the next. However, there are still some keyword strategies that stand the test of time, such as avoiding duplicate content and including keywords in the following places: Page title Product title Meta descriptions Alt tags Product descriptions The keywords you use in your copy help Google and other search engines identify what the page is about. This information then used to determine how to rank your site on the search engine results page (SERP) so that relevant results to served up to people imputing related search queries. For example, when you type “shaving cream” into Google, Google offers a list of products. Google displays popular products when you search for ‘shaving cream.’ There are literally hundreds of shaving cream products on the market today, but these five products have the best SEO keyword strategy. Take Cremo Shave Cream, for example. When visiting their product page, it’s clear they have maximized the use of keywords, such as shave cream and shave. Cremo focused on incorporating keywords into its product descriptions. Additionally, when you check out the page source, you can see the back-end (e.g., alt tags) are optimized with the keyword as well. 8. Add Images and Video It should go without saying that a great product description must include images. If you need extra persuasion, remember that 63% of consumers believe good images are more important than product descriptions. If your e-commerce store can afford to hire a product photographer, awesome! If not, there are lots of DIY product photography tutorials to help get you started. Of course, good photos start with good equipment, including: Camera Tripod Nice background White bounce cards made of foam board Table Tape Once you’ve gathered your gear, you’ll need some tips on how to actually take stellar photos. This guide from Bigcommerce provides beginner-friendly tips at budget-price: how to shoot exceptional product photos for under $50. Suggestions include: Using a light-colored backdrop so it’s easier to touch up images. Creating your own lightbox to distribute light evenly. Using a tripod to steady your camera. Retouching images before posting them. If you don’t think a smartphone will do the trick, think again. All you need for affirmation is to take a gander at some of the DIY photographers on Instagram. Jennifer Steinkop of @aloeandglow, for example, uses an iPhone 8 Plus, the Lightbox app, and some of the tips mentioned above to create gorgeous beauty shots. @aloeandglow Instagram account Looking for a more corporate example? iRobot has excellent product photography on its website. The company includes at least four images and often a video (bonus!) to show consumers exactly how the product works. iRobot’s Roomba i7 product page. With a few clicks of a button in a second or two, consumers know exactly what they are getting when they buy a Roomba. Another tip courtesy of iRobot: consider adding customer reviews to your product description. In addition to quality imagery, social proof can be hugely motivating for prospective buyers. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up How to Create a Product Description Template While we’ve just outlined eight tips for writing product descriptions that really sell, it’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s because all products have different features, benefits, and selling points. However, if you have a list of similar products and you don’t want to start from scratch every time you write a product description, it can be beneficial to create a template. There are lots of handy product description template examples you can download from e-commerce websites. To really maximize their value, though, we’d recommended you focus on the 8 tips we outlined above. Start by asking: What are your buyer personas? What are the pain points of your customers? How does your product solve customer pain points? What power words can you use in your copy? Do you have a unique story or brand voice? Is your language accessible and free of industry jargon? What are the main features and benefits of your products? Do you have an image and video library? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can tweak your template and test it with your audience. If you find a specific template is outperforming others, then you’ve found your winner. Your Products, Our Hosting Ready to revolutionize the way you write product descriptions and how you display them on your website? At DreamHost, we offer low-cost shared WordPress hosting, and a variety of other resources to help you build the perfect custom website for your online store. Check out our shared hosting plans today! The post How to Write Product Descriptions That Really Sell: 8 Simple Tips appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

12 Reasons Why Your Website Is Slow (And How to Fix Them)

Site speed plays a crucial role in the success of your website. It affects a variety of key metrics, for example, including your site’s visibility and conversion rate. Optimizing your website’s speed is clearly a necessity, but figuring out how to do it can be tricky. Fortunately, there are several easily-accessible speed tests you can use to determine how your site’s performance measures up. Although there are several reasons your site may be slow, you can resolve many of them with free WordPress plugins and quality web hosting. In this post, we’ll explain why site speed is so vital to your website. Then we’ll share solutions to 12 common issues that can lead to poor website performance. Let’s dive right in! Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan Why Your Website’s Loading Speed Matters These days, users expect websites to be fast. When pages take longer than expected to load, it negatively impacts your site’s User Experience (UX). This matters because any time your UX takes a hit, so does your conversion rate. You’ll likely see higher page abandonment and bounce rates as well. To be more specific, studies show that an additional two seconds of loading time can increase your site’s bounce rate by 103 percent. Plus, just 100 milliseconds of extra loading time can cause a 7 percent drop in conversion rates. Even fractions of a second count, so optimizing your site’s performance as fully as you can is crucial. What’s more, website speed not only influences whether users stay on your site and convert; it also affects whether or not they can find it in the first place. Site speed is now a Google ranking factor for both desktop and mobile sites. If you don’t maintain decent website performance, your site’s visibility on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) may decrease, leading to lower traffic levels. With your website’s success on the line, speed can’t be ignored. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a smart place to start is by testing to determine where your site stands now. You can run load time tests to see how long your users are waiting and then get to work on decreasing those numbers. 12 Reasons Your Website Is Slow (And How to Fix Them) Once you know the current state of your site’s performance, you can start optimizing key factors that influence site speed. Let’s look at 12 of the most common problems that contribute to slow websites and discuss how to resolve them. 1. Render-Blocking JavaScript Is Delaying Page Loads JavaScript is the code that makes your website functional and interactive for users. Without it, your site would be pretty dull. However, if left unoptimized, JavaScript can delay your pages when they try to load in users’ browsers. When a browser tries to display a webpage, it has to stop and fully load any JavaScript files it encounters first. This results in what’s called ‘render-blocking JavaScript’ or JavaScript that prevents the page from loading quickly. There are three solutions for dealing with render-blocking JavaScript: Remove external JavaScript files, and use inline JavaScript instead. Use asynchronous loading so JavaScript can load separately from the rest of the page. Defer JavaScript loading until the rest of the page is visible to the user. Each method has its pros and cons. Generally speaking, inline JavaScript will only improve page speed when used sparingly. Asynchronous loading can cause issues as files are not loaded in any particular order. Therefore, deferring JavaScript is usually the recommended method. 2. You’re Not Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) A Content Delivery Network (CDN) consists of several servers that are placed in strategic geographic locations. You can store copies of your website on them so its pages can be quickly loaded by users who are located far away from your main server. There are several CDN options for your WordPress site. Cloudflare is one of the most popular solutions, as is the Jetpack CDN for images and videos. For customers on our DreamPress Plus and Pro plans, you’ll get unlimited CDN usage powered by Jetpack. Additionally, if your website uses jQuery, you can load it from a CDN instead of your web server. Since jQuery uses far fewer lines of code than JavaScript to accomplish the same outcomes, it can be especially useful for boosting your site’s speed. Google and Microsoft are the two most popular jQuery CDN options. 3. There’s Excessive Overhead in Your Database ‘Overhead’ refers to extraneous items in your site’s database — things like logs, transients, and other entries from plugins or themes can build up over time. Too much of this ‘overhead’ can cause database queries to take longer than necessary. In some cases, it can even cause your web server to time out while waiting for a response from your database. Optimizing your database by removing overhead will help prevent this. Most web hosts allow you to access the database management platform phpMyAdmin via your hosting account. If you aren’t able to optimize your tables in phpMyAdmin, you can use the WordPress Command Line interface (WP-CLI). 4. Your Site’s CSS Isn’t Optimized Like JavaScript, your site’s CSS — the code responsible for styling its pages — can delay loading if left unoptimized. There are a few solutions you can implement to get your CSS into shape: If you have several external CSS files, combine them into one or a few files. Remove external CSS and use inline CSS instead. Use ‘media types’ to specify when certain CSS files should be loaded. Like inline JavaScript, inline CSS is only useful for small portions of code. If you have several large CSS files, you shouldn’t try to add all of them to your HTML file. Specifying media types and combining your external CSS files (if you have more than one) should make a more significant impact. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up 5. OPcache Isn’t Enabled OPcache is a built-in caching engine for the coding language PHP. If you use PHP on your site, having OPcache enabled can speed up its loading and the loading of your pages as a result. If you host your website with one of our Shared WordPress or DreamPress plans, OPcache is enabled by default. If your site is hosted using one of our other plans or with another web host, you’ll likely need to enable it manually. 6. Caching Issues Are Preventing Optimized Page Loading Caching is when browsers store static copies of your website’s files. Then when users access your site, their browsers can display the cached data instead of having to reload it. There are several caching solutions available for WordPress users, including using a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache. Our DreamPress customers have the advantage of built-in caching, which is included with your hosting account. This makes third-party caching plugins unnecessary. However, we do recommend using the Proxy Cache Purge plugin to manage your DreamPress cache. The plugin automatically sends requests to delete cached data for a page or post after you’ve modified it. This can help prevent some caching issues that may result in slower site speeds. 7. Large Media Files Are Increasing Loading Times Media files, such as images and videos, tend to be quite large. Optimizing them through compression can help to decrease their size and, therefore, improve your loading times. TinyJPG is a free online tool that compresses images. There are also several plugins you can use to compress media files within WordPress, including Smush Image Compression and Optimization. Compressing videos is a little trickier, so it’s usually better to host them externally on YouTube or another platform instead. You can then easily embed your videos on pages or posts. Related: Guide to Gzip Compression in WordPress 8. Poorly-Written Scripts Are Conflicting With Other Site Elements Poorly-written JavaScript can sometimes cause compatibility issues with other parts of your website, resulting in longer loading times. Running a speed test using tools such as Pingdom, Web Page Test, and GTmetrix can often point out scripts that are taking a long time to load. You can then investigate these files more closely to determine how you can improve them. It may also be useful to turn potentially problematic scripts off temporarily, to see how your performance scores change without them enabled. 9. Your Site’s Code Is Too Bulky The more code your user’s web browser has to load, the longer it will take for your website to become visible. If your code is too ‘bulky’ or contains unnecessary characters and line breaks, your site may be slower. In response, you can ‘minify’ that code by removing the elements that aren’t needed. There are two popular plugins for carrying out this task. Autoptimize minifies code, in addition to inlining CSS and optimizing JavaScript files. It also integrates well with WP Super Cache. Fast Velocity Minify merges CSS and JavaScript files to reduce the number of requests needed for browsers to load your pages. It also minifies your code. Both plugins are solid choices. You might consider trying out each one and seeing which increases your performance test scores more. Related: WordPress Minification: What It Is and How to Do It 10. Missing Files Are Causing Errors In some instances, your WordPress installation may be missing files. If this happens, users will experience longer loading times as additional requests are made in an attempt to find the files. This process will eventually result in a 404 error if the files can’t be found. The causes behind this issue are numerous and varied. Instead of trying to track down the source of the problem, the fastest solution is to restore your site from your most recent backup. This should replace the missing files with the versions saved in your backup. 11. Plugins Are Weighing Your Site Down Having too many plugins — or even a few very bulky ones — can weigh your website down and cause poor performance. It’s wise to always completely remove any plugins you’re not using to minimize the chance that this will happen. Additionally, some plugins can interfere with the caching of your site’s pages. If you’re using the Proxy Cache Purge plugin we mentioned earlier in this article, you can pinpoint which plugins are causing the problem by navigating to Proxy Cache > Check Caching. 12. Internet Issues Are Hurting Specific Users’ Performance Finally, poor website performance can be due to an issue with a user’s Internet Service Provider (ISP), rather than with your site itself. Slow site speeds can result from network congestion, bandwidth throttling and restrictions, data discrimination and filtering, or content filtering. If you notice slow speeds when visiting your site, you can run a traceroute between your computer and your website to test the connection. This should give you an idea of whether or not the problem is related to your ISP or is a more significant site-wide concern. Lighten Your Website Load Your website’s performance and response time are closely tied to its success, so taking every available opportunity to improve it is worth the effort. Figuring out why your website has lagging load times can help boost both its Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and UX, resulting in better visibility and a higher conversion rate. We’ve covered twelve common causes of slow site speeds throughout this post. While ideally, you’ll want to optimize your site in all the ways we’ve mentioned, pinpointing specific areas for improvement — such as enabling caching or compressing your media files — can help you tackle the biggest issues first. Looking for a hosting service that can keep up with your site’s performance needs? Our Shared Hosting plans are a convenient, low-cost solution that’s optimized for WordPress and ideal for new users. Check them out today! The post 12 Reasons Why Your Website Is Slow (And How to Fix Them) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Create a Company Page on LinkedIn to Promote Your Small Business

With the rise of social media marketing and the prevalence of social networks in our day-to-day lives, having a presence on a variety of platforms is a must for your company. That means creating and managing multiple accounts, which can be time-consuming. Fortunately, building and maintaining a company page on LinkedIn only takes a little extra time and effort. By adding an air of professionalism to your online presence and showing off your products or services, a well-rounded LinkedIn page can help polish and promote your company’s identity. This article will explain the many benefits of creating a company page on LinkedIn. Then we’ll show you how to launch one, pointing out the important requirements you’ll need to meet along the way. Let’s dive on in! Build a Website to Go with Your LinkedIn Company PageWe offer budget-friendly Shared Hosting services with robust features and resources to help you create the perfect business website. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan The Benefits of Having an Outstanding LinkedIn Company Page As a social media platform designed to help people build their professional networks, LinkedIn is a crucial resource for any business that’s hoping to grow and expand. It can help you get plugged into industry-related news and even share valuable content that promotes your company. When compared with individual employee profiles, a LinkedIn company page can be much more effective at showcasing your business as a whole. Of course, your employees’ profiles are still useful as well. They can act as indirect company ambassadors and help build your connections organically. Related: 10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business On the other hand, a company page is a useful outlet for showing off your business’ latest news, along with your specialized products or services. LinkedIn will help deliver this content to other professionals in your industry to generate buzz and business. Another handy feature of the platform is that you can easily monitor the impact of your page. Notifications and visual analytics reports will keep you apprised of how often your company is mentioned on LinkedIn so that you can see the effects of your presence there. Plus, this will help you create effective promotional content for your page. You can keep track of trending content to see what’s working, and use custom Call to Action (CTA) buttons to send traffic towards your website. In other words, a LinkedIn company page offers a lot of potential advantages. How to Create an Award-Winning Company Page on LinkedIn (In 6 Steps) There are quite a few things to consider if you want to create a company page and successfully promote your business on LinkedIn. However, with a little careful planning, it can be worth the investment of time and energy. The steps below will help you effectively plan and build your page. Step 1: Ensure That You Meet LinkedIn’s Requirements for Creating a Company Page One potential roadblock when it comes to creating your LinkedIn company page is that there are a handful of requirements you must meet to access this feature. For instance, you’ll need to have a personal LinkedIn profile of your own. That account also has to: Be at least seven days old Have a profile strength of Intermediate or All Star Show that you’re currently an employee at the company you wish to create a page for List your company position on your profile Have several first-degree connections (there’s no specific number you must reach, but the more you can include, the better) Be associated with a company email address that has a unique company domain In short, if you’re not an active LinkedIn user already, it can be challenging to get a company page started. Fortunately, anyone who’s an employee at your business can create and manage your company page. As long as you have at least one active LinkedIn user, meeting these requirements shouldn’t be too hard. The one criteria that might get a little tricky is providing a company email address with a unique domain. Gmail, Yahoo, and other accounts won’t work for this purpose. You’ll need an address like johnsmith@mycompany.com. Fortunately, we offer an affordable solution. At DreamHost, we provide professional email plans for creating addresses with unique domains. They start at just $1.67 per month per mailbox. You don’t even have to register your domain or host your website with us — this service is available to anyone! Get Professional Email @yourdomainPromote your website with every message you send when you set up professional email that matches your domain with DreamHost. Plans start at $1.67/mo.Sign Up Now Step 2: Add Your Company’s Details to Launch Your New Page Once your profile (or an employee’s profile) meets all of LinkedIn’s requirements for creating a company page, you can do so by clicking on the Work icon in the toolbar. Then scroll down and select Create a Company Page. On the next screen, choose the tile that best describes your business. After that, you’ll be able to fill in some basic details about your company. Start with your company’s name and then create your custom LinkedIn company page URL. Don’t forget to add your website’s address as well. Next, you can select your company’s industry, size, and type. You have to choose from several drop-down menu options, so you may need to pick the available choice that’s most relevant, especially when it comes to your industry. After that, scroll down to upload your company’s logo and add your tagline. These elements are essential for promoting brand recognition through your profile. Keep an eye on the Page Preview section to get a peek at how your company page will look. When all your information is correct, check the box to agree to LinkedIn’s terms and then hit the Create page button. Step 3: Spruce Up Your Company’s Profile to Attract and Inform Visitors After you’ve officially created your company page, you can start adding additional information and brand elements. First and foremost, you’ll probably want to include a banner image. This is a large image that will be displayed at the top of your page, similar to a cover photo on Facebook. You can use the small blue pencil icons to edit various features on your company page, including your banner image. You might use a team photo, a picture of your brick-and-mortar location, a popular product image, or a relevant decorative visual. Additionally, you’ll want to write a compelling summary of your company for the Overview in your About section. LinkedIn provides limited space here — just 2,000 characters, including spaces — so you’ll want to make every word count. Be sure to highlight what makes your company unique and better than the competition. Then head over to the Jobs section of your page. Here you can provide career-related information and job postings. Since many LinkedIn users take advantage of the platform’s job hunting features, this can help to boost your page’s visibility. Just make sure to keep it updated so you don’t have people applying for positions that are no longer available. Step 4: Post Regular Updates to Generate Industry-Related Content Now that your page is up and includes all your company’s information and some key branding elements, it’s time to start filling it with content. There are a few ways to go about this. One of the easiest is to use LinkedIn to promote blog content you’ve already created for your business website. This doesn’t require you to generate any new long-form content, and it can drive visitors to your website via your blog. Simply include LinkedIn as a part of your blog promotion strategy, and you’ll have a regular source of content for your company page. However, you can also include recent business news, upcoming events, and other company-specific posts to keep your followers in the loop. This can be a smart and simple way to demonstrate your authority in your industry, promote events, and even attract more followers. Just remember that, as with a blog, your LinkedIn company page will thrive when filled with relevant content that your followers want to see and read. Related: How to Start a WordPress Blog: A Comprehensive Guide Step 5: Promote Your LinkedIn Company Page to Gain Followers Your company page isn’t very useful if no one knows it exists. Especially when you’re first getting it off the ground, promotion will be vital to gathering followers. One of the easiest ways to get started is by adding your company’s location to your page’s About section. This makes your company and job postings more discoverable on LinkedIn. Your page will be more likely to show up in searches as a result. Using relevant keywords in your page’s content can also help to increase your reach. Another key promotional tactic is engaging your employees on LinkedIn. Invite them to list your company page on their own profiles and claim it as their place of employment. This will help you tap into their already existing networks to make connections with others in your industry. Finally, it never hurts to promote your LinkedIn page on other social channels. This may mean including links to your company page in your Twitter bio or your Facebook About section. You could also include LinkedIn among your social sharing icons on your website and blog posts. Step 6: Showcase Individual Products or Services on Their Own Pages So far, we’ve covered all the basics for creating and maintaining a LinkedIn company page. However, you can take your profile to the next level and use it as a way to promote specific products or services, by creating showcase pages as well. These are pages dedicated to your company’s products or services. They appear on your company page in the right-hand sidebar, under Affiliated pages. You can write a description, share a link, and even post content on each of your showcase pages. If you offer a wide range of products or services, this is a way to provide targeted content for each of your audiences. In some cases, this technique may be more effective than offering generalized content on your company page itself. If you’d like to create more traditional, campaign-based content for LinkedIn, you might also consider using the platform’s advertising options. LinkedIn ads are highly targeted and can help you reach other professionals in your industry, generate leads, attract job applicants, and more. Linking Up You have a lot of options when it comes to promoting your business on social media. With its professional audience and unique opportunities for showing off your products and services, LinkedIn can prove well worth your time. This guide has demonstrated how to create a high-quality LinkedIn company page in just six steps: Ensure that you meet LinkedIn’s requirements for creating a company page. Add your company’s details to launch your new page. Spruce up your company’s profile to attract and inform visitors. Post regular updates to generate industry-related content. Promote your LinkedIn company page to gain followers. Showcase individual products or services on their own pages. Do you need a business website to go with your LinkedIn company page? At DreamHost, we offer affordable hosting services with robust features and resources to help you create the perfect website for your company. Check out our Shared Hosting plans today! The post How to Create a Company Page on LinkedIn to Promote Your Small Business appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Meet The British History Podcast: “History, the Way It’s Meant to Be Heard”

Think you hate history? You’re probably wrong, says Jamie Jeffers, founder of The British History Podcast. The problem, he says, isn’t that history is dry or boring — the problem is that it is taught that way, with rote memorization and little relevance to the modern world. “People are people,” Jeffers says. The stories of history, even ancient history, “are relevant and compelling on their own. They are only made irrelevant by poor storytellers who forget that simple truth — that history is the story of humanity. It’s about all of us.” With his podcast, which has been in production for almost a decade and has cultivated a loyal fan base over hundreds of episodes, Jeffers tells the stories of British history by tapping into that humanity. In his chronological retelling, you won’t hear lists of names, treaties, and battles, but rather tales of the cultural underpinnings behind the actions of kings and the day-to-day lives of the people of Britain. In Jeffer’s words, it was a happy convergence of “transatlantic immigration, global financial collapse, and ancient human traditions” that took him from unemployed lawyer to full-time podcaster creating the ultimate passion project, one that draws on his own personal history, builds his future, and connects us all to the past. Related: Step-by-Step Guide: How to Start a Podcast With WordPress History Through Storytelling It’s all his grandfather’s fault, Jeffers says. Jeffers, who moved to the US from the UK when he was a kid, learned the history of his homeland from his grandfather, who wanted to make sure young Jeffers heard stories of his ancestors alongside his American education. “He took it upon himself to teach me what he knew about British History as I was growing up,” Jeffers says. “He was an amazing storyteller, and so my first experience with history was through hearing about amazing events and figures. It was learning history as people traditionally taught it, as an oral history.” His grandfather’s storytelling taught Jeffers to love history — at least until he actually studied the subject in school. “I went to high school, and history was suddenly reduced to memorizing dates and names for a test,” Jeffers says. “No context, no nuance, no wonder at our shared past. It was such a disappointing experience that I lost interest in the study of history.” Eventually, Jeffers went on to study English in college and then become a lawyer. For the most part, Jeffers tabled his interest in history — that is, until the recession forced it back into his life. Global Financial Collapse The 2008 financial crisis wasn’t kind to most people — Jeffers included. As money got tight, he looked around for cheap sources of entertainment, leading him straight into the world of podcasting. “The first show I found was The Memory Palace, which is still going, and it became a regular companion when I was at the gym or taking my dog, Kerouac, for a walk. The host, Nate DiMeo, couldn’t have known it, but the way he talked about little odd stories from history made me feel like I was reconnecting with part of my childhood.” But a search for podcasts about British history was disappointing, to say the least. It brought him to a “show that was done by a guy who seemed to be reading random entries off Wikipedia. Incorrect entries, for that matter.” Back in those pre-Serial days, podcasting was a new thing — it was “pretty punk rock,” he says. “Few people knew about it, and even fewer people did it, which meant that many topics weren’t being covered and those that were weren’t being covered well. Quality was definitely a problem.” Jeffers did find a history show or two but occasionally found himself wishing for a good podcast that took on a chronological history of Britain. Then one day the financial collapse hit closer to home, and Jeffers lost his job as an attorney. “The part that people rarely talk about with unemployment is how boring it is,” he says. “So I decided that any time that I wasn’t job searching would go towards making that show I always wanted.” The podcast launched with its first season in May 2011, beginning with the Ice Age and prehistoric Britannia and moving into the Roman conquest of Britain. At first, Jeffers’ vision was nothing more than a fun hobby that only his parents would listen to. “Eight years later, it’s my life’s work,” Jeffers says. “Oh, and my parents still don’t listen to it. But a lot of other people do.” Today, the podcast boasts more than 3,000 reviews on iTunes and shows up on lists such as recommended podcasts for fans of Serial and Parade’s list of top history podcasts. Beyond the Battle Search your favorite podcasting app these days, and you’ll find history shows aplenty. But the British History Podcast (BHP) isn’t your run-of-the-mill history podcast, Jeffers says. “Many history podcasts are dry accounts that only perk up when they can talk about men swinging swords. They skip over the culture of the time, other than as it pertains to kings and generals, and then give you incredibly granular details of men killing other men in battle.” What interests Jeffers (and his audience) are the stories behind the conflicts. To truly understand and care about an action-packed battle, audiences need to appreciate the stakes. “There’s a reason why The Phantom Menace sucked, and it wasn’t the fight choreography,” he says. “Context is king, and that’s where our focus is.” That’s why the BHP discusses at length through the political, social, and cultural realities that drive the “action scenes” of history. Another way the show’s different: “We talk about women. It’s strange how often they’re written out.” Jeffers cites one of his favorite little-known figures from history: Lady Æthelflaed of Mercia, who reigned in an era when women we so overlooked, even vilified, that there weren’t any queens — just women known as “the king’s wife.” “And then you have the noble daughter of Alfred the Great, a woman named Æthelflaed, who ruled Mercia on her own after her husband died. She led armies. She fought off a massive force of Vikings at Chester by throwing everything, up to and including the town’s beehives, at them. This woman was so influential that after she died, even though the culture was deeply misogynistic, the Mercians chose to follow her daughter.” Jeffers’ favorite era of British history is the Middle Ages — “which I’m sure most of our listeners already know since we’ve spent about seven years in them so far.” The BHP is currently detailing the reign of King Æthelred Unræd (aka King Ethelred the Unready), who is often blamed for the downfall of the Anglo Saxons — “though I think there’s plenty of blame to go around.” Jeffers is most looking forward to covering the 15th-century Wars of the Roses, a series of English civil wars: “the diaries we have out of that era are stunning and show the real human toll that this conflict was taking on the population.” The planned finish line is the dawn of WWII, which could take another decade to reach. Until then, Jeffers is dedicated to dissecting and retelling as many stories and cultural tidbits as he finds relevant — a quest that fits nicely in the podcasting sphere. “Can you imagine The History Channel allowing me to do over 300 episodes of British History and spend literally hours just talking about how food was handled in the middle ages? Part of what makes podcasting so amazing is that it allows for niche shows like the BHP to exist.” Want to meet more awesome site owners?Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest for inside scoops, expert tips, and exclusive deals.Sign Me Up Behind the Scenes Jeffers is quick to remind his audience that he isn’t a professional historian, though his “magpie approach to education” serves him well as a “history communicator.” “My educational background has a common throughline of narrative building and research,” Jeffers says. “I studied storytelling in college, getting a degree in creative writing while also spending a lot of time taking courses in subjects like critical and cultural theory. As for law, my focus was as a litigator. What many people don’t realize about litigators is that a lot of what you do is tell stories to the judge or jury. You do a lot of deep research and then turn it into an easy to digest narrative for why your side should win. Turns out that these skills serve very well for teaching history — especially little-known history.” Each 25- to 40-minute episode takes about 40 to 50 hours to produce. As for structuring the stories, Jeffers rarely finds a clear “pop history narrative” to build around because the history of medieval Britain he aims to create simply doesn’t exist elsewhere. Instead, he digs through secondary sources, fact checks primary sources, scans and fact checks scholarly articles for alternative theories, and then looks into “any rabbit holes that pop up during the research.” The lengthy editing process is a collaboration between Jeffers and his partner and co-producer Meagan Zurn — or Zee, as she prefers. “Then I finally record the episode, do sound editing, and launch. It’s quite a process.” There’s no way Jeffers could juggle a full-time job with all of the research and planning involved. But thanks to a dedicated community of listeners, the podcast moved from passion project to day job. He doesn’t even need to run ads — it’s funded entirely through donations and a membership, which grants paying listeners access to exclusive content. “I’ve really lucked out in the community that has developed around the podcast,” Jeffers says. In fact, he says his favorite part of producing the podcast is connecting and collaborating with the community. “They’re really supportive and enthusiastic people.” The British History Podcast official web page, complete with membership content and a full archive of eight years worth of podcasting, is proudly hosted by DreamHost. Like the podcast itself, the website has been a DIY project: “When you’re a small project like this, anything you can do yourself, you do.” The site uses DreamPress Pro with Cloudflare Plus, “which has allowed us to have a rather stable user experience even during high load times like on launch days,” Jeffers says. “The tech support team has been really helpful in finding solutions to some of the more thorny problems of running a podcast site with a membership component.” Do What You Love with DreamPressDreamPress' automatic updates and strong security defenses take server management off your hands so you can focus on creating great content.Check Out Plans A Romance for the Ages Jeffers says he’s met some incredible people through the podcast community, including his producer — and now wife — Zee. In addition to co-producing the BHP, Jamie (left) and Zee (right) are partnering up for a new venture: parenting. Back in the early days of the BHP, Jeffers used an “old clunky Frankenstein computer that kept breaking down. I had a hard drive crash, a power supply short, a motherboard fry. I swear that damn computer had gremlins, and as a result, I repeatedly had to go on our community page and apologize for episodes getting delayed.” The community ganged up and insisted his problems stemmed from using a PC — all except one person, who stood her ground against the Mac fans. “I believe her exact phrase was, ‘You’re all caught up in a marketing gimmick,’” Jeffers says. A few months later, when he had an idea for a side project and wanted honest feedback, he remembered this listener’s well-researched uncompromising arguments. “And half a world away, in Southern England, Zee got a message out of the blue,” Jeffers says. “It ended up being the smartest thing I’ve ever done. The person I reached out to was a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and media with a background in anthropology and archaeology. She understood on an intrinsic level the ethics of the show, the long-term strategy, the purpose of it, and what it could be going forward.” And just like that, Jeffers had a collaborator: “One day, I was doing the show entirely on my own; the next day I was running all my ideas by her, and I structured my life so that I could work with her.” They discussed the show daily; Zee reviewed Jeffers’ scripts and prompted heated debates over the content. “And through that, the show dramatically improved in tone and style. She also became my best friend. Truth be told, I think she was my best friend from the first time we talked.” “Much later, we met in person, and it was clear my ferociously intelligent best friend was also really attractive. Eventually, we started dating. Then she proposed to me one Christmas morning, and now we’re expecting our son this July.” By the way, Jeffers still uses a PC. Looking Forward Overall, creating the podcast has been a rewarding creative outlet for both Jeffers and Zee — but the work can be draining. “It’s very satisfying but very intensive work to hit the quality we demand of ourselves.” For now, outside the show, his and Zee’s primary focus is preparing for parenthood. The podcast is likewise approaching a monumental milestone: the Norman Conquest of 1066. “This invasion changed everything, and it’s going to usher in a whole new era of the podcast as well,” Jeffers says. “We have a whole new culture to talk about, along with larger-than-life characters to introduce. The story is about to get a whole lot bigger.” What’s your next great idea? Tell the world (wide web) about it with DreamHost’s Managed WordPress Hosting, built to bring your dream to life without breaking the bank — or making any compromises in quality. The post Meet The British History Podcast: “History, the Way It’s Meant to Be Heard” appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Update Your Old WordPress Posts With the Block Editor

Since the Block Editor is now the default tool for creating new WordPress content, site owners are having to address the question of what will happen to their older posts and pages. This content will inevitably need updating since the Classic Editor plugin won’t be around forever. Fortunately, there are methods in place for handling this exact situation. If you need to make changes to an old post, you can easily do so without any help from the Classic Editor. This makes it much easier to bring your old and new content into alignment. In this post, we’ll discuss the Block Editor (you might know it by its nickname: Gutenberg) and then we’ll show you two methods for updating your old posts using this new tool. Let’s get started! Understanding the Differences Between the Classic and Block Editors For many years, WordPress users created new content for their websites in a visual editor, now known as the Classic Editor. It consisted primarily of one large field where you could add text, images, and other media. The main downside to the Classic Editor was that some elements — such as tables and content columns — required coding or extra plugins to implement. This arguably made the publishing process more complicated and time-consuming than it needed to be. To address that issue, the Block Editor was created. It enables you to use a system of ‘blocks’ to create content in WordPress. Each block holds a specific type of content, such as a paragraph, an image, a table, a list, or just about any other element you might want to add to a post or page. With blocks, WordPress users can create more complex content without the need for coding. Each block has individual settings so you can customize specific elements. Additionally, you can more easily move content around the page to create columns or other unique layouts. Generally speaking, the Classic Editor is considered the ‘simpler’ of the two options because of its interface. There’s just one field where all of your content goes, as opposed to many separate blocks. However, the Block Editor is built for ease-of-use and can be more user-friendly — especially for those new to WordPress. Get More with DreamPressDreamPress Plus and Pro users get access to Jetpack Professional (and 200+ premium themes) at no added cost!Check Out Plans Switching Over from the Classic Editor to the Block Editor The Block Editor has been ‘live’ since December 2018 and now serves as the default editor for anyone running WordPress 5.0 or later. However, some users have chosen to disable it in order to continue using the old – or Classic – editor. If you’ve been using WordPress for some time and are familiar with the Classic Editor, using the Block Editor may not seem very appealing. After all, it still has compatibility issues with some plugins and themes, and learning a new interface isn’t the most fun way to use your time. However, there are a few reasons to embrace the change. To start with, the Block Editor should streamline your content creation. Once you get past the learning curve, adding blocks can be much faster than stopping to code a table or columns by hand. More importantly, you may want to make this transition for the sake of your site in the long term. While right now you can keep the Classic Editor in place using a plugin, WordPress plans to stop support for that system eventually. For now, support is promised until 2022. However, once updates are no longer being released, having this plugin installed on your site could pose a security risk. At a certain point, moving over to the Block Editor will be in the best interests of your website. What the Block Editor Means for Your Existing Content Fortunately, old posts and pages created in the Classic Editor are preserved in their current format with the Block Editor. Each one features a single, large block called a Classic block. All of your text, images, and other content will be found inside this block, unchanged. The Block Editor’s effect on your theme and plugins is a little more complicated. There have been compatibility issues between the new editor and some themes and plugins, so it’s possible that enabling it will cause problems on your site. In particular, page builders and other plugins that affect the way the WordPress editor looks and functions tend to have trouble with the Block Editor. However, updates have been released for many of these plugins to fix these issues. It’s a good idea to check each of your major plugins (especially any that affect the editor) to see if they are compatible. The Block Editor should be useable with just about any theme. That said, it works better with some than with others. Ideally, you’ll want to use a theme that has been updated for use with the Block Editor or a theme that was created after the new editor’s release and built with compatibility in mind. The best way to avoid any potential issues is to create a staging version of your site. Then you can thoroughly test for any problems before updating your live site. How to Update Your Old WordPress Posts With the Block Editor (2 Methods) Of course, you may not want to leave your old WordPress content as-is. Fortunately, you can update your old posts, pages, and other content types in the Block Editor. There are two primary methods you can use, and each has its pros and cons. Before you can use either of them, you’ll need to make sure you have the Block Editor enabled. For most sites, this is already the case.  In other words, if your site is up-to-date and you haven’t done anything to disable the Block Editor, it should be currently active. Therefore, you won’t need to do anything. Otherwise, either deactivate the Classic Editor plugin or upgrade to WordPress 5.0 or above to automatically switch your site over to the new editor. Then, you can use one of the following two techniques to work on your existing content. Method 1: Continue Editing Your Posts in a Classic Block As we described earlier, existing posts and pages will be converted into Classic blocks. If you want, you can edit your content inside these blocks, just as you would in the Classic Editor. All you have to do is open the post you wish to update, and click on the Classic block. When you do, you’ll see the TinyMCE toolbar appear at the top of the block. It should look very familiar. You can edit within this block exactly as you would in the Classic Editor. If you need to access the Text Editor, you can do so by clicking on the three-dot icon to the right of the toolbar, and selecting Edit as HTML. When you select this option, the block’s content will be shown as code, and you can edit it as needed. To return to the Visual Editor, simply click on the three-dot icon again and select Edit Visually. That should be all you need to update your old posts using the Classic block. Method 2: Convert Your Old Content into Blocks The other option you have available is to convert a post or page’s Classic block into new blocks. This will divide up your content up into individual elements, just as if you had created it using the Block Editor. To do this, click on the three-dot icon and select Convert to Blocks. Your post should then split up into separate pieces. Each paragraph will become its own block, as will every heading, image, list, video, button, and element. You can click on an individual block to edit the content within it. While this process usually goes off without a hitch, you’ll want to make sure that each element of your post has converted to the correct type of block. For example, if a pull quote from your old post has converted into a regular paragraph block, you can change it by clicking on the leftmost icon in the block toolbar. You can then select the correct block type from the options listed. Once all of your blocks are set to the correct types, you can use the toolbar at the top of each to make any specific changes related to alignment and placement within the post. You can also make edits related to each block’s type, such as by altering text styling or image size. In other words, you can now use the Block Editor’s full range of capabilities to work on your content. New Kid on the Block (Editor) Updating old posts is a smart way to freshen up your content and give your site a facelift. If you’re worried about how your old posts will fare in the age of the Block Editor, however, never fear. You can easily make changes to your old posts and pages. While you’re updating your WordPress site, why not upgrade your hosting service too? Our DreamPress plans include 24/7 WordPress support to help with all your Block Editor questions. The post How to Update Your Old WordPress Posts With the Block Editor appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

The History of Internet Privacy

It’s been a year since the European Parliament turned the GDPR proposal into active legislation. The General Data Protection Regulation was created to protect the privacy rights of European Union members. Thanks to the GDPR, EU internet users now have the power to control where and how their personal information is used online. Related: DreamHost is GDPR Compliant The battle to respect individual freedoms and privacy isn’t new. Humans have been fighting for our right to privacy since the first loincloth accidentally ripped off in a heated saber-tooth tiger hunt over 300,000 years ago. The Gronk Decision of 320,532 BC was a landmark ruling guaranteeing a right to secondary, backup loincloths to both hunters and gatherers alike. We’ve compiled a brief look back on some milestones in the history of privacy starting in the 1800s and ending at the internet of today. Check it out! The History of Internet Privacy The post The History of Internet Privacy appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

The Top 15 Benefits of a Website for Small Businesses

These days there’s no excuse for not having a website, even if your business is only just getting off the ground. Many potential customers and clients won’t take you seriously without one. Plus, there are so many upsides to setting one up that not doing so is almost irresponsible. One of the most obvious benefits of having a small business website is that it enables people to find you online and get in touch with you easily. Having an effective and compelling site can even lead to sales you wouldn’t have made otherwise. In this post, we’re going to discuss 15 reasons why it makes sense to set up a website for your small business. Then we’ll show you how a website builder, like Remixer, can help business owners create a small-biz site in a matter of minutes. Easily Build Your Dream WebsiteDon't know code? No problem. Our DIY Website Builder makes designing a website as easy as sending an email.Start Building for Free The Top 15 Benefits of a Website for Small Business 1. You Can Develop an Online Presence These days, the first thing a lot of people do when they hear about a business is to look it up online. If you don’t have a website set up — or at least some social media profiles — you might as well not exist for all those potential clients. Moreover, having a website can help shape the way people perceive your business. For example, you can fill your site up with reviews, photos of your locations, helpful information, and anything else that will bolster your image. We’re not overexaggerating when we tell you that online marketing is a critical component of business success in today’s market. 2. It’s Possible to Target Local Customers If you’re anything like us, you look up the closest businesses to you when you’re trying to make a specific purchase. For example, let’s say you need a haircut and you don’t know the neighborhood. You’ll probably jump online, and look up nearby barbers or hair salons. If your website shows up among the first search engine results for these types of local queries, then you might land yourself some extra business (building a strategy to rank well for keywords is known as search engine optimization or SEO). On top of drumming up more customers, your site can also help build brand awareness of your local business in the community. Related: 7 Steps to Identify a Target Market for Your Online Business 3. You Can Share Your Address and Contact Information With Customers Imagine that someone knows your business exists, but they’re not sure how to get there. Ideally, your website should include your full address, instructions on how to find you, and (if you’re looking for extra points) a map of the area. Armed with that information, it’s almost impossible for anyone to get lost along the way. It’s also useful to have a place for your business’ phone number, email address, and other contact details. That way people can call in if they have any quick questions. 4. It Enables You to Receive Online Queries A lot of small business owners these days prefer online queries over phone calls. It’s easy to understand why. After all, you can answer emails on your own time, and it doesn’t matter if 20 people contact you at once online — you can still get to all of them. Ideally, your website will provide visitors with multiple ways to contact you. We already mentioned that it should include your phone number and email address, but a contact form is also an excellent addition that lets customers get in touch without leaving the site. Some businesses even go as far as to set up live chat. 5. You Can Save Money on Paper Advertisements It used to be that if you wanted to advertise your business, your options were limited. You could hand out flyers, take out ads in the local newspaper, or maybe pay for a TV spot. However, the web provides you with entirely new ways to reach your audience. Even if you don’t want to pay for online ads, your website itself can help market your business. You can, for example, reach out to visitors when you’re running offers they might be interested in. At the very least, you can publish the latest news on your site, so people have an incentive to visit your business. Related: The 30 Best Apps for Small Businesses in 2019 6. Online Content Can Help You Build a Reputation There are plenty of successful businesses that give back to their community by helping to keep them informed through content marketing. Take DreamHost’s blog, for example — it’s all about updating you on the latest news and sharing knowledge to power your website. Over the long term, you can also use your website as a platform to publish content and blog posts that help your clients. Content marketing not only makes you look like an authority in your field, but it can also build goodwill. Related: Blog Your Way to an Awesome Reputation: The 10 Best Company Blogs 7. You Can Use It to Learn More About Your Customers Websites aren’t only about sharing your business with the world. If used correctly, they can also help you learn more about your customers. Then you can use that information to drive more sales and conversions. You can, for example, set up polls on your website to find out what your visitors are interested in. There are also plenty of online tools that can help you set up full-fledged surveys. You can even track your site’s analytics, and get lots of data on how your visitors behave. 8. It’s the Perfect Way to Advertise Employment Opportunities Good help is hard to find, regardless of what field you do business in. If you’re looking for a new hire, there are plenty of platforms where you can advertise online. However, it also makes sense to use your own website to get the word out about employment opportunities. After all, it’s likely that plenty of people who visit your site are going to be interested in work opportunities. Plus, this way you cut out any middlemen. When someone applies for a job, you can vet them right away. 9. You Can Provide Personalized Email Addresses for Your Employees When you buy a domain for your website, you can use it to set up personalized email addresses. This is very useful since an email address such as johndoe@yourlocalbusiness.com looks much more professional than johndoe324@gmail.com. This may seem like a small detail. However, having personalized email addresses can give people the impression that you’re running a professional business (which of course you are!). 10. It Can Help Expand Your Business’ Reach If you’re running a small store, most of your business will probably come from locals. They’ll get to know what you provide and what your prices are, and hopefully keep coming back for more. To put it another way, most small businesses have a restricted area of influence. Setting up a website enables you to bypass the limitations of running a small operation. You’ll be able to reach more of your target audience than you might have otherwise, and attract business from outside your local area. 11. You Can Make Sales Online Aside from expanding your business’ reach, having a website also provides you with an entirely new channel you can use to make sales. These days, you’re no longer restricted to only selling products through your physical shop. Setting up an online store is actually relatively simple, and you can even combine it with your regular business site. That way, you’ll be able to make sales even when your operating hours end. 12. Social Media Can Help Promote Your Business A lot of people think that social media can be a replacement for a website. As far as we’re concerned, however, you need both a site and a social presence if you want to maximize your reach online. Plus, you’ll want to advertise all your social pages right from your website. To put it another way, think about your website as a place where you can publish any content you want, in any format you can imagine. Social media marketing, on the other hand, is a useful tool to get the word out, build a following, and drive traffic back to your website. The two work in perfect harmony, so it doesn’t make sense to limit yourself to one or the other. 13. Email Lists Can Help You Stay in Touch With Customers Email marketing is one of the most effective tools when it comes to staying in touch with your customers, driving sales, and getting conversions. In fact, you can get a lot of mileage out of creating an ongoing email campaign. What’s more, your website provides you with the perfect way to get people to sign up for your email list. Once you build an audience, you can send them as many emails as you want, as often as you’d like. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up 14. You Can Educate Users About Your Business Customers don’t always know what they’re looking for. If you’re new to website hosting, for example, it can be hard to figure out which plan would best suit your needs. There is plenty of information available on the subject, but judging who’s right and who doesn’t know what they’re talking about can be a challenge Now, imagine that you’re on the other side of that dilemma. You’re running a hosting service, and you need to figure out how to help people choose the plans they need. A website is the perfect tool for this task. You can use it to educate your audience on what the best products are, depending on their requirements and goals. It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re running, of course. Your website can help you teach your customer base everything they need to know so they’ll make smarter purchases. 15. You Can Build a Community One of the best things about having a website to call your own is that it can provide a place for your visitors to talk to each other. For example, if you’re running a blog for your business, you can enable a comments section for it so visitors can ask you questions and discuss your posts with each other. Depending on which platform you use, you can also set up more complex community features, such as forums and even public chats. How to Create a Small Business Website Quickly (And on a Budget) The upsides of having a website for your business speak for themselves. However, the potential costs and time investment of launching such a project may be holding you back. It’s true that creating a website from scratch can be expensive and can take a lot of time. However, there are alternative ways to launch professional websites quickly even on a small budget. Website builders are tools designed to help you create stylish websites, even if you don’t have any experience in development. They’re especially well suited to creating your small business site since you probably aren’t looking to implement a lot of complex features. For example, our Remixer service can help you set up a basic business website in a matter of hours — even if you’ve never touched a line of code in your life. For example, if you’re working on your homepage, you can use one of Remixer’s professionally designed themes. Then you can customize your site to match your brand. With a few clicks, you can add multiple elements — contact forms, galleries, and more — and rearrange them until the page looks just the way you want it to. You can even customize each web section, so you have full control over what your visitors see. As your small business grows, you can export your Remixer site directly to WordPress to take advantage of the platform’s best features: SSL certificates, blogging tools, e-commerce store add-ons, and WordPress plugins. Open for Business Every small business owner needs a website. If you don’t have one yet, now is the perfect time to get started on it. While it is possible for your business to succeed without a website, a web presence can help you open so many doors. If you don’t know anything about website design, don’t worry. You don’t need to spend months and thousands of dollars to set something up. Our Remixer site builder enables you to create a powerful and professional-looking site — even if you’re a complete beginner. Start building your own Remixer site for free. The post The Top 15 Benefits of a Website for Small Businesses appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

9 Steps to Build an Online Store and Become Your Own Boss in 2019

While traditional careers have their benefits, there’s something very appealing about being your own boss. You can work whenever, however, and wherever you want to while still pursuing your passion. The tricky part is knowing how to get started. With accessible and easy-to-use tools such as WordPress and WooCommerce, setting up shop online is relatively simple. By launching an e-commerce store, you can take your product ideas to the web and access the vast pool of customers available there. This article will walk you through the steps to build your online store with WordPress and WooCommerce and become your own boss in no time. Let’s go! Your Store Deserves WooCommerce HostingSell anything, anywhere, anytime on the world's biggest eCommerce platform.See Plans 9 Steps to Build an Online Store and Become Your Own Boss The very first thing you’ll need to start an online store is a product customers will want to buy. We can’t help you with that, unfortunately — your idea has to be all your own! You’ll also need a way to manufacture your product, either by doing it yourself, hiring a company to do it, or some combination of the two. Once you’re done, you’ll be ready to set up your online store and start selling your merchandise, which is where the steps below will come in handy. Step 1: Secure Your Web Hosting and Domain Name The first two things you need to start any kind of website are a hosting provider and a domain name. Your hosting provider will store your website’s files, while your domain name provides an address where customers can find your store. If you’re building a WordPress site (which we recommend), you might also want to consider WordPress hosting. These types of plans are explicitly geared towards the platform, and the servers they run on will be optimized. Our shared WordPress hosting plans, for example, are ideal for new WordPress sites. You’ll have access to our 24/7 tech support team, and plans are cost-effective, starting at just $2.59 per month for a single site. What’s more, we can also help you register your domain name. You can quickly check the availability of your desired web address, then register it once you’ve found the perfect fit. Simply fill in some information to complete the process. Domains usually start at $11.99, but if you’re also hosting your site with a shared WordPress plan, you’ll get yours for free. Related: Why You Should Consider Keeping Domain Registration and Web Hosting Under One Roof Step 2: Set Up WordPress and WooCommerce Regardless of your current host, a WordPress hosting plan likely comes with the platform pre-installed or with a one-click installation option. In some cases, you may need to install WordPress manually. Next, you’ll need to set up WooCommerce — a premiere e-commerce solution for WordPress (we’ve compared it to other competitors and think it’s the best ecommerce platform available). The first step is to install and activate the WooCommerce plugin. Once this is complete, you’ll be prompted to configure your store using the onboarding wizard — fill in the fields as best you can now, or come back to this step later. Related: A Comprehensive Introduction to WooCommerce Step 3: Identify Your ‘Value Proposition’ Before you begin creating content for your e-commerce business, consider identifying and writing out your value proposition. This is simply a statement explaining the mission and value of your business and products. Two of the most important questions your value proposition should answer are: What problem does my product solve for customers? What makes my approach to this problem unique compared to other similar businesses? Establishing your value proposition now should help you create content later. Also, any copy, product, or long-form content (such as a blog post) should reflect the values you identified in your proposition. We’d also suggest sharing your value proposition with customers on your website. Most companies do this on an About page or as a ‘Mission Statement.’ Here’s ours as an example: Sharing your values with customers can help demonstrate why your product is relevant to them. Plus, you might win over customers who might have otherwise purchased from your competition. Step 4: Create Your Product Pages Now you’re ready to go back to setting up your online store. Navigate to Products > Add New within WordPress to start adding your first item. There are a lot of settings to consider here, but your priority should be your product photos and description. Taking Quality Product Photos Showcasing your products in their (literal) best light is crucial. Unprofessional, low-quality photos make your site seem untrustworthy, which will discourage customers from opening their wallet. As such, make sure your product photos are well-lit and taken in front of a clean background. If you can, take pictures from a variety of angles, and include some close-ups of unique details to help catch customers’ eyes. Once you have your product photos, make sure to optimize them with a plugin such as ShortPixel or Optimole before uploading them to your site. This will help prevent large media files from slowing your site down. Writing Captivating Product Descriptions You’ll also want to craft your product descriptions carefully, to help convince site visitors to become paying customers. Keep your value proposition in mind when you’re writing, and make sure to point out information about how the product will benefit customers. It’s vital to make your description easy to scan, as ‘skimming’ content has become more popular over the years. Keeping paragraphs short, while using formatting techniques such as bullet points and subheadings, can convey more information than a brutal wall of text. Specifying Product Data Finally, for this section, you’ll want to configure the settings in the Product Data section of the product editor. Here you’ll set your product’s price, add a SKU number and shipping information, specify if it comes in any variations (e.g., other colors or sizes), and more. Take your time with these, as they’re an essential aspect of your store and business. Once you have the basics down, you may want to consider setting up Linked Products to help cross-sell other store items and enable reviews to add some social proof to your site. Related: 5 Amazing WooCommerce Templates to Increase Sales on Your Website Step 5: Configure Your Tax Settings In the U.S., each state has laws regarding sales tax for internet-based retailers. It’s not a bad idea to talk with a tax attorney before your business gets up and running, but at the very least, you should familiarize yourself with the laws in your area. To set up sales tax for your products in WooCommerce, navigate to WooCommerce > Settings > General within WordPress. Make sure the Enable taxes setting is checked, then save your changes. If there wasn’t one before, you should now see a Tax setting tab at the top of your WooCommerce Settings page. Click on it, then configure the settings on the page. You can determine whether your prices will automatically include tax at checkout and what information WooCommerce should use to calculate tax for each product. It’s also possible to add Standard, Reduced, and Zero tax rates if needed. Step 6: Specify Your Shipping Methods Shipping is a make-or-break aspect of running a store. As such, in the Shipping settings tab, you can add practically as many options as you want to implement a delivery strategy. If you’re going to make your products available in a wide range of locations, you might want to create ‘shipping zones.’ They essentially let you offer different rates to customers depending on where they’re located. If you also want to charge extra for international shipping, you can do so here. Step 7: Decide Which Payment Gateway to Offer In the Payments settings tab, you can specify how customers can pay for their products. By default, WooCommerce will set up Stripe and PayPal vendors for you. However, you can add additional gateways — including popular solutions such as Square and Amazon Pay — with WooCommerce extensions. In addition, you can enable your customers to pay with a check, cash, or by bank transfer. The gateways you decide to offer are ultimately up to you, based on familiarity, ease of use, and transaction fees. However, it’s also important to consider your customers, as these criteria are also their primary concerns. As such, gateways such as PayPal are usually a given. Related: The 10 Most Popular Online Payment Gateways for Your Website, Compared Step 8: Run Through Your WooCommerce Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Checklist You’re almost ready to welcome customers to your store, but first, they need to be able to find it. SEO is the answer. By optimizing your content for search engines, you’ll make it more likely customers can find you while searching for products online. As with many site aspects, WordPress plugins can help. Yoast SEO is a highly rated and effective plugin that can help manage on-page SEO factors such as keyword usage, permalinks, and readability. If you want something a little more specialized, you can also look into the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin. It’s better suited to WooCommerce than the free version, and can also help promote your products on social media. At $49 per year, it’s cost-effective and may be a solid investment, especially if it helps to bring in a few more organic customers via search engine. Step 9: Publish and Promote Your E-Commerce Website While you can keep refining your site, you’ll want to publish at this point — think of it as laying down a ‘marker.’ You’ll also want to make sure customers know who you are and what you do. Promoting your site on social media and through email marketing campaigns can help get you started. Fortunately, there are a variety of WooCommerce extensions available to help. You can choose popular services such as Drip, MailChimp, and even Instagram to promote your products to followers and subscribers. Marketing will be an ongoing responsibility, so investing in some tools to help you streamline your efforts will be worth it in the long run. The extensions mentioned above range from free to $79 per year. You can also search the WordPress Plugin Directory for more free solutions, although you may find functionality lacks depending on the plugin. Building an Online Store No one said becoming your own boss was easy, and there’s a lot of work that goes into starting a brand new business. However, WordPress and WooCommerce can simplify many of the tasks required to get your e-commerce site up and running. Ready to set up an online shop? Our WooCommerce hosting packages make it easy to sell anything, anywhere, anytime on the world’s biggest eCommerce platform. The post 9 Steps to Build an Online Store and Become Your Own Boss in 2019 appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

11 Ways Your Online Store Can Compete with Mega-Retailers (And Win)

It’s hard to grasp the sheer scale of mega-retailers such as Amazon. In 2018, Amazon alone was projected to take in almost 50 percent of US online sales. Plus, during the most recent holiday season, it accounted for 5 percent of the $1,002 trillion Americans spent. Launching an e-commerce store that can compete with those numbers is difficult, to put it lightly. Fortunately, your online store doesn’t have to beat the likes of Amazon or eBay to be successful. What it needs to do is find a share of the market for itself and learn how to thrive within that retail niche. That way, you’ll be able to scale your store and increase its earnings organically over time. In this article, we’re going to talk about 11 strategies you can implement to compete with e-commerce giants such as Amazon. We’re not saying you’ll end up making more money than Jeff Bezos, but every extra dollar helps, so let’s get to it! 1. Focus on Niche Products and Services Wherever it is that you live, chances are there are a handful of online megastores where you can buy almost anything you want. Those types of stores excel at casting a wide net to catch as many buyers as possible. The problem is that they often can’t compete with specialized sites when it comes to offering more niche items. For example, while one of those mega-retailers might have hundreds of generic mugs for sale, you could offer to create custom designs, thereby filling a more specific niche. The main takeaway here is that if you’re starting out, the smart move is not to try and compete at every level. What you need to do is have a specific buyer persona in mind and focus on those buyers, offering the products and services they want. In many cases, filling a particular retail niche may even enable you to command higher prices, so it’s a win-win scenario. 2. Offer Subscription-Based Services Offering subscriptions is an excellent strategy because it allows you to create consistent, recurring income. Plenty of big-box stores offer subscriptions. Amazon, for example, offers the incredibly popular Prime service. Even more niche stores, such as Humble Bundle, understand the power of subscriptions. On top of offering cheap video games, this store enables users to pay a set price each month for more stuff. Just because you run an online store doesn’t mean that all your income has to come from product sales. You can also offer subscriptions for monthly freebies, discounts in your store, access to exclusive deals, and more. Keep in mind, though — whatever angle you decide to take with subscriptions, it should synergize with your store’s products. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up 3. Provide Better and/or Cheaper Shipping Options Competing with massive online stores when it comes to shipping can be difficult. They move such large volumes of products that they can get access to discounts and perks small online stores can’t hope to match. What you can do to compete is offer better-quality shipping options for your particular region. In most cases, smaller stores will focus on specific cities or just one country. That means you have the edge over more global stores, since you may be able to offer faster shipping times and a more personalized experience throughout the process. In some cases, you might even have access to cheap shipping options you haven’t considered. For example, there are a lot of local startups focused around product deliveries. Partnering with them may enable you to offer ultra-fast low-cost shipping, depending on where your customers are located. Related: How to Build an Awesome WooCommerce Store with OceanWP 4. Excel When It Comes to Customer Service The level of customer service you offer can make or break your store. People might be willing to take a chance and buy from a retailer they don’t know, but if you treat them poorly, you can be sure they won’t come back. Some of the most common service-related mistakes small retailers make include: Taking too long to answer customer questions Offering cookie-cutter answers to customers Giving inaccurate shipping estimates or sending packages late Just to drive home how vital the customer experience is, keep in mind that happy clients are more likely to send new business your way. Likewise, retaining customers is much cheaper than collecting new leads. In other words, a little more time spent on ensuring better service can pay off for years to come. Related: How Your Online Business Can Nail Customer Service During the Holidays 5. Optimize Your Online Store in Every Way You Can The difference between one and three seconds may seem insignificant, but it’s not — particularly if you run an online retail store. Studies show that if your website takes more than a few seconds to load, people start getting impatient. Amazon alone estimates that a one-second delay in its loading times could cost up to $1.6 billion in lost sales over the course of a year. In other words, your website needs to be fast. There are a lot of factors that can hurt its performance, such as: Using a hosting plan that doesn’t offer enough resources. Failing to optimize your images. Adding too many scripts to your pages. Not using browser caching. Reasons two through four fall under the category of poor website optimization. Still, it doesn’t matter how much effort you sink into optimization if your web host isn’t up to par. What we recommend is that you measure your site’s loading times, try to optimize them, and consider moving to a new host if you’re still not seeing the results you want. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you.Choose Your Plan 6. Use Social Media to Promote Your Store and Its Products The largest online retailers can spend millions on advertising each day. At the same time, so many people are familiar with them that word of mouth alone is often enough to get them plenty of sales. ‘Mom-and-pop’ online stores, on the other hand, need to be much savvier when it comes to marketing. Since you can’t compete in terms of budget, the easiest way to get attention to your store is via social media. This involves: Being active on several social media platforms. Knowing how to engage with your audience and reach new users. Connecting with influencers who can promote your products. Using non-traditional forms of content, such as infographics, for higher engagement. The main takeaway is that small businesses need to make more of an effort to get online conversions. However, if you know which platforms to focus on and you have a good grasp of social media, these approaches should yield excellent results. Also, keep in mind that it might be worthwhile to hire a social media manager if you’re not as savvy in this area, as it’s essential to your store’s success. 7. Work on Your Email Marketing Strategy There’s a reason almost every single website and online store wants your email address. They understand that it’s a powerful tool to drive sales and increase engagement. About half of all US internet users check their email multiple times per day, and up to 60 percent of users say that the messages they get influence their purchases. More importantly, email marketing is incredibly scalable, even for a small store. The more addresses you collect, the more sales you can drive via campaigns. What’s more, most email marketing platforms enable you to send an almost unlimited number of messages for a low price. That’s not to say that you should spam your subscribers, however. In fact, you should only contact them when you have something of value to offer, such as product discounts, important news, and so on. If you’re already using email marketing but you want to get more out of it, then it may be time to review your strategy. 8. Consider Streamlining Your Product Catalog It stands to reason that the more products you offer, the more sales you’re likely to get. The problem is that managing a huge catalog of items can be much more complicated than you’d imagine. For each product, you have to consider sourcing, storage, shipping costs, marketing materials, and more. For massive online stores, that isn’t a problem. They’re all about volume, and they can throw all the manpower they want at the above tasks. However, the more strapped you are for money and personnel, the more that overextension can hurt you. Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to run a successful online store that offers a limited catalog of products. SlimFold, for example, built an entire e-commerce experience around a handful of unique wallets. Alt text: SlimFold has a streamlined product offering. Offering a limited catalog ties in perfectly with targeting a specific niche of users. As long as you know there’s demand for the products and services you offer, you can limit them to give a feeling of exclusivity, and even test higher price points. Related: How to Create a Loyalty Program for Your Website (And Why You Should) 9. Offer Multiple Payment Options When it comes to online purchases, most people rely on credit cards. However, there are a lot of payment processors you can use, including PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, and many others. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of the major online retailers offer several payment options during their checkout processes. This enables customers to pick whichever choice they feel most comfortable with, so the store doesn’t lose out on any potential purchases. For smaller online stores, dealing with a lot of payment processors can be a hassle. It means that your earnings will come in via multiple channels, you’ll have to set up accounts for each one, and you’ll need to make sure you’re in compliance with various policies. However, despite those downsides, offering multiple payment options is still the way to go for most online stores. At the very least, you should enable users to pay via PayPal and the most popular credit cards — just to cover your bases. 10. Study the Competition Within Your Niche So far, we’ve focused mostly on how to compete with mega-retailers. However, it’s crucial that you don’t lose track of other smaller stores within your niche since they’re also competitors. Studying your direct competitors so you can provide a better experience than they do is incredibly important. After all, smaller stores can be much easier to overtake than e-commerce giants. You can compete with these competitors in a number of ways, such as: Offering better customer support service Including more shipment and payment options Creating a more user-friendly shopping experience Beating them at prices, if possible These are similar to some of the tactics we’ve discussed so far. Only this time, you’re competing against another David instead of Goliath. 11. Offer Only the Best-Quality Products Since you can’t generally compete with mega-retailers in terms of inventory, pricing, or shipment, you need to focus on quality. We’ve already talked about providing top-notch customer service, but making sure the products you offer are as good as they seem is also essential. These days, online megastores such as Amazon are getting overrun with cheap product knockoffs. That’s causing a real headache for the consumer, who doesn’t understand why they’re getting low-quality items from a retailer they know and trust. This opens up the opportunity for smaller online stores to attract those customers. In many cases, people who want high-quality items will turn to more specialized online stores. If you can guarantee that your products are the real deal, and you offer a solid return policy, this can be one of your best ways to get more sales. Supply Chain When it comes to an e-commerce business, you need to be realistic about your expectations. Competing with mega-retailers when it comes to inventory or pricing is just about impossible. However, there are plenty of e-commerce operations that manage to grow and thrive, despite all the competition they face. The key is to understand that although you can’t compete in some categories, there are plenty of areas where smaller stores can get a real edge. For example, smaller operations can provide much more personalized customer service or focus on product quality in a way that mega-retailers can’t. What do you think is the best way for online stores to compete with giants like Amazon or Walmart? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the DreamHost Community and let’s discuss! The post 11 Ways Your Online Store Can Compete with Mega-Retailers (And Win) appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

How to Schedule Posts in WordPress (3 Easy Methods)

Publishing posts to your blog on a regular basis is essential. However, several issues might get in the way of consistent and optimized publishing, such as a full workload, trouble posting during high-traffic periods, or even the decision to take a vacation. Even expert bloggers need a little R ‘n R now and then. Fortunately, if you built your website with WordPress, there are a number of ways you can schedule your posts for publication ahead of time. Scheduling your posts enables you to put fresh content up on your site at regular intervals — without having to actually log in each time. In this article, we’ll explain the advantages of scheduling blog posts on your WordPress site. Then we’ll share a few methods for doing so, and go over some tips for troubleshooting issues that may arise during the process. Let’s dive in! Why It’s Smart to Schedule Your Blog Posts Creating a schedule for your blog posts is the best way to ensure that you always have fresh content. Plus, when you post regularly, readers will always know when to expect new articles. This can help keep them engaged and coming back regularly. On top of that, scheduling posts can help you manage your workload. When you have a busy week coming up, you can write your posts ahead of time and set a future publication date and specific time for each. Scheduled posts can also make it possible for you to take a vacation from your blog. In addition, assigning publication dates and times is useful for posting during peak traffic hours. Your readers may be most active on your site during a time of day you have to be away from your computer, for example. Automated publication lets you make new posts live at the ideal moment. How to Schedule Posts in WordPress (3 Methods) Fortunately, there are several ways to schedule posts on your WordPress website, so you can choose the method that works best for you. Let’s look at three of the most common options. 1. Schedule Posts in the Block Editor WordPress has innate post scheduling capabilities, which you can access right from the editor screen. Let’s look at how to set a post up for automatic publication in the Block Editor (which you have access to if your WordPress version is 5.0 or higher). Open up the post you want to schedule, and in the sidebar to the right, select the Document tab. Under Status & Visibility, you’ll see that your post is set to publish Immediately by default. If you click the link, it will open a calendar where you can select a future date and time. Once you’ve done so, Immediately will change to your specified publication time in the sidebar. Click anywhere outside the calendar to close it. When you’ve given your post one final read-through and are sure it’s ready to go, click on the blue Schedule button at the top of the editor. You’ll have the chance to review and edit your post’s publication date and time and set its visibility status to Private, Public, or Password-Protected. WordPress will also point out any last-minute items you may want to address. When you’re happy with your settings, select the blue Schedule button again. You should receive a final notification that your post has been set to publish at the date and time you chose. That’s all you have to do! 2. Set Up Scheduled Posts in the Classic Editor If you’re still using the Classic WordPress Editor, never fear. You can still easily set up scheduled posts. Simply head over to the post you want to schedule and check out the Publish widget. Just like in the Block Editor, your post will be set to publish immediately by default. Click on Edit next to Publish immediately, which lets you access the date and time settings. There’s no fancy calendar here, but it’s still easy enough to set your desired publication date and time. Just make sure to use the 24-hour clock. Then, click on OK when you’re done. After you’ve finalized your post’s details, select the blue Schedule button in the Publish widget. You should receive a notification that your post has been scheduled and see its changed status in the Publish widget. If you need to make any updates, you can do so by clicking on the blue Edit link next to any of the settings. Be sure to hit the Update button afterward. 3. Use a Plugin to Schedule Posts If you want to access more advanced automatic publishing features, you may want to consider WordPress plugins. Let’s look at two of the best options. WP Scheduled Posts WP Scheduled Posts adds an editorial calendar to your WordPress dashboard. You can drag and drop posts to schedule them so setting publication dates is fast and easy. This tool also helps you keep track of all your authors if you have multiple people creating content. You can even add new posts right in the calendar — save those great ideas you have for a future date. The plugin is free to download, but if you opt for a premium plan, you’ll gain access to additional features including the ‘Auto Scheduler’ and ‘Missed Post Handler.’ CoSchedule If you need a more complete content and marketing scheduling system, check out CoSchedule. While you’ll still have to follow the steps for scheduling posts in the WordPress editor as described above, with CoSchedule, you can manage your scheduled blog posts, social media content, and marketing campaigns from a single calendar right in your WordPress dashboard. You can download the CoSchedule WordPress plugin for free, but you won’t be able to do anything with it unless you also have a paid CoSchedule account. Plans for those accounts start at $80 per month. Troubleshooting Issues With WordPress Scheduled Posts Scheduling posts in WordPress is simple, but there are a few issues you may run into. Fortunately, the most common problems have easy solutions. Setting the Right Timezone First, it’s important to make sure that when you’ve chosen a publication date and time, they’re set to the right time zone. You can check your site’s time zone settings by going to Settings > General in your WordPress dashboard, and scrolling down to Timezone. There, you can see the time zone your site is currently set to, and change it if need be. Handling Missed Posts You’ll also want a failsafe in case something goes wrong, and a post you’ve slated for publication doesn’t go live as expected. For this, we suggest looking into a plugin such as Scheduled Post Trigger, which checks for and publishes missed scheduled posts. This way, if your post doesn’t publish automatically for whatever reason, the plugin can still get your content up on your site (even if it’s a little late). If you’re using the premium version of WP Scheduled Posts, its ‘Missed Posts Handler’ feature works in much the same way. Unscheduling Posts Finally, there may be times when you’ve set up a post for future publication, and then you decide you want to publish it right away instead. To do this in the Classic Editor, head over to the Publish widget and click on Edit next to the date by Scheduled for. Change the settings to the current date and time, and then select OK. Click on the blue button, which will say either Update or Publish. Once you do, you should receive a notification that your post has been published. In the Block Editor, this functionality works much the same. Change the scheduled date and time to the current moment, and click outside the calendar to exit the feature. The blue button at the top of the editor will now say Publish. Select it, and WordPress will put the post up on your site immediately. Keep Us Posted Posting consistently on your WordPress blog is key to your site’s success. Scheduling your blog posts in advance can help you gain more loyal followers, while also making it easier for you to manage your site over time. Do you have any questions about how to schedule posts in WordPress? Follow us on Twitter and let us know! The post How to Schedule Posts in WordPress (3 Easy Methods) appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

3 Solutions for Converting Your WordPress Site into a Mobile App

Nowadays, a lot of people interact with the web mostly by using mobile devices. That means it’s more important than ever to provide a quality mobile experience. Otherwise, you risk alienating a large part of your potential user base. There are many ways you can improve the overall experience for your mobile users. For example, you can design a responsive website so that it looks (and works) perfectly on smaller devices. You can also go a step further and convert it into a fully-working app. In this article, we’ll talk about why converting your website into a WordPress mobile app can be an excellent idea for some site owners. Then we’ll discuss several tools and techniques that will enable you to do so, and discuss how to pick the right one for your needs. Let’s talk apps! Why Your WordPress Company Site May Need a Mobile App When it comes to user experience, responsive design is king. We’ve previously covered why you should create a mobile-friendly site (and how to do it), but you can also create a mobile app version of your site. Let’s go over some of the reasons you might want to use this approach: Apps provide a more native experience for mobile devices. You can use notifications to stay in touch with your user base. If you use subscriptions, they can be managed via mobile payment systems. That said, an app is not a replacement for a mobile-friendly website, and vice-versa. Ideally, you’ll have both, which will enable you to maximize your potential audience. After all, some people don’t want to install any additional apps on their phones, whereas others vastly prefer the experience an app provides over that of a mobile website. It’s important to understand, however, that creating a mobile app isn’t particularly easy. Depending on what features you want to include, you may need a background in development, or you’ll have to hire someone to help you get the project off the ground. That process, as you might imagine, can get expensive. The good news is that if you’re using WordPress, you get access to multiple tools you can use to create a mobile app version of your website. There is a range of options that vary in price and ease of use, so you can pick the approach that’s best suited to your needs. Related: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website? 3 Solutions for Converting Your Company WordPress Site into a Mobile App While there are many ways to create WordPress mobile apps, the following methods are three of the most common and accessible choices. Let’s look at each, in turn, to help you decide which ones you should consider. We’ll start with the simplest solution. 1. Use a WordPress Plugin to Generate Your App As a WordPress user, you’re probably familiar with using plugins to implement cool features and functionality to your website. However, what you may not know is that you can use plugins to create a fully-working WordPress mobile app. There are a few tools that can accomplish this, but let’s focus on one of the most popular: AppPresser. First, it’s important to note that the AppPresser plugin by itself doesn’t enable you to generate a mobile app. You’ll also need to sign up for a paid AppPresser account, which will be linked to your WordPress website through the plugin. Once you have both pieces in place, you can customize your mobile app from within the AppPresser platform and generate installable files for both Android and iOS when you’re done. The app creation process is simple – you get to use a builder that feels just like the WordPress Customizer. However, as you might imagine, there are limitations to using a tool like this. Since you’re not building an app from scratch, you get a small set of features to play with. If you’re looking to create an app with very specific functionality, using a plugin probably isn’t the right approach for you. Ultimately, using a plugin to generate a mobile app for your WordPress site makes the most sense for projects that don’t require a lot of advanced functionality. For example, AppPresser would be a great choice for blog and news apps. It also handles e-commerce reasonably well, which makes it a useful option for those running a store on a WooCommerce website. The AppPresser plugin itself is free, but as we mentioned, you’ll need to sign up for an account on the platform. A basic AppPresser account, which supports one app (for both iOS and Android) will cost you $228 per year. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up 2. Opt for a Solution Designed for Companies and Professional Projects Of course, if you’re working on a company site, your needs are different than those who are creating mobile apps for blogs or online stores. Choosing a tool explicitly designed with companies in mind can help you create an app with features that are well-suited to your needs. Consider Appful, for example. This solution can convert your website and social media posts into a powerful content app for connecting with customers and employees. Features such as white labeling, full-service maintenance, and scalability make it highly suitable for growing companies. In fact, it powers apps for several well-known organizations, including Greenpeace, PETA, and even the United Nations. Appful works similarly to AppPresser, in that you’ll connect to the platform using a dedicated WordPress plugin. Then, you get access to a set of tools you can use to design a mobile app version of your site and customize its functionality. Only in this case, you’ll receive an assortment of useful templates that enable you to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) faster. On top of that, Appful also includes several other handy features, including support for offline reading, integration with Google Analytics and Apple watches, and more. Plus, the developers can also help you design a more customized app if you need specialized features, which makes this a solid middle ground between using a plugin and working with an agency (which we’ll talk about next). Overall, this approach offers a more user-friendly experience than most other tools. Creating a WordPress mobile app using Appful is a mostly painless process, and the service will even take care of publishing your app to the Android and iOS stores for you. Plus, you don’t need to pay to use the service until that point, which means there’s no pressure. Prices vary depending on the scope of your app and are available by request. 3. Work With an Agency to Develop Your WordPress App Naturally, a third option is to hire someone to get the job done for you. When it comes to WordPress mobile apps, you’ll find no shortage of freelancers and agencies willing to take on the project — no matter the scope. This can save you a lot of time. Of course, hiring professional and talented developers is seldom cheap. Developing even a simple app can easily cost you thousands of dollars. The upside is that you’re not limited by what an app builder can do. If you work with an agency that knows what it’s doing, it should be able to advise you on what’s possible and what isn’t, and help you bring your vision to life. Considering the costs associated with this approach, we can only recommend it if you have a very large budget, and you need an app version of your WordPress website that includes functionality you can’t add using DIY tools. For simpler projects, hiring an entire agency or even a couple of freelancers might not be particularly cost-effective. If you do decide to hire out, there are plenty of places to find WordPress developers and agencies. Professional Website Design Made EasyMake your site stand out with a professional design from our partners at RipeConcepts. Packages start at $299.Get a Free Consultation Mobility Matters A lot of your website’s visitors will be using mobile devices. To provide them with the best possible experience, you can create a streamlined, app-based version of your WordPress website. Depending on what tool you use, you should be able to include all the same functionality your website offers, while creating an experience that feels much more native to mobile browsers. Do you have any questions about how to get your WordPress mobile application off the ground? Join the DreamHost Community and let us know! The post 3 Solutions for Converting Your WordPress Site into a Mobile App appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

Shared Hosting Enhancements for 2019

In a web hosting landscape now dominated by elastic cloud computing resources and managed WordPress services, it’s easy to lose sight of “the SKU that started it all.” That’s right; I’m talkin’ ‘bout shared web hosting. Shared hosting is still one of the most affordable ways to establish and maintain an online presence, with more than enough power to grow with the needs of your website or web app over time. This year, we’ve been working to make DreamHost’s shared hosting even better and wanted to catch you up on all of the great enhancements. We’re currently in the process of upgrading the operating systems that run our shared hosting services. Ubuntu LTS version 18.04.2, also known as “Bionic Beaver,” will soon power all of our shared hosting web servers and MySQL database servers. In the future, Bionic Beaver will be the default OS on all of our managed hosting services, including our Virtual Private Servers and Dedicated Servers. We’re also in the process of rolling out the latest version of PHP: 7.3. You may recall that PHP 7.0 was approximately twice as fast as PHP 5.6 when it launched in 2016. PHP 7.3 has shown itself to be faster still — 22 percent faster than even 7.0! With PHP-based apps like WordPress becoming more and more popular across the web, that extra speed is crucial to keeping things running smoothly. We’ve also doubled the amount of RAM that shared hosting users can access. RAM-hungry web apps (and their plugins) are more popular than ever, and the extra memory ensures they’ve got plenty of breathing room. Combined with some new Linux kernels that we’ve custom-built to address the unique needs of a shared hosting environment, the entry-level hosting experience at DreamHost has never been faster, more powerful, or more secure for as long as we’ve been doing this hosting thing! As powerful as shared hosting is today, you can always upgrade your DreamHost experience to a Virtual Private Server for access to even more computing resources, should you ever need them. Upgrading to a VPS takes just a few seconds, and the migration of your data is automatic and instant. No matter what you host with us or how you host it, rest assured that we’re always looking for ways to add new features, power, and value to your DreamHost experience. Thanks for letting us! The post Shared Hosting Enhancements for 2019 appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

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